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Introduction ~ Aberffraw ~ Brecon ~ Fishguard
Fishguard: The Last Invasion - page two
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In Haverfordwest itself there was a sense of emergency shown by the mayor. Having set up his headquarters in an inn, he was joined by Lieutenant Colonel John Colby. In charge of the Pembrokeshire Militia's depot, Colby quickly sent for reinforcements, these included those commanded by Lord Cawdor in the east of the county and the Castle Martin Cavalry.

When all units had assembled at Haverfordwest Lord Cawdor, not only because he was younger than Lord Milford but because he was also a student of military affairs, was placed in command. Within an hour of the muster Cawdor ordered the defence force to march north the twenty miles for Fishguard. As they did so they met Knox and his men marching for Haverfordwest, with Knox and his men doing a U turn the hastily assembled brigade marched on to face the French.

In the meantime the situation was deteriorating for the French by the hour, short of food they had began by begging from the locals, who had given freely: but within a short time the years of being in prison without decent food caused many to start scale looting: even the local church did not escape their attentions: from where the plate was stolen. This action angered many of the locals who began to take the situation into their own hands, arming themselves they began to seek retribution. Throughout the day Frenchmen were killed or captured, many by bullets manufactured from lead from the roof of St. Davids Cathedral. There were others who were rounded up in groups of two or three and marched off to jail. It was however,
“Jemima Fawr” ( Big Jemima ) who was the toast of Fishguard for many years when the invasion was all over, after which earning herself a place in history.

Jemima Nicholas was a 47 year old cobbler in Fishguard who was so damn annoyed when her trade immediately stopped, when the French landed, that armed with a pitchfork she marched out to Llanwnda rounded up 12 Frenchmen, and marched them into Fishguard, then promptly about turned and set out to look for more.

Time however, was running out for the French and their looting. Cawdor's mixed brigade, under a forced march arrived in the area towards dusk fully intending to mount an attack. But unsure of his enemy's deployment and the difficulty of manoeuvring his field guns on the area's narrow roads, he made the decision to wait until morning. As it turned out it was a fortuitous decision which undoubtedly saved many lives on both sides.

Mid evening Tate, who had realized he could never break out of his beach head with his rebellious rabble, sought a meeting with the view of negotiating terms for surrender. Cawdor however was having non of it, desperate to secure his own terms, his reply to the French commander was that he now had sufficient troops in position to force the issue. It was course a massive bluff, for Tate must have been able to see the size of Cawdor's force from his advantageous position on Cam Gelli, but it was enough for him to announce that he would surrender the following morning. Tate's terms signed by him referred to the coming of thousands of British troops of the line. Unfortunately for him his "troops of the line" were non other than 100's perhaps 1000's of Welsh ladies, dressed in traditional dress, making their way to the heights overlooking Goodwick sands to see the invasion force.

Thousands of people did indeed watch the surrender on the wind swept sands of Goodwick on the morning of the 25th of February, among them were the Welsh Ladies in their national dress who indeed would have looked like British Army Redcoats from a distance.

It had been an extraordinary affair, the government of Republican France were certainly guilty of a series of gigantic blunders. First they misjudged the British people who they thought would rise in rebellion. Secondly, having put their army ashore they left it with no means of escape. However, the biggest blunder of all was committed by the French army. That being, that once ashore they had treated the people of Pembrokeshire with contempt.

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