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The Secret of Kit Cavenaugh: A Remarkable Irishwoman and Soldier
by Anne Holland
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"Christian `Kit' Cavenaugh was born in 1667 in Dublin and grew up on a Leixlip farm. Her father joined King James at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690 and took with him a `captain' who Kit discovered was a woman in disguise. When Kit's father died after the Battle of Aughrim, their farm was confiscated, leaving Kit and her mother destitute. Kit was raped by a trainee priest and fled to Dublin to work in her aunt's pub which was then bequeathed it to her. She fell in love with an employee, Richard Welsh, and married him. She was pregnant with their third child when he was press-ganged into the English army to fight in the European wars of the early eighteenth century. Once she learned of this, Kit disguised herself as a man, enlisted and, leaving her children, set off to find him. Enduring the challenges of Army life, often despairing of finding Richard, she threw herself into a soldier's life and won praise for bravery. A dragoon in the Marlborough Wars, `Kit' was wounded three times before the secret of her sex was discovered. The entire army, from the Duke of Marlborough (forebear of Winston) Chruchill down, was astounded. She finally came face to face with her husband after the Battle of Blenheim in 1704, and was enraged to find him in the arms of a Dutch woman. After he was killed in 1709, she realised how much she loved him. As she cradled Richard's body a Captain Ross helped her lift him on to her horse, and then dig a grave. Ross's compassion earned him the nickname Mother Ross. After her death in London in 1739 she was buried with military honours, reputedly in the grounds of the Royal Hospital Chelsea. She was a remarkable woman who led an extraordinary life." --Publisher's description.
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