#OTD in 1798 – United Irishmen Rebellion: The Battle of Three Rocks – Rebels capture Enniscorthy and Wexford town.

Rebellion continues with victory for Irish forces in Wexford. At Three Rocks, just outside Wexford town, 70 English militia are killed in a carefully planned ambush by Irish forces. In response to this and other action, English troops abandon Wexford town. At this stage, almost all of Wexford is in the hands of Irish forces.

A letter written at this time to a Mr. Addington by Dr. Butson, Dean of Waterford, describes in some detail the travails of the Loyalist population.

Waterford, 31 May.

”Nothing can exceed the melancholy aspect of this place. The insurgents in our neighbouring county of Wexford are so numerous as to have taken possession of and destroyed the town of Enniscorthy not a house remaining; men, women, and children murdered and burnt, particularly the clergy. A gentleman has informed me that he saw the bodies of Mr. Hayden, a clergyman past eighty years of age, and of Mr. Nun, a very respectable rector, lying unburied in the street, the day after their entrance, with 400 more dead bodies. Some detachments sent from hence have been defeated: from one under the command of General Faucett, 1 they took two fieldpieces. The rebels amount to 15 or 16,000; march in a disciplined manner, have a squadron of cavalry, and fire their cannon with precision. These circumstances I give on the authority of officers who have been beaten back. Every tide brings us in boats full of wounded and fugitives. Yesterday the rebels were in possession of Wexford; thus a port is open to the French, but it is a very bad harbour. At New Ross, ten miles from hence, about 1000 troops and some artillery are got together: the insurgents are around Wexford, about twenty-eight miles from thence. As yet, from the spirit of the principal inhabitants and clergy uniting to guard it, this city has not risen.”

Source. H. F. B. Wheeler and A. M. Broadley, The War in Wexford: an account of the rebellion in the south of Ireland in 1798, told from original documents (London 1910) pp. 83-4.

Photo: Monument at the site of the battle, erected in 1952.

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