The Battle of New Ross was the bloodiest of the 1798 rebellion. The southern force of the Wexford rebels had swelled to almost 10,000 by the morning of 5 June. Most of this force was armed only with pikes. If they could succeed in taking New Ross, the way would be open to spread the rebellion into Kilkenny.
The crown forces also knew the importance of keeping New Ross. They had expected the attack from the rebels to come since 30 May. In the week in between, they had prepared the town’s defences. They dug trenches around it and placed canons facing all the main streets, so they could fire directly at the rebels when they charged on foot.
In a powerful charge, rebels pushed into the heart of the town and almost drove the British garrison out. However, they had very limited weaponry, and were mainly dependent on pikes. They could not defend their position as well as the crown forces. The government troops had regained control of the entire town by nightfall.
In one day, the rebels had lost more than 2,000 men. The British garrison lost 200. The fighting was merciless on both sides. In one incident, rebels had rounded up between 100 and 200 perceived loyalists and kept them in a barn to prevent them from bringing intelligence to the military. The captives were of all ages and sexes. The rebels set fire to the barn killing everyone inside.
Photo: Three Bullet gate is located at the junction of Neville Street and Town Wall, New Ross. It concluded in a British Victory.