#OTD in 1798 – The Battle of Oulart Hill | Wexford rebels massacre Kingsborough’s militiamen and yeomanry at Oulart.

The militia reached the village of Oulart on the afternoon of the 27th having refreshed themselves on the way by sacking a suspect’s public house and drinking the contents. Finding a mass of 1,000 rebels occupying the high ground of Oulart hill, they proceeded to burn cabins at the foot of the hill in an attempt to lure down the rebels. The ruse failed but the nervousness of the poorly armed rebels, among whom there were many women and children, was clearly visible with numbers of them slipping away from the impending confrontation. The rebel leaders desperately tried to stem the tide but had little success until the yeomen cavalry were seen moving to positions to cut off this escape route, which had the effect of stemming the tide of desertions.

The militia then confidently advanced up the hill without waiting for artillery support, contrary to orders according to one of the few survivors, the militia leader, Colonel Foote. Unknown to the militia, the rebels had prepared an ambush line at right angles to their position on the hill and placed those of their number with guns at the front of their positions. The militia advanced and fired a couple of loose volleys but the rebels held their positions until the soldiers reached killing range, then pouring concentrated gunfire upon the soldiers. The rebels then unleashed a ferocious charge on the surviving militiamen who were quickly overwhelmed and pursued for miles across the surrounding countryside, only four of them escaping to temporary safety of Wexford. The supporting yeomen cavalry fled after losing one of their number to rebel gunfire.

Following this victory, in which the rebels lost only six of their number, almost all of North Wexford joined the rebellion and Crown forces and loyalists civilians ceded control of the countryside, withdrawing to towns such as Enniscorthy, Gorey and Wexford.

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