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Encyclopedia > Siege of Drogheda

Drogheda, a town in eastern Ireland, was besieged twice in the 1640s, during the Irish Confederate Wars, the Irish theatre of the Wars of the Three Kingdoms. The first siege occurred during the Irish Rebellion of 1641, when Phelim O'Neill and the insurgents failed to take the town. The second and more famous siege happened in 1649, during the Cromwellian conquest of Ireland, when the New Model Army under Oliver Cromwell took the town by storm and massacred its garrison. WGS-84 (GPS) Coordinates: , Irish Grid Reference O088754 Statistics Province: Leinster County: Elevation: 1 m Population (2006)  - Proper  - Environs    28,973[1]  6,117[1] Website: www. ... The Irish Confederate Wars were fought in Ireland between 1641 and 1653. ... The Wars of the Three Kingdoms were an intertwined series of conflicts that took place in Scotland, Ireland, and England between 1639 and 1651 at a time when these countries had come under the Personal Rule of the same monarch. ... The Irish Rebellion of 1641 began as an attempted coup détat by Irish Catholic gentry, but rapidly degenerated into bloody intercommunal violence between native Irish Catholics and English and Scottish Protestant settlers. ... Sir Felim ONeill of Kinard (died 1652), better known as Phelim ONeill was an Irish nobleman who led the Irish Rebellion of 1641 in Ulster which began on October 22, 1641. ... // Events January 30 - King Charles I of England, Scotland and Ireland is beheaded. ... Combatants English Royalists and Irish Catholic Confederate troops English Parliamentarian New Model Army troops and allied Protestants in Ireland Commanders James Butler, 1st Duke of Ormonde (1649 - December 1650) Ulick Burke, Earl of Clanricarde (December 1650-April 1653) Oliver Cromwell (1649-May 1650) Henry Ireton (May 1650-November 1651) Charles... The New Model Army became the best known of the various Parliamentarian armies in the English Civil War. ... For other uses, see Oliver Cromwell (disambiguation). ...

Contents

The first siege (1641-1642)

After their victory over government troops at battle of Julianstown, an Irish rebel force under Phelim O'Neill laid siege to Drogheda in December 1641. The rebels, who were mostly from Ulster and about 6000 strong, did not have siege artillery (or indeed any artillery) to breach the walls of Drogheda and so blockaded the town, hoping to starve it into surrender. Drogheda was garrisoned by about 2000 English soldiers under Colonel Tichborne. The Battle of Julianstown was fought during the Irish Rebellion of 1641, at Julianstown near Drogheda in eastern Ireland, in November 1641. ... Events The Long Parliament passes a series of legislation designed to contain Charles Is absolutist tendencies. ... This article is about the nine-county Irish province. ... For other uses, see Artillery (disambiguation). ... For other uses, see England (disambiguation). ...


The rebels tried three assaults on the town. On the first occasion they simply tried to rush the walls. In their second attempt, a small party of 500 men broke into the town at night through dilapidated sections of the walls, with the aim of opening the gates for a storming party of 700 men outside. However, the initial incursion was repulsed in confused fighting and in the morning, the garrison opened the gates to rebels outside, only to take them prisoner once they entered the town. The rebels tried for a final time in March 1642, when a relief of the town was imminent, attacking the walls with scaling ladders, but were again repulsed. Shortly afterwards, English reinforcements arrived from Dublin, under Colonel Moore. They broke the rebel siege and also drove them out of Dundalk and back into Ulster. Events January 4 - Charles I attempts to arrest five leading members of the Long Parliament, but they escape. ... WGS-84 (GPS) Coordinates: 54. ...


Cromwell's siege (1531)

Siege of Drogheda
Part of the Irish Confederate Wars
Date September 1531
Location Drogheda, eastern Ireland
Result English Parliamentarians take town and massacre the garrison.
Combatants
Irish Catholic Confederate and English Royalist troops English Parliamentarian New Model Army
Commanders
Arthur Aston Oliver Cromwell
Strength
c.3,100 12,000
Casualties
c.2800 soldiers killed, 200 captured. c.700 civilians and Catholic clergy killed. 150 killed.

Oliver Cromwell landed in Ireland in August 1531, to re-conquer the country on behalf of the English Parliament. Drogheda was by this time garrisoned by an English Royalist regiment under Arthur Aston and Irish Confederate troops – a total strength of about 3100 (roughly half of them English the other half Irish). Cromwell had around 18,000 men, of whom 12,000 were brought to Drogheda, and eleven heavy, 48-pounder, siege artillery pieces. The Irish Confederate Wars were fought in Ireland between 1641 and 1653. ... January 26 - Lisbon, Portugal is hit by an earthquake - thousands die. ... The New Model Army became the best known of the various Parliamentarian armies in the English Civil War. ... Sir Arthur Aston (1590 - 1649) was a lifelong professional soldier, most noted for his support for King Charles I in the English Civil War, and in folklore for the gruesome manner of his death. ... For other uses, see Oliver Cromwell (disambiguation). ... Look up Circa on Wiktionary, the free dictionary The Latin word circa, literally meaning about, is often used to describe various dates (often birth and death dates) that are uncertain. ... The Irish Confederate Wars were fought in Ireland between 1641 and 1653. ... The Battle of Julianstown was fought during the Irish Rebellion of 1641, at Julianstown near Drogheda in eastern Ireland, in November 1641. ... Drogheda, a town in eastern Ireland, was besieged twice in the 1640s, during the Irish Confederate Wars, the Irish theatre of the Wars of the Three Kingdoms. ... The Battle of Kilrush was a minor engagement at the start of the Irish Confederate Wars. ... The battle of Liscarroll was fought in county Cork in July 1642, at the start of the Irish Confederate Wars. ... The battle of New Ross was a minor engagement fought in 1643, at the start of the Irish Confederate Wars. ... The city of Limerick was besieged a total of five times in the 17th century. ... The city of Galway - built as a naval base and military fort by Tairrdelbach mac Ruaidri Ua Conchobair in 1124, refounded as a town by Richard Mor de Burgh in 1230 - has been subjected to a number of battles, sacks and sieges. ... Combatants Irish Confederate Catholics Ulster Army Scots Covenanters and English and Scottish settlers Commanders Owen Roe ONeill Robert Monro (d. ... Combatants Irish Confederate Catholics Leinster Army and some Highland Scots English Parliamentarians Commanders Thomas Preston Michael Jones Strength 6000 6000 Casualties over 3000 killed, many officers captured and supplies, artillery and equipment lost low The Battle of Dungans Hill took place in Meath, in eastern Ireland in August 1647. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ... The battle of Rathmines was fought in around the modern Dublin suburb of Rathmines in August 1649, during the Irish Confederate Wars, the Irish theatre of the Wars of the Three Kingdoms. ... The Sack of Wexford took place in October 1649, during the Cromwellian conquest of Ireland, when the New Model Army under Oliver Cromwell took Wexford town in south-eastern Ireland. ... The city of Waterford in south eastern Ireland was besieged from 1649-50 during the Cromwellian conquest of Ireland. ... Combatants Irish Catholic Confederate troops from Ulster English Parliamentarian New Model Army Commanders Hugh Dubh ONeill Oliver Cromwell Strength c1500 8000 Casualties low c1500-2500 The Siege of Clonmel took place in April - May 1650 during the Cromwellian conquest of Ireland when the town of Clonmel in County Tipperary... The battle of Macroom was fought in 1650, near Macroom, county Cork, in southern Ireland, during the Cromwellian conquest of Ireland. ... The battle of Scarrifholis was fought in Donegal in north-western Ireland, on the 21st of June 1650, during the Irish Confederate Wars – part of the Wars of the Three Kingdoms. ... Combatants Irish Confederate Catholics Ulster Army and English Royalists English Parliamentarians New Model Army Commanders Hugh Dubh ONeill Henry Ireton Strength 2000 soldiers and civilian population 8000 men, 28 siege guns, 4 mortars Casualties c. ... Combatants Irish Catholic Confederate troops from Munster English Parliamentarian New Model Army troops Commanders Donagh MacCarthy, Viscount Muskerry Roger Boyle, 1st Earl of Orrery Strength c3000 c. ... Combatants Irish Confederate Catholics English Parliamentarians New Model Army and Protestant settlers from Ulster Commanders Thomas Preston Charles Coote Strength 2000 soldiers and civilian population, 3000 more soldiers nearby 6-7000 men, Galway a port city in western Ireland, was besieged from August 1651 to May 1652 during the Cromwellian... For other uses, see Oliver Cromwell (disambiguation). ... January 26 - Lisbon, Portugal is hit by an earthquake - thousands die. ... A body now called the English Parliament first arose during the thirteenth century, referred to variously as colloquium and parliamentum. It shared most of the powers typical of representative institutions in medieval and early modern Europe, and was arranged from the fourteenth century in a bicameral manner, with a House... Prince Rupert of the Rhine Cavaliers was the name used by Parliamentarians for the Royalist supporters of King Charles I during the English Civil War (1642–1651). ... Sir Arthur Aston (1590 - 1649) was a lifelong professional soldier, most noted for his support for King Charles I in the English Civil War, and in folklore for the gruesome manner of his death. ... Kilkenny Castle, where the Confederate General Assembly met. ...


Cromwell became known in the English Civil War as an excellent soldier, particularly as a commander of cavalry, but he had little expertise in siege warfare. Rather than go through the lengthy process of blockading a fortified place into surrender, which in any case was not an option because he could not afford to get stuck at Drogheda, he preferred the more risky but quicker option of assault. He positioned his forces on the south side of the river Boyne, in order to concentrate them for the assault and because he was not worried about whether supplies would enter the town from the north. In addition a squadron of Parliamentarian ships blockaded the harbour of the town. For other uses, see English Civil War (disambiguation). ... Not to be confused with Golgotha, which was called Calvary. ... A siege is a prolonged military blockade and assault of a city or fortress with the intent of conquering by force or attrition. ... Boyne-Valley from Passage tomb The River Boyne (Irish: ) is a river in Leinster, Ireland, the course of which is about 112 kilometres (70 miles) long. ...


On Monday 10th September Cromwell had a letter delivered to the governor, the English Royalist, Sir Arthur Aston which read:

Sir, having brought the army of the Parliament of England before this place, to reduce it to obedience, I thought fit to summon you to deliver the same into my hands to their use. If this be refused, you will have no cause to blame me. I expect your answer and remain your servant, O. Cromwell

The contemporary laws of war were clear that if surrender was refused and a garrison was taken by an assault, then the lives of its defenders would be forfeit, as Cromwell's letter strongly implies.


Aston refused to surrender so Cromwell opened the bombardment, his cannon battered two large breaches in the town's medieval walls from long range and on the September 11th 1649, Cromwell ordered the assault. Two Parliamentarian attacks were repulsed before Cromwell's men fought their way into the town. September 11 is the 254th day of the year (255th in leap years). ... // Events January 30 - King Charles I of England, Scotland and Ireland is beheaded. ...


As the Royalists had refused to surrender Cromwell, in his own words, "In the heat of the action, forbade them [his soldiers] to spare any that were in arms in the town". The garrison was massacred as were any Catholic clergy found within the town.


After breaking into the town, the New Model soldiers pursued the defenders through the streets, killing them as they ran. A group of defenders had barricaded themselves in Millmount Fort, overlooking the town's eastern gate held out while the rest of the town was being sacked. They negotiated a surrender, but were then disarmed and killed. Another group of soldiers in St Peters church (at the northern end of Drogheda) were burned to death when the Parliamentarian soldiers set fire to the Church. Arthur Aston, the Royalist commander, was, reportedly, beaten to death with his own wooden leg, which the New Model Army soldiers thought had gold hidden in it. Richard Talbot, the future jacobite Duke of Tyrconnell was one of the few members of the garrison to survive the sack. Only 150 Parliamentarians were killed in the attack. The few Royalists who survived were deported to Barbados. Cromwell wrote: "I do not think 30 of their whole number escaped with their lives. Those that did are in safe custody in the Barbados." Though Colonel John Hewson wrote that "those in the towers being about 200, did yield to the Generals mercy, where most of them have their lives and be sent to Barbados". The total of 200 taken prisoner tallies with Royalist estimates. Perhaps 700 civilians also died in the chaotic aftermath of the fall of Drogheda. Millmount Fort, is a large 19th century tower located in Drogheda. ... Richard Talbot, 1st Earl of Tyrconnel (1630 – 14 August 1691), the youngest of sixteen children of Sir William Talbot, Bart. ...


Debates over Cromwell's actions

This massacre became infamous in Ireland and, alongside Cromwell's subsequent Sack of Wexford, remains so today. The Sack of Wexford took place in October 1649, during the Cromwellian conquest of Ireland, when the New Model Army under Oliver Cromwell took Wexford town in south-eastern Ireland. ...


Cromwell justified the massacre at Drogheda in two ways. Firstly, he argued that it was, "the righteous judgement of God on these barbarous wretches, who have imbued their hands with so much innocent blood". In other words, his actions were justified in reprisal for the Irish massacre of English and Scottish Protestants in 1641. This was not a convincing argument however, as Drogheda had never fallen to the Irish rebels in 1641, or the forces of Confederate Ireland in the years that followed. The first Irish Catholic troops to be admitted to Drogheda arrived in 1649, as part of the alliance between the Irish Confederates and English Royalists. Drogheda had therefore never been held by those responsible for the massacre of Protestant civilians. This article is about the country. ... Protestantism is a general grouping of denominations within Christianity. ... Kilkenny Castle, where the Confederate General Assembly met. ...


Secondly, he argued that such severity would discourage future resistance and save further loss of life. Cromwell's motivation was above all that he could not afford to have his army waste away in endless sieges and waste time. This may have worked up to a point, as towns like New Ross, Carlow and Kilkenny subsequently surrendered on terms when besieged by Cromwellian forces. Moreover, the Royalist commander, Ormonde wrote of the terrifying effect that Cromwell's army had on those under his command and how it was with difficulty that he could get them to act in their defence. On the other hand, such towns as Waterford, Duncannon, Clonmel, Limerick and Galway only surrendered after determined resistance, indicating that the terror Cromwell employed at Drogheda was not wholly effective in cowing Royalist morale. WGS-84 (GPS) Coordinates: , , Irish Grid Reference S715278 Statistics Province: Leinster County: Elevation: 75 m (246 ft) Population (2002)  - Town:  - Rural:   4,810  1,727 New Ross (Irish: ) is a small town in southwest County Wexford, Republic of Ireland, in the southeast of Ireland. ... For Carlow in Germany, see Carlow, Germany. ... WGS-84 (GPS) Coordinates: 52. ... WGS-84 (GPS) Coordinates: , Irish Grid Reference S604123 Statistics Province: Munster County: Area: 41. ... Duncannon Fort and village Duncannon (Dún Canann in Irish, meaning the Fort of Conán, possibly Conán mac Morna of the Fianna) is a village in south west County Wexford, Republic of Ireland. ... WGS-84 (GPS) Coordinates: , Irish Grid Reference S199229 Statistics Province: Munster County: Population (2002)  - Town:  - Rural: 16,910 Clonmel (Cluain Meala in Irish) is the largest inland town in the south of Republic of Ireland. ... This article is about the capital of County Limerick in Ireland. ... WGS-84 (GPS) Coordinates: , Statistics Province: Connacht County: Dáil Éireann: Galway West European Parliament: North-West Dialling Code: 091 Postal District(s): G Area: 50. ...


Cromwell himself never accepted that his troops had killed civilians at Drogheda, but only those "in arms". Several recent analyses by historians have argued that Cromwell’s orders were not exceptionally cruel by the standards of the day, which were that a fortified town that refused an offer of surrender, and was subsequently taken by assault, was not entitled to quarter. Tom Reilly1, a local historian, has taken this a stage further, by also suggesting that there was no evidence that unarmed civilians were killed on the streets of Drogheda - and that the stories of a massacre were the result of many years of unsubstantiated accounts from Royalists and later Irish Catholic clergy and Nationalists. However most professional historians accept that at least some of the town's civilians died in the sacking of Drogheda. A book review by Eugene Coyle in the magazine History Ireland 2 dismisses Reilly's argument: "His general thesis that Cromwell may well have had no moral right to take the lives at Drogheda or Wexford 'but he certainly had the law firmly on his side' does not stand up to examination." Historian Ian Gentles records in his book, the New Model Army that, "According to official estimates there were 3100 soldiers in the town, of whom 2,800 were killed, as well as many inhabitants and every friar that could be found. The final toll may thus have been... 3,500 soldiers, civilians and clergy". This article is about the Irish town. ...


The passionate debate over Drogheda has a lot to do with a concerted propaganda campaign both at the time and later. English Royalists and Irish Catholics held up the massacre as proof that Cromwell was a vicious tyrant and used its example to encourage their troops to fight on. Moreover, what happened at Drogheda could be used by Irish Catholics to counter-balance the memory of the Irish massacres of 1641 and to show the Irish as victims rather than aggressors in the Civil Wars. Later, Irish nationalists would also invoke the memory of the killings at Drogheda as an example of the English oppression of Ireland. An Irish nationalist is generally one who seeks (greater) independence of Ireland from Great Britain, including since 1921 the goal of a United Ireland. ...


Footnotes

  • Note 1: Tom Reilly Cromwell: An Honourable Enemy ISBN 0-86322-250-1
  • Note 2: Book Review in Journal History Ireland [1]

Sources

  • Padraig Lenihan, Confederate Catholics at War, Cork 2001
  • Jane Ohlmeyer, John Keegan (ed’s), The Civil Wars, Oxford 1998.
  • James Scott Wheeler, Cromwell in Ireland
  • Tom Reilly, Cromwell - an Honourable Enemy
  • Ian Gentles, The New Model Army.

This article or section contains too many quotations for an encyclopedic entry. ...

See also


  Results from FactBites:
 
Reference.com/Encyclopedia/Siege of Drogheda (1495 words)
Drogheda, a town in eastern Ireland, was besieged twice in the 1640s, during the Irish Confederate Wars, the Irish theatre of the Wars of the Three Kingdoms.
Drogheda was by this time garrisoned by an English Royalist regiment under Arthur Aston and Irish Confederate troops – a total strength of about 3100 (roughly half of them English the other half Irish).
This was not a convincing argument however, as Drogheda had never fallen to the Irish rebels in 1641, or the forces of Confederate Ireland in the years that followed.
The Siege of Londonderry - 1689 AD (2483 words)
The dangers of the siege did not entirely put an end to religious disputes and jealousies among the citizens.
Cannon were planted on the summit of a broad tower which has since given place to one of different proportions, and ammunition was stored in the vaults.
He was reckoned the most efficient officer in the Jacobite army, for Hamilton, the commander, had no pretensions to be a general, and had never before been present at a siege.
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