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The Battle of Enniscorthy was a land battle fought during the Irish Rebellion of 1798, on 28 May 1798, when an overwhelming force of rebels assailed the town of Enniscorthy, County Wexford, which was defended only by a 300-strong garrison supported by loyalist civilians. On the previous day at nearby Oulart, several thousand rebels led by Fr John Murphy had massacred a detachment of the North Cork militia, amounting to 110 officers and men.[2]:92–93

Battle of Enniscorthy
Part of the United Irishmen Rebellion
Date28 May 1798
Result United Irishmen victory
British abandon Enniscorthy.
United Irishmen Kingdom of Great Britain British Army
Commanders and leaders
John Murphy
Edward Roche
Captain William Snowe
5,000–7,000[1] 331[1]
Casualties and losses
~100–500 killed ~100 killed



The attack on Enniscorthy began at about 1 p.m., when the rebels drove a herd of cattle through the town’s Duffry gate, creating disorder, and set the town's buildings on fire. The troops defending the gate withdrew to a stone bridge over the River Slaney. After a determined defence of about three hours, the loyalist forces had expended their ammunition. They were also flanked by rebels wading across the river's low water, but after having driven all the rebels out of town[2]:96 they were ordered to abandon the town and withdraw to Wexford, which they did alongside a terrified multitude of men, women and children fleeing the burning town.[3] In the action, the garrison and yeomanry had killed up to 500 insurgents at a cost of 90 of their own dead.[4]


According to the historian Maxwell, the town's Protestants saw a merciless night attack as almost certain. Throughout the fight, Catholic residents had been supporting the rebels by shooting loyalists from their windows. Of the many fugitives, the weakest were carried on cavalry horses or otherwise abandoned to their fate, including infants and the elderly.

The rebels were brutal and vengeful in occupying their captured town. They were setting up a formidable encampment of 10,000 men on the nearby heights of Vinegar Hill and were able to roster forces to garrison Enniscorthy, whose streets were littered with dead and dying while flames continued to rage. 478 dwelling houses were destroyed in addition to commercial premises.[2]:97

References & footnotesEdit

  1. ^ a b Dickson, p. 71.
  2. ^ a b c Maxwell, W. H. History of the Irish Rebellion in 1798. H. H. Bohn, London 1854
  3. ^ Field, Henry M. The Irish Confederates, and the rebellion of 1798 Harper &Brothers, New York, 1851. pp 228–229. At
  4. ^ Gordon, James B. "History of the Rebellion in Ireland in the year 1798, &c." London, 1803.


Coordinates: 52°30′07″N 6°33′57″W / 52.5019°N 6.5658°W / 52.5019; -6.5658