helena murphy • Link
The Wexford was so named to commemorate Cromwell's assault and the taking of this Southern Irish port town in October 1649. Ireland had been in rebellion since 1641 and in 1649 the Commonwealth Government gave Cromwell command of the expedition to conquer the country as well as appointing him Lord Lieutenant. Wexford's garrison was commanded by Colonel David Sinnott for the royalists led by James Butler, later Duke of Ormond and Morrogh O'Brien, Lord Inchiquin. Cromwell's strategy was to bombard the town, using the large artillery train which he had brought with him. He was supported by a naval squadron commanded by Richard Deane. In keeping with the conventions of siege warfare, Cromwell called on Sinnott to surrender the town promising generous terms in return. However, Sinnott deliberately prevaricated while awaiting reinforcements. A certain Captain Stafford, seemingly for personal reasons handed over Wexford Castle to the besiegers,from where it was easy to assault and enter the town. Unfortunately, Cromwell failed to control his troops whom he allowed go on the rampage killing up to two thousand townsfolk.This was a severe blot on the General's reputation as a commander. Heath writing in 1663 records the horrors of the massacre and mentions the women pleading for mercy but to no avail"with the command of their charming eyes and those melting tears".The acquisition of Wexford gave the Commonwealth navy a very fine harbour in the south of Ireland from which it could reinforce and supply the army of conquest and stamp out piracy, a menace to English commerce.
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