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Saturday, 28 May 2016

28‭ ‬May‭ ‬1798:‭ ‬The Wexford insurgents,‭ ‬amounting to several thousand people,‭ ‬marched northwards to Camolin on this day.‭ ‬By midday they were at Ferns and by the early afternoon they had reached the outskirts of Enniscorthy.‭ ‬They now numbered about‭ ‬7,000‭ ‬people.‭ ‬The Crown Forces that opposed them there were supplied with small arms but had no artillery and numbered only about‭ ‬300‭ ‬soldiers.‭ ‬The Wexfordmen were without artillery too and mostly carried pikes and homemade weapons.‭ ‬Nevertheless they stormed the town and drove the British southwards toward Wexford Town.‭ ‬Enniscorthy was left more or less a blackened ruin.‭ ‬As a result the United Irishmen made Vinegar Hill [above],‭ ‬just to east of the town their headquarters.

Members of the Crown Forces under Sir James Duff slaughtered‭ ‬350‭ ‬insurgents at the Curragh,‭ ‬Co Kildare.‭ ‬They had gathered there to surrender their weapons on agreed terms.‭ ‬Once they had laid down their arms the massacre began.‭ ‬The chief culprits in this were‭ ‬Roden's Light Dragoons,‭ ‬including the Monasterevan cavalry along with other militia units.‭ ‬Many others were wounded and others either fled on realising what was‭ ‬happening or feigned death till the troops departed.

At Enniscorthy the released captives Edward Fitzgerald and John Henry Colclough,‭ ‬arrived from Wexford Town with a message from the British Commander there.‭  ‬They gave a message that they should disperse and return to their homes or face retribution.‭ ‬Fitzgerald and Colclough had both been arrested two days before as suspected members of the United Irishmen.‭ ‬The British seemed to have assumed they might have enough influence with the Insurgents to persuade them to call off their campaign.‭ ‬In a dramatic moment though,‭ ‬the crowds in the town persuaded both men to join them and the Leadership decided to lead the thousands of armed men they now had under their control,‭ ‬southwards to attack Wexford Town.