The Sacking Of Wexford
n August 1649 the Cromwellian Conquest in Ireland had begun, which included the sacking of Drogheda on September 11th that resulted in the massacre of about 3,000 civilians & soldiers.
Wexford was the base for a fleet of Confederate privateers, who raided English Parliamentary shipping and contributed 10% of their plunder to the Confederate government based in Kilkenny. By 1649, there were over 40 such vessels operating from the town, this made Wexford a target for Cromwell.
Cromwell arrived at Wexford on October 2nd 1649 with about 6000 men, eight heavy siege guns and two mortars and concentrated his force on the heights overlooking the southern end of the town.
The town's garrison initially consisted of 1500 Confederate soldiers under David Sinnott, who was under pressure from civilians in the town to negotiate a surrender with Cromwell, especially after what had happened in Drogheda only four weeks earlier.
Sinnot strung out the negotiations while at the same time strengthening his garrison to 4,800 by October 11th, Sinnott also knew that the main Royalist/Confederate force under James Butler, 1st Duke of Ormonde was close by at New Ross and could come to their aid.
Cromwell, predictably, dismissed the ideas that he would let the Catholic garrison and their privateer go with all their weapons. While these negotiations were carried out his siege guns opened two breaches in the city walls, opening the way for an attack should he order it.
While negotiations continued on 11 October Cromwell’s troops suddenly stormed the vulnerable town. Cromwell denied giving the order, but chaos ensued as the Parliamentarian troops flooded into Wexford. The town’s castle was inexplicably surrendered without a fight by its English Royalist captain, Stafford, and after this, any notion of a fight was over.
The town's garrison fled in fear, the Parliamentarian troops pursued them into the streets of Wexford, killing many of the town's defenders. Several hundred, including David Sinnot, the town governor, were shot or drowned as they tried to cross the river Slaney.
Much of the town and harbour were looted and burnt, its estimated that 2,000 civilians were massacred that day in Wexford Town
Cromwell may not have given the order but he did nothing to stop it and there was no punishment for those who participated in it. In fact, Cromwell tried to justify it by claiming it was revenge at how the town had treated Protestant's in 1641.