11 September 2016
The Siege of Drogheda ended on 11 September 1649
On this day in history, 1649: the Siege of Drogheda ends. The siege had begun on 3 September when Oliver Cromwell’s Parliamentarian forces of 12,000 men stood against the English Royalists under Arthur Aston, as part of Cromwell’s initial conquest of Ireland.
Aston refused to surrender the coastal town, so the Cromwellians breached the thin walls, stormed the town, and executed many of those in the garrison and a number of civilians too: 2,000 people were put to the sword by Cromwell that night, those taking refuge in St Mary’s church were burned alive, and the heads of 16 Royalist officers were cut off and sent to Dublin.
Cromwell’s reputation is harsh, but Drogheda stands among his worst atrocities in Ireland – and was the first of several attacks. Wexford, Waterford, Duncannon, Clonmel, Limerick and Galway all came face to face with the New Model Army. In May 1650, Cromwell left Ireland to fight the Scottish, but his campaign continued in Ireland under the control of Henry Ireton. By 1653 the Catholic troops eventually surrendered, and Cromwell’s mission was accomplished.
Pictured: Plan of the coastal town of Drogheda, besieged by Oliver Cromwell in 1649.