THE TAKING OF DROGHEDA
 Drogheda means the bridge of the ford. It lies upon the river Boyne, and, like Dublin, it is built on both banks of the
river. But, in the days of Cromwell, there was only one bridge over it, and all round were strong walls.
It lies near a farming district, and is the most important export town in that part of Ireland. From there
butter and eggs are sent to England. It has linen manufactures too, for which many Irish towns are famous.
Now the Royalists made a brave defence, but Cromwell had heavy guns with which he battered the walls, until he
made a breach. Then his soldiers rushed at the breach, hoping to storm the town. But so fiercely did the
Royalists fight that they were thrown back. Again they rushed to the attack. Again they were thrown back.
Then Cromwell, seeing how his men were baffled again and again, put himself at their head. New courage came to
the Ironsides, and shouting with joy, they followed their gallant leader. And as the sun was sinking, the town
at last was won. Back and back the brave defenders were borne to the Mill Mount, the highest and strongest
place in the town. Even here the Ironsides followed, and almost to a man the Royalists were slaughtered where
 In his wars in England Cromwell had been stern and fierce. Now he was pitiless. No mercy was shown. "No
quarter" was the cry. Over the bridge fled the Royalists pursued by the conquerors. There was no safety
anywhere. A church in which some took refuge was set on fire, and the poor wretches within it died in the
flames. The blaze of the burning church lit up the darkness, for night had now fallen, and as the bloodshed
went on the shrieks of the dying mingled with the roar of flames, and the crash of falling stones.
So awful was the slaughter, that of three thousand men scarcely thirty escaped. Not only soldiers, but all the
friars and priests within the town were "knocked on the head." Thus the siege of Drogheda ended in a fearful
and pitiless butchery.
Cromwell himself, even in those rough, stern times, felt the need of some excuse. He gave the order for "no
quarter," he said, in the heat and anger of battle. And such bitterness would serve, he thought, as an example
to the rebels and prevent bloodshed in future, "Which are the satisfactory grounds to such actions, which
otherwise cannot but work remorse and regret."
The slaughter of Drogheda struck terror, for a time at least, into the hearts of the Royalists. Trim, a little
agricultural town farther up the Boyne, gave in without striking a blow.
Dun-  dalk, which like Drogheda is a trading seaport, followed.
Then Cromwell, leaving garrisons to guard his conquests, marched southward by Wicklow and Limerick, to Wexford,
castles and towns yielding to him everywhere as he marched.
This Limerick is not the seaport on the west, the chief town of the county of Limerick, but a little village in
Cromwell wanted to take Wexford because the bay was a natural harbour, easily reached from Milford Haven, where
troops could be landed. From the south of the bay a tongue of land, ending in Rosslare Point, runs northward
forming Wexford Harbour, and at Rosslare there is now a good harbour. Between Dublin Bay and Wexford there is
no other good inlet. The county of Wexford, sloping towards the sea from the Arklow and Wicklow mountains, is
very fertile. It has become famous for its butter and eggs and dairy produce, which are easily shipped off to
other places through the port of Wexford, which has therefore become important. The streets are narrow and the
houses small, and among them may still be seen that in which Cromwell lived after he had taken the town.
For Wexford, like Drogheda, was soon taken, and as at Drogheda, the defenders were slaughtered cruelly.
The weather had been wet and dreary, and
 Cromwell's camp was turned into a quagmire. Many of his soldiers fell ill. But as soon as Wexford was taken, he
was on the march again to New Ross. Along the muddy roads, and by the bare fields of barley stubble they went
to the little agricultural town on the river Barrow.
Cromwell began at once to bombard the town. But the news of the massacre of Drogheda and of Wexford had reached
the garrison. The fear of Cromwell was upon them, and in three days they yielded. This time the soldiers were
allowed to march out, leaving their arms and ammunition behind them. Some of the garrison were English, and
five hundred of them immediately joined Cromwell. He was very glad to have them, for many of his own men had
died, worn out by the long marches and terrible wet weather.
Hundreds of additional titles available for
online reading when you join Gateway to the Classics