Battle of Tecroghan

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Battle of Tecroghan
Part of the Irish Confederate Wars and Wars of the Three Kingdoms
Date 19 June 1650
Location Tecrogan castle, near Trim, Westmeath central Ireland
Result Minor Irish victory, temporary relief of castle
Belligerents
Irish Confederate Catholics English Parliamentarians
Commanders and leaders
James Tuchet, 3rd Earl of Castlehaven & Ulick Burke, 1st Marquess of Clanricarde directing relief force; Sir Robert Talbot & Lady Fitzgerald defending castle Colonels John Hewson & John Reynolds
Strength
2000 as well as 1500 defending castle 2600
Casualties and losses
low 200 killed

The Battle of Tecroghan took place near Trim, in west Leinster, Ireland in June 1650. It was fought between the armies of Confederate Ireland and the English Parliament during the Wars of the Three Kingdoms. An English force under Hewson and Reynolds had surrounded the formidable castle of Tecroghan. The castle was defended by a force led by Sir Robert Talbot and Lady Fitzgerald and contained a considerable number of cannon. Clanricarde and Castlehaven felt it was of enough strategic importance to warrant combining their forces and coming to the relief of the Castle.

The battle was unusual in that an Irish force managed to win a minor battlefield victory over a force of New Model Army troops, although the long-term strategic consequences of this victory were insignificant.

Background[edit]

By the summer of 1650, Things were looking dire for the Irish. Many towns in the south and east were under parliamentarian control. A plague, which had first appeared in Galway in late 1649, was still decimating the population of many parts of the country. The Irish still controlled the major towns of Waterford, Galway and Limerick, as well as all of the province of Connaught. A veteran force of several thousand Ulstermen was still active in the North. But the English were starting to threaten central Ireland. Ormonde and Clanricarde realised they needed to make a major effort if they were to hold off the English advance.

The castle of Tecroghan was located in a bog island seven miles west of Trim. The surrounding terrain was fairly desolate, but it was only a few miles from the main road from Dublin to Athlone, making it of considerable strategic importance. English forces appeared before the Castle in May, but Hewson shortly after led some companies away to hunt the partisans known as tories. This weakened the besieging force. Clanricarde and Castlehaven realised that if they united their forces they would have a chance to come to the castles relief.

The battle[edit]

In 18 June Clanricarde and Castlehaven led a force several thousand strong to Tyrellspass, westward of Tecroghan. Observation revealed that the castle was surrounded by 1,400 English Infantry and 1,200 cavalry; most of them entrenched behind crude fortrifications. The English Cavalry was a major danger to the Irish, who were mostly infantry, but much of the terrain around Tecroghan was boggy ground upon which cavalry would have difficulty. A council of war determined that an effort should be made to relieve the castle. Each soldier was given packages of gunpowder and food to carry about their person in addition to their weapons. Shortly before the battle Clanricarde withdrew, on the grounds of poor health, and thus Castlehaven was left to direct the combined armies.

On 19 June the Irish column moved into the bog. Only four miles away from the castle they ran into the 2,600 English soldiers deployed in a battle line. After deploying, Castlehaven ordered a small force of horse to distract the enemy; immediately afterwards the Irish infantry attacked, the Irish left wing (under colonel Burke) attacking the English right. Shortly after nightfall Burke's men broke through. On the Irish right flank things did not go so smoothly; a sudden English counter-attack drove the Irish back into the woods and bog. Castlehaven tried to prevent panic taking hold in the Irish centre, but failed. The Irish army was thus soon in retreat. Even so, a few hundred of the Irish on the left flank were able to make it to the Castle with their packages. On the way they managed to destroy part of the English siege works and capture a cannon.

In the following few days, the reinforced garrison sallied out against the English, killing some soldiers.

Although the Irish forces were driven off, the battle of Tecroghan can be considered a small Irish victory, as they had achieved their objective with minimal loss of life: Dr Henry Jones, an English observer in Ireland at the time, records in his notes that only eight Irish soldiers were killed in the battle. The English forces however were reinforced and Castlehaven and Clanricarde realised by 23 June that further efforts to relieve the castle were hopeless.

On 25 June Sir Robert Talbot and Lady Fitzgerald surrendered the castle. The terms were lenient, allowing the garrison to march out with their weapons and serve elsewhere in Ireland.

Only a few days after the battle took place the veteran Ulster army was destroyed at the battle of Scarrifholis, dashing all remaining hopes of resisting the English conquest.

Sources[edit]

  • Scot-Wheeler, James (1999). Cromwell in Ireland. Dublin: Gill & Macmillan. ISBN 0-7171-2884-9. 

See also[edit]