Battle of Newtownbutler
|Battle of Newtownbutler|
|Part of the Williamite War in Ireland|
|Jacobite forces||Williamite forces|
|Commanders and leaders|
|Justin McCarthy, Viscount Mountcashel||Colonel William Wolseley|
|Casualties and losses|
|~2,000 killed, McCarthy and 400 officers captured||low|
The Battle of Newtownbutler took place near Enniskillen in County Fermanagh, Ireland, now in Northern Ireland, in 1689 and was part of the Williamite War in Ireland between the forces of William and Mary and those of King James II.
The war in western Ulster
In Enniskillen, armed Williamite civilians drawn from the local Protestant population organised a formidable irregular military force. The armed civilians of Enniskillen ignored an order from Robert Lundy that they should fall back to Londonderry and instead launched guerrilla attacks against the Jacobites. Operating with Enniskillen as a base, they carried out raids against the Jacobite forces in Connacht and Ulster plundering Trillick, burning Augher Castle and raiding Clones.
A poorly trained Jacobite army of about 3,000 men, led by Justin McCarthy, Viscount Mountcashel, advanced on them from Dublin. McCarthy's men were mostly raw recruits, raised from in and around his own lands in south Munster. On 28 July 1689, McCarthy's force encamped near Enniskillen and bombarded the Williamite outpost of Crom castle to the south east of Enniskillen. Crom (pronounced Crumb) Castle is almost 20 miles from Enniskillen by road and about 5 miles from Newtownbutler.
Two days later, they were confronted by about 2,000 Williamite 'Inniskilliniers' under Colonel Berry, Colonel William Wolseley and Gustave Hamilton. The Jacobite dragoons under Anthony Hamilton stumbled into an ambush laid by Berry's men near Lisnaskea and were routed, taking 230 casualties. Mountcashel managed to drive off Berry's cavalry with his main force, but was then faced with the bulk of the Williamite strength under Wolesley. There is some debate in the sources over troop numbers, though it is thought that Mountcashel had a large number of poorly armed conscripts. Unwisely, McCarthy halted and drew up his men for battle about a mile south of Newtownbutler.
Many of the Jacobite troops fled as the first shots were fired and up to 1500 of them were hacked down or drowned in Upper Lough Erne when pursued by the Williamite cavalry. Of 500 men who tried to swim across the Lough only one survived. McCarthy, the Jacobite commander, along with about 400 Jacobite officers were captured and later exchanged for Williamite prisoners; the other Jacobites were killed. Mountcashel was wounded by bullet and narrowly avoided being killed. He went on to command the Irish Brigade in the French army.
The Williamite victory at Newtownbutler ensured that a landing by the Duke of Schomberg in County Down in August 1689 was unopposed.
- Kevin Haddick Flynn, Sarsfield and the Jacobites, Mercier, London 2003, ISBN 1-85635-408-3.