Vinegar Hill

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Name Vinegar Hill County Wexford Nearest Town Enniscorthy Access Road N11/N30 About At Vinegar Hill you will find the stump of an old windmill on top of a hill overlooking the town of Enniscorthy and the surrounding countryside.

During the Rebellion of 1798, the Irish insurgents, led by Father Murphy, encamped on the hill and flew their banner from the windmill.

But General Lake stormed the hill on 21st June with 15,000 men; the flag was torn down and replaced by the English Royal Standard.

Only the shell of the windmill remains.

The Battle of Vinegar Hill was an engagement during the between forces of the British Crown and United Irishmen when over 15,000 British soldiers launched an attack on Vinegar Hill, the largest camp and headquarters of the Wexford rebels.

It marked a turning point in the Irish Rebellion of 1798 as it was the last attempt by the rebels to hold and defend ground against the British military.

The British simultaneously launched an attack on Enniscorthy town to cut off the bridge linking Vinegar Hill to the town but were met with fierce resistance from the Irish there led by William Barker.

British progress in the town was slow and they suffered heavy casualties as the town saw heavy street fighting for the second time in one month.

The rebels were eventually driven across the bridge but were reinforced by a large contingent of newly arrived Irish, who managed to prevent the military from breaking through until most of the rebel force had escaped along the eastern side of the river Slan.

The battle was actually fought in two locations, on Vinegar Hill itself and in the streets of nearby rebel-held Enniscorthy.

When it became clear that the bulk of the Irish were retreating from Vinegar Hill, the British cavalry were unleashed, quickly followed by the infantry.

A massacre of hundreds of stragglers ensued, mainly women and children, from a combination of the cavalry and infantry attack but also from the field guns which were switched to grape shot to maximise casualties among the fleeing masses.

In addition, the British military were guilty of multiple instances of gang rape of females amongst the Irish camp.

In Enniscorthy meanwhile, troops set fire to a makeshift rebel hospital in the town, burning scores of trapped and helpless wounded rebels alive.