The bloodiest battle of the Rebellion of 1798 took place on June 5th, beginning at sunrise. The United Irishmen, numbering at near 10,000, attacked British forces in New Ross on the River Barrow. The British had anticipated the attack, with the recent fall of Wexford. Fighting occurred outside of the town as well as in the streets of New Ross. The British were well equipped, numbering roughly 2000 comprised of militia and soldiers; the United Irish were limited in supplies and were dependent mostly on using the pike as their primary weapon. At one point, the United Irish secured about two thirds of the town, amassing heavy casualties along the way.
The battle went on until close to noon, where upon arrival of British reinforcements, the United Irishmen were driven from New Ross. This was the end of the battle, but it wasn’t the end of the carnage. Upon retreat, both the British and the Irish were accused of great atrocities. Hundreds are said to have been burned alive and even civilians from both sides are said to have been killed.
The remaining rebels encamped about five miles outside of the city, but never staged a second attack. Losses to the United Irish were reportedly 2800 to 3000 casualties and losses while the British, outnumbered by nearly five to one, reported 232 casualties. The loss of this battle to the United Irish effectively halted the spread of the rebellion into neighboring County Kilkenny.
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