By Katcher Ph., Volstad R.
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The Commonwealth plan of attack was simple, and followed a set pattern that had been employed by both sides during the Civil War. e. one which it was felt could be successfully stormed. At this point the town would be summoned to surrender. Should the town governor elect to continue to resist, the breaches would be assaulted with a number of troops being detailed to seize and open the town gate. Once this objective was secured, the cavalry massed opposite would then launch an attack through the open gate, their instructions being to ride for the town square – the most likely area for the enemy commander to have concentrated both his reserves and his TOP Looking east across the ravine, Cromwell’s eastern battery would have been sited along the line of red-brick houses.
Counting upon the fact that as a result of the defeats at Rathmines and Drogheda, the enemy had not only lost several thousand of their best troops but also an almost prohibitive amount of arms and equipment, he could take the field army westwards, threatening Kilkenny in the hope of enticing Ormond to give battle in order to save his capital, or he could strike southwards along the coast and in a rapid campaign seize the principal enemy ports in the provinces of Leinster and Munster, severing Ormond’s most direct route of communications with his supporters on the Continent, and in addition clearing out several nests of privateers who were the scourge of English merchantmen.
In the final analysis, the choice was not a difficult one for him to make. And in his official correspondence, he accepts full responsibility for the massacre, establishing a terrible future precedent for other enemy garrisons that may choose to ignore the warning of Drogheda. In Cromwell’s own words ‘… it will tend to prevent the effusion of blood for the future …’ The alternative would not only have been to risk discontent in the army at a time when its main tactical advantage was its cohesion and discipline, but it would also have called into question his suitability for the Irish command, especially if it could be shown to have lost control over the army in its first major engagement.