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Battle of Cavan

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Title: Battle of Cavan  
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Subject: Raid on Newry, County Cavan, William Nugent (soldier), Siege of Derry, Battle of Aughrim
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Battle of Cavan

Battle of Cavan
Part of Williamite War in Ireland
Date 11 February 1690
Location Cavan, County Cavan, Ireland
Result Williamite victory
Williamite forces Jacobite forces
Commanders and leaders
William Wolseley Duke of Berwick
William Nugent
1,000 2,500
Casualties and losses
50 500

The Battle of Cavan took place in Cavan, Ireland on 11 February 1690 between forces of Williamite and Jacobite troops during the Williamite War in Ireland. It ended in a victory for the Protestant Williamites who captured and sacked the town before withdrawing to their base at Belturbet.

The local Protestant commander Colonel William Wolseley had been instructed by his overall commander Marshal Schomberg to observe and harry Cavan, as the Jacobites hoped to use it as a base to launch plundering raids across Ulster. At the time Cavan was one of the few remaining settlements in Ulster still loyal to James II of Ireland. The Duke of Berwick led a reinforcement to the Jacobite garrison commanded by Brigadier John Wauchope.

Wolseley left Belturbet with a force of 700 infantry and 300 cavalry. He hoped to catch the Jacobites by surprise by using a roundabout route to cross the River Annalee via Bellanacargy but his expedition was spotted by a Jacobite outpost and word passed on to Cavan of its approach. Berwick decided to march out and confront Wolseley in the open, as Cavan town was unfortified and indefensible. Wolseley was unaware that Berwick had arrived to reinforce Wauchope the previous day bringing the Jacobite strength up to 2,500.[1]

Nonetheless Wolseley felt that he had to now launch an attack, as it would be dangerous to attempt a withdrawal. He rallied his men and sent his cavalry forwards, but they were pushed back by a Jacobite cavalry charge. Wolseley then led his infantry forward, who received the Jacobite fire until they were close enough to fire a devastating volley. The Jacobite infantry fled for the safety of a nearby entrenched fort.

The Wilimaite troops now surged into the town and began plundering it, probably led by the Enniskillen troops. Seeing this some of the Jacobites sallied out of the fort and attacked them but were driven off by the Williamite forces, many of the plunderers rejoining the ranks to see off the threat.[2] During the fighting the Jacobites lost Brigadier William Nugent, and their casualties have been estimated at around 500 compared to much lower Williamite losses.

Wolseley then burned the town and withdrew back to Belturbet. The defeat was a blow to Jacobite plans for the area and Berwick returned to Dublin. In his report, Berwick inflated the both the size and casualties of the Protestant force.[3]

The victory at Cavan began a successful year for the Williamites, and preceded the general Protestant victory to the east at the Battle of the Boyne that summer, leading to the capture of Dublin. Cavan subsequently fell to the Williamites.


  1. ^ Childs p.190
  2. ^ Childs p.190-191
  3. ^ Childs p.191


  • Childs, John. The Williamite Wars in Ireland. Bloomsbury Publishing, 2007.
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