Battle of the Yellow Ford - the turning point of the 9 year war

The Battle of the Yellow Ford was fought by the native Gaelic alliance, under O'Neil and an English expeditionary force under Henry Banageal, the Marshall of the occupying forces in 16th century Ireland.  The battle was fought in County Armagh, Ulster in Ireland.  The result of the battle was a crushing defeat for the English army.

The 4,000 strong Crown expeditionary force marched North with the intent of resupplying a besieged fort on the blackwater river.  Such a large force was dispatched because the Blackwater Fort was of great strategic purpose as military excursions could be launched into the hostile county of Tryrone beyond.  It was also newly built and therefore a symbol of English strength.  As a result the English command agreed that it was imperative to defend the castle.  

The Gaelic army felled trees and dug trenches to make the road to Armagh impassable, which forced the English forces to make a detour through the rugged Irish countryside, a detour that proved fatal.  The oxen drawn artillery floundered in a bog, causing the army to grind to a halt.  The Irish forces capitalised on the stall and fired on the static English soldiers with advanced Spanish muskets causing many early causalities, including Henry Bangeal, the commander in chief.  To further demoralise the English, their gunpowder store was ignited by musket fire.  In the subsequent confusion O'Neil launched a cavalry charge which routed the Crown force, and inflicted losses estimated to number 1,500-2,000 men.  By comparison, the 5,000 strong Irish army lost just 300 men.

Although the battle initially seemed a great victory for the Irish, it only led to defeat in the long term.  As more Irish lords rallied to O'Neil's cause in the aftermath if the battle, the court at London realised the threat O'Neil posed to the English presence in Ireland, prompting an increase in military forces in forces.  Therefore, the result of the battle was an escalation of the Nine Years war which hitherto was a series of disorganised clashes between natives and invaders.    


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