Hugh O’Neill, Earl of Tyrone, commanded the Irish rebels who laid siege to Blackwater fort, just to the northwest of Armagh. The Earl of Ormonde, the English commander in Ireland, was reluctant to relieve the ‘scurvey fort’, but Sir Henry Bagenal (whose daughter Mabel had eloped with O’ Neill and later died in childbirth) volunteered for the mission, bent on revenge. Approaching Blackwater, the British force became strung out in the boggy terrain, made worse when a cannon got stuck in the Yellow Ford. The Irish, who had harried the column with hit-and-run raids now attacked in force, and Bagenal was quickly killed. The English van tried to reach the fort, but were blocked by an Irish trench and quickly surrounded. Replacement commander Thomas Wingfield managed to secure the ford and rescue the remnants of the vanguard, then beat a desperate retreat: a fifth of the force were killed. Blackwater’s garrison surrendered, and allowed to leave unmolested, minus their armaments.
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