The Fate of the Rebels after 1798
In the aftermath of 1798 the British had to deal with thousands of political prisoners. Michael Durey traces the mixture of decisiveness, pragmatism and clemency with which they were treated.
Within two days of his arrival in Dublin on June 20th, 1798, the new Lord Lieutenant and Commander-in-Chief, Charles, Marquess Cornwallis, received encouraging news of the defeat of the Irish rebels at Vinegar Hill and the recapture of the town of Wexford. Although the rebellion was by no means over - large pockets of resistance were to remain for many months and a French invasion force was still to arrive - the issue was no longer in doubt. The immediate concern of his government was, therefore, to bring some semblance of order and normality to Ireland. Cornwallis and the young Irish Secretary, Lord Castlereagh, were convinced that priority had to be given to returning the tens of thousands of rebels still in arms to their allegiance to the king. To achieve this they developed a strategy which sought to bring the rebel leaders to justice, but exonerated the deluded rank and file. On surrendering their weapons and taking the oath of allegiance, ordinary rebels not involved in murders or robberies were to be permitted to return quietly to their homes.
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