On 7 November 1651, Henry Ireton, general of the Cromwellian army of invasion who was stationed in Clare Castle, near Limerick, wrote to General Thomas Preston, Viscount Tara, Governor of Galway, ordering him to surrender the city. Preston took umbrage at his ‘unsoldierly’ demand and refused to yield Galway ‘at such a distance’ [i.e. 40 miles]. Ireton replied claiming that he was more concerned for the well being of the town’s inhabitants ‘who perhaps may not be so airy of the notion of soldierly honour’.1 In a blatant attempt to divide the military and civic leaders, Ireton suggested to the Galway townsmen that they were ‘under the power of a mercenary soldier who will perhaps pretend [a] point of honour’ in order to further his own interests and self-glorification.2 The townsmen avoided any discussion of ’points of honour’ in their reply, but Preston reiterated his earlier censure, criticizing Ireton for breaking ’the rules of war’.3 In the event, the exchange came to nothing. Ireton died suddenly of a fever three weeks later. As for Preston, with the surrender of Galway on 12 April 1652, he slipped off to France where he died three years later, aged 70.
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