Vinegar Hill 1798?

Published in Issue 4 (Winter 1999), Letters, Letters, The United Irishmen, Volume 7

Sir,—Is there an editor responsible for illustrations in HistoryIreland? The illustration of Vinegar Hill (HI Autumn 1999 p.35) shouldnot have been included in Jim Smyth’s ‘A Tale of Two Generals’. Thiscrude drawing has incorrect uniforms and the Union flag is thatintroduced three years later, in 1801, following the Act of Union. Thesoldiers are depicted wearing the shako, the cylindrical head-dressintroduced after 1800, not the bicorn hat in use in 1798. Who were the‘Queen’s Own Royal Dublin Militia’? There was no unit of that name inJune 1798: the Irish militia at Vinegar included the County DublinMilitia. This illustration is also included, without any editorialcomment in A Military History of Ireland (Dublin 1996) edited by ThomasBartlett and Keith Jeffery.—Yours etc.,

This drawing (one of several) was sketched by one Sadlier who servedwith the County Dublin Militia at Vinegar Hill in 1798. However, theywere subsequently embellished and ‘coloured in’ by his son William inthe middle of the nineteenth century. Clearly this is where the visualand textual anachronisms correctly spotted by Mr Kerrigan originated.Despite these anachronisms and their crudity we think that readers willagree that they do nevertheless convey something of the chaos ofbattle, and by an eye-witness at that. Therefore we felt justified inusing them. Incidentally, there is a more obvious faux pas on page 32:the pictures of Cumberland and Cornwallis are in the wrong place andshould be swapped around.


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