On this day in 1760 the Battle of Carrickfergus was fought when French forces under the command of Privateer François Thurot attacked and overwhelmed the small garrison of the town and captured its castle. The battle formed part of the ongoing Seven Years War, which had broken out in 1756 and engulfed Europe, the Americas and elsewhere in what was arguably the world’s first true global conflict. In the end, the war bought an effective end to French supremacy in Europe and boosted Britain's rise towards its eventual position as the world's predominant power.
The events around Carrickfergus can be seen as part of France’s planned invasion of Great Britain, which started to take shape in 1759. Thurot’s objective was to provide diversionary support for the invasion and with orders to head for Ireland he set sail from Dunkirk with five ships and 600 soldiers.
Carrickfergus presented an easy target, though the small garrison offered a fierce defense. During the siege the defenders ran out of ammunition and ended up firing buttons at the attackers. When word of the capture reached Dublin, the Lord Lieutenant Duke of Bedford went with a small force of dragoons to Carrickfergus, however Thurot was able to hold his position for five days. During this time he was able to harass Belfast and demand supplies and a ransom from the city.
It was not until General Strode mobilized a large force of local militia and the appearance of a Royal Navy squadron off the coast that the French position became untenable and Thurot was forced to flee. The little French squadron was however pursued and was caught and destroyed at the Battle of Bishops Court in the Irish Channel, with Thurot among the dead. By this time the French had been forced to abandon their planned invasion and the endeavor played little part in the course of the war.
This scene was built by James Pegrum as part of a series of models on interesting events in British history. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to see them first.
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