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Siege and Sacking of Dundee


1651

Oliver Cromwell's New Model Army, led by General George Monk (1608-70) systematically occupied the major towns of Scotland to bring the country to heel in retaliation for Scottish support for King Charles II. Having besieged a well-fortified Dundee for a fortnight, Monk requested the town's surrender on 26th August 1651, offering fair terms. The Royalist Governor, Sir Robert Lumsdaine, refused and instead suggested that Monk should be the one to surrender. An infuriated Monk decided to make an example of the town and, on the 30th August, his siege guns opened fire. By the 1st September significant damage had been done, including large breaches in the town's walls. Monk's troops stormed in and desperate hand-to-hand fighting took place, with the defenders eventually retreating into the Steeple of St. Mary's Parish Church. They were smoked out and at least five hundred of the garrison and residents were killed, including the Governor. Some sources suggest this was as many as 2000, including women and children. The city was sacked with many of its buildings burned. Monk had encouraged his soldiers to victory by promising them twenty-four hours to plunder the wealthy town, yet attacks continued for a further fortnight despite Monk's attempts to stop them. Monk proceeded to commandeer ships in Dundee Harbour to move the contents of the town's treasury south to Leith, yet they had barely set sail when they were lost in a storm. Dundee's economy was devastated by the siege and took many years to recover.


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