Accession of James II.—Position of Public Affairs—Birth of an
Heir—Landing of William of Orange—Arrival of King James in
Ireland—The Siege of Derry—Cruelties of the Enniskilleners—Disease in
Schomberg's Camp—The Battle of the Boyne—James' Defeat and Disgraceful
Plight—The Siege of Athlone—The Siege of Limerick—Marlborough appears
before Cork—William raises the Siege of Limerick and returns to
England—The Siege of Athlone, Heroic Valour of its Defenders—The
Battle of Aughrim—Surrender of Limerick.

[A.D. 1688-1691.]

ing James' accession again raised the hopes of the Catholics, and again
they were doomed to disappointment; while the Protestants, who had their
fears also, soon learned that policy would bend itself to popularity.
Colonel Richard Talbot was now raised to the peerage as Earl of
Tyrconnel, and appointed Commander-in-Chief of the forces, with an
authority independent of the Lord Lieutenant. His character, as well as
that of his royal master, has been judged rather by his political
opinions than by facts, and both have suffered considerably at the hands
of a modern historian, who has offered more than one holocaust to the
manes of his hero, William of Orange.

The moderate and cautious Clarendon was appointed Viceroy, and did his
best to appease the fears of the Protestants; but he was soon succeeded
by Tyrconnel, whose zeal for Irish interests was not always tempered by
sufficient moderation to conciliate English politicians. He had fought
against O'Neill; he had opposed Rinuccini; he had served in the Duke of
Ormonde's army; he had helped to defend Drogheda against the
Republicans, and had lain there apparently dead, and thus escaped any
further suffering; he was of the Anglo-Irish party, who were so
faithfully loyal to the crown, and whose loyalty was repaid with such
cold indifference; yet his virtues have been ignored, and Macaulay
accuses him of having "adhered to the old religion, like the Celts,"
which was true, and of "having taken part with them in the rebellion of
1641," which was not true.

James commenced his reign by proclaiming his desire for religious
liberty. Individually he may not have been much beyond the age in
opinion on this subject, but liberty of conscience was necessary for
himself. He was a Catholic, and he made no secret of his religion; he
was, therefore, obliged from this motive, if from no other, to accord
the same boon to his subjects. The Quakers were set free in England, and
the Catholics were set free in Ireland. But the Puritan faction, who had
commenced by fighting for liberty of conscience for themselves, and who
ended by fighting to deny liberty of conscience to others, were quite
determined that neither Quakers nor Catholics should worship God as they
believed themselves bound to do. Such intolerance, unhappily, was not
altogether confined to the illiterate. Coke, in a previous generation,
had declared that it was felony even to counsel the King to tolerate
Catholics; and Usher, that it was a deadly sin. The King had neither the
good sense nor the delicacy of feeling to guide him through these
perils. His difficulties, and the complications which ensued, belong to
the province of the English historian, but they were not the less felt
in Ireland.

The Protestants professed to be afraid of being massacred by the
Catholics; the Catholics apprehended a massacre from the Protestants.
Catholics were now admitted to the army, to the bar, and to the senate.
Protestants declared this an infringement of their rights, and forgot
how recently they had expelled their Catholic fellow-subjects, not
merely from honours and emoluments, but even from their altars and their

An event now occurred which brought affairs to a crisis. The King's
second wife, Mary of Modena, gave him an heir, and the heir appeared
likely to live (A.D. 1688). William of Orange, who had long flattered
himself that he should one day wear the crown of England, saw that no
time should be lost if he intended to secure the prize, and commenced
his preparations with all the ability and with all the duplicity for
which his career has been admired by one party, and denounced by the
other, according as political and religious opinions viewed the deceit
under the strong light of the ability, or the ability under the glare of
the deceit. The Protestant party could not but see all that was to be
apprehended if a Catholic heir should succeed to the throne, and they
sacrificed their loyalty to their interests, if not to their principles.

William arrived in England on the 5th of November, 1688. He professed to
have come for the purpose of investigating the rumours which had been so
industriously circulated respecting the birth of the heir who had barred
his pretensions, and to induce the King to join the league which had
been just formed against France; but he took care to come provided with
an armament, which gave the lie to his diplomatic pretensions; and as
soon as he had been joined by English troops, of whose disaffection he
was well aware, his real motive was no longer concealed. James fled to
France, whither he had already sent his Queen and heir. Still there was
a large party in England who had not yet declared openly for the
usurper; and had not James entirely alienated the affection of his
subjects by his tyrannical treatment of the Protestant bishops, his
conduct towards the University of Oxford, and the permission, if not the
sanction, which he gave to Jeffreys in his bloody career, there can be
little doubt that William should have fought for the crown on English
ground as he did on Irish.

Ulster was principally peopled by Protestant Presbyterians, from the
north of Scotland. They were not likely to be very loyal even to a
Stuart, for the Irish had been called over to Scotland before now to
defend royal rights; they had not very defined religious opinions,
except on the subject of hatred of Popery and Prelacy. It cannot be a
matter of surprise, therefore, that these men hailed the prospect of a
new sovereign, whose opinions, both religious and political, coincided
with their own. If he, too, had very general views as to the rights of
kings, and no very particular view as to rights of conscience being
granted to any who did not agree with him, he was none the less

Tyrconnel had neither men, money, nor arms, to meet the emergency. He
had to withdraw the garrison from Derry to make up the contingent of
3,000 men, which he sent to assist the King in England; but they were
immediately disarmed, and the young men of Derry closed their gates, and
thus were the first to revolt openly against their lawful King. The
native Irish had been loyal when loyalty cost them their lives, without
obtaining for them any increased liberty to exercise their religion;
they were, therefore, not less likely to be loyal now, when both civil
and religious liberty might depend upon their fealty to the crown. The
Enniskilleners revolted; and the whole of Ulster, except Charlemont and
Carrickfergus, declared for William of Orange.

James determined to make an effort to regain his throne; and by this act
rendered the attempt of his son-in-law simply a rebellion. Had the King
declined the contest, had he violated the rules of government so grossly
as no longer to merit the confidence of his people, or had there been no
lawful heir to the throne, William's attempt might have been legitimate;
under the circumstances, it was simply a successful rebellion. The King
landed at Kinsale, on the 12th of March, 1689, attended by some Irish
troops and French officers. He met Tyrconnel in Cork, created him a
duke, and then proceeded to Bandon, where he received the submission of
the people who had joined the rebellion. On his arrival in Dublin, he
summoned a Parliament and issued proclamations, after which he proceeded
to Derry, according to the advice of Tyrconnel. Useless negotiations
followed; and James returned to Dublin, after having confided the
conduct of the siege to General Hamilton. If that officer had not been
incomparably more humane than the men with whom he had to deal, it is
probable that the 'Prentice Boys of Derry would not have been able to
join in their yearly commemoration of victory. The town was strongly
fortified, and well supplied with artillery and ammunition; the
besiegers were badly clad, badly provisioned, and destitute of almost
every thing necessary to storm a town. Their only resource was to starve
out the garrison; but of this resource they were partly deprived by the
humanity of General Hamilton, who allowed a considerable number of men,
women, and children to leave Derry, and thus enabled its defenders to
hold out longer. Lundy, who urged them to capitulate to King James, was
obliged to escape in disguise; and Major Baker, assisted by the Rev.
George Walker, a Protestant clergyman, then took the command. According
to the statements of the latter, the garrison amounted to 7,500 men, and
they had twenty-two cannon, which alone gave them an immense advantage
over the royal army. So much has been already said and written, and sung
of the bravery of the Derry men, that nothing more remains to say. That
they were brave, and that they bravely defended the cause which they had
adopted, there is no doubt; but if polemics had not mingled with
politics in the encounter, it is quite possible that we should have
heard no more of their exploits than of those other men, equally gallant
and equally brave. The Enniskilleners, who have obtained an unenviable
notoriety for their merciless cruelty in war, occupied the King's troops
so as to prevent them from assisting the besiegers. Several encounters
took place between the Derry men and the royalists, but with no other
result than loss of lives on each side. On the 13th of June, a fleet of
thirty ships arrived from England with men and provisions; but the Irish
had obtained the command of the river Foyle, and possession of Culmore
Fort at the entrance, so that they were unable to enter. De Rosen was
now sent by James to assist Hamilton. He proposed and carried out the
barbarous expedition of driving all the Protestants whom he could find
before the walls, and threatening to let them starve there to death
unless the garrison surrendered. His plan was strongly disapproved by
the King, it disgusted the Irish, and exasperated the besieged. The next
day they erected a gallows on the ramparts, and threatened to hang their
prisoners then and there if the unfortunate people were not removed. It
is to the credit of the Derry men that they shared their provisions to
the last with their prisoners, even while they were dying themselves of
starvation. Perhaps the example of humanity set to them by General
Hamilton was not without its effect, for kindness and cruelty seem
equally contagious in time of war. Kirke's squadrons at last passed the
forts, broke the boom, and relieved the garrison, who could not have
held out forty-eight hours longer. It was suspected that English gold
had procured their admittance, and that the officers who commanded the
forts were bribed to let them pass unscathed. The siege was at once
raised; the royal army withdrew on the 5th of August; and thus
terminated the world-famed siege of Derry.

James now held his Parliament in Dublin, repealed the Act of Settlement,
passed the Act of Attainder, and issued an immense quantity of base
coin. He has been loudly condemned by some historians for these
proceedings; but it should be remembered (1) that the Act of Settlement
was a gross injustice, and, as such, it was but justice that it should
be repealed. Had the measure been carried out, however severely it might
have been felt by the Protestant party, they could not have suffered
from the repeal as severely as the Catholics had suffered from the
enactment. (2) The Act of Attainder simply proclaimed that the
revolutionists were rebels against their lawful King, and that they
should be treated as such. (3) The utterance of base coin had already
been performed by several Governments, and James only availed himself of
the prerogatives exercised by his predecessors.

The day on which the siege of Derry was raised, the royalists met with a
severe reverse at Newtownbutler. They were under the command of Lord
Mountcashel, when attacked by the Enniskilleners. The dragoons had
already been dispirited by a reverse at Lisnaskea; and a word of
command[538] which was given incorrectly, threw the old corps into
confusion, from which their brave leader in vain endeavoured to rally
them. Colonel Wolseley, an English officer, commanded the
Enniskilleners; and the cruelties with which they hunted down the
unfortunate fugitives, has made the name almost a byword of reproach.
Five hundred men plunged into Lough Erne to escape their fury, but of
these only one was saved. Lord Mountcashel was taken prisoner, but he
escaped eventually, and fled to France. Sarsfield, who commanded at
Sligo, was obliged to retire to Athlone; and the victorious Williamites
remained masters of that part of the country.

Schomberg arrived[539] at Bangor, in Down, on the 13th of August, 1689,
with a large army, composed of Dutch, French Huguenots, and new levies
from England. On the 17th he marched to Belfast, where he met with no
resistance; and on the 27th Carrickfergus surrendered to him on
honorable terms, after a siege of eight days, but not until its
Governor, Colonel Charles MacCarthy More, was reduced to his last barrel
of powder. Schomberg pitched on Dundalk for his winter quarters, and
entrenched himself there strongly; but disease soon broke out in his
camp, and it has been estimated that 10,000 men, fully one-half of the
force, perished of want and dysentery. James challenged him to battle
several times, but Schomberg was too prudent to risk an encounter in the
state of his troops; and the King had not the moral courage to make the
first attack. Complaints soon reached England of the condition to which
the revolutionary army was reduced. If there were not "own
correspondents" then in camp, it is quite clear there were very sharp
eyes and very nimble pens. Dr. Walker, whose military experience at
Derry appears to have given him a taste for campaigning, was one of the
complainants. William sent over a commission to inquire into the matter,
who, as usual in such cases, arrived too late to do any good. The men
wanted food, the horses wanted provender, the surgeons and apothecaries
wanted medicines for the sick.[540] In fact, if we take a report of
Crimean mismanagement, we shall have all the details, minus the
statement that several of the officers drank themselves to death, and
that some who were in power were charged with going shares in the
embezzlement of the contractor, Mr. John Shales, who, whether guilty or
not, was made the scapegoat on the occasion, and was accused, moreover,
of having caused all this evil from partiality to King James, in whose
service he had been previously. Mr. John Shales was therefore taken
prisoner, and sent under a strong guard to Belfast, and from thence to
London. As nothing more is heard of him, it is probable the matter was
hushed up, or that he had powerful accomplices in his frauds.



Abundant supplies arrived from England, which, if they could not restore
the dead, served at least to renovate the living; and Schomberg was
ready to take the field early in the year 1690, notwithstanding the loss
of about 10,000 men. James, with the constitutional fatuity of the
Stuarts, had lost his opportunity. If he had attacked the motley army of
the revolutionary party while the men were suffering from want and
disease, and while his own troops were fresh and courageous, he might
have conquered; the most sanguine now could scarcely see any other
prospect for him than defeat. He was in want of everything; and he had
no Englishmen who hoped for plunder, no French refugees who looked for a
new home, no brave Dutchmen who loved fighting for its own sake, to fall
back upon in the hour of calamity. His French counsellors only agreed to
disagree with him. There was the ordinary amount of jealousy amongst the
Irish officers—the inevitable result of the want of a competent leader
in whom all could confide. The King was urged by one party (the French)
to retire to Connaught, and entrench himself there until he should
receive succours from France; he was urged by another party (the Irish)
to attack Schomberg without delay. Louvais, the French Minister of War,
divided his hatred with tolerable impartiality between James and
William: therefore, though quite prepared to oppose the latter, he was
by no means so willing to assist the former; and when he did send men to
Ireland, under the command of the Count de Lauzan, he took care that
their clothing and arms should be of the worst description. He received
in exchange a reinforcement of the best-equipped and best-trained
soldiers of the Irish army. Avaux and De Rosen were both sent back to
France by James; and thus, with but few officers, badly-equipped troops,
and his own miserable and vacillating counsel, he commenced the war
which ended so gloriously or so disastrously, according to the different
opinions of the actors in the fatal drama. In July, 1690, some of James'
party were defeated by the Williamites at Cavan, and several of his best
officers were killed or made prisoners. Another engagement took place at
Charlemont; the Governor, Teigue O'Regan, only yielded to starvation. He
surrendered on honorable terms; and Schomberg, with equal humanity and
courtesy, desired that each of his starving men should receive a loaf of
bread at Armagh.

William had intended for some time to conduct the Irish campaign in
person. He embarked near Chester on the 11th of June, and landed at
Carrickfergus on the 14th, attended by Prince George of Denmark, the
Duke of Wurtemburg, the Prince of Hesse Darmstadt, the Duke of Ormonde,
and the Earls of Oxford, Portland, Scarborough, and Manchester, with
other persons of distinction. Schomberg met him half-way between
Carrickfergus and Belfast. William, who had ridden so far, now entered
the General's carriage, and drove to Belfast, where he was received with
acclamations, and loud shouts of "God bless the Protestant King!" There
were bonfires and discharges of cannon at the various camps of the
Williamites. The officers of several regiments paid their respects to
him in state. On the 22nd the whole army encamped at Loughbrickland,
near Newry. In the afternoon William came up and reviewed the troops,
pitching his tent on a neighbouring eminence.[541] The army comprised a
strange medley of nationalities. More than half were foreigners; and on
these William placed his principal reliance, for at any moment a
reaction might take place in favour of the lawful King. The Williamite
army was well supplied, well trained, admirably commanded, accustomed to
war, and amounted to between forty and fifty thousand. The Jacobite
force only consisted of twenty thousand,[542] and of these a large
proportion were raw recruits. The officers, however, were brave and
skilful; but they had only twelve field-pieces, which had been recently
received from France. On the 22nd, news came that James had encamped
near Dundalk; on the 23rd he marched towards Drogheda. On the same day
William went to Newry; he was thoroughly aware of the movements of his
hapless father-in-law, for deserters came into his camp from time to
time. James obtained his information from an English officer, Captain
Farlow, and some soldiers whom he made prisoners at a trifling
engagement which took place between Newry and Dundalk.

James now determined on a retreat to the Boyne through Ardee. His design
was to protract the campaign as much as possible,—an arrangement which
suited his irresolute habits; but where a kingdom was to be lost or won,
it only served to discourage the troops and to defer the decisive

The hostile forces confronted each other for the first time on the banks
of the Boyne, June 30, 1689. The Jacobite army was posted on the
declivity of the Hill of Dunore—its right wing towards Drogheda, its
left extending up the river. The centre was at the small hamlet of
Oldbridge. Entrenchments were hastily thrown up to defend the fords, and
James took up his position at a ruined church on the top of the Hill of
Dunore. The Williamite army approached from the north, their brave
leader directing every movement, and inspiring his men with courage and
confidence. He obtained a favourable position, and was completely
screened from view until he appeared on the brow of the hill, where his
forces debouched slowly and steadily into the ravines below. After
planting his batteries on the heights, he kept up an incessant fire on
the Irish lines during the afternoon of the 30th. But James' officers
were on the alert, even if their King were indifferent. William was
recognized as he approached near their lines to reconnoitre. Guns were
brought up to bear on him quietly and stealthily; "six shots were fired
at him, one whereof fell and struck off the top of the Duke Wurtemberg's
pistol and the whiskers of his horse, and another tore the King's coat
on his shoulder."[543]

William, like a wise general as he was, took care that the news of his
accident should not dispirit his men. He showed himself everywhere, rode
through the camp, was as agreeable as it was in his nature to be; and
thus made capital of what might have been a cause of disaster. In the
meantime James did all that was possible to secure a defeat. At one
moment he decided to retreat, at the next he would risk a battle; then
he sent off his baggage and six of his field-pieces to Dublin, for his
own special protection; and while thus so remarkably careful of himself,
he could not be persuaded to allow the most necessary precaution to be
taken for the safety of his army. Hence the real marvel to posterity is,
not that the battle of the Boyne should have been lost by the Irish, but
that they should ever have attempted to fight at all. Perhaps nothing
but the inherent loyalty of the Irish, which neither treachery nor
pusillanimity could destroy, and the vivid remembrance of the cruel
wrongs always inflicted by Protestants when in power, prevented them
from rushing over en masse to William's side of the Boyne. Perhaps, in
the history of nations, there never was so brave a resistance made for
love of royal right and religious freedom, as that of the Irish officers
and men who then fought on the Jacobite side.

The first attack of William's men was made at Slane. This was precisely
what the Jacobite officers had anticipated, and what James had
obstinately refused to see. When it was too late, he allowed Lauzan to
defend the ford, but even Sir Nial O'Neill's gallantry was unavailing.
The enemy had the advance, and Portland's artillery and infantry crossed
at Slane. William now felt certain of victory, if, indeed, he had ever
doubted it. It was low water at ten o'clock; the fords at Oldbridge were
passable; a tremendous battery was opened on the Irish lines; they had
not a single gun to reply, and yet they waited steadily for the attack.
The Dutch Blue Guards dashed into the stream ten abreast, commanded by
the Count de Solmes; the Londonderry and Enniskillen Dragoons followed,
supported by the French Huguenots. The English infantry came next, under
the command of Sir John Hanmer and the Count Nassau. William crossed at
the fifth ford, where the water was deepest, with the cavalry of his
left wing. It was a grand and terrible sight. The men in the water
fought for William and Protestantism; the men on land fought for their
King and their Faith. The men were equally gallant. Of the leaders I
shall say nothing, lest I should be tempted to say too much. James had
followed Lauzan's forces towards Slane. Tyrconnel's valour could not
save the day for Ireland against fearful odds. Sarsfield's horse had
accompanied the King. The Huguenots were so warmly received by the Irish
at the fords that they recoiled, and their commander, Caillemont, was
mortally wounded. Schomberg forgot his age, and the affront he had
received from William in the morning; and the man of eighty-two dashed
into the river with the impetuosity of eighteen. He was killed
immediately, and so was Dr. Walker, who headed the Ulster Protestants.
William may have regretted the brave old General, but he certainly did
not regret the Protestant divine. He had no fancy for churchmen meddling
in secular affairs, and a rough "What brought him there?" was all the
reply vouchsafed to the news of his demise. The tide now began to flow,
and the battle raged with increased fury. The valour displayed by the
Irish was a marvel even to their enemies. Hamilton was wounded and taken
prisoner. William headed the Enniskilleners, who were put to flight soon
after by the Irish horse, at Platten, and were now rallied again by
himself. When the enemy had crossed the ford at Oldbridge, James ordered
Lauzan to march in a parallel direction with Douglas and young Schomberg
to Duleek. Tyrconnel followed. The French infantry covered the retreat
in admirable order, with the Irish cavalry. When the defile of Duleek
had been passed, the royalist forces again presented a front to the
enemy. William's horse halted. The retreat was again resumed; and at the
deep defile of Naul the last stand was made. The shades of a summer
evening closed over the belligerent camps. The Williamites returned to
Duleek; and eternal shadows clouded over the destinies of the
unfortunate Stuarts—a race admired more from sympathy with their
miseries, than from admiration of their virtues.

Thus ended the famous battle of the Boyne. England obtained thereby a
new governor and a national debt; Ireland, fresh oppression, and an
intensification of religious and political animosity, unparalleled in
the history of nations.

James contrived to be first in the retreat which he had anticipated, and
for which he had so carefully prepared. He arrived in Dublin in the
evening, and insulted Lady Tyrconnel by a rude remark about the
fleetness of her husband's countrymen in running away from the battle;
to which she retorted, with equal wit and truth, that his Majesty had
set them the example. He left Dublin the next morning, having first
insulted the civil and military authorities, by throwing the blame of
the defeat on the brave men who had risked everything in his cause.
Having carefully provided for his own safety by leaving two troops of
horse at Bray to defend the bridge, should the enemy come up, he
hastened towards Duncannon, where he arrived at sunrise. Here he
embarked in a small French vessel for Kinsale, and from thence he sailed
to France, and was himself the bearer of the news of his defeat. The
command in Ireland was intrusted to Tyrconnel, who gave orders that the
Irish soldiery should march at once to Limerick, each under the command
of his own officer. William entered Dublin on Sunday, July 7th. He was
received with acclamations by the Protestants, who were now relieved
from all fear lest the Catholics should inflict on them the sufferings
they had so remorselessly inflicted on the Catholics. Drogheda,
Kilkenny, Duncannon, and Waterford, capitulated to the victorious army,
the garrisons marching to Limerick, towards which place William now
directed his course. Douglas was sent to besiege Athlone; but the
Governor, Colonel Grace, made such brave resistance there, he was
obliged to withdraw, and join William near Limerick.

The French officers, who had long since seen the hopelessness of the
conflict, determined to leave the country. Lauzan, after having surveyed
Limerick, and declared that it might be taken with "roasted apples,"
ordered all the French troops to Galway, where they could await an
opportunity to embark for France. But the brave defenders of the devoted
city were not deterred. The Governor consulted with Sarsfield,
Tyrconnel, and the other officers; and the result was a message to
William, in reply to his demand for a surrender, to the effect, that
they hoped to merit his good opinion better by a vigorous defence of the
fortress, which had been committed to them by their master, than by a
shameful capitulation. By a skilfully executed and rapid march,
Sarsfield contrived to intercept William's artillery on the Keeper
Mountains, and after killing the escort, bursting the guns, and blowing
up the ammunition, he returned in triumph to Limerick. His success
animated the besieged, and infuriated the besiegers. But the walls of
Limerick were not as stout as the brave hearts of its defenders. William
sent for more artillery to Waterford; and it was found that two of the
guns which Sarsfield had attempted to destroy, were still available.

The trenches were opened on the 17th of August. On the 20th the garrison
made a vigorous sortie, and retarded the enemy's progress; but on the
24th the batteries were completed, and a murderous fire of red-hot shot
and shells was poured into the devoted city. The trenches were carried
within a few feet of the palisades, on the 27th; and a breach having
been made in the wall near St. John's Gate, William ordered the assault
to commence. The storming party were supported by ten thousand men. For
three hours a deadly struggle was maintained. The result seemed
doubtful, so determined was the bravery evinced on each side.
Boisseleau, the Governor, had not been unprepared, although he was taken
by surprise, and had opened a murderous cross-fire on the assailants
when first they attempted the storm. The conflict lasted for nearly
three hours. The Brandenburg regiment had gained the Black Battery, when
the Irish sprung a mine, and men, faggots, and stones were blown up in a
moment. A council of war was held; William, whose temper was not the
most amiable at any time, was unusually morose. He had lost 2,000 men
between the killed and the wounded, and he had not taken the city, which
a French General had pronounced attainable with "roasted Apples." On
Sunday, the 31st of August, the siege was raised. William returned to
England, where his presence was imperatively demanded. The military
command was confided to the Count de Solmes, who was afterwards
succeeded by De Ginkell; the civil government was intrusted to Lord
Sidney, Sir Charles Porter, and Mr. Coningsby.

Lauzan returned to France with Tyrconnel, and the Irish forces were
confided to the care of the Duke of Berwick, a youth of twenty, with a
council of regency and a council of war to advise him. Under these
circumstances it was little wonder that there should We been
considerable division of opinion, and no little jealousy, in the royal
camp; and even then the seeds were sowing of what eventually proved the
cause of such serious misfortune to the country.

The famous Marlborough appeared before Cork with an army of 1,500 men,
on the 22nd of September, and the garrison were made prisoners of war
after a brief and brave resistance; but the conditions on which they
surrendered were shamefully violated. Kinsale was next attacked; but
with these exceptions, and some occasional skirmishes with the
"Rapparees," the winter passed over without any important military

Tyrconnel returned to Ireland in January, with a small supply of money
and some provisions, notwithstanding the plots made against him by
Luttrell and Purcell. He brought a patent from James, creating Sarsfield
Earl of Lucan. A French fleet arrived in May, with provisions, clothing,
and ammunition. It had neither men nor money; but it brought what was
supposed to be a fair equivalent, in the person of St. Ruth, a
distinguished French officer, who was sent to take the command of the
Irish army. In the meantime Ginkell was organizing the most effective
force ever seen in Ireland: neither men nor money was spared by the
English Parliament. And this was the army which the impoverished and
ill-provisioned troops of the royalists were doomed to encounter.

Hostilities commenced on 7th June, with the siege of Ballymore Castle,
in Westmeath. The Governor surrendered, and Athlone was next attacked.
This town is situated on the river Shannon. Its position must be
thoroughly understood, to comprehend the heroic bravery with which it
was defended. It will be remembered that Athlone was one of the towns
which the English of the Pale had fortified at the very commencement of
their invasion of Ireland. That portion of the city which lay on the
Leinster or Pale side of the river, had never been strongly fortified,
and a breach was made at once in the wall. Ginkell assaulted it with
4,000 men, and the defenders at once withdrew to the other side; but
they held the bridge with heroic bravery, until they had broken down two
of the arches, and placed the broad and rapid Shannon between themselves
and their enemies. St. Ruth had arrived in the meantime, and posted his
army, amounting to about 15,000 horse and foot, at the Irish side of the
river. The English had now raised the works so high on their side, that
they were able to keep up an incessant fire upon the town. According to
their own historian, Story, they threw in 12,000 cannon balls and 600
bombs, and the siege cost them "nigh fifty tons of powder." The walls
opposite to the batteries were soon broken down, and the town itself
reduced to ruins. The besiegers next attempted to cross in a bridge of
boats, but the defenders turned their few field-pieces on them. They
then tried to mend the broken bridge; huge beams were flung across, and
they had every hope of success. But they knew not yet what Irish
valour could dare. Eight or ten devoted men dashed into the water, and
tore down the planks, under a galling fire; and, as they fell dead or
dying into the river, others rushed to take the places of their fallen
comrades, and to complete the work.

St. Ruth now ordered preparations to be made for an assault, and desired
the ramparts on the Connaught side of the town to be levelled, that a
whole battalion might enter abreast to relieve the garrison when it was
assailed. But the Governor, D'Usson, opposed the plan, and neglected the
order. All was now confusion in the camp. There never had been any real
head to the royalist party in Ireland; and to insure victory in battle,
or success in any important enterprise where multitudes are concerned,
it is absolutely essential that all should act with union of purpose.
Such union, where there are many men, and, consequently, many minds, can
only be attained by the most absolute submission to one leader; and this
leader, to obtain submission, should be either a lawfully constituted
authority, or, in cases of emergency, one of those master-spirits to
whom men bow with unquestioning submission, because of the majesty of
intellect within them. There were brave men and true men in that camp at
Athlone, but there was not one who possessed these essential requisites.

According to the Williamite historian, Ginkell was informed by traitors
of what was passing, and that the defences on the river side were
guarded by two of the "most indifferent Irish regiments." He immediately
chose 2,000 men for the assault, distributed a gratuity of guineas
amongst them, and at a signal from the church bell, at six in the
evening, on the 30th of June, the assault was made, and carried with
such rapidity, that St. Ruth, who was with the cavalry at a distance,
was not aware of what had happened until all was over. St. Ruth at once
removed his army to Ballinasloe, twelve miles from his former post, and
subsequently to Aughrim. Tyrconnel was obliged to leave the camp, the
outcry against him became so general.

St. Ruth's ground was well chosen. He had placed his men upon an
eminence, and each wing was protected by a morass or bog. The
Williamites came up on Sunday, July 11th, while the Irish were hearing
Mass. In this instance, as in so many others, it is impossible to
ascertain correctly the numerical force of each army. The historians on
either side were naturally anxious to magnify the numbers of their
opponents, and to lessen their own. It is at least certain, that on
this, as on other occasions, the Irish were miserably deficient in all
the appliances of the art of war, while the English were admirably
supplied. The most probable estimate of the Irish force appears to be
15,000 horse and foot; and of the English 20,000. Ginkell opened fire on
the enemy as soon as his guns were planted. Some trifling skirmishes
followed. A council of war was held, and the deliberation lasted until
half-past four in the evening, at which time a general engagement was
decided on. A cannonade had been kept up on both sides, in which the
English had immensely the advantage, St. Ruth's excellently chosen
position being almost useless for want of sufficient artillery. At
half-past six Ginkell ordered an advance on the Irish right centre,
having previously ascertained that the bog was passable. The defenders,
after discharging their fire, gradually drew the Williamites after them
by an almost imperceptible retreat, until they had them face to face
with their main line. Then the Irish cavalry charged with irresistible
valour, and the English were thrown into total disorder. St. Ruth, proud
of the success of his strategies and the valour of his men, exclaimed,
"Le jour est a nous, mes enfans." But St. Ruth's weak point was his left
wing, and this was at once perceived and taken advantage of by the Dutch
General. Some of his infantry made good their passage across the morass,
which St. Ruth had supposed impassable; and the men, who commanded this
position from a ruined castle, found that the balls with which they had
been served did not suit their fire-arms, so that they were unable to
defend the passage. St. Ruth at once perceived his error. He hastened to
support them with a brigade of horse; but even as he exclaimed, "They
are beaten; let us beat them to the purpose," a cannon-ball carried off
his head, and all was lost. Another death, which occurred almost
immediately after, completed the misfortunes of the Irish. The infantry
had been attended and encouraged by Dr. Aloysius Stafford, chaplain to
the forces; but when "death interrupted his glorious career,"[544] they
were panic-struck; and three hours after the death of the general and
the priest, there was not a man of the Irish army left upon the field.
But the real cause of the failure was the fatal misunderstanding which
existed between the leaders. Sarsfield, who was thoroughly able to have
taken St Ruth's position, and to have retrieved the fortunes of the day,
had been placed in the rear by the jealousy of the latter, and kept in
entire ignorance of the plan of battle. He was now obliged to withdraw
without striking a single blow. The cavalry retreated along the highroad
to Loughrea; the infantry fled to a bog, where numbers were massacred,
unarmed and in cold blood.

The loss on both sides was immense, and can never be exactly estimated.
Harris says that "had not St. Ruth been taken off, it would have been
hard to say what the consequences of this day would have been."[545] Many of the dead remained unburied, and their bones were left to bleach
in the storms of winter and the sun of summer. There was one exception
to the general neglect. An Irish officer, who had been slain, was
followed by his faithful dog. The poor animal lay beside his master's
body day and night; and though he fed upon other corpses with the rest
of the dogs, he would not permit them to touch the treasured remains. He
continued his watch until January, when he flew at a soldier, who he
feared was about to remove the bones, which were all that remained to
him of the being by whom he had been caressed and fed. The soldier in
his fright unslung his piece and fired, and the faithful wolf-dog laid
down and died by his charge.[546]

Ginkell laid siege to Galway a week after the battle of Aughrim. The
inhabitants relied principally upon the arrival of Balldearg O'Donnell
for their defence; but, as he did not appear in time, they capitulated
on favourable terms, and the Dutch General marched to Limerick.

Tyrconnel died at Limerick, of apoplexy, while he was preparing to put
the city into a state of defence. He was a faithful and zealous
supporter of the royal cause, and devoted to the Irish nation. His
loyalty has induced one party to blacken his character; his haughty and
unconciliatory manner prevented his good qualities from being fully
appreciated by the other.

The real command now devolved on M. D'Usson, the Governor of Limerick.
Active preparations for the siege were made on both sides. Ginkell
contrived to communicate with Henry Luttrell, but his perfidy was
discovered, and he was tried by court-martial and imprisoned. Sixty
cannon and nineteen mortars were planted against the devoted city, and
on the 30th the bombardment commenced. The Irish horse had been
quartered on the Clare side of the Shannon; but, through the treachery
or indifference of Brigadier Clifford, who had been posted, with a
strong body of dragoons, to prevent such an attempt, Ginkell threw
across a pontoon-bridge, and sent over a large detachment of horse and
foot, on the morning of the 16th, which effectually cut off
communication between the citizens and their camp. On the 22nd he made a
feint of raising the siege, but his real object was to lull suspicion,
while he attacked the works at the Clare end of Thomond-bridge. The
position was bravely defended by Colonel Lacy, but he was obliged to
yield to overpowering numbers; and the Town-Major, fearing that the
enemy would enter in the mêlee with the Irish, drew up the bridge. The
English gave no quarter, and, according to their own account, 600 men
were slaughtered on the spot. This was the last engagement. Sarsfield
recommended a surrender. Resistance was equally hopeless and useless; it
could only end in a fearful sacrifice of life on both sides. A parley
took place on the 23rd, and on the 24th a three days' truce was
arranged. Hostages were exchanged, and a friendly intercourse was
established. On the 3rd of October, 1691, the Treaty was signed. The
large stone is still shown which was used as a table on the occasion.
What that Treaty contained, and how it was violated, are matters which
demand a careful and impartial consideration.



This stone was placed on a handsome pedestal a few years since, by the
then Mayor of Limerick.