When it was known that William was about to invade Ireland, a Council of War, marked by some division of opinion, was held in Dublin. One proposal was that James, being much inferior in strength, should avoid a pitched battle, and, abandoning the North and Dublin, should retreat beyond the Shannon, defend the passes into Connaught, and make a last stand at Limerick, until reinforced from France. Louis, meanwhile, it was hoped, would sweep the Channel with his fleet, destroy William’s transports, and so keep him imprisoned in Ireland, where he might be gradually wearied out by a guerrilla warfare. Of this policy Harris says: –
“This scheme would have proved fatal had it taken effect, and the execution seemed easy and certain.”
The alternative scheme was the defence of Dublin, which had no fortifications of any kind, by blocking the passes out of Ulster, and thus preventing William’s advance. James halted between two opinions, and carried out neither scheme effectively.
Now, at the Boyne, he drifted into an engagement, having apparently resolved not to fight. In the Journal kept in Dublin by a Protestant “Person of Quality” we are told: –
“We know King James’s design was to avoid a battel as much as he could, and to have walked the English army along the Boyn river, and so across the country to Limerick.”
This is confirmed by James’s own Memoirs, in which he is said to have come to a “resolution of avoiding a battle all he could.” When he came to the Boyne,
“Finding that position an indifferent good one (and, indeed, the country afforded no better), he set up his rest there, and resolved to expect the enemy, though he had not above twenty thousand men, and the others between forty and fifty thousand.”
He hazarded battle because he was loath to abandon Dublin and all Leinster. He seems, however, to have despaired of his chances at the Boyne, and to have contemplated a retreat upon Dublin, an absurd piece of strategy, the place not being tenable.
“On Sunday,” (June 29th), says the Person of Quality, “the Irish came to this side the Boyne; and King James, as it should seem, distrusting the issue, Sir Pat Trant, First Commissioner of the Revenue, and another gentleman, were ordered to go from hence on Monday morning to Waterford, to prepare ships.”
He was thus already preparing for his flight to France. As William approached the Boyne, he saw, from a hill at some distance from the northern or Louth bank, the whole extent of James’s encampment on the Hill of Donore, at the Meath side of the river. His army mustered, at most, twenty-six thousand men, William outnumbering him, even by Story’s computation, by some ten thousand. Other authorities make the superiority still greater, giving him an army of forty-five to fifty thousand men.
James’s position was not ill-chosen. The main direction of the Boyne in its course from Slane to Drogheda, about eight miles as the crow flies, is from west to east; but around the Hill of Donore it bends abruptly to the north, and then, making a semi-circular curve, turns again to the south-east and runs straight to Drogheda. On the tongue of land between Donore and the curving river lies the battle-field. The Hill of Donore, more or less steep on its western slope, sinks away on the north in gradual undulations to the Boyne. On the low ground, close to the water’s edge, a little below the present bridge, which spans the river near the obelisk, stood the little village of Oldbridge, of which there are now few traces. Here the river is easily fordable at low-water, the tide coming up a little further than the shallows below the bridge, which was not then built. At Rosnaree, between Oldbridge and Slane, but nearer to Slane, there was a ford where cavalry could cross, and at Slane there was then, as now, a bridge.
Between Rosnaree and Oldbridge the river curves round a great plain, in which lie the ancient tumuli, known as Knowth, New Grange, and Dowth, which tradition hallows as the burial places of the Kings of the Tuath De Danann, conquered by the invading sons of Milith. Many centuries looked down on William’s fight for Ireland, as they did on Napoleon’s for Egypt.
James’s wretched little train of artillery, twelve small pieces belonging to the French, divided into two batteries, and placed, the one on a rising ground a little to the south of Oldbridge, the other opposite to the “Yellow Island” commanded the fords. Some slight breastworks had been hastily thrown up, one close to the river, the other behind the village, to protect Tyrconnell’s dragoons, who defended Oldbridge.
William’s camp was pitched behind the heights of Tullyallen, a hill of considerable extent, and rising boldly from the flat land on the Louth side of the river. This hill was intersected by two defiles, on which the extremities of William’s lines rested. On his right was a deep gorge, “King William’s Glen,” through which the road to the bridge now runs, but then opening about two hundred yards from the riverbanks, and blocked from view of the enemy’s camp. His whole army might have been concealed here, screened from cannon-shot. On his left was the other narrower and shallower ravine.
By these two defiles the river could be reached in a few minutes. In order to understand the events of the battle, it must be borne in mind that while James’s movements were distinctly visible from William’s position, William was enabled to conceal his from James until the moment of attack. While his army was coming into camp, William, accompanied by Schomberg, De Solmes, Ormond, Prince George of Hesse, and others, rode down to the river, to look at the fords by Oldbridge, and discover the best place for attempting the passage of the river. Having made his observation, he sat down on a rising-ground to take some refreshment, and while he was there Tyrconnell, Sarsfield, Parker, and some other Jacobite officers, were seen to ride along the opposite bank, observing the Williamite troops as they marched into camp, over the heights behind Tullyallen.
“Whilst his Majesty sat on the grass (being about an hour),” says Story, “there came some of the Irish with long guns and shot at our dragoons, who went down to the river to drink, and some of ours went down to return the favour; then a party of about fifty horse advanced very slowly and stood upon a plowed field over against us for near half an hour. This small party brought two field pieces amongst them, droping them by an hedge in the plow’d land, undiscovered; they did not offer to fire them till his Majesty was mounted, and then, he and the rest riding softly the same way back, their gunner fires a piece which killed us two horses and a man, about a hundred yards above where the king was, but immediately came a second which had almost been a fatal one, for it graized upon the bank of the river, and in the rising slanted upon the king’s right shoulder, took out a piece of his coat, and tore the skin and flesh, and afterwards broke the head of a gentleman’s pistol.”
Mr. Coningsby, afterwards one of the Lords Justices for Ireland, bound up the wound with his handkerchief, and William after a while retired to have it properly dressed. His torn buff coat was given to Colonel Thompson, and is still in the possession of his family at Ravensdale.
When William was struck, he leaned for a moment on his horse’s neck, and the Irish, thinking he was killed, raised “a prodigious shout.” The news of his death soon reached Paris, and was the occasion of illuminations and bonfires.
The guns came up at three o’clock. William, stronger in the numbers, discipline and appointments of his men, was immensely stronger in artillery. He had, as against James’s twelve six-pounders, 50 guns, some heavy, and some mortars. The guns were planted on two hillocks near the mouths of the two defiles, just opposite the two small Irish batteries. Colonel Bellingham, who attended William as guide, says in his Journal: –
“The cannon fir’d at caste (? point blank) all the afternoon, and our cannon dismounted two of the enemy’s batteries.”
He apparently means two guns. Story says one gun, and tells how the mortars threw their bombs into a portion of James’s camp near the river, which caused the removal of the tents to a position higher up on the hill of Donore. The cannonade on both sides continued till near nightfall.
In the evening, June 30th, James held a council of war, in which Hamilton, who seems to have been the only general who anticipated William’s attack on the Irish left flank and the Dublin road, by Slane, advised James to send eight regiments to defend this important point. James, with his usual stupid obstinacy, proposed to send but fifty dragoons. He was thinking chiefly of his retreat to Dublin, and detached six of his twelve guns to guard his baggage, which was sent off early next morning.
That same evening Schomberg, always cautious, endeavoured to dissuade William from attacking the Irish in such a strong position, but, as Light to the Blind expresses it, “he was overruled by the temerariousness of Orange.” He then strongly advised him to make the flank attack by Slane foreseen by Hamilton, and to make it that very night. This was too good a stroke of generalship to have originated with anyone save the king himself. Schomberg was, therefore, judiciously snubbed, and retired to his tent, feeling that he had been treated as a superannuated veteran whose services were no longer required. When the order of battle was sent him he received it with indifference, merely saying: “It was the first that ever was sent him.”
At midnight William rode by torchlight through all his camp, inspecting everything and giving his last orders; a striking figure with plumed hat, flowing wig, and long jack-boots, the flare of the torches accentuating his emphatic nose; his sallow face pale from fatigue, but his eyes bright and penetrating. He gave “Westminster” as his watchword, and ordered his men to wear green sprigs in their hats to distinguish them from the Irish, who, in compliment to their French allies, wore the white cockade. Thus did the great Orangeman take seizin of the future Irish colour in this remarkable “wearing of the green.” His day’s work done, having been nineteen hours in the saddle he turned in, “with eager expectation of the glorious approaching day,” as his “Royal Diary” tells us. How James felt he has not particularly recorded.
The fateful day, Tuesday, July 1st, was splendid.
“A joyful day, excessive hot,” says Bellingham, “The day was very clear,” says Story, as if the sun itself had a mind to see what would happen.”
James had so far taken Hamilton’s advice as to send Sir Neal O’Neale with his regiment of dragoons, six squadrons, or some 800 men, to the ford of Rosnaree below Slane. It proved to be a miserably insufficient force, as William now showed himself a great general by himself planning that flank attack by Slane, which Schomberg had so impertinently anticipated. True, he had lost some hours in making this movement, but he made it, and this movement decided the battle, though not the campaign, as it might have done but for Schomberg’s want of tact in dealing with his royal master.
Shortly after sunrise the English guns began to thunder on the Irish lines, and shortly after sunrise William detached his right wing under Portland and Overkirk, with Count Meinhart Schomberg commanding the Horse, and Lieutenant-General Douglas the Scotch and English Foot guards, to pass the river by Slane and turn James’s left flank. The detachment consisted of twenty-four squadrons of Horse and six regiments of Foot, or some 5,000 Horse and 8,000 Foot.
This movement of the English right wing cannot have been perceived from James’s camp for some time, as they would naturally pass behind a hill now in Townley Park demesne, crossing the Mattock River at Monk-Newton, some distance above its junction with the Boyne near Oldbridge. They would not come into view until they debouched upon the Boyne. The Horse, under Portland and Count Schomberg, came down by Knowth and crossed at Rosnaree, the Foot, under Douglas, passed by the Bridge of Slane. As the Williamite cavalry came down to the ford at Rosnaree they were gallantly opposed by O’Neale with his 800 dragoons, who held them in check for about an hour, until their park of artillery, three small field pieces, which probably crossed with the Foot at Slane, came up, and O’Neale was mortally wounded. The Irish then retreated in the direction of Duleek, pursued by the united force of the enemy’s Horse and Foot.
Lauzun, seeing that William’s right wing had crossed the river and were outflanking him, now did hastily what he ought to have done at his leisure before. He marched by his left with the whole of his left wing, consisting chiefly of the French troops, the best disciplined and equipped portion of the army. As they began their march they were exposed to a heavy fire from William’s guns, which, Story tells us, “did not disorder their ranks.”
William, meanwhile, attacking with his right, refused his main body, commanded by Schomberg, and kept it well under cover. He himself directed the fire of his batteries, one of which played upon the stone houses of the village of Oldbridge and the low breast-works near it. To this constant artillery fire the Irish could not reply, as now the six small guns, not sent to Dublin, were drawn off by Lauzun and accompanied the left wing, thus leaving the fords undefended, except by the matchlocks of the Irish infantry and dragoons, who formed the advanced guard of the main body. The right wing, composed of cavalry, was stationed about half-way between Oldbridge and Drogheda.
James, it is evident from his Memoirs, thought that William’s whole army was about to pass at Slane. His one idea, therefore, was to bring up as large a force as possible to meet him there.
“The king went to the right, to hasten up the troops to follow Lauzun, believing the main body of the enemy’s army was following their right.”
He would have drawn away the whole of his own main body, left to guard the fords at Oldbridge, if Tyrconnell, or somebody else, had not persuaded him to leave a portion of it behind. His reason for leaving even Tyrconnell’s dragoons and two brigades of his first line, “drawn up before Oldbridge,” is very characteristic.
“‘He did not see fit to draw them from this post, “the cannon and baggage not being far enough advanced on their way to Dublin.”
That is to say, this poor futile creature, who afterwards had the impudence to accuse the Irish of cowardice, was still thinking only of his retreat to Dublin, and, as he tells us himself, took with him the whole of his reserve, both Horse and Foot, posted on the Hill of Donore, leaving his much-weakened centre and right wing to defend the fords against the greater part of William’s army, some 30,000 men. Let it be distinctly understood that the raw Irish levies, badly disciplined, half-armed, without artillery, and with no general in supreme command, were left to face some of the best troops in Europe, by whom they were outnumbered by about three to one. Their defence of the fords, was, under the circumstances, heroic.
In coming up with Lauzun, the king found him drawn up in line of battle, facing the enemy, who had now advanced some distance on their way to Duleek. These two detachments, the English right and the Irish left wing, were now separated from their respective centres by an interval of some two or three miles. Divided by a bog, they remained watching each other for a considerable time, without firing a shot. Portland waited for William to make his attack at Oldbridge; James waited for the troops he had left at Oldbridge to come up. The flank movement had succeeded, inasmuch as it had divided the Irish army; it had failed otherwise, as Portland did nothing. At half past ten in the morning, William, having heard that his right wing had passed the river, gave the word for the attack at Oldbridge. The Irish had been thrown into some confusion by James’s withdrawal of troops from the centre. Left without further orders, ignorant of what was taking place on the left, and probably not expecting that William’s main attack would be made at the fords, they were taken by surprise when it was made. Tyrconnell’s dragoons occupied Oldbridge, and lined the hedges and breast works near the river, and some seven battalions of Foot had been moved down from Donore to support them, and had taken up a position behind the rising ground which afforded some shelter from the incessant artillery fire, which they had no means of returning.
Schomberg was in command of the main body, chiefly infantry, which was to cross at Oldbridge, taking the water in four divisions at four different places. William himself led the left wing, chiefly cavalry, which was to go over by a deep ford, only passable for mounted men, near Drogheda. This place, locally known as “Pass,” is just below Yellow Island.
Suddenly the bugles rang out, and from the mouth of William’s Glen appeared the Blue Dutch Guards. Down they came, at the double, in the hot July sunshine, straight down to the Boyne, marching in column, drums beating, colours flying, and fifes, they say, screaming out the insulting tune of “Lillibullero,” followed by the French and Enniskillen Foot. The Dutch took the river highest up the stream, the French and Enniskilliners dashing into the water by Grove Island, through the reeds and osiers of which they struggled. Then came Sir John Hanmer and Count Nassau with their regiments; and lastly the Danes and Germans, who had probably come down by the eastern defile, entered between the two islands, where the water was up to their arm-pits. In a few minutes the river was full of men, fighting the sullied stream in the excitement of their first reckless onset.
As the Dutch plunged in, holding high their new-fangled flint-lock “snap-haunces,” their drums suddenly stopped, as they found themselves waist-deep in the water.
“For they stopt the current by their sudden motion, and thus made it deeper than usual.”
The Rubicon of the Pale fought against the foreign invaders; and had they been opposed by anything like an equal force on the Meath bank, their passage would have been well-nigh impossible.
The Irish reserved their fire until the Dutch were halfway across, and then, says Story, “a whole peal of shot came from the hedges, breastworks and houses.” But, like all raw troops, Tyrconnell’s men fired hastily and high. Their badly-directed fire was ineffectual, and the Dutch, wet as they were, formed up gallantly on the bank, returned it briskly, and soon drove the dragoons, left for a while unsupported, from their breastworks. Many of these bold dragoons simply turned tail and ran away, never stopping, it is said, until they got to Dublin. This is the one scrap of fact at the bottom of the French legend of Irish cowardice. They were, at any rate, driven back, scattered, into the next field; but before the Dutch, who sent a volley after them, could pursue, they were themselves “charged very bravely by a squadron of the Irish Horse,” who were, however, soon beaten off.
Then began that confused melée, skirmish after skirmish, without much generalship on either side, which has been dignified with the name of the Battle of the Boyne. The seven battalions of Irish Foot started from their ambush behind the sheltering hillock, and soon the cavalry of the right wing came up to their support.
“One would have thought,” Story goes on, “that men and horses had risen out of the earth, for now there appeared a great many battalions and squadrons of the enemy, all on a sudden, who had stood behind the little hills.”
Richard Hamilton, who, for his promptness of action and gallant leadership that day, deserves to be called the hero of the Boyne, did all that a brave man could do to hold his own against long odds. He led a body of Foot down to the bank of the Boyne, and attacked the two regiments of Huguenots under Caillemote and Cambon while still crossing, dashing into the water himself to encourage his men. He had ordered Lord Antrim to make, at the same time, a flank attack upon Sir John Hanmer and Count Nassau, who were crossing some 200 yards further down. But the regiment of Antrim behaved badly, refusing to advance, and his own men did little better. A panic had fallen upon the undisciplined Irish Foot, who deserted their gallant leader, broke and scattered, some of them possibly following the bad example of the dragoons, and leaving the field altogether.
Hamilton, however, managed to escape from his perilous position with his life; and a squadron of Horse fortunately coming up, he placed himself at their head and led them to the charge. Under his leadership they behaved splendidly, sabring the men of Hanmer’s and Nassau’s regiments in the very bed of the river. Forced at length to retreat, they speedily recovered, and charged the French as they formed on the bank, “about forty of them” dashing right through the regiments of Caillemote and Cambon. Not being able to cut their way back, this gallant little band retreated to the right to pass through the village, but only about six or eight of them escaped the fire of the Dutch and Enniskilleners, and their horses were seen “straggling up and down the field.”
In this encounter Caillemote was mortally wounded. As he was being carried back to the Louth bank, he encouraged his men, who were still crossing, with the words, “A la gloire, mes enfants!”
Again Hamilton charged the regiments of Hanmer and Nassau, who had now got across, and this time with such fury that they were forced back into the river, and many of them even to the opposite shore. Meanwhile the Irish Foot, relieved by their cavalry, had rallied behind a hedge, from which they weredislodged by the Dutch and Enniskilleners; but Hamilton’s Horse coming to their support, they boldly charged the Dutch in the open, but were again forced to retire; the Dutch, though they lost many men by the Irish pikes, keeping their formation, and firing with steady precision by platoons.
The French, Enniskilleners, and Sir John Hanmer’s men who had rallied and recrossed, were now charged by Lord Galmoy and the Duke of Berwick, but stood their ground. The Danish Horse, who had just got across and were forming up, were also vigorously at tacked by a troop of sixty Irish Horse sent against them by Hamilton, always vigilant.
“They charged the Danes so home,” says Story, “that they came faster back again than they went, some of them never looking behind them till they had crossed the river again. Much about this time,” he tells us, “there was nothing to be seen but smoak and dust, nor anything to be heard but one continued fire for nigh half an hour.”
The repeated charges of the Irish cavalry had caused a good deal of confusion among the enemy’s troops, preventing their acting in concert. In fact, with the exception of the Dutch Blues and the sturdy Enniskilleners, every regiment had been broken and driven back more than once. The Duke of Schomberg, who had remained with his reserve upon the Louth bank, seeing his favourite French Huguenots left leaderless by the fall of Caillemote, and the battle still uncertain, now pushed hastily across the river, without even waiting to put on his armour. On arriving at Oldbridge he put himself at the head of the Huguenots, and “pointing,” it is said, “to the French, cried out: ‘Come on, gentlemen, there are your persecutors!’” As it happened, their persecutors were miles away, as we have seen. The Irish Catholics, to whom he must have pointed, if he pointed at anyone, were much in the position of the Huguenots themselves, as regards persecution.
A few minutes after he is said to have made this speech Schomberg was killed. A small body of Irish cavalry charged the Huguenots again, and “the Irish troopers as they rid by struck at him with their swords.” He received two sabre-cuts on the head, but his death wound was from a pistol bullet in the neck. The Williamite historians, curiously enough, claim the honour of this pistol shot for a bad marksman of Cambon’s regiment; the Jacobites for a certain Sir Cathal O’Toole, who recognised him, and resolving to kill him at the expense of his own life, came close up to him, shot him, and was slain himself. George Walker, created by William, Bishop of Derry, for his brave de fence of that town, had chosen to serve with the Enniskilleners as a sort of non-commissioned officer, and was here also slain, going to Schomberg’s defence, as some report. William, who strongly objected to militant churchmen, on hearing of his death by the Boyne, remarked drily, “What took him there?”
These skirmishes by the fords had lasted nearly an hour.
“The action began at a quarter past ten,” says the veracious Story, “and was so hot till past eleven, that a great many old soldiers said they never saw brisker work.”
After this the Irish retreated to the Hill of Donore, where they drew up, Horse and Foot in good order, determined to resist to the last. This retreat was no doubt rendered necessary, not only by the passage of the fords at Oldbridge by a much superior force, but by the crossing of the English left wing under William, who would have taken Hamilton in flank, had he not so retreated. William came late into the field with the left wing, which crossed in two divisions below the islands. It was a difficult passage, and most fortunately for the “temerarious” Orange, he met with absolutely no opposition; the Duke of Berwick, with the Irish right wing, having previously come to the support of the centre. William with his Dutch and Danish cavalry and Wolseley’s Enniskillen Horse and dragoons, passed by the lowest ford near Drogheda “at a very difficult and unusual place;” while the Danish Foot with Colonel Cutts got over a little higher up. William himself got bogged on the Meath side, and he was forced to alight amid the press of scrambling troopers, until a gentleman helped him to extricate his charger.
Once fairly on the bank, “he drew his sword (which as yet was troublesome to him)” and advanced towards the Irish position on the slopes of Donore. There Hamilton again made a gallant and well-conducted defence.
“The Irish,” says Story, were coming on again in good order upon our Foot” (possibly Cutts and the Danes), “that had got over the pass.”
They had got within pistol shot, when they saw William with his cavalry, all asteam from their passage of the river, pushing up the hill upon their flank. Back up the hill they spurred, themselves, to gain the advantage of the ground; then wheeling about, dashed with an Irish cheer at the Danish Horse, led by William in person; charging them so hotly that they broke, and William himself was for the moment in considerable danger. Turning to the Enniskillen Horse as they came up, he cried, “What will you do for me?”
They did not know him as he loomed through the smoke, and more than one carbine was levelled at him; but Wolseley, their colonel, called out, “It is the king!” Then they cheered him lustily.
“Gentlemen,” said he, “you shall be my guards to-day. I have heard much of you. Let me see something of you.”
He led them up the hill, and was received with a hot fire, which emptied many saddles. He was himself struck by two balls, one of which grazed the cap of his pistol, and the other carried off the heel of his boot. The Enniskilliners, mistaking a movement of the king, were taken at a disadvantage and driven down the hill, and, as Davies says, “carried with them a Dutch regiment” moving up to their support. William, again left alone, betook himself to his Dutch Blues, and with them advanced once more against Hamilton. The whole English attack was now concentrated upon Donore, from which the Irish were not driven without some very hard fighting. Pressed by superior numbers, they at last made an orderly retreat, the Horse protecting the Foot, in the direction of Duleek. At a place called Plotin Castle, about a mile and a half south of Oldbridge, Hamilton, finding that the enemy were pressing him, made his last splendid charge, in which he again routed the Enniskilleners with considerable slaughter; but, pursuing too far, he was met by the main body under William, and was himself severely wounded and taken prisoner.
“When he was brought before the king,” says Story, “his Majesty asked him whether the Irish would fight any more. ‘Yes (said he), an’t please your Majesty, upon my honour I believe they will, for they have a good body of Horse still!’ The king lookt a little aside at him when he named his honour, and repeated it once or twice: ‘Your honour?’ intimating (as he always says & great deal in a few words) that what the other affirmed upon his honour, was not to be believed, since he had forfeited that before in his siding with my Lord Tyrconnell; and this was all the rebuke the king gave him for his breach of trust.”
Thus ended the defence of the Boyne, in which it is evident that the Irish, so far from being the cowards that Lauzun, who saw nothing of the action, proclaimed them in his despatches to Louvois, fought against long odds with splendid determination and valour. The orderly retreat was continued under the Duke of Berwick and Galmoy until they rejoined James at Duleek. Meanwhile James, having brought up his reserves on the left, waited on events until, hearing the English had passed the fords at Oldbridge, he ordered Lauzun to attack the enemy. Here, fortunately, his orders were not carried out, as the result would have been disastrous. Sarsfield, with James’s bodyguard, condemned to forced inaction all that day, did at least one good piece of service in checking the king’s rash movement in time. Before the proposed charge took place he had been sent to reconnoitre the ground, and now reported: –
“It was impossible for the hors to charge the ennemie, by reason of two double ditches with high banks, and a little brook betwixt them, that run along the small valley that divided the two armys.”
As it happened, there was also, beyond this valley, “such a Bogg as few of our men ever saw before,” as Story graphically expresses it, into which a body of the English Foot had inadvertently floundered, and “found it as great hardship as fighting itself.” The English drawing off out of sight, James, fearing they might get on the Dublin road, began his retreat on Duleek. He had scarcely done so when, as he tells us: –
“The right wing’s being broken was no longer a mystery, for several of the scattered and wounded horsemen got in amongst them before they wrought Duleek.”
Lauzun now counselled James to seek his own safety, regretting that he could not accompany his Majesty, as his duty forced him to remain and die on the field, if necessary. It was fortunately not necessary. James took his advice, and fled in hot haste to Dublin, taking with him Sarsfield and his bodyguard.
The retreat to Duleek was well conducted by Lauzun, who was at first hotly pursued by the English right wing, some smart skirmishing taking place between the two armies. At Duleek the Irish right, under Tyrconnell and Berwick, came up, having marched from Donore by the hill of Cruizrath. Having crossed the Nanney Water, the Irish made a last stand, and a smart artillery duel between the two armies was maintained until, William coming up, Lauzun and Tyrconnell retreated, still in good order, except for the stragglers from various regiments who had thrown away their arms and were mercilessly shot down “like hares among the corn,” as they tried to conceal themselves.
William left his Foot to encamp at Duleek, and pursued with his Horse as far as a deep defile called the Naul, about six miles beyond Duleek. At ten o’clock, night coming on, he left a body of Horse under arms at the Naul and rode back with the rest to the camp at Duleek, where he slept in his carriage, the troops lying that night without tents.
The Irish loss is said to have been from 800 to 1,500, chiefly, no doubt, in the retreat; the English at from 300 to 500. Thus ended the famous Battle of the Boyne, by no means the magnificent victory for the “glorious, pious and immortal” William it has been represented. It was really little more than a drawn battle, James effecting his purpose, such as it was, of a retreat to Dublin, without irretrievable damage.
 Green does not seem to have been adopted as the national colour until the days of the United Irishmen.