St. Ruth, having retired to Ballinasloe, crossed the River Suck, and took up a position behind it; but while waiting for Ginkel to come up, he occupied the time in prospecting over the neighbourhood. Finding a strong position at Aughrim, he decamped from the bank of the Suck, and occupied this new position. The trampled D’Usson, having recovered consciousness, was conveyed to Galway, where he soon recovered strength among his friends of the Tyrconnellite party, which was strong there. Tyrconnell himself, in the letter before quoted, actually praises D’Usson’s conduct at Athlone; for which, James says, St. Ruth, had he lived, would have called him to account.
St. Ruth bitterly repented his own folly at Athlone, as well he might; and having now got rid of Tyrconnell, decided to make common cause with the Irish party. His severity had caused so much discontent in the army that he now saw that a change of policy was necessary. After his reverse at Athlone he had lost many men, by desertion, during his retreat.
“And now,” says Story, “he begins to be very kind to, and familiar with the Irish officers, whom formerly he had treated with disrespect and contempt; and to caress the soldiers, tho’ a little before, he would hang a dozen of them in a morning, for very slender faults, as they thought.”
The Irish responded to his advances, and a much better spirit began to prevail in the army. Unfortunately the breach between him and Sarsfield was not healed. St. Ruth did not take the Irish general into his confidence, though they appear to have been outwardly reconciled. Some of St. Ruth’s officers advised him to cross the Shannon at Banagher and cut off Ginkel’s communication with Dublin, thus shutting him up in Connaught, Others said this would leave Galway exposed. He himself was anxious to bring Ginkel into the field, fight him, and drive him out of Connaught, if possible. He had already rejected the third alternative of shutting him up in Athlone. He seems to have despaired of retaking the place by immediate assault, as he might have done had the curtain been thrown down as proposed. Mackay admits that but for this curtain they would have poured in a force,
“Which would easily have driven us back quicker than we came, because they would have met us in confusion.”
The Irish had no siege train, and to have starved Ginkel out would have taken time, and besides, he might have cut his way through the Irish lines at some point. St. Ruth was impatient to retrieve his honour by some brilliant stroke, before the news of the fall of Athlone had reached Paris, and all things considered, his final decision to fight at Aughrim was not unwise.
Ginkel spent several days in repairing the fortifications at Athlone, repressing disorders among his troops, sending Maxwell and his other prisoners to Dublin, and offering rewards to deserters, officers or soldiers, from the Irish army.
On Friday, July 10th, he began his march, leaving Lloyd, the “Enniskillen Cromwell,” as Governor of Athlone. Next day, having ascertained that St. Ruth had passed the Suck, leaving the fords undefended, he advanced to Ballinasloe.
St. Ruth had retired to Aughrim, about four miles to the south-west of Ballinasloe, on the Galway side of the Suck. He had chosen his ground admirably. His camp was on the side of the Hill of Kilcommodon, some 400 feet high, and sloping up from a boggy valley. On the 11th Ginkel advanced to the hills opposite Kilcommodon, whence he could view St. Ruth’s position, the strength of which so impressed him that he hesitated about attacking him. He had advanced cautiously from hill to hill, driving in the Irish outposts, and now he encamped for the night, intending to make a reconnaissance in force the next day.
The respective strength of the two armies is estimated by O’Callaghan, whose delight it was to examine and strike a balance between all the conflicting accounts, at 11,500 Foot and 3,500 Horse, or 15,000 men in all on the Irish side, and 25,000 of all arms on the English. Macaulay, who also seems to have consulted every available authority, says – “the English and their allies were under 20,000; the Irish above 25,000.” We may perhaps assume that the numbers were about equal. St. Ruth had the advantage of position, while Ginkel was very much stronger in artillery, and in the arming and discipline of his men; though it is evident that St. Ruth had done much to train his infantry, who stood well, and fired with more steadiness and precision than was the rule with the Irish in these wars.
Early on the 12th of July Ginkel again advanced, driving in the outposts. A fog hung over the boggy valley between him and the enemy; but lifted about 12 o’clock, giving him a view of St. Ruth’s position.
St. Ruth had the previous day been informed by his scouts of Ginkel’s approach, and is said to have made a spirited speech to the army, calling on them now or never to show how Irishmen could fight for their religion, their country, and their king. On the morning of the 12th, Mass was celebrated, and prayers for victory offered up; the priests endeavouring by every means in their power to excite the enthusiasm of the soldiers. St. Ruth then drew up his army in order of battle, and riding through the lines in his splendid uniform ablaze with decorations, gave his last orders. He was in high spirits and confident of victory, speaking words of encouragement and sympathy to the men as he passed along. His one fear was that Ginkel would decline the attack.
The Battle of the Boyne was, as we have seen, not much of a battle; certainly not a decisive battle, but a mere opening of the campaign which ended disastrously for William at Limerick, though his reverse there was more than compensated by the taking of Cork and Kinsale. Aughrim was the one great battle of the war. There the game of war was played with fine skill by St. Ruth, and with spirit and obstinacy by the troops on both sides. The loss of Aughrim was practically the loss of Ireland for James.
The Irish lines extended for about a mile and a half, or two miles, along the slope of the hill, which was almost surrounded by bogs impassable by cavalry, and through which infantry could only scramble with difficulty. In front of the hill a small river ran through the marshy ground, making an attack still more difficult. The Irish right extended beyond the hill, to where there was a broad extent of firm ground on both sides of the river which defended their front. Their left rested on the Castle of Aughrim, beyond which was a vast bog. There were but two points along their whole line where Ginkel’s Horse could pass the bog. One, the Pass of Aughrim, was a narrow neck running up to the Castle from a broad circular patch of firm ground between two bogs, connected with the low land beyond the bogs at Ginkel’s side of the valley by another narrow neck about a mile long. The other, the Pass of Urrachree, named from a small hamlet on the slope of the valley facing Kilcommodon, was at the right of the Irish position.
St. Ruth had entrenched his camp and made skilful use of every existing defensive feature of the ground. On the hill there were two Danish forts, besides a great number of “gardens,” as the tillage fields are called by the peasantry. There were “Hedges and Ditches,” as Story says, “to the very edge of the bog.” The whole side of the hill was in fact divided up into fields surrounded by ditches with stout hawthorn hedges. Through these hedges and ditches St. Ruth cut broad lanes, opening up communication between field and field, so that his troops, both Horse and Foot, could be easily moved from end to end of his lines as occasion required. Special care was taken to facilitate the movements of his cavalry, on whom he depended for the support of his Foot, by the removal of all obstacles. This was most necessary on his flanks, especially the right, where he was most open to attack.
He had little artillery, nine or ten small brass field pieces in all; but disposed of it to the best advantage. Two guns were placed in the Castle; which defended his left flank, and was held by Colonel Walter Burke with a regiment of Foot. Another body of Foot was posted under cover near the Castle, with a large body of cavalry in their rear to support them. He had ordered his pioneers to cut a broad way around the Castle, that the Horse might charge from behind it, and take an attacking force in flank as they emerged from the narrow neck before described. This order, as we shall see, was imperfectly executed.
A battery of three pieces was planted on the slope of the hill, at the left flank of the second line of his main body, so as to fire over the bog, sweep the broad patch of firm ground between the bogs, and flank the narrow neck which led up to the Castle. The rest of his guns, in a second battery, defended the pass of Urrachree.
The hedges, from the base to the middle height of the hill, were lined with infantry, with cavalry to support them; a strong body of cavalry and dragoons protecting his right flank.
Lieutenant-General de Tessé, not Sarsfield, as has been incorrectly stated, ranked next to St. Ruth; Sarsfield apparently serving only as Major-General. De Tessé was in command of the right wing, where were stationed the cavalry regiments of Tyrconnell, Abercorn, Prendergast, and Sutherland; Major General Sheldon, of the left, where Henry Luttrell was in charge of the first line, supported by John Parker with his cavalry, and Nicholas Purcell with his dragoons. Majors-General Dorrington, and John Hamilton were responsible for the infantry, Lord Galmoy with his cavalry being posted just under the camp, behind the second line, to support the centre.
The reserve of cavalry under Sarsfield, now Lord Lucan, was placed on the left of the camp, behind the hill and the village of Aughrim, which lay at some distance above the castle. Shortly before the battle, it is said, another altercation had taken place between St. Ruth and Sarsfield, to whom St. Ruth refused to communicate his designs. This seems extremely probable, as St. Ruth now posted him out of sight of the field, with strict orders that he was on no account to stir from this somewhat humiliating position until ordered to advance. There was, it may be, some pique in the absolutely passive obedience with which Sarsfield waited for orders to the very last.
When the fog lifted, Ginkel advanced in force to reconnoitre, still hesitating to attack. The Duke of Wurtemberg was his second in command. Mackay, supported by Talmash, led the right centre. Tettau and La Mellonière, supported by Count Nassau and the Prince of Hesse, with their French, Dutch, and Danes, the left. The cavalry were on the wings: the right wing being led by Scravemore and Villiers, supported by Ruvigny; the left by La Forrest and Eppinger, supported by Holstaple and Schack. The Duke of Portland came up with his horse just before the battle, and acted with the left wing.
St. Ruth, who seems to have divined Ginkel’s cautious and hesitating temperament, was determined if possible to draw him gradually into a general engagement. He knew that a simultaneous attack along the whole of his own line was, from the difficult nature of the ground, almost impossible; and having arranged for the easy concentration of his force at any given point, he hoped to be able to defeat each section of the attacking army as it got across the bog, at the few points where this was possible, before it could be supported. He therefore ordered his first line of Foot to reserve their fire until the first columns of the enemy had got across the bog, and then, having delivered a couple of volleys, to tempt them up the hill, by retiring hedge by hedge. He had carefully arranged that as the enemy hastily followed in pursuit they should be met by a flanking fire from both sides; while the cavalry was held in reserve to charge them when checked by this fire and that of the second line.
Ginkel and Mackay anticipated this danger, and their policy was therefore to keep the different di visions well in hand, and prevent them from pushing up the hill, until the first line had crossed the bog, and were supported by their reserves. St. Ruth’s right wing was in the weakest position, as the pass of Urrachree was comparatively easy for both Horse and Foot, and the line had to be extended for some distance along the bank of the river to prevent the enemy from taking it in flank if they got across. It was here, however, that he thought Ginkel might be tempted to attack him. For this purpose he had posted two small bodies of troops in the pass at the further side of the river, one as an outpost nearest the enemy’s lines, the other close to the ford.
Ginkel, while waiting for his main body and artillery to come up, accepted this challenge by sending “a Danish captain with sixteen troopers” to drive in the outpost. This they did not succeed in doing, as “the men ran away from a less number than themselves, tho’ the officer behaved himself very well.” Then 200 of Cunningham’s dragoons were sent forward, to pass the ford and take possession of the ditches beyond. The Irish fell back on their supports, who were behind a hill below their camp, and the English dragoons were driven back in disorder, St. Ruth sending up small bodies of fresh troops as needed. Then Eppinger’s dragoons were sent to cut them off from their camp. This St. Ruth could not of course permit, and they also were driven back, though Portland’s horse came up to their support. A hot fight ensued, which lasted for an hour, the Irish, who had crossed the stream, were forced back over the ford, but at last recovered their first position, and the English dragoons were drawn off.
It was now two o’clock, and Ginkel’s army was getting into position. From three o’clock to half-past four Ginkel held a Council of War. He was still hesitating as to the prudence of attacking. This Mackay strongly advised him to do, recommending him to attack the enemy’s strongest position at Aughrim first, and then endeavour to force a passage across the bog and fall upon their centre.
This advice was taken, and the battle began in earnest at five o’clock. Ginkel, however, first made a feint attack on the Irish right, to induce St. Ruth to weaken his left, where the main attack was to be made, by drawing off troops to reinforce his menaced flank. Wishing to concentrate his own forces, Ginkel now threw his two lines into a single formation, some regiments of his second line being ordered to attack first. He himself directed the attack on the Irish right, while Mackay commanded that by Aughrim; the Duke of Wurtemberg reserving the centre until the wings were engaged.
A party of Danes was first sent forward, to outflank the Irish right, but to remain on their own side of the brook without attacking. This was done to keep the Irish line extended as far as possible on that flank. The French Huguenots then attacked the hedges beyond the pass of Urrachree; but were so severely handled that, to prevent a complete repulse, Ginkel was forced to press the attack and support them. The Huguenots fought with the utmost gallantry, and “the Irish,” as Story insultingly puts it, “like men of another nation.” They carried out St. Ruth’s orders with great coolness, defending the first hedges until the French “snaphaunces” were thrust through the hawthorn stumps from which their own firelocks were still blazing away. Then they retired from cover to cover, until the Huguenots, surprised by a flanking fire, and charged by the Irish Horse, were driven back to the bog-side. The Foot then resumed their position behind the hedges as before.
“Never,” says James, “was assault made with greater fury, or sustained with greater obstinacy, especially by the Foot.”
Mackay, who was waiting for a favourable opportunity for beginning his own attack, and who practically planned and fought this battle, now advised Ginkel to withdraw some troops, both Horse and Foot, from his right, and push the attack on his left; hoping that St. Ruth, seeing this movement, would weaken his left by a similar transference of troops to his right. In this he was not disappointed. St. Ruth, seeing that Ginkel was moving several battalions from his right centre and wing, immediately ordered the second line of his own left centre to oppose them on the right. Unfortunately, owing to some mistake in the transmission of his orders, both lines moved to the right; thus leaving a weak point on the left.
This did not escape Mackay’s vigilant eye, and he at once ordered Talmash, with the right wing, to begin the attack by the Pass of Aughrim; while he himself, having had the bog in front of him sounded and pronounced passable for infantry, prepared to lead the right centre across it.
He had got two batteries of field-pieces into position on the firm ground between the bogs on the right, while two more, of heavier metal, were planted on the hill-side opposite to the Irish centre, upon which they maintained a heavy and continuous fire. While the detachment from the Irish left centre was passing to the right, Mackay ordered his Foot to begin the passage of the bog. This they did in two divisions; Mackay himself commanding that on the right, which passed nearest to Aughrim, while four regiments under Colonels Earl, Herbert, Creighton, and Brewer, crossed opposite the Irish centre, where the bog was narrowest, protected by the fire of their own batteries.
This last division numbered some 3,000 men. They were ordered to advance to the lowest of the ditches, and hold it until Mackay had got over the bog where it was broader, and the Horse could get round by Aughrim and come to their support. They were “most of them up to their middles in mudd and water” as they crossed the stream. The Irish reserved their fire until they were close upon them, and then pursued their former policy, firing and retreating from hedge to hedge, to lure the English on. Thus they drew them up the hill, for about half a mile, to where the reserves were stationed. Here they faced about, and stopped the enemy’s advance; the cavalry falling upon them from both flanks. The English fought gallantly, but were forced down the hill, broken and in complete disorder. Colonel Earle, who had been twice taken and re-taken, did his best to rally them, telling them “There was no way to come off but to be brave.” The Irish, however, charged in force, took Colonel Herbert and two captains prisoners, and drove the enemy back to the bog with great slaughter.
While this attack upon the Irish centre was being made, Mackay, with the regiments of Lord George Hamilton, Colonel St. John, Colonel Tiffin, Colonel Foulkes, and Brigadier Stewart (who having been wounded at Athlone was not himself in the battle), was struggling across the bog, nearer Aughrim. He had ordered Prince George of Hesse, whose regiment seems also to have been engaged, to lead the van and occupy a cornfield beyond the bog, without advancing, until he should himself come up. Prince George gained the cornfield, but being young and inexperienced, could not restrain his men from dashing forward in pursuit, when the Irish fired and retreated. The usual result followed; they were drawn into an ambush, and driven with heavy loss back to the bog. Even Mackay himself, or some of the other regiments under his command, fared little better. They were allowed to cross the bog, without having a shot fired at them; so that “several were doubtful whether they (the Irish) had any men in that place or not.” They were soon convinced that they had; for when they came within twenty yards of the first ditch, the Irish poured in a volley with deadly effect. Then a struggle, as obstinate as that on the Irish right, began. Mackay brought over regiment after regiment, even sending to Talmash to ask him to come to his support, when he had got across the pass by Aughrim, by attacking the Irish in flank, instead of attacking the Castle. The Irish stood their ground manfully, and after an encounter which lasted a considerable time, in which the musketry fire on both sides was tremendous, and they “could scarce see each other for smoak,” the English were driven back, until “they were got almost in a line with some of our great guns, planted near the Bogg.” These were probably the guns in the batteries planted at the Pass of Aughrim. These guns were now for a time useless, both armies being mixed together in their line of fire.
Meanwhile the Huguenots had been fighting desperately, first to carry the hedges on the Irish right, and afterwards, when repeatedly repulsed, merely to hold their ground beyond the stream. They had fought splendidly, both officers and men, but had been charged by the cavalry and driven down from the ditches with great slaughter. The old peasant farmer, John Leonard, who took Macaulay over the field near half a century ago, and who coached O’Callaghan in the local traditions about the battle, still points out the scene of this struggle to the enquiring visitor. It lies below the Danish fort near the village of Kilcommodon, and is known as “The Bloody Hollow.”
These brave Huguenots, who had rallied behind the chevaux de frise their sappers carried with them as a portable defence in the field, were now furiously attacked in their turn by the Irish Foot, and, as their own account of the battle acknowledges, thought only of selling their lives as dearly as possible. To save them from utter rout, Ginkel was forced to bring up some troops of Ruvigny’s and Lanier’s Horse, whose station was on the right.
St. Ruth was delighted at the behaviour of his Foot. When he saw Mackay’s attack upon his centre, made with the full strength of both lines of the English army, repulsed for the third time, he flung up his plumed hat and cried: “I shall now beat them back to the gates of Dublin.”
His only reverse was the lodgment of a small body of English Foot on his left centre. From this point, as we have seen, both lines instead of the first only, had been withdrawn. This weak point Mackay had at once attacked.
The enemy, as James tells us, “who had stood in awe of that battallion which faced them, took courage after it was gone, and by the help of hurdles made shift to get over the bogg.”
This successful detachment was probably the two regiments, Lanier’s Foot and Gustavus Hamilton’s Enniskilleners, who, Story says,
“Marched under the walls of the castle, and lodged themselves in a dry ditch, in the throng of the enemies shot from the castle, and some other old walls and hedges adjoining.”
This they were enabled to do by reason of one of those mistakes, or pieces of treachery, which so frequently occurred. Walter Burke with his two regiments of Foot, and two guns, in the castle, should, as St. Ruth expected, have made the pass of Aughrim almost impregnable. He had plenty of powder, four barrels; but on opening his ammunition chests he had found no bullets, but only cannon-balls, and these according to Light to the Blind, too big for his guns. The men had to do what they could with chopt ramrods and buttons from their coats, and they had no bayonets to serve them in a sally.
By this time Mackay was making his last attack with the cavalry of his right wing, who under the protection of the artillery, of which three guns had been pushed up the narrow way leading to the castle, were gallantly struggling over by a “boggy trench” where they could only advance one or two abreast.
The Irish cavalry posted behind the castle now endeavoured to sweep round it by the left, as they had been ordered to do, in case of such an attack. They found, however, that the way was blocked; either because St. Ruth’s commands for the clearing of the way had not been obeyed, or from obstacles placed there by Lanier’s and Hamilton’s men. They had to return, and pass the other way, to charge these two regiments, whom they drove back to the bog after a severe struggle. It was probably the advanced battery in the Pass of Aughrim which Light to the Blind says was now taken by Colonel Gordon O’Neill, who was left for dead on the field, but afterwards recovered.
St. Ruth was surprised to find that the only success of the English was gained at the very point of his lines that he considered the strongest. Seeing the cavalry coming over at Aughrim, and not knowing that Burke was short of ammunition, he asked “What do they mean by it?”
“They are attacking your left,” he was told.
“They are brave fellows,” said he, “it is a pity they should be so exposed.”
Even here Story confesses “All was at hazard, by reason of the difficulty of the pass.”
And now St. Ruth prepared for the final stroke, for which he had played so well, and which he confidently believed would give him the victory. He ordered up half his reserve of cavalry, whom he had kept fresh for a last great charge. But instead of gracefully allowing Sarsfield to lead it, he left him still behind the hill with the other half, repeating his direction that he was on no account to stir without his express orders. This treatment, which Sarsfield must have regarded as a direct insult, was worse than any neglect even he had ever before experienced. He must have felt it keenly.
Forming his cavalry just under his camp, St. Ruth put himself at its head, and rode slowly down the hill, turning aside to give some directions to the gunners in one of his batteries. He must have been a conspicuous figure, in the rich uniform of a French General, splendidly accoutred, and with all his honours on his breast, as he turned in high spirits to his troops and cried: “The day is ours, boys! They are broken, let us beat them to some purpose!”
Meanwhile he was being watched intently from one of the batteries on the English right. Here, according to a North of Ireland tradition, an exciting conversation was taking place. The day before the battle, some sheep had been taken from an Irish squireen named O’Kelly. He went with his shepherd to demand redress from St. Ruth, who at first appealed to his patriotism, telling him he might well spare a few sheep to the soldiers who were fighting to protect him and his lands, and Ireland itself. The man persisting, St. Ruth threatened to hang him, whereupon, turning to his shepherd, he said to him in Irish, “Mark the General!”
“I will so, sir,” said the shepherd.
“He’s robbed you, master; but ask him for the skins.”
St. Ruth, hearing that the soldiers were using these skins to sleep on, refused to restore them, and told him to begone and be thankful he was not hanged, as he ought to be. The pair then went over to the enemy’s lines, gave themselves up, and were brought before Ginkel, to whom they told their story. Ginkel sent for an Irish artillery officer named Trench, and told him these men might be able to show him a mark worth shooting at.
Trench was now in one of the batteries on the Aughrim side, with the two men beside him. As St. Ruth rode down the slope, the shepherd called out, “Master, I see the Frenchman!”
O’Kelly interpreted his words to Trench, who asked, “Where is he?”
“There,” replied the shepherd, “as fine as a bandsman in front of those Horse.”
Trench then himself directed the laying of the gun. When sighted, it was found to be too low, the front wheels of the carriage having got sunk in the mud; so Trench took off his long jack-boots, to serve as a hurdle for the wheels to rest on, and this time sighted St. Ruth. The gun was fired, and as the smoke blew away Trench cried out: “Is the Frenchman hit?”
“He’s on his horse yet,” said the shepherd, “you’ve only blown the hat off him. No! Begorra, but the head’s in it too, for I see them rolling down the hill!”
This story, if not true, is at least picturesque; and it is certain that, just as St. Ruth was about to lead the last charge, he was struck by a cannon ball, or chain-shot, from a battery on the English right, which took off his head. His horse is said to have swerved round, carrying his headless trunk, which still clung to the saddle for a few strides, falling at the spot where the stump of a hawthorn, planted to commemorate the event, still remains.
His body was at once carried to the rear, his splendid uniform and decorations hidden under a trooper’s cloak, that his fall might be concealed from the army.
That St. Ruth’s sudden fall should have created some consternation among the cavalry he was about to lead to the charge was only natural. But the subsequent behaviour of their officers is simply inexplicable. It is difficult to find words to characterize it. It does not seem that anything like a panic took place; but everyone seemed paralysed. The charge was not made; nothing was done; and the cavalry simply threw up the game they were bound to win, and began ignominiously to quit the field; allowing Mackay’s Horse to get across almost unopposed. The accounts of the loss of this battle by the Irish, in the moment of victory, read like that Bardic Tale which tells how the Druids of Queen Meave’s army laid strange wizardry upon the Red Branch Champions, and caused the weakness of a woman in childbirth to fall upon them, so that they made no defence.
Mackay is said to have been told, by a deserter, of St. Ruth’s fall. At any rate he lost no time in taking advantage of the opportunity given him. Leaving the Castle of Aughrim unassailed, he pushed forward with his cavalry, drove back Tyrconnel’s regiment of Foot and a body of Irish dragoons under Luttrell; thus turning the left flank, which St. Ruth rightly considered much the strongest. This done, the defeat of the Irish was merely a matter of time. Lord Galmoy is exempted by the author of Light to the Blind, from the suspicion of treachery which he insinuates the other cavalry leaders incurred. He seems to have led his men to a last charge, but could not prevent the advance of Mackay’s Foot, the chief strength of the English army. The foot of the Irish left centre and wing still fought obstinately, but were caught between Ginkel in front and Mackay on their flank. Most of their officers were killed or taken, and soon the rout was complete.
The most extraordinary part of the whole story is that Sarsfield, upon whom it is incorrect to say that the command devolved upon St. Ruth’s death, was left in ignorance of this, until it was too late to retrieve the day. His worst enemies never dared to bring a charge of treason against him. It is impossible that he can have known what had taken place; and the tradition must be true that, although he cannot have been more than half a mile or so away from the spot where St. Ruth fell, it was only when the broken Foot came flying over the hill that he knew of the success of the English. All he could do then was to organise and conduct the retreat, which he did admirably. In a document in the French Archives, which may be the translation of a London news-letter, as it is dated London, 23rd July/2nd August, 1691, after speaking of the extraordinary resistance made by the Irish, it is said that,
“Colonel Sarsfield who commanded the enemy in their retreat, performed miracles, and if he was not killed or taken it was not from any fault of his.”
The fact that, after such a defeat, he was able to retreat upon Limerick with a considerable army, is in itself greatly to his credit as a commander. Around him, not De Tessé, who now drops out of the story, the Irish rallied.