Terrible was the slaughter made of the Irish when they broke at Aughrim. For here there was no orderly retreat of a whole army, as at the Boyne. Sarsfield led off a detachment, fighting as they retreated; but most of the infantry fled to the bogs in rout and confusion, leaving their best men strewing the field like autumn leaves. Even Sarsfield himself seems to have lost heart after that fatal day. Ginkel remained on the field to bury his dead, leaving most of the Irish unburied. Story, who went over the field three days after the battle, says: –
“I reckoned in some small inclosures 150, in others, 120, etc., lying most of them by the ditches where they were shot; and the rest, from the top of the hill where the camp had been, looked like a great flock of sheep, scattered up and down the country, for almost four miles round.”
He further tells of the fidelity of a dog, which he calls a greyhound, but which was more probably an Irish Wolfhound. His master, an Irish officer, had been killed in the battle and left unburied; but the dog would not quit his body, which he defended against the other dogs that came in troops to feast upon the corpses.
“When all the corps were consumed, the other dogs departed, but this used to go in the night to the adjacent villages for food, and presently to return to the place where his master’s bones were only then left: and thus he continued till January following, when one of Colonel Foulk’s soldiers being quartered nigh hand, and going that way by chance, the dog fearing he came to disturb his master’s bones, flow upon the soldier: who being surprized at the suddenness of the thing, unslung his piece, then upon his back, and killed the poor dog.”
The Irish retreated to Limerick, “whither they went in no kind of order, but rather like people going to a fair”; and Ginkel sent detachments to take possession of the passes of the Shannon, and of Loughrea, which they found burnt and abandoned.
On July 16th he marched with his main body to Loughrea, on his way to Galway, which he did not wish to leave in his rear. Galway was not strongly garrisoned, and the troops were badly armed and worse clothed. There were landed gentry there solicitous for their estates, and many rich merchants, the town being the chief port of trade with France and Spain. Lord Dillon was Governor, and D’Usson Commander of the Forces.
D’Usson complains, in a letter dated August 15th, 1691, that he wrote repeatedly to Tyrconnell and Sarsfield, “Who thinks he has much more authority than the Viceroy, and has not much regard for my character,” asking for a reinforcement of 1,500 men; but they did nothing, Sarsfield leaving his letters unanswered for several days. They seem to have been on bad terms.
The garrison of Galway were disappointed by the non-arrival of Baldearg O’Donnell, with his Rapparees. He had promised to come to their relief, as he had promised to join St. Ruth at Aughrim, and had done neither. He was already in treaty with Ginkel to bring over as many of his men as he could persuade, bargaining for a reward in money, a pension, and the Earldom of Tyrconnel, claimed by his family.
On July 19th Ginkel came before Galway, without his artillery, and summoned the town. Dillon replied that he and D’Usson would defend it to the last: a bold defiance, supported by the voices of his big guns all the afternoon, while the English army was getting into position. It was a waste of ammunition, as the enemy were well sheltered; but it at least showed he had guns, forty-six of them it seems; nearly eight times as many as the wretched little field-pieces that defended Athlone, and throwing about eighteen times the weight of metal. But the spirit of the men of Athlone was not behind them.
That night Ginkel sent Mackay with a detachment across the river, two miles above the town, thus cutting off Baldearg O’Donnell, if he had had any intention of coming Next morning, hearing from a deserter that a fort which defended a narrow ridge of land, and so blocked the only approach to the town, was nearly finished, and should be attacked at once, he ordered Count Nassau to attack it; and the Irish evacuated it after a slight resistance. That afternoon a parley was beaten, and Dillon entered into negotiations for a capitulation. Lord Clanricarde, into whose family Sarsfield had married, was the man whose family interest was strongest in Galway; and upon him James lays the chief blame of the prompt surrender of the town.
“My Lord Clanricarde and others, considering nothing but their security made such haste to surrender it, that they would not wait for the coming up of the cannon, which was yet at Athlone.”
Thus vicariously, in the person of his faithful Ginkel, did the immortal William play the part of Caesar before Galway. There must surely be somewhere extant a medal in which the conqueror figures in classical armour and laurels, with Galway and its guns in the background, and the appropriate “Veni, vidi, vici,” curving round the circumference.
The Articles were signed on July 21st, 1691, and ratified by William on February 17th, 1692. The garrison were allowed to march out with all the honours of war; with six pieces of cannon, drawn by horses furnished by Ginkel. The garrison and in habitants were confirmed in the possession of their estates, real and personal, and both clergy and laity of the town were to have “the private exercise of their religion, without being prosecuted on any penal laws for the same.” The Articles being signed, Dillon and D’Usson marched out with colours flying, etc.; their guns, drawn by Ginkel’s sturdy teams, leaping over the rough ground like the car of Cuchullin. They marched straight to Limerick, to help Sarsfield in his last extremity. They might have helped him more by holding Galway a little longer; but capitulation was now the order of the day.
On July 28th Ginkel sent Captain Coal, who had appeared in Galway Bay with nine men-of-war and eighteen other ships, round to the Shannon, and marched himself for Limerick, which he was in hurry to approach, hoping that it would surrender without a siege.
While Ginkel was taking Galway, the Irish had again concentrated their forces in Limerick, where Tyrconnell still remained. D’Usson, on his arrival, assumed the chief command, with the Chevalier de Tessé as his subordinate; D’Usson was also made Governor of Limerick.
The Foot were ordered into the town; the cavalry and dragoons under Sarsfield sent to the Clare side of the river. Their duty was to defend the passes of the Shannon, their head-quarters being near Killaloe.
The fortifications of Limerick had been much strengthened by the French engineers after the first siege: the Irish town especially, with new outworks, a strong wall with bastions around the southern and south-eastern quarters, and bastions to defend St. John’s Gate. A moat running completely round the Irish town is shown on Speed’s map; but as it is not mentioned in contemporary accounts of either siege, it probably did not then exist. A moat running across King’s Island, and defending the north-western face of the English town, also shown by Speed, is mentioned by Story in his account of the second siege.
William found the war in Ireland much more costly than that on the Continent, and had warned Ginkel that he must not expect further assistance from England next spring. After Aughrim, therefore, Ginkel, as his letters to Coningsby show, felt that he must, if possible, finish the war in this campaign. He told the Irish officers taken at Aughrim that he was authorised to grant good terms, and induced them to write to Sarsfield, urging him to negotiate before the army came to besiege Limerick.
It is said that the French and many of the Irish officers in Limerick, were in favour of capitulation; but Sarsfield, supported by the higher clergy, who had no faith in English promises, was resolved to hold out to the last. Tyrconnell had information from Paris that the assistance, absolutely necessary, as he had told James, if Limerick was to be held, was at last granted, and a French expedition just about to come to its relief. He, therefore, threw the weight of his authority into the popular scale, and publicly renewed his oath of allegiance to James, inducing the majority of the Irish to do the same, and further to swear not to surrender the town without the king’s permission.
But there was treachery in the Irish camp; and this time the traitor was Sarsfield’s old friend and supporter, Henry Luttrell. Sarsfield himself, intercepting a letter, discovered that he was in correspondence with Ginkel, and denounced him to Tyrconnell.
“My Lord Lucan, whose intentions were always right,” as the Memoirs say, “and he jealous for the king’s service, was the first to oppose his own friends when he found they went beyond the limits of their duty and allegiance to the king, and it was by his means that Luttrell’s secret correspondence was discovered. After this my Lord Lucan’s credit began to be as low as Tyrconnell’s.”
Luttrell was tried by court martial and condemned to death; but was merely kept in prison, the execution of his sentence being deferred, chiefly, no doubt, from fear that Ginkel would carry out his threat of reprisals on the Irish officers in his power. On hearing of Luttrell’s arrest, he had promptly sent a trumpet to say, “That if they put any man to death for having a mind to come over to us, he would revenge it on the Irish.” Luttrell was rewarded by William with the confiscated estates of his elder brother Simon, who remained faithful to James, and with a pension of £500 a year. He was, many years after, assassinated in his sedan chair in the streets of Dublin, and after he had lain some eighty years in his grave, his body was dug up, and his skull broken with a pickaxe, as a mark of infamy.
As Ginkel slowly approached Limerick he was kept well informed of the condition of things within the city, by numerous deserters, both officers and men. Finding that surrender without a siege was very doubtful, he ordered up his heavy artillery, which he had left at Athlone.
A detachment sent against “long” Anthony O’Carroll, who had mauled Douglas’s dragoons a year ago, now drove him out of Nenagh, capturing his baggage near Limerick, “amongst which were two rich Coats, one valued at Eighty pounds, the other at Forty guineas.” Long Anthony lived handsomely in Nenagh.
On August 15th, Ginkel had news of Tyrconnell’s serious illness, and in a few days afterwards of his death. On the 10th he was present at a banquet given by D’Usson, was taken ill that night, and died on the 14th. He was buried by night in the cathedral; “not with that pomp his merits exacted, but with that decency which the present state of affairs admitted.” His tomb cannot now be identified.
On August 25th, the army marched upon Limerick, Mackay taking Ireton’s Fort and another, and Count Nassau “Cromwell’s Fort,” without much resistance. Next day the siege train came up; a line of contravallation between these forts was begun, and batteries of guns and mortars planted for the chief attack, made this time upon the eastern side of the English town, across King’s Island. A second attack was made from the east and south-east upon the Irish town, the chief fire being directed against the bastions by St. John’s Gate. A third attack was made upon the Irish town from the south-west, where there was a longer line of contravallation. At some distance behind this, to the south-west of the town, were Ginkel’s head-quarters, and here also Wurtemberg’s camp was pitched.
The chief station of Coal’s Fleet was at the mouth of the river Maigue, some miles down the Shannon. The war-ships had at first come higher up, firing into the cavalry camp at Cratloe as they passed. Some light frigates came within sight of the town.
“The Irish upon the first appearance of them, expressed a mighty joy, believing them to be French, and were as much troubled when they found their mistake.”
The second siege of Limerick was uneventful, as compared with the first. It was distinctly a dull affair, carried on by both sides without enthusiasm, audacity, or ingenuity, merely as a matter of duty. Ginkel, as in duty bound, steadily and remorselessly battered the walls with his big guns, sparing neither powder nor shot, and blasted down and burnt the houses with bombshells and “carcasses” – infernal machines filled with curiously mingled combustibles, and sent hissing and flaming like pestilent comets into the miserable place. The Irish, as in duty bound, bore with patient fortitude this horrible bombardment, which soon made worse havoc of the houses than William’s had made; and waited day by day for the tardy French.
The bombardment began on the evening of August 30th, the cannon roaring on all sides; and before morning the mortars, kept hard at work all night, had thrown over a hundred bombs into the English town. The first shell, a deserter reported, killed Lady Dillon, wife of the Ex-Governor of Galway, and wounded several others. Destruction walked that night, and every night, as well as every day, with frequent fires, and many explosions of magazines pointed out by deserters, for nearly a month, in that patient city of Limerick; and still the French did not come. The Irish leaders had a hard task to keep the patriotism of their followers up to its old obstinate pitch. Many officers had deserted, in any that remained were half hearted, and some were worse. The Rapparees, pent up in a besieged city, began to show signs of impatience, until D’Usson, who really seems to have wished to hold out, checked their discontent by distributing 50,000 livres among them.
It was a game of endurance on both sides. “It was presumed,” say the Memoirs, “Ginkel would not opiniatre the matter.” He was embarrassed by the lateness of the season, the rainy weather, and want of forage. Two huge breaches had been made in the walls, the one in those of the English town between St. Francis’s Abbey and Ball’s Bridge, the other probably in those of the Irish town near St. John’s Gate; but he did not dare to attack them.
A proposal to storm the breach in the English town, by crossing the river to King’s Island, was abandoned, because of the moat in front of the walls, which Ginkel heard was strongly pallisaded. A council of war was held, and it was determined to send a detachment across the river to the Clare side, with a vague idea of blockading the town before going into winter quarters. “This,” says Story, “was but melancholy news to both officers and soldiers.” But Ginkel was at his wit’s end, and if the French had come would probably have raised the siege.
On September 16th he prepared to pass the river at St. Thomas’s Island, a large island in the Shannon about two miles above King’s Island.
Why Sarsfield should have selected Clifford, whose loyalty he had good reason to suspect, to guard this important point, is one of those mysteries which puzzle the student of the strange story of these wars. He had done so, however; posting him with a body of dragoons, on the Clare side, to defend the passage by the island, with Sheldon, encamped with his main body of Horse and dragoons at some distance beyond the river, in his rear, to support him.
Colonel O’Kelly, who had come to Limerick from the north, just before the siege, says that Wauchope was the only general that Sarsfield could trust; Sheldon and Clifford being Tyrconnellites, and Sheldon especially objectionable, as: –
“The very man who by Tyrconnell’s private orders, marched the Horse into Connaught when William raised the siege from Limerick, which rendered at that time Sarsfield’s design to pursue the enemy ineffectual.”
The very morning of Ginkel’s passage, O’Kelly begged Sarsfield either to come from the town, and take the command of the detachment at the river himself, or to send Wauchope: –
“But it looked as if there had been some fatality in the matter.”
The most curious point in the whole business is that the Irish actually had a small garrison upon St. Thomas’s Island; yet Ginkel was allowed to construct the bridge of pontoons at his leisure, 200 grenadiers being sent over in four tin boats to the island, where “they lay undiscovered till morning.” O’Kelly says that Clifford, who seems to have been at some distance from the river with his dragoons, whose horses were “at grass at a place about two miles off,” quite out of reach when they were wanted, was repeatedly warned by his outposts that the enemy were at work on the bridge. But, like St. Ruth, he as often declared that the thing was impossible! At last, early in the morning, the bridge being finished, overcame the whole detachment, Royal Dragoons, grenadiers, and fusiliers, supported by four battalions of Foot and several squadrons of Horse. Then the alarm was given, and a few of Clifford’s dragoons straggled down without their horses, fired a few shots, and ran before the grenadiers, leaving their saddles, tents and baggage behind them, with two small brass guns and Maxwell’s standard. The place where they crossed was called by the Williamites “Clifford’s Bridge.”
The English then advanced to attack Sheldon’s camp, reconnoitred a few days previously. Many of the wretched townspeople had left the city, to escape the bombardment, and were encamped beside the soldiers, in tents made of their sheets and blankets. Sheldon was alarmed in time to strike his tents and carry off his baggage; covering his retreat with his cavalry, which held the enemy at bay. He was soon safe among the hills, and afterwards retired to Six-mile-bridge.
Meanwhile our old friend Sir Teague O’Regan had surrendered Sligo to the Earl of Granard, sent to support Colonel Mitchelbourne in reducing the garrison of the north. Teague had boldly marched forth to stop his advance, counting on the assistance of Baldearg O’Donnell, who, having pocketed £100 as earnest money from Ginkel, wished to force his hand, and get a second instalment, by feigning a new access of patriotism. Teague was at the last moment left in the lurch, and driven back to Sligo.
In Sligo there were sixteen guns, and Lord Granard when he came up was without artillery. He therefore put a bold face on it, raised huge batteries, and threatened a terrific bombardment, if the town were not at once surrendered, on the same terms as Galway had obtained. These were good enough for any gentle man to accept, and Teague, thinking discretion the better part of valour, surrendered accordingly, on September 16th, and marched out with all the honours of war. Lord Granard took possession of his sixteen guns, and left Mitchelbourne as Governor; and Teague with his gallant 600 came to Limerick. Whether he rode that famous charger of his, is not now ascertain able. On that point, as on many others one wishes to know, history is silent.
On the 22nd, Ginkel passed the river in force by the bridge of boats, now lengthened and brought nearer to the town; taking with him most of his Horse and dragoons, ten regiments of Foot, and fourteen guns; and leaving Mackay and Talmash to continue the bombardment from the Munster side.
The English advanced-guard was attacked and driven back by a sally from the town of some 600 men under Colonel Lacy. Supports coming up on both sides, a sharp skirmish took place; but the Irish were, after an hour’s hard fighting, forced to retire before the enemy as they came steadily across, regiment after regiment. They fell back upon the outworks defending Thomond Bridge: two small forts, with some stone quarries and gravel pits in front, where about 800 men were posted.
The guns of King John’s Castle opened upon the enemy, as they advanced and drew up in force before the town; but they were almost out of range, and the fire was ineffectual. Ginkel, pleased with his success, now ordered several regiments to attack the forts. The Grenadiers carried the gravel pits, and the Irish skirmishers fell back; but now a new detachment came dashing across Thomond Bridge from the town, and charged gallantly, stopping for a while the dense columns of the enemy’s Foot; but after a furious fight, the forts were stormed, and the Irish forced to retreat across the bridge. The rear guard, in striving to cover this retreat, were so hard pressed, that the French major in command of the gate, fearing the enemy would pour in after them, ordered the drawbridge to be raised. Those on the bridge, pent into a narrow space, and closely pursued by a greatly superior force, could make no resistance, and: –
“Cried out for quarter, holding up their handkerchiefs and whatever else they could get.”
No quarter was given, and the English, filled with murderous fury, did not stay their hands until some 600 of them had been forced into the river or slaughtered like sheep upon the bridge; so that: –
“Before the killing was over they were laid on heaps upon the bridge higher than the ledges of it.”
About 100 officers and men were taken prisoners, and the forts, with three brass guns, remained in the hands of the besiegers.
The action of the French officer who had caused this fearful mishap, threw the townspeople into a fury. He had been killed by a ball from the enemy, or they would have torn him to pieces; and the old suspicion of French treachery blazed up once more.
The passage of the river, and taking of the forts, cut off the cavalry from communication with the town. The Irish were demoralised, and Sarsfield must have keenly felt the misconduct or treachery of Clifford, whom he arrested and confined in the castle. He now seems to have despaired of assistance from France, and decided it was best to make terms, before the garrison were reduced to extremity. He probably feared further treachery, if the breaches were attacked. After some discussion, a capitulation was decided upon; the bishops absolving those who had taken the oath not to surrender without James’s permission. Next evening, the 23rd, the drums beat a parley round the walls of both towns, and a white flag was hung out.
Several days were spent in preliminary negotiations. On the 24th, Sarsfield and Wauchope had a conference with Ginkel, who agreed to a three days’ truce, to admit of deputies from the cavalry camp coming in to join in the capitulation. Next day their deputies came in, and dined with Ginkel. On the 26th hostages were exchanged, and on the 27th the Irish sent in their proposals, which were as follows: –
(1) An Act of Indemnity for all past crimes and offences to be passed.
(2) All Catholics to be restored to their estates possessed before the late Revolution.
(3) Free liberty of worship to be allowed them, with one priest for every parish in town or country.
(4) Catholics to be capable of all employments and professions, civil, and military.
(5) The Irish army to be kept on foot and paid, etc., as the rest of their Majesties’ forces, if willing to serve against the French and other enemies.
(6) Catholics to be allowed to live in all towns and cities, and to be members of corporations, and exercise all trades, etc., with all privileges enjoyed by Protestants.
(7) An Act of Parliament to be passed ratifying and confirming these conditions.
Ginkel replied that these propositions were contrary to the British Constitution, and “dishonourable to himself, and he would not grant any such terms.” To prove he was in earnest, he ordered a new battery to be raised, and threatened to recommence hostilities. The Irish asked what terms he was willing to grant. Articles were accordingly drafted and sent to Sarsfield, who next morning, September 28th, came out with Wauchope and other officers, the Archbishop of Cashel, and several “Counsellors at law.” These Articles, after much debate, were accepted in their general tenor; prisoners were exchanged, and a cessation of hostilities by sea and land agreed on. The Irish very properly insisted that the Articles should be signed by the Lords Justices, who were sent for, and arrived at the camp on October 1st. After further debate, the Articles were finally settled and engrossed; and on October 3rd the Irish officers dined with the Duke of Wurtemberg, and afterwards went to Ginkel’s tent, where the Articles were duly signed on both parts.
Ginkel seems to have been reduced to extremities. Even after the taking of the forts by Thomond Bridge, he wrote to Coningsby that the storming of the breaches was impracticable, and when asking the Lords Justices to come to the camp, he presses them to come at once, because bread and forage will be wanting in a short time, and then he must “starve or begone.” The Lords Justices themselves were about to publish a proclamation offering better terms than the Irish actually received; but on hearing of their overtures they suppressed this, and came to Limerick, determined to “hold the Irish to as hard terms as the king’s affairs would admit.” Two days after the articles were signed the French fleet came into Dingle Bay.
The Articles were two-fold, Military and Civil; the former signed by D’Usson, De Tessé, Lucan, Wauchope, and other Irish officers, the latter by Ginkel, and the Lords Justices Coningsby and Porter. The Military Articles, allowing “all persons without exception” to leave Ireland and settle anywhere abroad, except in England or Scotland, with their families and property, and providing for the free transport to France of such Irish officers and soldiers as desired to enter the French service, have only a temporary interest, and need not be particularly described. The Civil Articles were of more permanent importance and need to be set out fully.
The Civil Articles were made “on behalf of the Irish inhabitants in the city and county of Limerick, the counties of Clare, Cork, Kerry, Sligo, and Mayo;” Galway having separate Articles of its own, and the rest of the kingdom being already in the hands of the Williamites. They may be briefly epitomised as follows, the first, ninth, and twelfth being quoted in extenso: –
- That the Roman Catholics of this Kingdom shall enjoy such Privileges in the Exercise of their Religion as are consistent with the Laws of Ireland, or as they did enjoy in the Reign of King Charles the Second; and their Majesties (as soon as their affairs will permit them to summon a Parliament in this Kingdom) will endeavour to procure the said Roman Catholics such further Security in that particular as may preserve them from any disturbance upon the account of their said Religion.
- All inhabitants of Limerick, and other garrisons unsubmitted, and all officers and soldiers under James’s commission in the Counties specified, not prisoners of war, now submitting to “Their Majesties’ Obedience,” shall hold their Estates, etc., as entitled under Charles II. or at any time since, and exercise all Professions, Trades, and Callings as in the reign of James II, taking oath of allegiance to William and Mary.
- All absent Merchants returning within eight months to have the benefit of Article II.
- Absent Officers also.
- General amnesty and pardon of offences for persons comprised in Articles II. and III.
- No person so comprised to be sued for damages, etc., committed or for rent of Lands or Houses occupied, during the war. This Article to be reciprocal, on both sides.
- Noblemen and Gentlemen comprised, to be allowed to bear arms for sport or self-defence.
- Residents of Limerick, etc., to remove their goods and chattels without search or duty.
- The oath to be administered to such Roman Catholics as submit to their Majesties’ Government, shall be the Oath aforesaid and no other.
- Persons breaking Articles shall not by such breach, cause loss of privilege to any other person.
- The Lords Justices promise to endeavour to protect persons comprehended in Articles from arrests and executions for debt and damage for the space of eight months next ensuing.
- The Lords Justices and the General do undertake that their Majesties will ratifie these articles within the space of three months or sooner, and use their utmost Endeavours that the same shall be ratified and confirmed in the Parliament.
- Lord Lucan makes himself responsible for a debt to John Browne for goods seized for the use of the army, this debt to be paid out of a tax on estates secured to Catholics under the Articles.
The Articles were ratified by William and Mary on February 24th, 1692, the words: “and all such as are under their protection in the said counties,” omitted by the engrosser after the words Limerick, etc., in the second Article, being restored.
Although William was personally in favour of toleration; he did absolutely nothing to redeem his pledge of obtaining “further security” for the Irish Catholics, who might have bitterly used against him his own reproachful words to Richard Hamilton, “Your honour!” and with much more reason. In his reign many of those abominable penal acts against Catholics, which have excited the indignation of even Irish Protestants, were passed; and to these he seems to have given his assent without a protest.
In his reign the Irish Catholics gradually lost their rights, civil and religious. A Catholic could hold no public office, could not be a trustee, executor, guardian, legatee, or even a schoolmaster; could not be taught at home, except as a Protestant, nor sent abroad to be educated in a Catholic school or college; could not own a horse of greater value than £5. Anyone informing against him for this latter offence, could break into his stable, seize the horse, bring him before a magistrate, and claim the horse, on payment of £5, “as if bought in open market.”
 This may be a mistake for Lord Dillon, as in a clause of an Act of Parliament, referring to officers included in the capitulation, he is mentioned as dead when they were signed.