Page images
PDF
EPUB

Attached to the fortunes of William, whose countrymen the soldiers of the Brandenburgh regiment were, they attempted what no other regiment dreamt of effecting. Like a cloud of vultures they swarmed about the Black Battery, little dreaming of the volcano that slumbered beneath their feet. They were allowed to crowd in all their strength on the walls, and wellnigh to dream that they might win back what had gone so far against them, when, in an instant, the ground beneath their feet began to rock and to tremble—to sway to this side and to that—to form chasms into whose widening jaws many a Brandenburgian fell helplessly—never to see daylight more —and at length, with a terrific outburst of all the explosive elements that were concealed within the chamber of the mine, to blow high into the air, amid the sunset of that glorious evening, the ruthless barbarians whose very name smelt horribly in the nostrils of the people!" When our men drew off (says Dean Storey),1 some were brought up dead, and some without a leg; others wanted arms, and some were blind with powder; especially many of the poor Brandenburghers looked like furies with the misfortune of gunpowder; one Mr. Upton got into the town among the Irish, and surrendered himself to the governor. Bedloe, a deserter from the Irish army, in which he was a captain, went over to William, and- obtained equal rank in that army."2 This event has been so often and so variously told—it has been the theme of so many a pen, and so long the boast of Limerick, that to dwell longer on it would seem supererogatory. But too much cannot be said of an event which had so decisive an effect on the determination of William that he saw in an instant the game was up. That night he slept uneasily on his pillow at Singland. Dreams disturbed his soul—he had not retired before he drenched himself thoroughly with those strong drinks which he loved so dearly. He cursed the fate which brought him to Limerick to witness a defeat unparalleled in the annals of warfare. None of his generals dare approach him—tortured and maddened he cast blame on all about him—and as he weighed the advantages of the Boyne with the losses and disgrace at Limerick, he groaned in spirit. It was a splendid victory.1

picture of the siege, but also says the action would have been decisive if Counts Somes and Nassau would have suffered the detachment, that was to second the Grenadiers, to go farther than the counterscarp. Storey, too, admits the truth. "The Irish then ventured upon the Breach again, and from the walls and every place so pestered us upon the counterscarp, that after nigh three hours' resisting, bullets, stones, (broken bottles from the very women, who boldly stood in the breach, and were nearer our men than their own) and whatever ways could be thought on to destroy us, our ammunition being spent, it was judged safest to return to our trenches."—Dean Storey's Impartial History of the Affairs of Ireland, p. 129. He adds, "that the Danes were not idle all this while, but fired upon the enemy with all imaginable fury, and had several killed; but the mischief was, we had but one breach, and all towards the left it was impossible to get into the town when the gates were shut, if there had been no enemy to oppose us, without a great many scaling ladders, which we had not From half-an-hour after three till near seven, there was one continued fire of both great and small shot, without any intermission; insomuch that the smoke that went from the town reached in one, continued cloud to the top of a mountain at least six miles off." This was Keeper Hill.

• Dean Storey's Impartial History of the Affairs of Ireland, p. 130. 'Ibid.

* Dalrymple (Memoirs, Vol. I. p. 603) says "that the inhabitants of Limerick, eager to give that defeat to King William which those of Londonderry had given to King James, animated the garrison. Even the women, from the same emulation, filled the places which the soldiers had quitted. The garrison rallied, more troops poured into the town from the country behinds and after a dispute of three hours, William was obliged to desist, with the loss of 500 of his English troops killed, and 1000 wounded, besides the loss of the foreigners, which was probably so great, because in the attack they were equal in numbers to the English. He raised the siege soon after, and the same day set off for England, leaving Count Solmes to command the army. But Solmes leaving it likewise soon after, General Ginkle, a Dutchman, was put in his place."

Meetings were held within the walls, and in the camp of the enemy on the following morning, which broke over a scene as terrible and as bloody, as ever battle-field exhibited after fierce contention in the deadly struggle. The streets were flowing with blood—the blood of friends and foes—the latter greatly predominating. The uniforms of the Brandenburghers and of Drogheda's horse were easily discernible among the heaps of slain that made a mount in John-street, and up from Ball's Bridge to the very mouth of the breach. About the Devil's Tower, too, there was an awful appearance of carnage—here many a Dutchman was made to bite the dust in unavailing agony, as he strove to master a position which defied the united strength of William's trained and well-equipped veterans. In several other places about the walls, the helmets of horsemen and the curiously formed hats of infantry, all headless, showed that their owners were sleeping the long sleep from which there is no waking; and, as the event proved, the killed, missing, and wounded of the enemy numbered some thousands, though Storey, and his copyist in this respect, Harris, are unwilling to admit that they amounted to more than eighteen hundred I1 Not a few of the fair forms of those heroines to whom all William's historians attribute the success of the repulse, lay stretched in death, their pure features smiling in the rigid stillness of the grave, on the victory which they had aided in winning. Wives looked among the slain for husbands and sons; and as they found them, the salvoes of triumph which thundered from the walls, were mingled with the heart-piercing wail of sorrow, which ascended from the voices of those who were deprived by the ruthless invader of the prop and stay of many a cheerful homestead, before the hour that William appeared before those walls, which not only roasted apples did not take, but which stood firm against the cannon shot and scientific engineering of the most accomplished artillerists in Europe at the time 1 Molleneux, with a judicious eye to the consequences, tells the world that but 700 were killed on his side1 "since the beginning of the siege 1"

1 A more absurd untruth never was uttered, when the fact is admitted by Storey and Harris, that no less than nearly two thousand men were killed, or placed beyond harm's reach, during the attempt to storm the city. The official return between killed and wounded, as given in Appendix M., p. lxix., Harris's Life of Wm. m., is as follows :—

[table][graphic]

King William took a view of the havoc that was made, and sighed as he beheld the effects of that power which is stronger than fire—the power of freemen fighting against slavery—for a cause immeasurably dearer than life. Kirk's regiment acted throughout with their usual savagery.2

A Council of War being called, where, as is said, the following reasons among others being urged, William thought fit to give the order for raising the siege :3

First, "that the rain that had fallen, and in all probability was likely to fall, would in a little time so moisten the ground about Lymerick, that it would be impossible to draw off the cannon and heavy baggage.

Secondly, "That the river Shannon began so to swell, that if they did not suddenly pass the same, the communication with the other part of the army would be cut off.

Thirdly, "the watery season would undoubtedly bring the country distemper on our army, and so more dye of it than by the hand of the enemy; in the same manner they did the last campaign of Dundalk.

Fourthly, "that the garrison of Lymerick being very numerous, if they abide any assault (which on account of the weather must be made with great disadvantage), we should lose a great many men."

The soldiers were in hopes that William would give orders for a second attack, and seemed resolved to have the city, or lose all their lives; but this was too great a risk to run at one place; and they did not know how his ammunition was gone, especially by the former day's work. They continued however their batteries; and then a storm of rain and other bad weather began to threaten, which fell on Friday the 29th in good earnest; upon which William calling another Council of War, concluded the safest way was to quit the siege, without which they could not have secured their heavy cannon, which they drew off from the batteries by degrees, and found much difficulty in marching them five miles next day. Sunday the last of August, all the army drew off; most of the Protestants that lived in that part of the country taking the opportunity of removing further from Limerick with the army; and "would rather leave their estates and all their substance in the enemies' hands, than trust their persons any more in their power."4 Harris, too, speaks of the wet season and a scarcity of ammunition, as the occasion of the raising of the siege. The heavy baggage and cannon were sent off, and the next day the army decamped, and marched towards Clonmel. The apologists of William have endeavoured to throw the cause of the failure on the weather, not on the bravery of the soldiers, citizens and women of Limerick.

The Duke of Berwick in his memoirs states that the enemy lost two thousand men in the assault. There were ten thousand of William's picked soldiers, including the Brandenburghers, the Danes, &c. engaged in it; because according to Dalrymple, William, in coming to Ireland, did not repose faith in his English soldiers to fight against King James, and hence he supplied his army with an enormous number of Danes, who Storey says, "looked lusty fellows,"—Brandenburghers, and mercenaries who were ready to enlist for the highest pay, and fight against the liberties of a nation with which they had no sympathy.1 Brigadier Talbot displayed great courage and address in the assistance he gave Sarsfield in repelling the assault. Though it is stated by Storey that houses were set on fire, and tremendous damage done to the city during the siege, nevertheless, from the examination of John Rider, referred to in O'Callaghan's Macarise Excidium, "there were but few houses and a little hay demolished in Limerick during the siege, they," adds he, "having covered their hay with raw hides." Eider bore arms in the city during the siege. Harris, the historian of William, is candid enough to add to the numbers given by the Duke of Berwick, and to say, that on that eventful 20th of August, 1690, there were twelve field officers, 46 captains, 100 subalterns, and 1581 soldiers of William's army killed and wounded !a There never yet was a more signal or a more glorious victory on the part of the Irish. A ray of hope appeared to dissipate the deadly gloom that hung upon the fortunes of Ireland; and the name of Sarsfield became synonymous with everything that was agreeable to the heart of the nation.1 De Burgho relates that William, in his haste to decamp, left a vast number of men sick and disabled in hospital. He was asked by such of the generals as dared to approach him, what was to be done with the sick and wounded. De Burgho gives the reply—with fury in his eyes, and rage consuming him, roaring out, he said, " Let them be burned,"—" let them be set fire to ;"a and forthwith the hospital was enveloped in flames.

1 Molleneux's Diary of the Siege of Limerick, p. 26.

* Kirk's cruelty was proverbial. His soldiers were called Kirk's Lambs—he had been engaged in long and sanguinary wars in Africa; and his soldiers were ever ready to execute his bloody orders. Graham in his History of Ireland states that Kirk's regiment—the 2nd regiment of foot—had the device of a lamb, which it bears to this day, and that the soldiers were called lambs long before the period in question.

'Storey. * This is a calumny of the Williamite writers.

1 Dalrymple (Memoirs, p. 474) says, " The forces which sailed with William, T joined him in Ireland, amounted to 66,000 men. Bat distrusting English soldiers to fight against one who had been lately King of England, he took care that more than one-half of his army should consist of foreigners. For he had 10,000 Danes, 7,000 Dutch and Brandenburghers, and 2,000 French Protestant refugees, and superiority in general officers, three-fourths of whom had been foreigners or Dutch officers, was still greater. He carried with him the Prince of Denmark, mor from a fear of leaving him behind, and to lessen the odium of going to fight against his wife's father, by dividing that odium, than to do honour to the prince, (Duchess of Marlborough) whom he would not permit to go in a coach with him. For a similar precaution he carried with him a number of English nobility and men of fashion as volunteers, or rather as hostages. But Clarendon's son, Lord Canterbury, who was in the Prince of Denmark's service, refused to attend his master, (Clarendon's Diary) under pretence that he could not with honour serve in a country, where he must have run to see that Regiment which the King had taken from him, commanded by another; but in reality to expose the King for not showing that delicacy to James, which he, who was more distantly allied to him, seemed to feel. But though the Duke of Orraond had the same excuse of honour, to plead from the station of his former Regiment, he attended the King, perhaps to conceal the defection which he already meditated."

2 Dean Storey (Impartial History of the Affairs of Ireland, pp. 129-130) estimates the killed at 500, and the wounded at 1000, and gives the following list of the officers killed and wounded at he attack, in the five English Regiments that were on duty, as it was taken exactly the next day:

In Lieut.-General Douglas's Regiment.
Wounded.

Sir Charles Fielding.

Captain Rose, mortally wounded.

Captain Guy.

Captain Trevor.

Captain Rose, junior.

Captain Wainsborougk.

Lieut. Wild, mortally wounded.

Lieutenant Wybrants.

Lieutenant Lacoci.

Lieutenant Rapine.

Lieutenant Loyd.

Ensign Goodwin.

Ensign Burh.

KiWd.

Major Eumbleton.
Lieutenant Ennis.
Lieutenant Morrison.
Ensign Tapp.
Ensign Tuisent.

In Colonel Cutts' Regiment.
Wounded
Colonel Cutis.
Captain Newton.
Captain Foxon.
Captain Masham
Lieutenant Lewis.
Lieutenant Barrack.
Lieutenant Cary.
Lieutenant Trenchant
The Adjutant. •
Mr. Haws, a Volunteer.

Kill'd.
Captain Hudson.
Ensign Mead.

In the Earl of Meath's Regiment.
Wounded.
The Earl of Meath.

Lieut.-Colonel Neuxomb, mortally wounded.
Lieutenant Blakeney.
Lieutenant Ilubbleihorn.

Kill'd.
Captain Lindon.
Captain Marlow.
Lieutenant RuueH.

In my lord Lisburn's Regiment.
Wounded.
Major Allen.
Captain Adair.
Captain Holdrich.
Captain Hubbard
Lieutenant Hillton.
Lieutenant Goodwin.
Ensign Hook.

Kiltd.
Captain Wallace,
Captain WetU
Ensign Ogle.

"Sword, shot, and shell are best to tell

The wrongs of injured men—
No craven King, no traitor friends,

Shall spoil our sport again ;—
Up with your strong and bloody hands,

O'Brien and O'Neill,
And dig the graves of these foreign slaves

With a shower of Irish hail."

A thousand iron mouths of death

Their fierce replies combined,— And the stormers reeled from the fiery breach

Like chaff before the wind; To the trenches driven, with ranks all riven,

In the sweep of that deadly shower,— Sarsfield hath wished on a foreign field,

He had died in that glorious hour.

The green flag streamed, the death-shower
teemed,—
The fatal bridge was passed;
There was hardly one in that fierce sortie

But had crossed it for the last :
Red ran the flood with women's blood,

Who fought with Limerick's sons,
Their glorious names shall never die,
While ever that river runs.

Three times the furious foe came on,

But met and beaten still,
Their souls went down to their last parade,

With th eir friends of Keeper Hill.
The sun set on two bleeding hosts,

And red with a soldier's shame,
Kino William with two thousand ghosts,

Left Limerick to its fame!

Killed.

Lieutenant Latham.
Ensign Smith.

In Brigadier Stuart's Regiment.
Wounded.
Brigadier Stuart.
Major Cornwall.
Captain Pallfery.
Captain Galbreth.
Captain Stuart.
Captain Casieen.
Lieutenant Stuart.
Lieutenant Cornwall.
Lieutenant Carey.
Ensign Stuart.

i The following verses by Thomas Stanley Tracey, Esq., A.B., Sch. T.C.D., contain an allusion to the locality, as well as to the principal events of the Siege:—

SARSFIELD'S DEFENCE OF LIMERICK.

There's a deathless trco on the ancient lines

Where the old Black Battery stood;
With leaves still bright as the fame of the fight

That dyed them once in blood.
The heroes are dead, but the tree still lives;

And still, as the night-wind grieves,
Immortal memories wake again,

That slept beneath its leaves.

And warriors' ghosts from the battered walls

Cry forth in Fancy's ear—
For ever curs'd be these foreign dogs,

What demon brought them here?
but we drove them out in the olden time,

And we'll drive them out again; Listen to how your father's fought

When Sarsfield led our men.

The blood rushed back to many a heart

On that eventful day;
When Sarsfield from the hills returned,—

The lion from his prey;
Little the slumbering foe had dreamed

The Shannon's fords were passed,—
But bloodhounds staunch were Sarsfield's dogs,

And dragged them down at last.

Quick as the lightning flash reveals

The ravages of the storm,
his eye had scanned the patriot band,

And seen their ranks reform;—
"Now pay them back, my boys," he cried,

"In honest Irish coin, The long-due debt that Ireland owes

These braggarts of the Boyne! 1

1 De Burgho's Hibernia Dominicans.

« PreviousContinue »