They were just ready to fall on the centre when King William, having passed with the left wing, composed of the Danish, Dutch, and Inniskillen horse, advanced to attack them on the right: they were struck with such a panic at his appearance that they made a sudden halt, and then facing about retreated to the village of Dunmore.
Today’s installment concludes James II Invades Ireland,
our selection from The History of England by Tobias G. Smollott published in 1765.
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Previously in James II Invades Ireland.
Place: Londonderry, Ireland and the River Boyne, Ireland
Then the Duke of Schomberg passed the river in person, put himself at the head of the French Protestants, and pointing to the enemy, “Gentlemen,” said he, “those are your persecutors.” With these words he advanced to the attack, where he himself sustained a violent onset from a party of the Irish horse, which had broken through one of the regiments and were now on their return. They were mistaken for English, and allowed to gallop up to the Duke, who received two severe wounds in the head; but the French troops, now sensible of their mistake, rashly threw in their fire on the Irish while they were engaged with the Duke, and, instead of saving, shot him dead on the spot.
The death of this general had well nigh proved fatal to the English army, which was immediately involved in tumult and disorder; while the infantry of King James rallied and returned to their posts with a face of resolution. They were just ready to fall on the centre when King William, having passed with the left wing, composed of the Danish, Dutch, and Inniskillen horse, advanced to attack them on the right: they were struck with such a panic at his appearance that they made a sudden halt, and then facing about retreated to the village of Dunmore. There they made such a vigorous stand that the Dutch and Danish horse, though headed by the King in person, recoiled; even the Inniskillens gave way, and the whole wing would have been routed had not a detachment of dragoons, belonging to the regiment of Cunningham and Levison, dismounted and lined the hedges on each side of the ditch through which the fugitives were driven; there they did such execution on the pursuers as soon checked their ardor. The horse, which were broken, had now time to rally, and, returning to the charge, drove the enemy before them in their turn.
In this action General Hamilton, who had been the life and soul of the Irish during the whole engagement, was wounded and taken, an incident which discouraged them to such a degree that they made no further efforts to retrieve the advantage they had lost. He was immediately brought to the King, who asked him if he thought the Irish would make any further resistance, and he replied, “On my honor I believe they will, for they have still a good body of horse entire.” William, eying him with a look of disdain, repeated, “Your honor, your honor!” but took no other notice of his having acted contrary to his engagement, when he was permitted to go to Ireland on promise of persuading Tyrconnel to submit to the new government. The Irish now abandoned the field with precipitation; but the French and Swiss troops, that acted as their auxiliaries under De Lauzun, retreated in good order, after having maintained the battle for some time with intrepidity and perseverance.
As King William did not think proper to pursue the enemy, the carnage was not great; the Irish lost a thousand five hundred men and the English about one-third of that number; though the victory was dearly purchased, considering the death of the gallant Duke of Schomberg, who fell, in the eighty-second year of his age, after having rivalled the best generals of that time in military reputation. He was the descendant of a noble family, in the Palatinate, and his mother was an Englishwoman, daughter of Lord Dudley. Being obliged to leave his country on account of the troubles by which it was agitated, he commenced a soldier of fortune, and served successively in the armies of Holland, England, France, Portugal, and Brandenburg; he attained to the dignity of mareschal in France, grandee in Portugal, generalissimo in Prussia, and duke in England. He professed the Protestant religion; was courteous and humble in his deportment; cool, penetrating, resolute, and sagacious, nor was his probity inferior to his courage.
This battle also proved fatal to the barve Caillemote, who had followed the Duke’s fortunes, and commanded one of the Protestant regiments. After having received a mortal wound, he was carried back through the river by four soldiers, and, though almost in the agonies of death, he, with a cheerful countenance, encouraged those who were crossing to do their duty, exclaiming, “_A la gloire, mes enfants, à la gloire!_” (“To glory, my lads, to glory!”)
The third remarkable person who lost his life on this occasion was Walker, the clergyman, who had so valiantly defended Londonderry against the whole army of King James; he had been very graciously received by King William, who gratified him with a reward of five thousand pounds and a promise of further favor; but, his military genius still predominating, he attended his royal patron in this battle, and, being shot, died in a few minutes.
The persons of distinction who fell on the other side were the Lords Dongan and Carlingford; Sir Neile O’Neile and the Marquis of Hocquincourt. James, himself, stood aloof during the action on the hill of Dunmore, surrounded with some squadrons of horse, and seeing victory declare against him retired to Dublin without having made the least effort to reassemble his broken forces. Had he possessed either spirit or conduct his army might have been rallied and reinforced from his garrisons, so as to be in a condition to keep the field and even to act on the offensive; for his loss was inconsiderable, and the victor did not attempt to molest his troops in their retreat, an omission which has been charged to him as a flagrant instance of misconduct. Indeed, through the whole of this engagement William’s personal courage was much more conspicuous than his military skill.
This ends our series of passages on The Siege of Londonderry and the Battle of the Boyne by Tobias G. Smollott from his book The History of England published in 1765. This blog features short and lengthy pieces on all aspects of our shared past. Here are selections from the great historians who may be forgotten (and whose work have fallen into public domain) as well as links to the most up-to-date developments in the field of history and of course, original material from yours truly, Jack Le Moine. – A little bit of everything historical is here.