Page images

war. "I came not to Ireland to let grass grow un- Chap. der my feet/' was the reply of this wise ana* martial Wv^. monarch to some officers who advised caution; and, sensible of the importance of dispatch, he reviewed his assembled forces at Loughbrickland, whence he advanced southward without loss of time. In this review, to the surprize of the officers and the delight of the soldiers, instead of contenting himself with a general survey from some convenient point, as had been expected, he rode through the midst of the troops, examining with eagerness and close attention the state of every regiment, notwithstanding a storm and clouds of dust with which he was incommoded. In his march he lived as a ,soldier, riding all the day with an advanced party, and taking his quarters in the camp at night, with less attention to his own accommodation than to that of his men, insomuch that, when he was requested to sign an order for wine for his own table, he exclaimed with emotion, " let them not want; I shall drink water." The forces of James retired before him from Dundalk and Ardee, and took post on the southern side of the Boyne, near Drogheda, to the northern side of which river the army of William arrived on the thirtieth of June, while his fleet coasted slowly in view, ready to supply him with provisions and other necessaries.

James, who had imagined William to be de-p^^. tained in England by violent factions, surprised atof ]*TMsthe news of his arrival, not until six days after his landing at Carrickfergus, marched with six thou

K 3 sand

xxxm saQd French infantry to the main body of his troops ,**—v—' at the Boyne, leaving Dublin under a guard of militia commanded by Lutterel, the governor. As the French monarch had promised to send, as soon as the squadron attending William should have returned, a fleet of frigates into the Irish channel, to destroy the transports of that prince,, and thereby to detain him in Ireland, until domestic insurrection, aided fiy invasion, might operate in Britain to the restoration of its former sovereign, James was advised by his council of officers to decline an engagement, to retire to the Shannon witb his cavalry and some foot, to strengthen his garrisons, to protract, the war by a defensive plan, and thus to await the result of machinations in Britain, and the probable wasting of William's army in a country of experienced insalubrity to English constitutions. On the other hand the king declared his resolution of maintaining his post, and his satisfaction in the opportunity of a decisive battle; alledging that his abandoning of the capital would operate, as an acknowledgement of his inferiority, to the desertion of the Irish, who were apt to judge merely from appearances, and, which would be worse, t& the discouragement of the schemes formed by his friends in Britain for his restoration. From the force of his expressions his officers conceived the expectation of his taking an active and determined part in the approaching battle: yet he betrayed his diffidence by his precaution in sending Sir Patrick Trant, one of his commissioners of revenue, to engage gage aship at Waterford for his conveyance to France Chap.


in case of his discomfiture. * l'

William, intent on dispatch and decision, ad vane-1^1TM1* ed toward the Boyne, at the dawn, on the thirtieththe BoyM of June, with his army in three columns, and arrived at nine o'clock, at the head of his vanguard, within two miles of Drogheda, seated on both sides of that river. From a hill to tiie west of this town he reconnoitered the position of James's army; and, as the view was partly intercepted by some hills on the opposite side of the river, he proceeded with some officers, for more distinct observation, within musket shot of a ford opposite to the village of Oldbridge, thence to some distance westward, and, at length alighting for refreshment, seated himself on a rising ground with his attendants. As BerAvick, Tyrconnel, and other leaders of the Jacobites, were reconnoitering on their side, they discovered the situation of William, and formed a plan for his destruction. About forty horsemen, appearing in a ploughed field opposite to his ground, in a short time retired, leaving two field-pieces, which they had concealed in their center, planted, and masked under a hedge. At the instant of his remounting, a man and two horses, on a line with the king, at some distance, were slain by one bullet; and another immediately succeeding, grazed the river's banks, rose, and slanted on his right shoulder with a superficial wound. As, from the appearance of his attendants, who crowded round him in conf sion, a belief of his death was entertained by the enemy,

K 1 a universal


a universal shout of joy pervaded the Irish camp, the news flew rapidly to Dublin, and thence was carried to Paris, where extravagant rejoicings, and the damp of disappointment on the receipt of the true intelligence, marked the high opinion malignantly enterr tained by Louis of the abilities of William.

While some squadrons of the jacobite cavalry de-r scended to the river to take advantage of the supposed consternation among the Williamite forces from the imagined death of their king, the prince rode through his camp to prevent false alarms, his artillery fired on the hostile troops, and the cannonade continued on both sides till the close of the evening. Of deserters from the enemy one, who appeared of some note, so magnified their numbers, as seemed somewhat to alarm king William; but Cox, the under-secretary of Sir Robert Southwell, the secretary of state, leading the deserter through the English camp, and asking him to what number he computed the Williamite forces, received an answer indicating more than double the real amount. At nine o'clock in the evening William held a council of war, not to deliberate, but to receive his orders for passing the river on the next morning in face of the enemy. Duke Schomberg, unable to persuade him to relinquish his hazardous enterprize, or to seize the bridge of Slane, distant three miles to the west, so as to flank the enemy, and prevent their retreat through the pass of Duleek, retired in disgust, and received the order of battle in his tent, declaring that ff it was the first ever sent to him.'*

This This bridge also in the camp of James was likewise Chap.


an object of importance with the generals, and un- K-i^s dervalued by the monarch. When, in a council of war, Hamilton recommended the sending of eight regiments to secure it, and James proposed the employing of fifty dragoons on that service, the former bowed in astonishment, and said no more on that subject. William once more rode through his camp at midnight with a blaze of torches, examined the several posts, issued his final orders, and both armies prepared for battle.

In respect of numbers the armies of James and Bade of the William were not widely unequal, the former con- °i6go. sisting of thirty-three thousand, the latter of thirty-six thousand men; nor in point of discipline was the difference great, as the French troops of James were veterans, and the Irish a considerable time practised in military operations. The advantage of ta6lics may, on the whole amount, have been on the side of William, whose forces were composed of English, Enniskilleners, Dutch, Danes, Brandenburghers, and Hugonots, or French protestants, who had fled from their native country on account of religious persecution. The advantage of James lay in the strength of his position; that of William in his own mental abilities, which had long proved the bulwark of Europe against the otherwise irresistible power of France. The camp of the Jacobites extended in two lines, from the fortified town of Drogheda on their right, filled with Irish soldiers, to,a morass, hardly passable, on their left, three miles


« PreviousContinue »