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Chap. Eight'days after his success at the Boyne, William \^s~J resolved to divide his forces, and detached Douglas ofwuHan!*0 Athlone with ten regiments of infantry and five of 1690. h0rsei while himself marched southward with a superior body. He became still more anxious on the news of Torrington's defeat, when he had advanced thirty miles from Dublin, to secure a safe harbour for his transports, and hastened to the reduction of Waterford and Duncannon. Wexford, which had declared in his favour, received his garrison: Clonmell was abandoned by the Irish: Waterford was surrendered on condition of its garrison being allowed to march away with arms and baggage; and, on the near approach of the army, and of a fleet under Sir Cloudesly Shovel, of sixteen frigates, Duncannon accepted the same terms of capitulation. Committing his army to the conduclof his generals, the king retired to Chapel-Izod, near the capital, with intention to embark for England; but, informed of the return of Tourville's navy to Brest, and of the measures adopted for domestic security, he resolved to prosecute in person the Irish war, and again took the command of his troops in the south. Repulse at The army of Douarlas in the mean time marched
Athlone. J . °
16P0. w Athlone, plundering, and often murdering, in defiance of the formal orders of the general, the peasants, who successively appeared in large bodies to claim the benefit of the royal proclamation, and, under promises of protection; were miserably ensnared. Athlone, seated on both sides of the Shannon, non, had been skilfully prepared for defence by its c H A P, veteran governor, named Grace, whose garrison s 'v, / consisted of three regiments of infantry, and eleven of cavalry, beside a larger body encamped for their support at a little distance. The part called the English town, situate on the eastern side of the Shannon, he had abandoned and burned as indefensible; had broken the fair bridge of stone-work, built by Sir Henry Sidney in the reign of Elizabeth; and had fortified the Irish town on the western bank with breastworks, redoubts, and two batteries, besides those of the castle, which stood on an eminence and commanded the river. To the summons of Douglas Grace only answered, if These are my terms," firing a pistol at the messenger. The operations of the Williamite commander, who opened a battery of six guns against the castle, were .sufficiently vigorous ; but his train of artillery was quite inadequate; his best gunner was killed; his men grew languid from want of provisions, the supply of which from the country had been prevented by their own violent behaviour; and they were alarmed by a report that Sarsfield was on his march, with fifteen thousand men, to raise the siege and intercept their retreat. Decamping at midnight, without molestation, Dougfas, by a devious and painful march, joined the army of the king. Deplorable on this occasion was the state of the protestants about Athlone, who had lived under Irish protection till the arrival of Douglas, when they declared in favour of William, and were consequently obliged to fly with the retreat
Tc H A P. ing troops, abandoning their harvests and other prov—^^J* perty, while the miserable pittance of provisions,
carried with them for their support, became the prey
of a merciless and famished soldiery. Muck of . Douglas found the kins* on his march to attack
Limerick. .& & .
1690. Limerick, where lay the main strength of the Irish army. This city, the capital of the most fertile county of Ireland, situate advantageously on the Shannon, near fifty miles from the ocean, where the river admits vessels of five hundred tuns to the quays, consisted of two towns, connected by a bridge, the English and the Irish; the former built on an island of the Shannon, close to the southern or eastern bank, the latter on the main land; both forming one great street cut at right angles by many lanes, so as to resemble a comb with two rows of teeth; fortified with strong walls, bastions, ramparts, a castle, and a citadel; The king was assured that count Lauzun, with other Frenchmen of distinction, had already abandoned the town, with intention of returning home; that all the French troops remaining in Limerick, amounting to three thousand, had declared their resolution of capitulating separately, and retiring from Ireland, but were diverted from this design by the clamour and importunities of the Irish • and that Boileau, one of their generals, had taken the command of the city, while the Irish forces lay encamped on the side of Connaught, having secured the passes of the Shannon, and prepared to supply him with reinforcements and provisions. Though to attempt the town on one side only was
deemed deemed hazardous, his army reduced to twenty Chap.
thousand, and the season advanced, yet William, \^>/^j probably relying on the retreat of the French, and currendry of the Irish, began his approaches to this formidable post on the ninth of August.
The Irish troops retired fighting, as the English advanced, through grounds intersected with hedges, until they came to a narrow pass between two bogfy terminated by an old fort built by Ireton, and communicating with the town by three different lane9, in which the cavalrv were arranged in the middle, the. infantry on both sides under cover of hedges. After some resistance they were driven from this ground; and field-pieces were mounted, to annoy the garrison, on Ircton's fort and another advantageous post adjacent. The success of the king was seconded by the exertions of his Dutch general, Ginciile, who secured a ford three miles from the town, whence he had driven the enemy: but the answer of Boileau to his summons was, that he was "determined to merit the good opinion of the prince of Orange by a vigorous defence." Informed by a French deserter of the state of William's encampment, who had taken post within cannon shot of the town, without the usual precautions, and of the approach of his battering artillery under a slight es*cort, the governor directed the fire from the fortress against the tent of the king, who was thence obliged to remove to another spot, and permitted Sarsfield to undertake an expedition, with a chosen body of cavalry, to intercept the convoy of cannon. Sars
L 4 field,
Chap, fields crossing the Shannon at Kallaloe, twelve miles
V--v—■'from Limerick, and marching by devious roads, surprised the escort, carelessly encamped seven miles from William's army, killed or dispersed the whole party, and fixing the cannon, tilled with powder, with their mouths in the ground, fired them by a train which he left burning on his retreat. The tremendous explosion, by which the cannon were burst to pieces, announced the deed to Sir John Lanier, who had been sent with five hundred horse to prevent such a disaster, but had executed so slowly his orders, that he only arrived in sight of Sarsfield's party when the business was accomplished, and made a futile attempt to intercept its return.
While the besieged were aroused to a resolution of desperate resistance by the defeat of an escort, whose safe arrival would have ensured the reduction of their city; and while discontent pervaded the English army, murmurs, and suspicions of treachery entertained against Lanier and others; William alone, long accustomed to variety of fortune, magnanimous, and not easily elated by prosperous, nor dejected by adverse events, preserved a composure unaccountable to his soldiers. With two cannon of the convoy, which had escaped the general wreck, and some brought from Waterfbrd, he furnished his batteries, and opened his trenches on the eighteenth of August. After an incessant hostility of attack and defence, maintained on both sides with the fiercest resolution, a breach was effected twelve yards in length, and an assault was ordered on the