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himself was most of all dissatisfied. He had served £**££
with a zeal, untempered by conscience, a bigoted
The army of Ginckle, whose plan was offensive,Mm
superior in the spirit of the soldiers, and experience, of the officers, among whom were some of distinguished reputation. Supplied at length with provisions and other necessaries, by the wa*t of which
Attack of Athlone. 1691.
c H A p. he had been long delayed, Ginckle, having assembled <—v--' his forces at Molingar, marched against the fort of Ballymore, which the Irish had fortified with great care, and furnished with a garrison of a thousand chosen men. The governor, relying on the natural and artificial strength of his post, situate in an insular tract washed by a lake, sustained the attack for a day, but surrendered with his garrison, as prisoners, on the sight of armed boats launched on the lake. Having secured this fortress by additional works and an English garrison, the general moved toward Athlpne, and came within sight of the town on the eighteenth of June.
The Irish had newly fortified the English district of Athlone, repaired the bridge, and seemed resolved to defend their station on both sides of the river. On the twenty-first the troops of Ginckle advanced toward the walls through lanes lined with Irish infantry, who gradually retired within the fortifications, acting as guides to their enemy. A breach was soon made, by a battery of ten guns, in the wall of the English town, and the place taken by storm, the discomfited troops rushing in such confusion over the bridge, that many were crushed to death, and many, falling from the battlements, perished in the river. But all further progress seemed impracticable for the assailants. The arch of the bridge next the Irish town, or district of Athlone on the western side of the Shannon, was again broken: the ford between the two towns, dangerous by its depth and stony bottom, was so narrow as : r. hardly hardly to admit twenty men abreast: the enemy, Chap. who fired furiously from the opposite banks, were *—y-—' posted in great force behind entrenchments and fortresses: and where the stream, toward Lanesborough, might be crossed by a bridge of pontons, the place was guarded effectually for prevention. The general, concluding that the only practicable passage was by the bridge of the town, raised a wooden work for the purpose of throwing planks over the broken arch. While the batteries from both sides played with the utmost fury, from the east to cover, from the west to destroy the workmen, a serjeant and ten priyate soldiers in armour, rushing from the Irish town to destroy the work, were all slain; but another party, repeating the desperate attack, succeedr ed, casting the beams and planks into the river; and two of them survived, returning in triumph. Ginckle renewed his efforts, and, having completed a close gallery over the broken arch, resolved to atr tempt the passage here and in two other places at once, and, to encourage the soldiers in so perilous an enterprize, he distributed money among them. But in the critical moment, when both parties were prepared for desperate combat, the attempt was prevented by the burning of the gallery, which was fired by the grenades of the Irish.
While the raising of the siege was regarded as inevitable by Saint-Ruth, who triumphantly gave an entertainment on the occasion, Ginckle held a council of war, in which he displayed the appearance of being inclined to retreat, though he secretly ap
M 3 proved
Chap. proved of the resolution of the other officers, all of xxxiv. r'
vm v—.>/ whom, except Mackay, the conqueror of the Jacobites of Scotland, Were ardent for the passage of the ford, and were emulous each to cortducl the enterprize. The ardour of the soldiers corresponded with that of their leaders, fired by resentment at the insults of the Irish, who all night exclaimed in derision From the opposite side of the river, that " they had ill-earned the money distributed yesterday by their officers." Talmash, appointed to Command the passage, modestly resigned his place to Mackay, to Whom it should have devolved in the rotation of duty, and attended as a Volunteer. On the following morning, at the ordinary hour of relieving the guards, when a double garrison might appear without suspicion, the advanced guard of two thousand men, destined for this service, on a signal given by the tolling of the church bell, rushed into the river, amid the thundering shouts of their associates, of whom some rari to throw planks over the broken arch, others to attempt a passage by pontons. The detachment, encouraged by the presence of distinguished leaders, who participated the danger, advanced through the ford with cold intrepidity, amid a tremendous fire from the enemy's works, gained the opposite banks, mounted the breaches next the river, and were masters of the town in half an hour from their first entering into the stream, while the Irish fled to the camp in astonishment, not Without considerable slaughter.
Saint-Ruth on this occasion betrayed too great a Chap. confidence, unworthy of a great commander, but ^—-y—' not unsuitable to that narrowness of soul which admits 'religious bigotry and persecution. When he was informed that the enemy were passing the ford, he exclaimed that they could not possibly haw such presumption as to attempt the town while he with his army lay so near; to which Sarsfield calmly re* plied, that he well knew the enterprize to be not too great for English courage, and that a moment ought not to be lost in sending strong reinforcements. While the Frenchman, offended, expressed his disdain, and the Irishman scornfully retorted, a messenger in breathless consternation just found words to inform them that the enemy were in town. Saint-Ruth in a haughty tone, under which he covered his vexation, commanded that they should immediately be driven out; and his troops were put in motion for that purpose. But after this bravado, when his men received the fire of their own guns, pointed against them from the walls, a general retreat was made; the French oflicers exclaiming against the Irish; the Irish execrating the French general and his countrymen. The garrison of the castle consisting of five hundred men, surrendered as prisoners; and about twelve hundred more had been lost by the Irish in the siege. Saint-Ruth, who had hoisted the standards of France at Athlone, had issued all orders in the name of the French monarch, and had solicited the Irish to swear allegiance to Louis, intending to render Ireland a province of the
M 4 French