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An Illustrated History of Ireland from AD 400 to 1800 eBook

Mary Frances Cusack
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 779 pages of information about An Illustrated History of Ireland from AD 400 to 1800.
artillery.  At half-past six Ginkell ordered an advance on the Irish right centre, having previously ascertained that the bog was passable.  The defenders, after discharging their fire, gradually drew the Williamites after them by an almost imperceptible retreat, until they had them face to face with their main line.  Then the Irish cavalry charged with irresistible valour, and the English were thrown into total disorder.  St. Ruth, proud of the success of his strategies and the valour of his men, exclaimed, “Le jour est a nous, mes enfans.”  But St. Ruth’s weak point was his left wing, and this was at once perceived and taken advantage of by the Dutch General.  Some of his infantry made good their passage across the morass, which St. Ruth had supposed impassable; and the men, who commanded this position from a ruined castle, found that the balls with which they had been served did not suit their fire-arms, so that they were unable to defend the passage.  St. Ruth at once perceived his error.  He hastened to support them with a brigade of horse; but even as he exclaimed, “They are beaten; let us beat them to the purpose,” a cannon-ball carried off his head, and all was lost.  Another death, which occurred almost immediately after, completed the misfortunes of the Irish.  The infantry had been attended and encouraged by Dr. Aloysius Stafford, chaplain to the forces; but when “death interrupted his glorious career,"[544] they were panic-struck; and three hours after the death of the general and the priest, there was not a man of the Irish army left upon the field.  But the real cause of the failure was the fatal misunderstanding which existed between the leaders.  Sarsfield, who was thoroughly able to have taken St Ruth’s position, and to have retrieved the fortunes of the day, had been placed in the rear by the jealousy of the latter, and kept in entire ignorance of the plan of battle.  He was now obliged to withdraw without striking a single blow.  The cavalry retreated along the highroad to Loughrea; the infantry fled to a bog, where numbers were massacred, unarmed and in cold blood.

The loss on both sides was immense, and can never be exactly estimated.  Harris says that “had not St. Ruth been taken off, it would have been hard to say what the consequences of this day would have been."[545] Many of the dead remained unburied, and their bones were left to bleach in the storms of winter and the sun of summer.  There was one exception to the general neglect.  An Irish officer, who had been slain, was followed by his faithful dog.  The poor animal lay beside his master’s body day and night; and though he fed upon other corpses with the rest of the dogs, he would not permit them to touch the treasured remains.  He continued his watch until January, when he flew at a soldier, who he feared was about to remove the bones, which were all that remained to him of the being by whom he had been caressed and fed.  The soldier in his fright unslung his piece and fired, and the faithful wolf-dog laid down and died by his charge.[546]

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