The extraordinary circumstance, of the Irish army being left without orders after the death of Saint Ruth, has never been explained. The command should have devolved upon Sarsfield, but none of the accounts of the battle speak of him as being present. He had certainly not been consulted by Saint Ruth, and had not been present at the council of war before the battle; for the bad feeling, which had existed between him and Saint Ruth since that general arrived, had broken out into open dispute since the fall of Athlone. But it is inexplicable that there should have been no second in command, that no one should have come forward to give orders after the death of the general, that a victorious army should have been left, as a flock of sheep, without a shepherd.
Up to the moment of the death of Saint Ruth, the loss of the British had been very severe, as they had more than two thousand men killed and wounded, while that of the Irish was trifling. But in the subsequent struggle the Irish, fighting each man for himself, without order or object, were slaughtered in vast numbers, their loss being estimated by the British writers at seven thousand men, a number which points to wholesale slaughter, rather than to the loss which could have been inflicted upon a brave army during little over an hour of daylight.
But, crushing as the defeat of the Irish had been, the victory was far from inspiring William or his army with the confidence they had felt at the outset of the war. Here, as at Athlone, it was almost a miracle which had saved the English from a terrible disaster. The Irish had proved themselves fully a match for the best soldiers that William could send against them, and, although their infantry had suffered terribly in the rout, their ranks would be speedily filled up again; while the cavalry, the arm in which the Irish had uniformly proved their superiority, had moved away from the field of battle intact and unbroken. Athlone and Aughrim therefore rendered William and his general more anxious than ever to bring the struggle to an end, not by the force of arms, but by offering every concession to the Irish.
The imminence of the peril had cowed even the party of confiscation, and they offered no opposition to the issue, by Ginckle, of proclamations renewing the offers of William. Ginckle himself moved forward, immediately after the battle, and granted the most liberal terms to the garrisons of the various small posts which he came upon. On arriving before Galway, he permitted that town and garrison to surrender on the terms of a pardon for all, security of property and estate, freedom of religious worship, and permission for the garrison to march away to Limerick, with drums beating and colours flying, the British furnishing horses for the transport of their cannon and baggage.
Chapter 15: A Fortunate Recognition.
After the capitulation of Galway, Ginckle moved towards Limerick. King William, who was absent on the Continent, was most anxious for the aid of the army warring in Ireland, and the queen and her advisers, considering that the war was now virtually over, ordered transports to Ireland to take on board ten thousand men; but Ginckle was allowed a month’s delay.