Charles Chalmont, Marquis de St. Ruth

From A Compendium of Irish Biography, 1878

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St. Ruth, a French general, sent over by Louis XIV. to command the Irish army, in May 1691. He had already led some regiments of the Irish brigade in Savoy, where he acted with the greatest barbarity towards the Protestants. He is stated to have been of "great bravery, energy, and experience;" events proved him to be vain and self-confident. Macaulay says he showed much energy in organizing the Irish army — "Day and night in the saddle, galloping from post to post, from Limerick to Athlone, from Athlone to the northern extremity of Lough Rea, and from Lough Rea back to Limerick." He undertook the command of the castle and western bank of the Shannon at Athlone, against De Ginkell, in June 1691. From the 19th till the 29th of June the place sustained a fierce bombardment. St. Ruth believed the position to be impregnable, and haughtily refused to listen to Sarsfield's advice as to necessary measures for defence. On the morning of the 29th the enemy forded the Shannon in face of the Irish batteries. St. Ruth was taken unawares; Colonel Grace, who had nobly defended the town a year previously, fell in the storm, and St. Ruth and his army were obliged to retreat into Connaught. On the slope of Kilcominadan Hill, near Aughrim, he drew up his army on Sunday, 12th July, and received De Ginkell's attack. Dreading the displeasure of Louis XIV. at his loss of Athlone, he saw the necessity of a supreme effort.

Macaulay says: "He exerted himself to win by indulgence and caresses the hearts of all who were under his command... The whole camp was a ferment of religious excitement." St. Ruth had 15,000 troops and nine field pieces, to meet the Williamite army of 20,000 men and a well-appointed park of artillery. His dispositions were made with great ability; but he had not communicated his plans to any of his subordinates — even to Sarsfield, second in command, whom he had placed on the left, with directions not to leave his post. De Ginkell's attack did not begin until five in the afternoon. The early part of the battle went entirely in St. Ruth's favour. The Irish fought with stubborn resolution. In high spirits, St. Ruth headed a charge of cavalry, and just as he cried in French, "The day is ours, my boys, we will drive them before us to the walls of Dublin," a chain-shot took off his head. On the loss of their leader the cavalry were thrown into a state of confusion, which communicated itself to the rest of the army. De Ginkell pressed the attack, and the battle was lost to the Irish. St. Ruth's corpse, wrapped in his cloak, was carried from the field and laid in the old monastery at Loughrea. His spurs, his crest, and the shot by which he was killed, hang on the wall of the south transept of St. Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin, over Schomberg's monument.

Sources

223. Macaulay, Lord: History of England, from the Accession of James II. [to 1702]. 5 vols. London, 1849-'61.

233. Manuscript and Special Information, and Current Periodicals.

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