King William III. to Robert Lundy

From Derry and Enniskillen in the Year 1689 by Thomas Witherow

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CHAPTER III....continued

The main body of the Williamites, in process of concentrating at a few miles' distance, did not wait for the enemy to come up. Seeing their own men retreating, and the forces of Hamilton not only across the river, but in full pursuit, they were seized with a sudden panic, and fled ignominiously without once firing a shot. Those who fled in the direction of Raphoe were pursued by the horse, and Colonel Montgomery's regiment suffered severely. At the Long-Causeway, Colonel Francis Hamilton rallied the troops, but the Irish did not come that way; and then, fearing that the enemy might get between him and the city, he also fell back. Ten thousand men, who, under good command, and well supplied with ammunition, might have kept their ground against any equal number of soldiery in the kingdom, ran away from a mere handful of men half drowned in crossing a deep river, and not very well able to fight. After they had fled from the field and were well forward on the road to Derry, they met the commander-in-chief on his way to the field; but instead of rallying his men or attempting to cover their retreat and bring them off without loss, he fled among the rest, saying that "Derry was his post."

When the fugitives came within three or four miles of the city, they met the ammunition, which had only got so far on its way to the field. Lundy reached the town before the main body of the army. So soon as he and they had got within the walls, he ordered the gates to be shut; the result of which was that several thousand persons, including those who had kept their ground at the Long-Causeway after the others fled, and had in reality covered the retreat, as well as many helpless Protestants fleeing before the Irish army, were obliged to lie all night outside the walls. He afterwards alleged, that his reason for shutting so many of his own men outside the gates was to save the provisions in the city, which, of course, with the idea of surrender that he had in his mind, was a mere pretence. Had Hamilton's horse ridden boldly up to the gates that night, they would certainly have cut off many of those who afterwards proved among the most gallant defenders of the city. It was not till the next morning, and with some difficulty even then, that those who were excluded made good their way into the town.[51]

On the very day that this disgraceful affair occurred at Cladyford, Colonel Cunningham and Colonel Richards arrived in Lough Foyle from England, with nine ships and a man-of-war, conveying two regiments, consisting of 1,600 men, sent by King William to assist the garrison. They had instructions in all things regarding His Majesty's service to take orders from Colonel Lundy.[52] Farther, Colonel Cunningham carried with him instructions from the King to Colonel Lundy, of which the following is a copy:—

"Instructions to our trusty and well-beloved Robert Lundy, Esquire, Governor of our City and Garrison of Londonderry, in our Kingdom of Ireland.

"Whereas, we have thought fit to send two of our regiments of foot, under the command of Colonel Cunningham and Colonel Solomon Richards, for the relief of our city of Londonderry; we do hereby authorize and empower you to admit the said regiments into our said city, and to give such orders concerning their quarters, duty, and service, during their stay in those parts, as you shall think fit for the security of the said city and country thereabouts.

"And, whereas, we are sending to our said city of Londonderry, further succours of money, men, arms, and provisions of war, we do expect from your courage, prudence, and conduct, that in the mean time you make the best defence you can against all persons that shall attempt to besiege the said city, or to annoy our Protestant subjects within the same, or within the neighbouring parts; and that you hinder the enemy from possessing themselves of any passes near or leading to the said city; giving all aid and assistance you may with safety to such as shall desire it, and receiving into the said town such Protestant officers and men able and fit to bear arms as you may confide in, whom you are to form into companies, and to cause to be well exercised and disciplined, taking care withal that you do not take in more unuseful people, women and children, into the said city than there shall be a provision sufficient to maintain, besides the garrison. You are to give us an account as soon as may be, and so from time to time, of the condition of our city of Londonderry, the fortifications, number, quality, and affections of the people, soldiers, and others therein, or in the country thereabouts; and what quantity of provisions, of all sorts, for horse, foot and dragoons, shall or may be bought up or secured in those parts for our service, without the necessity of bringing the same from England, upon sending of more forces thither.

"Lastly, we do recommend unto you, that you entertain good correspondence and friendship with the officers of the said regiments, and more especially with the respective colonels of the same; not doubting but by your joint counsels, and by your own courage, as well as your affection to the Protestant religion, which we shall not fail to reward with our royal favour and bounty, the said city will continue under our obedience, until, upon the arrival of an army, which we are sending from England, all things shall be in such a posture as that we may there, with the blessing of God, restore in a short time our kingdom of Ireland to its former peace and tranquillity.

"Given at our Court at Whitehall, the 12th day of March, 1688-9, in the first year of our reign.

"By His Majesty's command."

Carrying with him these instructions, Colonel Cunningham arrived at the mouth of Lough Foyle on Monday morning, the 15th of April. That day at ten o'clock in the forenoon, he sent a messenger from Greencastle to report his arrival to Lundy. At two o'clock, from Redcastle, he sent a second message to Lundy, couched in the following terms:—

"From on board the Swallow, near Redcastle, at two in the afternoon, 15th April, 1689.

"SIR,—Hearing you have taken the field, in order to fight the enemy, I have thought it fit for their Majesties' service, to let you know there are two well-disciplined regiments here on board, that may join you in two days at farthest; I am sure they will be of great use on any occasion, but especially for the encouragement of raw men, as I judge most of yours are; therefore it is my opinion that you only stop the passes at the fords of Finn till I can join you, and afterwards, if giving battle be necessary, you will be in a much better posture for it than before. I must ask your pardon if I am too free in my advice; according to the remote prospect I have of things, this seems most reasonable to me, but as their Majesties have left the whole direction of matters to you, so you shall find that no man living will more cheerfully obey you than your humble servant,


No answer having been received to either communication, owing to the fact that Lundy in the forenoon had left for Cladyford, Colonel Cunningham at nine o'clock in the evening sent a third message, from Culmore, asking for instructions. Major Tiffin, the bearer of this message, on his way between Culmore and the city, met a person sent by Lundy with his reply to the letters sent by Cunningham in the early part of the day. This messenger Major Tiffin took back with him to the city, whereupon Lundy opened his own letter and added a postscript to it. The letter and postscript are as follows:—

"To Colonel John Cunningham.

"SIR,—I am come back much sooner that I expected, when I went forth; for having numbers placed on Finn-water, as I went to a pass, where a few might oppose a greater number than came to the place, I found them on the run before the enemy, who pursued with great vigour, and I fear march on with their forces; so that I wish your men would march all night in good order, lest they be surprised; here they shall have all the accommodation the place will afford. In this hurry pardon me for this brevity; the rest the bearer will inform you.—I rest, Sir, your faithful servant,                               ROBERT LUNDY.

"Londonderry, April 15th, 1689."

"If the men be not landed, let them land and march immediately."

"Sir,—Since the writing of this, Major Tiffin is come here, and I have given him my opinion fully, which I believe when you hear and see the place, you will both join with me: that, without an immediate supply of money and provisions, this place must fall very soon into the enemy's hands. If you do not send your men here some time to-morrow, it will not be in your power to bring them at all. Till we discourse the matter, I remain, dear Sir, your most faithful servant,                             ROBERT LUNDY."

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[51] Evidence in Hempton, pp. 394—400; Walker, April 13th; Mack., April 15th; True and Impartial Account, p. 19.

[52] See Appendix, No. 8.

William R. Young’s Fighters of Derry has for decades been one of the most overlooked works on the Siege of Derry and as a local genealogical resource. First published in 1932, the book was the product of ten years’ research into identifying participants at the siege which the author undertook when suffering from ill-health in the latter part of his life.

The book is essentially divided into two parts: the first contains 1660 biographical entries relating to the defenders of Derry, tracing, where possible, the family lineage; and the second part includes 352 entries on the Jacobite side. Apart from individual accounts of eminent protagonists in the siege, such as David Cairnes, Rev. George Walker, the Duke of Schomberg, Patrick Sarsfield, etc., there is also background given to many of the most influential families involved in the conflict.