Ireland 1690

Margaret Anne Cusack
start of chapter | Chapter XXXIII

Abundant supplies arrived from England, which, if they could not restore the dead, served at least to renovate the living; and Schomberg was ready to take the field early in the year 1690, notwithstanding the loss of about 10,000 men. James, with the constitutional fatuity of the Stuarts, had lost his opportunity. If he had attacked the motley army of the revolutionary party while the men were suffering from want and disease, and while his own troops were fresh and courageous, he might have conquered; the most sanguine now could scarcely see any other prospect for him than defeat. He was in want of everything; and he had no Englishmen who hoped for plunder, no French refugees who looked for a new home, no brave Dutchmen who loved fighting for its own sake, to fall back upon in the hour of calamity.

His French counsellors only agreed to disagree with him. There was the ordinary amount of jealousy amongst the Irish officers—the inevitable result of the want of a competent leader in whom all could confide. The King was urged by one party (the French) to retire to Connaught, and entrench himself there until he should receive succours from France; he was urged by another party (the Irish) to attack Schomberg without delay. Louvais, the French Minister of War, divided his hatred with tolerable impartiality between James and William: therefore, though quite prepared to oppose the latter, he was by no means so willing to assist the former; and when he did send men to Ireland, under the command of the Count de Lauzan, he took care that their clothing and arms should be of the worst description. He received in exchange a reinforcement of the best-equipped and best-trained soldiers of the Irish army.

Avaux and De Rosen were both sent back to France by James; and thus, with but few officers, badly-equipped troops, and his own miserable and vacillating counsel, he commenced the war which ended so gloriously or so disastrously, according to the different opinions of the actors in the fatal drama. In July, 1690, some of James' party were defeated by the Williamites at Cavan, and several of his best officers were killed or made prisoners. Another engagement took place at Charlemont; the Governor, Teigue O'Regan, only yielded to starvation. He surrendered on honorable terms; and Schomberg, with equal humanity and courtesy, desired that each of his starving men should receive a loaf of bread at Armagh.