Drogheda during the Williamite Wars

In the war of the Revolution, this place was garrisoned by the forces of James II., who had a magazine of military stores and ammunition here; and in the immediate vicinity was fought the celebrated battle of the Boyne. On the 30th of June, 1690, King William's army came within sight of the town and advanced in three columns towards the river. King James's camp extended westward from the town in two lines along its south bank. As his army was marching into camp, William advanced within cannon range of the ford at Oldbridge, to reconnoitre, and dismounted; while Berwick, Tyrconnel, Sarsfield, and some other of James's generals rode slowly along the opposite bank. On remounting, a ball from a field-piece concealed by a hedge grazed the bank of the river and taking a slanting direction struck his right shoulder, tearing his coat and slightly lacerating the flesh; but though a report of his death was quickly spread, William sustained no other injury than a difficulty in using his sword arm.

A brisk cannonade was maintained from the opposite bank of the river till the approach of night; and on the following morning, William's right wing crossed the river at some fords below Slane, overpowering a regiment which had been stationed there to defend the passage, and made their way over a very unfavourable country to a morass through which the infantry passed with great difficulty, while the cavalry found a firmer passage on the right. The part of James's army stationed near the morass, astonished at their intrepidity, fled towards Duleek, suffering great loss in their flight. The central column of William's army now attempted to cross the river; the Dutch guards, followed by the Huguenots, Enniskilleners, Brandenburghers, and English, plunged into the stream near Oldbridge, in front of the enemy's lines and breastworks, checking the current by their numbers, and causing the water to rise so high that the infantry were obliged to carry their muskets above their heads. One squadron of the Brandenburghers was repulsed by General Hamilton's horse, and driven back through the river, and in their retreat threw the Huguenots into disorder; but the general's cavalry wheeling through Oldbridge were cut down by the Dutch and Enniskilleners, with the exception of a small party which encountered the Duke of Schomberg while rallying the Huguenots, wounded and made him prisoner, on which the French Protestants fired into the midst of the party and unhappily killed the Duke.

The Rev. George Walker, who had so gallantly defended Londonderry, was also killed about the same time. After the conflict had continued about an hour, the Irish army retreated to Donore, where James had remained surrounded by his guards; and William, who had crossed the river, about a mile above Drogheda, with his left wing, placed himself at the head of his army; and when the enemy had advanced from Donore, almost within musket shot of his infantry, he was seen sword in hand animating his squadrons and preparing to fall on their flank. James's troops, however, halted and again retreated to Donore, but there charged with such success that the English cavalry, although commanded by William, were repulsed. The enemy was, however, bravely attacked by the Enniskilleners, supported by the Dutch, and ultimately by all the English army, and the battle was for some time maintained with equal bravery by both parties. But the Irish infantry being at last defeated, and the cavalry, after making a furious charge, routed, James and his troops retreated through the pass of Duleek. In this important battle James lost 1500 men, and William's army about one-third of that number.

On the following day, King William sent Brigadier La Melloniere, with 1000 horse, a party of foot, and eight pieces of artillery, to summon Drogheda, which was defended by a garrison of 1300 men under Lord Iveagh, who, after a parley, accepted terms of capitulation, and marched out with their baggage, leaving behind them their arms, stores, and ammunition; and Colonel Cutts' regiment immediately took possession of the place and preserved it from violence.

DROGHEDA | Drogheda in the 1640s | Drogheda during the Williamite Wars | Drogheda Infrastructure and Manufactures | Drogheda Trade in the 1830s | Drogheda Government in the 1830s | Drogheda Churches and Parishes

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