Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 50.djvu/319

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superior force. Douglas failed, however, to destroy Banagher bridge, which was his chief object (Story, Continuation, p. 42; Macariæ Excidium, p. 386).

The siege of Limerick being raised, Tyrconnel went to France, leaving Berwick in supreme military command, but controlled by a council of war. Sarsfield was the last member named, and it was thought that he would not have been named at all but for the fear that every soldier would revolt to him if he showed resentment at the slight (ib. p. 72). The party opposed to Tyrconnel dreaded his influence with James and with the French king, and wished to have their own views represented at Versailles. Simon Luttrell, Brigadier Dorington, and Sarsfield accordingly went to Berwick on the part of what he calls ‘l'assemblée générale de la nation,’ and asked him to send agents in their confidence. He rebuked their presumption for holding meetings without his leave, but after a day's hesitation granted their request. As Avaux had foreseen, no one was willingly obeyed by the Irish but Sarsfield, who had good intelligence from all parts of Ireland. He was a bad administrator, and a contemporary writer very partial to him says he was so easy-going as to grant every request and sign every paper without inquiry (ib. p. 97). The confusion which reigned in the Irish quarters is well described by Macaulay (chap. xvii.)

Berwick was only twenty, but he tried to keep the peace, and he made Sarsfield governor of Galway and of Connaught generally. Tyrconnel returned to Ireland in January 1691, with Sarsfield's patent as Earl of Lucan, and found it prudent to court his friendship; but he became less attentive when St. Ruth arrived in May with a commission, putting him over Sarsfield's head, but not making him independent of the viceroy. The Irish officers resented Sarsfield's being passed over, and were half mutinous, but he did what he could to pacify them (Clarke, ii. 434). On 8 June Ginkel took the fort of Ballymore in Westmeath, which had been constructed by Sarsfield as an outpost to Athlone, and ten days later he came to the Shannon. Sarsfield played no part in the defence of Athlone, for he was disliked by both Tyrconnel and St. Ruth; while Maxwell, whom he had publicly denounced for his hostility to the Irish at the French court, was given an important post. Sarsfield had procured a general protest of the colonels against Tyrconnel's interference in military matters. According to Oldmixon (Hist. of William III), even when Ginkel's troops were entering the Shannon, St. Ruth ridiculed the idea of the town being taken before his eyes; but Sarsfield told him that he did not know what English valour could do, and advised him to bring up supports at once. St. Ruth answered with a jest, and hot words followed. After the fall of Athlone on 30 July, the Irish withdrew to Ballinasloe, where there was a council of war. Sarsfield, who was followed by most of the Irish officers, was strong against a pitched battle in which Ginkel's disciplined veterans would have so great an advantage. His idea was to throw his infantry into Limerick and Galway, and to defend those towns to the last. With the cavalry he proposed to cross the Shannon, and to harry Leinster and Munster in the Dutchman's rear. One account says he did not despair of surprising Dublin (Macariæ Excidium, p. 130). But St. Ruth felt that only a startling victory in the field could retrieve his own damaged reputation.

He accordingly gave battle at Aughrim on 12 July. Sarsfield commanded the reserve. ‘There had been great disputes,’ says the French military historian, ‘between him and St. Ruth about the taking of Athlone, and the divisions of the generals had divided the troops, which contributed much to the loss of the battle’ (De Quincy, ii. 462). The night before the action a colonel came into Lord Trimleston's tent, and said he would obey Lord Lucan independently of the king's authority, and if he ordered it would kill any man in the army (Clarke, ii. 460). Trimleston told St. Ruth, but the matter was hushed up. Next day St. Ruth's head was shot off just when it seemed probable that he might win; but Sarsfield, although second in command, was not informed of the fact. He had received no orders, and had not even been told his late general's plan. All he could do was to protect the retreat with his small but unbroken force, and he took the road to Limerick. Galway, which Sarsfield had so carefully fortified, surrendered on 24 July, and the Irish troops there also marched to Limerick. There Sarsfield was the soul of the defence both before and after the viceroy's death on 10 Aug., though D'Usson succeeded to the command.

When it became evident that the further defence of Limerick could only cause needless misery, Sarsfield sought an interview with Ruvigny, and a cessation of arms was agreed to on 24 Sept. ‘During the treaty,’ says Burnet (ii. 81), ‘a saying of Sarsfield's deserves to be remembered, for it was much talked of all Europe over. He asked some of the English officers if they had not come to a better opinion of the Irish by their behaviour during this war; and whereas they