Page:History of England (Macaulay) Vol 4.djvu/195

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at Ballinasloe, about four miles from Aghrim, and rode forward to take a view of the Irish position. On his return he gave orders that ammunition should be served out, that every musket and bayonet should be got ready for action, and that early on the morrow every man should be under arms without beat of drum. Two regiments were to remain in charge of the camp; the rest, unincumbered by baggage, were to march against the enemy.

Soon after six, the next morning, the English were on the way to Aghrim. But some delay was occasioned by a thick fog which hung till noon over the moist valley of the Suck; a further delay was caused by the necessity of dislodging the Irish from some outposts; and the afternoon was far advanced when the two armies at length confronted each other with nothing but the bog and the breastwork between them. The English and their allies were under twenty thousand; the Irish above twenty-five thousand.

Ginkell held a short consultation with his principal officers. Should he attack instantly, or wait till the next morning? Mackay was for attacking instantly; and his opinion prevailed. At five the battle began. The English foot, in such order as they could keep on treacherous and uneven ground, made their way, sinking deep in mud at every step, to the Irish works. But those works were defended with a resolution such as extorted some words of ungracious eulogy even from men who entertained the strongest prejudices against the Celtic race.[1] Again and again the assailants were driven back. Again and again they returned to the struggle. Once they were broken, and chased across the morass; but Talmash rallied them, and forced the pursuers to retire. The fight had lasted two hours; the evening was closing in; and still the advantage was on the side of the Irish. Ginkell began to meditate a retreat. The hopes of Saint Ruth rose high. "The day is ours, my boys," he cried, waving his hat in the air. "We will drive them before

  1. "They maintained their ground much longer than they had been accustomed to do," says Burnet. "They behaved themselves like men of another nation," says Story. "The Irish were never known to fight with more resolution," says the London Gazette.