(From Froude Vol 1 page 221)
The Williamite army pitched camp at Tullyallen, on the high ground north of the
river, on 30th June. In the evening, at a council of war, Schomberg, supported by some of the other generals, advocated an attack across the river at Oldbridge as a diversion, while the main army was concentrated upstream against the Jacobite left flank. Other generals, notably Count Solms of the Dutch Guards, were against this plan and William opted for a compromise: the main assault would be at Oldbridge, but a flank attack upstream by a third of the army would precede it.
The day started misty but soon cleared. Shortly after dawn Meinhard Schomberg, Duke Schomberg's son, and Douglas, the Scottish lieutenant general, set off upstream to the west with 10,000 men. The Irish had broken the bridge at Slane, but a few miles downstream the Williamites found a ford at Rosnaree. William forded the Boyne further downstream near Drybridge, and placing himself at the head of a substantial force of cavalry, charged the Jacobite right flank.
William arrived at Carrickfergus in mid June accompanied by an impressive fleet of
three hundred ships. English politics had delayed him and he declared on landing that he had not come to let the grass grow under his feet. The army was speedily mustered and inspected, and after a week, the march south commenced.
The Jacobite army had moved north as far as Dundalk. The French advice was to
retire west, but James was reluctant to abandon Dublin and the rich provinces of Leinster and Munster. There was a skirmish at the Moyry Pass, between Dundalk and Newry, after which the Jacobites withdrew to the south and took up position behind the River Boyne,
the only defensible physical obstacle that remained between William and Dublin.
This was to be the site of the forthcoming battle.
The most serious weakness was the location of Oldbridge in a loop of the river.
This meant that James's forces in the loop at Oldbridge would be automatically outflanked if their opponents proceeded upstream. These topographical features largely dictated the
course of the battle. The infantry attack, under Solms, commenced at 10 am when the three battalions of Dutch Guards entered the river ten abreast and waded, waist deep, across the
ford. They were followed by the Huguenots and some of the English battalions.
Most accounts of the battle are critical of the Irish infantry.
Kings in Conflict,
The Blackstaff Press,
The Western Protestant Army Ireland 1688/90,
Oliver C Gibson,
The Battle of Aughrim 1691.
The site of this battle was Kilcommadan or Aughrim Hill - which stretches south-eastward from the ruined castle and village of Aughrim and which forms the western skyline.
Seen in retrospect, the battle of the Boyne must be regarded as decisive, but it was not the end of the war. The defeated Jacobites were still a fighting force and were still to fight stubbornly before King William could claim victory in Ireland.
The Williamite army moved forward from Athlone on 11th July 1691. The next day there was skirmishing as it came into contact with the Jacobite outposts.
Froude's account of the battle:
Sunday, the 12th July, dawned thick and hazy; a damp fog lay spread over the
marshes, which did not lift until in the afternoon. At half-past four, with five hours of daylight remaining, the mist blew off and the English advanced.
English properly they were not. English regiments were intermixed with Danes, French Huguenots, Scots, Dutch, Brandenburghers, and Anglo-Irish Protestants, the fitter to try an issue which, however distinguished, was an episode in the long European struggle for liberty of conscience.
The battle was long doubtful.
The ground was trenched in all directions, and the ditches were lined with Irish sharpshooters, who stood their ground bravely and again and again Ginkel's columns, rushing forward to close with them, were driven back in confusion. Once St. Ruth believed the day was his own, he was heard to swear that he would hunt the Saxon into Dublin. Almost immediately after be was killed by a cannon-ball.
The Huguenot cavalry, led by Henri de Ruvigny, made a charge, behind which the English infantry rallied. At last, late in the evening, the Irish gave way, broke up, and scattered. Few or no prisoners were taken, and few were reported wounded.
Those who escaped, escaped, those who were overtaken were made an end of.
Seven thousand men were killed before darkness and rain ended the pursuit.
The wreck of the defeated army divided; part went to Galway, part to Limerick, where the last act of the drama was to be played out.