King William sends
Ammunition, Muskets, and Money to Londonderry - Rawdon abandons
Coleraine - David Cairnes returns to Londonderry - He brings a Letter
from the Secretary of State - King James lands at Kinsale - He repairs
to Dublin - He determines to lay Siege to Londonderry - James's French
Generals deride the Defences of Derry - Count Rosen Commander-in-Chief
of the Jacobite Army - Transports with Two Regiments from William arrive
at Londonderry - Lundy's Treachery - The Regiments return to England.
Colonel Robert Lundy, who
had assumed the title of Governor of Londonderry, and had declared his adhesion to the new Government, was seat a commission from William and Mary which confirmed him in his office. The instrument was sent in
the care of Captain James Hamilton, who arrived at Londonderry on the 2ist of March, 1689, with a large quantity of ammunition, some specie, and a number of muskets. Lundy was sworn into office on Hamilton's ship, but declined to take the oath publicly when requested to do so by the Protestant committee on the day following. Some of Lundy's officers also refused to take the oath, although the mayor and aldermen and all the city officers were sworn, and occasion was taken to have William and Mary a second time publicly proclaimed. The conduct of Lundy and his officers created much suspicion, and led to their being closely watched.
On the 27th of March,
Coleraine, in which Sir Arthur Rawdon and his handful of troops had taken refuge after their defeat by Hamilton, and which they still occupied, was invested by a portion of the Jacobite army under their general's command. The little garrison made a brave
resistance, and, sallying
forth, drove away the besiegers with some loss. It was, however, evident that troops so small in numbers, and so ill provided with arms and other necessaries, could
not possibly hold out for long, and it was decided with much reluctance
to abandon the town. In the face of many difficulties Rawdon's small band of followers effected a successful retreat to Londonderry through a country full of hostile forces. Other towns followed. The people of Omagh destroyed their dwellings with the object of leaving them unfit for use by the adherents of James. The people of Cavan, as we have seen, migrated in a body to Enniskillen. All Lisburn fled to Antrim, and, when the tide of battle rolled nearer, Lisburn and Antrim fled to Londonderry, which thus became a City of Refuge, while at the same time its own difficulties increased daily.
The spirits of those in
Londonderry were raised by the arrival of David Cairnes from London with fresh instructions from William and assurances of speedy assistance. He was also the bearer of a letter from the Earl of Shrewsbury, Secretary of
State, addressed to Lundy as Governor. It ran as follows: "I am commanded by the King to acquaint you that His Majesty's great concern hath been for Ireland, and particularly for the Province of Ulster, which he looks upon as most capable to defend itself against the common enemy. And that they might be the better enabled to do it, there are two regiments already at the sea-side, ready to embark, in order to their transportation into that province, with which will be sent a good quantity of arms and ammunition. And they will be speedily followed by so considerable a body as (by the blessing of God) may be able to rescue the whole kingdom and resettle the Protestant interest there.
"His Majesty does very
much rely upon your fidelity and resolution, not only that you shall acquit yourself according to the character he has received of you, but that you should encourage and influence others in this difficult conjuncture to discharge their duty to their country, their religion, and their posterity, all which call upon them for a more than ordinary vigour to
keep out that deluge of Popery and slavery which so nearly threatens them. And you may assure them, that besides His Majesty's care for their preservation, who hath a due tenderness and regard for them, (as well in consideration
that they are his subjects, as that they are now exposed for the sake of that religion which he himself pro- fesses) the whole bent of this nation inclines them to employ their utmost endeavours for their deliverance; and it was but this very morning that His Majesty hath most effectually recommended the case of Ireland to the two Houses of Parliament. And I
do not doubt but that they will thereupon immediately come to such resolutions as will show to all the world that they espouse their interest as their own."
Cairnes found the
citizens of Londonderry in a state of great despondency, which frame of mind was much encouraged by Lundy, who
had already granted passes for departure to some of his officers. Cairnes, however, cheered all by his presence, and impressed upon the citizens the righteousness of their cause, urging them not to forsake it, and he contrived to inspire both soldiers and citizens with fresh courage to endure the many and great privations to which daily they were subjected. A council of war was held the night of his arrival, and Lundy and such of his officers as remained were induced to sign a declaration to the effect that "we, the officers hereunto subscribing, pursuant to a resolution taken and agreed upon at a council of war at Londonderry, held this day, do hereby mutually promise and engage to stand by each other with our forces against the common enemy, and will not leave the kingdom nor desert the public service until our affairs are in a settled and secure posture; and if any of us shall do the contrary, the person so leaving the kingdom or deserting the service, without consent of a council of war, is to be deemed a coward, and disaffected to Their Majesties' service and the Protestant interest. Dated the 10th of April, 1689."
James, who had found
refuge at the Court of Louis XIV, and had been treated with more than fraternal solicitude by the French King, had with his cordial assistance landed at Kinsale on the 12th of March, and after a sojourn in Dublin, which partook of the nature of a tragi-comedy, was now marching under adverse circumstances towards Londonderry, which he had been assured would, on his appearance before its walls, surrender at once. He was accompanied by Count Avaux, who, as French envoy at the Hague, had often apprised James of
the movements of his enemies, and by that veteran warrior, the Count of Rosen, whom James made commander-in-chief
of his forces. Under Rosen was Maumont, who held the rank of lieutenant-general, and a brigadier, the Marquis de Pusignan. Louis had provided James with between four and five hundred captains, "lieutenants, cadets, and gunners for the purpose of organizing and disciplining his troops in Ireland, and he also gave him arms for 10,000 men and large quantities of ammunition. In addition James came provided by the French monarch's munificence with 500,000 crowns in gold, equivalent to about £112,000.
James's journey to
Londonderry was not undertaken with- out trouble. John, Lord Melfort, brother of the Earl of Perth, who, on account of his alleged conversion to Roman Catholicism, had long
held a high place in James's esteem, attended him in Ireland, and had persuaded His Majesty to proceed to Ulster. Tyrconnell, whom James had seized the opportunity of his
visit to Ireland to create a duke, on the contrary advised the King to stay in the capital. Avaux upheld Tyrconnell, but
all to no purpose; James determined to go, and accordingly the royal party set out, leaving Tyrconnell in charge at Dublin, and arrived at Charlemont on the 13th of April. The country through which they passed presented a picture of desolation, and led one of the French officers to remark: "This is like travelling through the deserts of Arabia". No human beings were to be seen along the road, nor any domestic animals. Any which the inhabitants of the various districts had abandoned had been stolen by "tories" or meaner thieves. Dwellings and farm-houses were roofless and windowless, affording no shelter to the traveller, and food for man or horse could not be procured. Avaux was disgusted to find that he could not get even a truss of hay for his horses without sending five or six miles. The bread was made of horse-corn, and the only drink was water. The French officers, accustomed to comfortable travel, complained loudly, and Avaux loudest of all. Even if food and drink had been procurable, the journey would have been rendered miserable on account of the wretched state of the roads, and the water in the fords was frequently breast-high. In addition to all these ills, the weather was bad, and when the King and his retinue arrived at Omagh they found it a ruin incapable of sheltering or supplying the simplest needs of any human being. Everything had been wilfully destroyed before the inhabitants had forsaken the place. Here the royal party remained until the i6th, despite the fact that they were, even in the best shelter they could find, exposed to wind and rain. At last the patience of Avaux was exhausted, and he returned to Dublin, while the King pressed on to Londonderry.
James, on his arrival,
found Hamilton's men encamped some miles south of the city, and at once proceeded to deal with the situation. The first step he took was to place his French generals at the head of the army. A council of war was held, at which Rosen expressed the opinion that the sight of the forces arrayed against them would speedily terrify the defenders of Londonderry into submission, and he voiced the general opinion. Hamilton, however, who had gained some experience of Ulstermen during the past few weeks, was by no means so sanguine. Much depended on the attitude adopted by Lundy, and even with regard to any action he might take there was some uncertainty. The city itself appeared by no means impregnable. The fortifications were of the most primitive type, consisting of ancient walls on which weeds flourished, long-disused drawbridges with rusty, untrustworthy chains, and not even a ditch before the gates to do service for a moat. The downfall of Londonderry was regarded by the French generals with the same complacency and certainty as a child regards the fall of the house he has erected with a pack of cards. The conquest of Ulster, although an exploit of greatest importance towards James's regaining possession of the throne, and rendering him absolute master of Ireland, they considered a task easy of accomplishment.
On the 14th of April, the
day on which James had reached Omagh, transports from England arrived carrying two regiments of foot
under the command of Colonels Cunningham and Richards, and anchored in Lough Foyle near Red Castle on the i5th, when Cunningham immediately wrote "from on board the Swallow" to Lundy, as Governor of Londonderry, saying: "Hearing you have taken the field, in order to fight the enemy, I have thought it fit for Their Majesties' service to let you know there are two well-disciplined regiments here on board, that may join you in two days at farthest. I am sure they will be of great use in any occasion, but especially for the encouragement of raw men, as I judge most of yours are; therefore it is my opinion that you only stop the passes at the fords of Finn, till I can join you, and afterwards, if giving battle be necessary, you will be in a much better posture for it than before. I must ask your pardon if I am too free in my advice; according to the remote prospect I have of things, this seems most reasonable to me, but as Their Majesties have left the whole direction of matters to you, so you shall find that no man living will more cheerfully obey you than your most humble servant, John Cunningham."
At a council of war held
in Londonderry on the 13th, it had been resolved to march out under the command of Lundy to fight the enemy, but no steps appear to have been taken towards carrying out this resolution. Lundy had marched out early in the day ostensibly to defend the passes of the River Finn, but instead of making any effort to do so, he drew off his men in such haste and confusion that when he returned to Londonderry in the afternoon, many of his officers and men, in the closing of the gates, were left outside. He then wrote ambiguously and contradictorily to Cunningham, first telling him to land his men, and then assuring him that the place was untenable, and referring him to a private communication
forwarded by the officer who was the bearer of his letter. This contained orders to the two colonels not to land their men, but to come themselves with some of their officers into the city to attend a council of war.
To this council only two
officers of the garrison were called, and others who requested admission were refused. Thirteen officers of the two regiments were present, with the town-clerk, whose assistance was needed to frame the minutes. Lundy gave them a false account of the condition of the city, which he represented as poor in military stores, defences, and provisions, the last being, he declared, not sufficient to last for ten days. The English officers knew nothing of the state of the city themselves, and with the exception of Colonel Richards, who opposed it, saying: "Understand this, to give up Londonderry is to give up Ireland", they were easily persuaded to adopt the following resolution:- "Upon inquiry it appears that there is not provision in the garrison of Londonderry for the present garrison and the two regiments on board for above a week, or ten days at most; and it appearing that the place is not tenable against a well- appointed army, therefore it is concluded upon and resolved, that it is not convenient for His Majesty's service, but the contrary, to land the two regiments under Colonel Cunningham and Colonel
Richards, their commanders, now on board in the river of Lough Foyle; that, considering the present circumstances of affairs, and the likelihood the enemy will soon possess themselves of this place, it is thought most convenient that the principal officers shall privately withdraw themselves, as well for their own preservation, as in hopes that the inhabitants, by a timely capitulation, may make terms the better with the enemy; and that this we judge most convenient for His Majesty's service, as the present state of affairs now is."
Cunningham, Richards, and
their officers retired from the council to their ships, and several of the officers of the town followed them. After this, Lundy called a select number of the council together, by whom it was resolved to send James an offer of surrender. Meanwhile Lundy privately sent a messenger to James's quarters with assurances that the city should be peaceably surrendered on the first summons. Rumours multiplied, and the citizens, becoming uneasy on account of the number of the city officers that were stealing away to the ships, came to the conclusion that they had been betrayed by their Governor. Both garrison and citizens rose, and seeing some of their own officers about to leave the city, endeavoured to hinder their departure, killing one and wounding another in their anxiety to stop them. Some of the officers who remained at their posts now sent to Cunningham,
acquainting him with their suspicions regarding Lundy, and offering him the command if he landed his two regiments. This he replied he could not do, as his instructions were in
all things to take his instructions solely from the Governor. On the i8th of April the transports left for Green Castle, and the day following they sailed for England, carrying away the officers and men sent by King William for the relief of Londonderry.