Open main menu

Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 50.djvu/318

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.


wick says Monmouth's (cf. ib. i. 207)] regiment, and has since been lieutenant of the king's lifeguards in England, and is the only man who fought for him against the Prince of Orange.’ The last allusion is to Sedgemoor, where Sarsfield was unhorsed and severely shaken while charging at the head of his men (Macaulay, chap. v.), to the skirmish at Wincanton in 1688 (ib. chap. ix.), and to another affair near Axminster (Clarke, ii. 222).

When James determined to bring Irish troops to England he sent Sarsfield to fetch them, and gave him the command. He followed James to France, and accompanied him to Ireland in March 1689, when he was made a privy councillor and colonel of horse. He sat for county Dublin in the parliament which met on 7 May, with Simon Luttrell [q. v.] for his colleague. Avaux and Tyrconnel pressed the king to make him a brigadier, but James resisted for some time, on the ground that Sarsfield had no head. The appointment was at last made, and Sarsfield was sent with a small force to protect Connaught, and to keep the Enniskilleners within bounds. In May and June he was at Manorhamilton with about two thousand men, mostly raised by himself and at his own expense, but he could only act on the defensive (Witherow, pp. 246, 248). After the battle of Newtown Butler and the relief of Londonderry on 30 July, he withdrew to Athlone with two or three regiments of foot and a few horse and dragoons (Clarke, ii. 372). Avaux now proposed to give Sarsfield command of the Irish regiments sent to France, but the suggestion was not carried out. At the end of October Sarsfield was strong enough to take Sligo. The garrison marched out on honourable terms, and ‘at their coming over the bridge Colonel Sarsfield stood with a purse of guineas, and proffered to every one that would serve King James to give him horse and arms, with five guineas advance; but they all made answer that they would never fight for the papishes (as they called them), except one, who next day, after he had got horse and arms and gold, brought all off with him’ (Story, Impartial Hist. p. 34; Avaux, p. 607). By Sarsfield's exertions Galway was made defensible, and all Connaught secured for the time.

During Schomberg's long inaction Sarsfield had no opportunity for distinction. On 10 April 1690 he was a commissioner for raising taxes in county Dublin (D'Alton, i. 33). In June 1690, after William's landing, he was detached with a strong force to watch Cavan and Westmeath, lest a dash should be made at Athlone, and he did not rejoin James before 4 July (Ranke, vi. 114). He was at the Boyne with his cavalry and the rank of major-general (D'Alton, i. 39). On 30 June 1690, the day before the passage of the river, Story, the historian, who was near King William, saw Sarsfield riding along the right bank with Berwick, Tyrconnel, Parker, and ‘some say Lauzun’ (Impartial Hist. p. 74). During the battle next day Sarsfield was so ill posted that he could do nothing with his cavalry (Clarke, ii. 397). He escorted James during his flight to Dublin, after the evacuation of which he defended the line of the Shannon from Athlone downwards.

Both Lauzun and Tyrconnel were for abandoning Limerick, but Sarsfield insisted on defending it, and in this he was supported by most of the Irish officers. Boisseleau was appointed governor; but it was chiefly owing to Sarsfield that the first siege failed. He was detached on the night of 10 Aug. with about eight hundred horse and dragoons (Berwick) to intercept the heavy siege guns and pontoons. Passing along the Clare side of the river, he forded it above Killaloe bridge, which was guarded, and reached the Silvermines Mountains in Tipperary, under cover of which he lurked during the following day. At night he surprised the siege train at one or other of two places called Ballyneety, between Limerick and Tipperary. He blew up the guns and stores, killed the escort, and regained Limerick, eluding the party under Sir John Lanier [q. v.] who had been sent by William to intercept him. ‘If I had failed in this,’ he said, ‘I should have been off to France.’ This exploit did not prevent Limerick from being besieged, but it delayed the operations till the weather broke, and thus in the end frustrated them. Burnet had heard (ii. 58) that Sarsfield's original idea was to seize William, who rode about carelessly, and that the attack on the siege-train was an afterthought. Berwick says Sarsfield was so puffed up (enflé) by this success that he fancied himself the greatest general in the world, and Henry Luttrell (1655?–1717) [q. v.], Sarsfield's evil genius, was always at hand to flatter, in the hope of rising by his means. Acting under Luttrell's advice, Sarsfield went to Berwick, and told him that the Irish officers had resolved to make him viceroy and to place Tyrconnel under arrest. Berwick said this was treason, that he would be their enemy if they persisted, and would warn James and Tyrconnel. In September, after Tyrconnel had left Ireland, Berwick and Sarsfield crossed the Shannon and attacked Birr, but were driven back by General Douglas with a