10th July 1689

10th July 1689

Photo shows Inch Castle on Inch Island, County Donegal.

Colonel Jacob Richards was probably in his late twenties around the time he kept his Diary during the Siege of Derry. As a young engineer in training he had been sent to Hungary to“... survey, learn, and observe the fortifications and artillerie . . . and in the be-sieging of any town to observe the approaches, mines, batteries, lines of circumvallation and contravallation”.


Richards gained further experience as a military engineer in Europe and England before he arrived with Kirke’s Fleet at Inch Island. This day 325 years ago, Richards at last, had the opportunity to put into practice what he had learned and begin the job he was sent to do (if only the enemy and some of his colleagues would stop interfering!)



From Richards’ Diary of the Fleet:


“Wednesday, 10th [July 1689] About six o’clock this morning, I got up with the Greyhound frigate a little above Burt Castle, where I landed with an Ensign and twenty men for my guard [Phillips probably mistakenly identified Inch Castle as Burt Castle which is a couple of miles inland] I marched about a small mile and came to the strand, which now was overflowed with the tide. I viewed the ground about it, and staked out a redoubt work, so as to take in the whole breadth of the strand that was fordable. About eleven o’clock it began to grow dry by the tide’s ebbing away, whencefore I sent to Colonel Stewart to send me the field-pieces, more men and tools, to fling up our work according to what he and I agreed to the night before. In the mean time as the strand grew drier, several poor Protestants with some few cattle forded over to us, which gave occasion for several of the enemies horse to come down to the opposite shore to hinder them. I apprehended their number might soon increase, and so insult our small number; this made me send to Capt. Collier of Major-General’s Regiment, to come to me with what men he had on board the Greyhound; if not, it would be prudent for me to retire in time, which might prove of ill consequence to us, and give room to the enemies to burn the island, and drive back these poor Protestants and their cattle again.



He accordingly came and in very good season, for now there were about forty dragoons on the other side of the shore, making over to the island. We thought it not fit to retire for the reasons above; besides we had no defiladed and enclosed grounds to gain in case we had [defilade-to provide protection]. Wherefore Major Collier and I at the head of thirty men went down and met them half way the strand. They charged us first, which we answered with two files of musketeers, at which they wheeled off and retired. I supposed they would have insulted us much more, but that they apprehended an ambuscade.


I was very glad we came off so, for our whole number now was not above sixty men; for Col. Stewart did not send in the field-pieces and two or three hundred men, as was agreed to the night before. But the reason was that all the boats were employed in transporting the cattle, which Capt. Echlin and his party had driven eight miles out of the country down to Rathmullan. A little after that we had beat these horses from the strand, Col. St Johns joined us with about two hundred men. It seems he saw what passed from the tops of the hills, and so made all possible haste to succour us, whose advancing I believe the enemy saw; for I could not conceive why forty so good horse should retire from us, on whom they had so much advantage.


About four o’clock in the afternoon, Col. Stewart came to us in Capt. Rooke’s barge, and brought tools and four field-pieces. I shewed them what I designed, which would be complete in three or four days, not exceeding 500 paces of ground, the whole work. Next the breadth of the strand was considered, which admitted to put an army in front, and not so narrow as the Irish Protestants had related to us. Several debates were whether we should stay or not, for Col. Stewart’s instructions from the Major-General were not to land, in case he found not matters as they were represented, and that he could with safety make an immediate defence. However considering that our landing here had brought some hundreds into the island, with a considerable number of cattle, it was resolved to stay; and this method of proceeding to be observed. The entrenchment that I had staked out was thought of too great extent by Col. Stewart, but especially by Col. St John, who pretends to be an engineer; therefore the two redoubts, that were in the work that I had staked out, were first to be begun: and accordingly this night I set about 109 to work on one of the redoubts, for we had not tools to work more.



I got also two guns ashore and fired over into the enemies’ flying camp to let them know we were prepared for them. But it being nobody’s opinion but mine to continue them and the work they were drawn off, and at twelve o’clock at night all our men that were landed also retired to the other side of the island, distant from the strand about three miles, under the cannon of the men of war. We left no sentinels or small guard to hinder any one going over the strand to advise the enemy what boy’s play we were at. When all retired I went on board the Greyhound about half a mile from the strand, We had several false alarms in the night caused by the fearfulness of the islanders who imagined the enemies were entered the island.”