12th July 1689

12th July 1689

Inch Island in Lough Swilly, viewed from the Iron Age ring-fort Grianan of Aileach; the Stone Palace of the Sun, in Burt, County Donegal.

Long, long days and many, many problems ( including workmen not turning up) beset Colonel Richards as he tried to secure a Williamite base on Inch Island: From Richards’ Diary of the Fleet:



“ Friday 12th.[July 1689] At six o’clock this morning I repaired to the strand again, expecting to find our men there ready to work, but, nobody coming, I got together what country people I could, to the number of about forty, and set them at work on the other redoubt, which yesterday I had caused to be lock-spitted out. [Redoubt is defined as “an enclosed field fortification work in the shape of a square, rectangle, or other polygon, prepared for independent defence” and Lock-Spit is defined as a “small cut with a spade, or a small open trench, to mark a line of work, as fencing or the like.] An hour before low water, I drew them off with all their tools, because I had nobody else to back me, and so returned on board the Greyhound to dinner at two o’clock p.m.



Two troops of horse came upon the island and marched half way over the strand, by their motion up and down from side to side and backward and forward to see, I suppose, if they could discover any body lying in ambush, which truly would have been a hard matter, for there was not one soul left there. This faltering of theirs gave me sufficient reason to think they were not resolved to enter into the island; and to help their suspicion of ambuscades, I persuaded Capt. Guillam to lend me twenty-four of his men to draw away two field pieces to shoot at them; for the ground was so advantageous that I could convey them to the first redoubt before the enemy could perceive us. Capt. Guillam and Major Collier were with me. Never were two guns by men drawn so soon away, for had we had horses I do not believe it would have sooner been performed.



When we got the redoubt, the two troops of horse were within a large musket shot of us, and at our appearance halted: we kept before our guns that they might not see them till they laid to pat,[ Laid to Pat may mean until they come within range or present as a target] and so fired two round shots in among them, at which they made volte face; but before they got much farther, we gave them two more, and forced them quite off the strand. We could not perceive to have killed any of them, though we have great reason to believe we have hurt some of them by their so soon retreat.


An hour after this, the water flowing, came Col. Stewart with a party of 300 men to my assistance. He saw from the hills what had happened, and how successful I had been in beating these two troops of horse from our island, which, if once they had got in, it would not have been easy to drive them out and those who would soon have followed. I pressed him and the rest of the officers to take those measures I proposed at first, which would in all probability keep the enemy in awe that he would not attempt the insulting us. It was therefore agreed to march all our forces and encamp by the strand, to get what guns we could into battery, and to continue our work without any intermission, and in case we were attacked, not to retreat as formerly, but make the best defence we can.



About three o’clock in the afternoon, I ordered the four field pieces to be brought and placed between the two redoubts, and then gave instructions for the erecting a battery with embrasure for eight guns. The finishing the second redoubt was also followed very close, so that by twelve o’clock at night it was tenable. About this time the rest of our forces joined us. About one and two o’clock in the morning the strand lay dry; we quitted the works, and all stood by their arms to be ready to receive our threatening enemies.


This day we sent three several messengers into Derry by three ways to let them know we were landed here, and that we expected every fair wind the English army, &c.”