25th July 1689

25th July 1689

Some extracts from Captain Ash’s Diary and historian Thomas Witherow, from ‘Derry and Enniskillen in the Year 1689’

 
Witherow:

 

“The last conflict between the two parties was the fight for the cows, which came off in the open space between the city and Pennyburn Mill. The enemy had cattle grazing behind their lines, at no great distance from the town, which afforded a very tempting prize to men who were dying of hunger. Five hundred men assembled at Ship-quay Gate, with the view of making a sortie, and seizing the cattle”.

 


Ash: “25th [July 1689]. Five hundred men being detached out of several companies of the town drew up in Shipquay-street, nigh the gate early in the morning, which being divided in three parties were sent several ways. One party went out of Shipquay-gate, another out of Butcher’s-gate, and the third out of Bishop’s-gate, dreading an attack on the Windmill. The word was “Orange”. Those who went out at Shipquay-gate were commanded by Capt. Wilson, Lieut. Moore, and Serjeant Neely: those at Butcher’s-gate by Capt. A. Hamilton, Capt. Burly, and Capt. T. Ash. These two parties were ordered to flank the ditches which run through the orchards at both ends; which was done effectually, for the men in both places ran with great celerity upon their trenches, which the enemy seeing ran with great confusion. They were absolutely surprised, for most of their matches were out, quite unprepared for an attack. They could hardly suppose that a poor hungry starved people would come out upon them in that manner. There were of the enemy sixty men killed, and undoubtedly as many wounded. Lieut. Col. Fitzgerald, with some other officers were of the slain; and Capt. Nugent, Ensign Early, with two privates, were taken prisoners. The party at Bishop’s-gate were commanded by Capt. Blair, Capt. Dixon, and Lieut. Boyd, who, as soon as we were in action came down and did good service. The enemy on the hill, seeing the enemy quit the trench, came down in haste. Our men weak for want of sustenance, could not cope with them, but drew off within their trenches at Bishop’s-gate. 

 


We brought good store of arms and knapsacks, with bannocks of oat-bread, mutton &c. &c. from their camp; also several tools as spades, shovels, pickaxes &c. …but the main article we missed-the cattle; for those gascons, as soon as we sallied out, drove them over the hill.”

 


Witherow:

 

“-That evening General Hamilton reported to the King the events of the day:—


“That the Mareschal de Rosen would neither meddle with the blockade or raising the siege, saying he always declared against the besieging of the town, and that his advice had been slighted; that in a sally the besieged made that morning nine of theirs were left behind, besides near thirty killed; their pockets found with starch in them, as a sign of their great wants; and that a dying man of their number declared that he had fed on nothing else for five days; that they expected provisions every moment; that seven ships were come into the Lough, whereof three near Culmore are resolved to sink or get to the town by the first fair wind; that the Mareschal de Rosen was resolved to march to Charlemont, and in his way to ruin all behind him, and to make an attempt on Donegal, Ballyshannon, and Enniskillen, which he would do by reinforcing the Duke of Berwick’s party; that His Majesty will find a recruit of officers will be as useful as that of soldiers; that when the sally was made at eight that morning, Fitzgerald and Dick Butler’s regiments were in the trenches; that Fitzgerald’s regiment were beat out; that Butler’s kept their post, until the Lieut-General’s brother came up with what men he could get ready, and so beat back the enemy; that the town’s men cannot stand before the King’s men in the field”.

 

Ash:

 

“-Some time after, the prisoners which we took to-day in the main guard, as some of them were smoking tobacco near some powder, a spark fell out of the pipe on the floor where some grains had been scattered, which took fire, then ran along to where half a barrel stood and blew it up. It has much disfigured the three prisoners and three men of the garrison; it broke down the floor of the guard-house where the Court-martial usually sat. One of our men died the next day.

 


Since the Siege commenced, searchers were appointed to bring provisions into the store from those who were well supplied, in order to divide with those who had come afar off and stood in need, And now.”