Thursday, 8 March 2018

Aughrim 1691 (Part 3): Off to the Warres with the Song of the Cannonade

One can get engrossed in your part of a battle to the point where you forget you are but part of a much "bigger battle". Chance had it that I looked up from my small corner. The other English and Dutch canon had been engaged in the same interplay against fortifications and redoubts. There had been six medium and heavy field guns causing havoc. It had been a day of "good artillery dice" and the smoking Irish ruins told the tale for itself. The enemy guns were all silenced and any exposed infantry "troubled with shot" so it was with great confidence that the British and Dutch were now about to cross the stream and emerge on the "Irish side"of the bog with the intent of taking the hill (see below):

My enemy was but four stands of Irish Skirmishers by comparison but they would have to be out-shot from covering the bridge. Another four or five turns of "hot work" I thought (see below):

The Irish right facing me were looking very jittery and had decided to race a light cannon to the aid of skirmishers (see below, bottom left). I had a suspicion that it was not only to 'delay my advance' but also to try and hide their one remaining gun from the pounding their other cannon had already experienced (see below):

I then noticed a most peculiar sight. Irish troops on the far right were seemingly moving in the wrong direction. Then under closer inspection I realised the that the position of these troops near the Irish baseline was misleading, they were in fact British and Dutch advancing at an alarming rate. A spectacular success had been achieved by some daring feat of arms. The British and Dutch cavalry had already expanded and hemmed in the Irish to but one small corner of their flank (see below):

The British horse were marching in column past the ruined redoubt that had hung the hopes of the Irish defenders. They seemed to have hung back and not defended the bridge at the banks of the river. The British and Dutch cannon had been so successful in clearing the Irish Artillery Redoubt that the Forlorn Hope had been a staggering success. Then to top it all the ruined castle had fallen after the briefest of fights (see below):

The reserve Irish horse fell back upon themselves seeking a safe hilltop position, but were exposed to more murderous gunfire. For but a few unfortunate British and Dutch souls the whole flank had been taken by storm. The British and Dutch cavalry hemmed in the Irish fugitives and patiently waited for the main infantry attack to deliver a blow to the Irish center. They would then be perfectly placed to simultaneously sweep round into the Irish rear (see below):

The last Irish hope was their centrally placed infantry. Yes there was plenty of fight in the regular regiments but the newly raised troops were seen to be melting away under the continuous cannonade. Those fortunate enough placed themselves carefully under obscuring hedgerows (see below):

The slow and ponderous advance of the British and Dutch infantry was a marvel to watch. This tortoise pace was an inescapable feature of the terrain but they endured it with stoic professionalism (see below):

Meanwhile I was drawn back to my Irish friends at the river, I needed to address their "departure" (see below):

Was this curious "about face" by the Irish skirmishers a cunning trick learned from the ancient Spartans? The fabled "fake retreat"? (see below):

I was given support by two regiments of line that were to cross the river and not let the Irish Commanders draw troops from their right flank to support the 'soon to be pressed' center (see below):

Whatever happens elsewhere my men were to use their powder and attempt to drive off the Irish covering the bridge with the sideshow of an entertaining artillery duel of light guns. My intention was to fix the four fresh regiments of Irish horse to this flank by threatening a breakthrough. The fife and drums played.

Next: The matter is seems is to be settled by the bayonet after all!

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