Thursday, December 6, 2012

Aughrim--Giving Glory to God

As a Providential historian (one who believes that God directs the affairs of men), it is discouraging to constantly hear how one man was "lucky" or "fortunate".  What is luck and what is fortune?  Man realizes that there is something beyond him, something that governs wind and cannonballs.  So G. A. Henty's analysis of Aughrim in Orange and Green came like a gulp of fresh air.

"Saint Ruth had directed the operations of the battle with as much skill as he had prepared for the assault. He had taken up his position on a point of the hill whence he had a complete view of the whole field of battle, and had moved his troops, with calmness and judgment, to meet each of the attacks made upon them; and when he saw the destruction of the English regiment in the centre, he exclaimed, in the full confidence of victory, "Now I will drive the English to the walls of Dublin!"

There was, indeed, but one hope, on the part of the English, of retrieving the day; namely, the success of the attempt to force the passage at Aughrim. But two horsemen abreast could pass under the castle walls. Saint Ruth was aware of the passage, but thought it impassable for cavalry. It might easily have been made so, by cutting a deep gap across it; but here, as at Athlone, his overconfidence proved his destruction. He had, however, taken the precaution to erect a battery commanding the passage, and had placed some battalions of infantry there.

General Talmash, who commanded the English cavalry, knew that the battle was lost, unless he could succeed at this point; and, at the head of his command, he led the way along the pass, which was not only narrow, but broken and encumbered with the ruins of the castle wall. Saint Ruth beheld the attempt of the cavalry with astonishment, and, with the remark: "They are brave fellows, it is a pity they should be sacrificed," sent orders for the Irish horse to move forward and prepare to charge them; and moved down the hill at the head of his officers to the battery.

There is no doubt as to what the result would have been, had the Irish horse charged. They were greatly superior in number, and the English cavalry who had got across the passage were still in confusion, and were suffering from the fire of the battery, and, indeed, even when in equal numbers, William's cavalry had never withstood the charge of the Irish. It seemed that nothing could avert the defeat of the body on which Ginckle's last hope rested.

But at this moment one of those events, by which Providence overrules the calculations of man, occurred. A cannonball struck Saint Ruth, as he stood in the middle of the battery and killed him instantly. The occurrence paralysed the Irish army. Sarsfield was away, there was no one to give orders, the news that some extraordinary calamity had happened spread rapidly, the men in the battery ceased firing, the cavalry, receiving no orders to charge, remained immovable."

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