CHAPTER VI. THE REVOLUTIONARY WAR - CAMPAIGN OF 1689 - SIEGES OF DERRY AND ENNISKILLEN.
When Tyrconnell met the King at Cork, he gave his Majesty a plain account of the posture of military affairs. In Ulster, Lieutenant-General Richard Hamilton, at the head of 2,500 regular troops, was holding the rebels in check, from Charlemont to Coleraine; in Munster, Lieutenant-General Justin McCarthy, Lord Mountcashel, had taken Bandon and Castlemartyr; throughout the four provinces, the Catholics, to the number of fifty regiments (probably 30,000 men), had volunteered their services; but for all these volunteers he had only 20,000 old arms of all kinds, not over 1,000 of which were found really valuable. There were besides these, regiments of horse, Tyrconnell's, Russell's, and Galmony's, and one of dragoons, eight small pieces of artillery, but neither stores in the magazines, nor cash in the chest. While at Cork, Tyrconnell, in return for his great exertions, was created a Duke, and General-in-Chief, with De Rosen as second in command.
A week before James reached Dublin, Hamilton had beaten the rebels at Dromore, and driven them in on Coleraine, from before which he wrote urgently for reinforcements. On receipt of this communication, the Council exhibited, for the first time, those radical differences of opinion, amounting almost to factious opposition, which crippled all King James's movements at this period. One party strenuously urged that the King himself should march northward with such troops as could be spared; that his personal appearance before Derry, would immediately occasion the surrender of that city, and that he might in a few weeks, finish in person the campaign of Ulster. Another, at whose head was Tyrconnell, endeavoured to dissuade his Majesty from this course, but he at length decided in favour of the plan of Melfort and his friends. Accordingly, he marched out of Dublin, amid torrents of April rain, on the eighth of that month, intending to form a junction with Hamilton, at Strabane, and thence to advance to Derry. The march was a weary one through a country stripped bare of every sign of life, and desolate beyond description. A week was spent between Dublin and Omagh; at Omagh news of an English fleet on the Foyle caused the King to retrace his steps hastily to Charlemont. At Charlemont, however, intelligence of fresh successes gained by Hamilton and De Rosen, at Cladyford and Strabane, came to restore his confidence; he instantly set forward, despite the tempestuous weather, and the almost impassable roads, and on the eighteenth reached the Irish camp at Johnstown, within four or five miles of Derry.
It was now four months since "the youthhood" of Derry had shut the Watergate against Lord Antrim's regiment, and established within their walls a strange sort of government, including eighteen clergymen and the town democracy. The military command remained with Lieutenant-Colonel Lundy, of Mountjoy's regiment, but the actual government of the town was vested, first, in "Governor" Baker, and afterwards in the Reverend George Walker, rector of Donaghmore, best known to us as Governor Walker. The Town Council had despatched Mr. Cairnes, and subsequently Captain Hamilton, founder of the Abercorn peerage, to England for succour, and had openly proclaimed William and Mary as King and Queen. Defensive works were added, where necessary, and on the very day of the affair of Cladyford, 480 barrels of gunpowder were landed from English ships and conveyed within the walls.
As the Royalist forces concentrated towards Derry, the chiefs of the Protestant Association fell back before them, each bringing to its garrison the contribution of his own followers. From the valley of the Bann, over the rugged summits of Carntogher, from the glens of Donegal, and the western sea coast round to Mayo, troops of the fugitives hurried to the strong town of the London traders, as to a city of refuge. Enniskillen alone, resolute in its insular situation, and in a courage akin to that which actuated the defenders of Derry, stood as an outpost of the main object of attack, and delayed the junction of the Royalists under Mountcashel with those under Hamilton and De Rosen. Coleraine was abandoned. Captain Murray, the commander of Culmore, forced his way at the head of 1,500 men into Derry, contrary to the wishes of the vacillating and suspected Lundy, and, from the moment of his arrival, infused his own determined spirit into all ranks of the inhabitants.
Those who had advised King James to present himself in person before the Protestant stronghold, had not acted altogether, upon presumption. It is certain that there were Jacobites, even in Derry. Lundy, the governor, either despairing of its defence, or undecided in his allegiance between James and William, had opened a correspondence with Hamilton and De Rosen. But the true answer of the brave townsmen, when the King advanced too near their walls, was a cannon shot which killed one of his staff, and the cry of "No Surrender" thundered from the walls. James, awakened from his self-complacent dream by this unexpected reception, returned to Dublin, to open his Parliament, leaving General Hamilton to continue the siege. Colonel Lundy, distrusted, overruled, and menaced, escaped over the walls by night, disguised as a common labourer, and the party of Murray, Baker, Walker, and Cairnes, reigned supreme.