#OTD in 1690 – Siege of Limerick commences when William of Orange encamps just outside the walls of the old city, with an army of about 26,000; the Irish defenders were similar in number though not nearly as well armed.

The Williamite War (1689-1691) did not go well for the Jacobites. Crushing defeats of troops supporting King James II at the Siege of Derry in December 1688 and the Battle of the Boyne on 1 July 1690 had forced the Jacobites to retreat west to Limerick and Galway. William of Orange, at the head of the Williamite army pursued them, reaching the city of Limerick on this date in 1690.

The Jacobites, under the leadership of French General Lauzun and Irish commander Richard Talbot after James fled to France, held Limerick with ~14,500 infantry and an additional ~2,500 cavalry under the command of Patrick Sarsfield stationed in nearby Co. Clare. The Williamites had a total strength of ~25,000. When William arrived at Limerick he decided to focus his attack on the less fortified Irish Town section of Limerick. William deployed his troops and awaited the arrival of his heavy artillery which was en route from Dublin.

Sarsfield, realising the importance of the siege weapons making their way to Limerick, took a detachment of ~500-600 cavalry to intercept the convoy. Riding out in the dead of night, Sarsfield crossed the River Shannon 15 miles outside of Limerick and surprised the convoy in Ballyneety. They destroyed two of the guns outright and damaged the carriages of the other guns. Ammunition and other supplies were either destroyed or taken by Sarsfield’s party. The men returned triumphantly to Limerick a few days later. William, unable to attack without his siege guns, was forced to wait an additional 10 days for the recovered guns to be transported to Limerick.

The defence of Limerick had been successful, allowing the war to continue another year. Unfortunately, the Second Siege of Limerick in August 1691 was less successful for the defenders. The Williamite War ended with the Treaty of Limerick in October 1691.

Photo: Patrick Sarsfield Monument in Limerick, Photo credit: Chris Baeuchle

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