The Battle of the Boyne reached its conclusion this week and a hard fought affair it was. William persisted with the attacks across the river at Oldbridge and the Danes stirred themselves and started crossing downstream. They struggled with the same problem as the Dutch and Anglo-Scots upstream, a restricted front, advancing into musketry range whilst still disordered and cavalry threatening their flanks.
As had happened earlier with the Dutch, the forlorn of grenadiers suffered heavy casualties and their supports struggled to establish themselves on the opposite bank. However, the Jacobites did not have things all their own way. Supporting Danish infantry and artillery were inflicting casualties and the volume of musketry from the Irish units began to diminish. To buy time to reorganise the Jacobite cavalry were ordered to attack the grenadiers and guards. A fierce melee followed with the guards just hanging on, although they were almost finished as a fighting force.
On the opposite flank the French and Jacobite dragoons, together with the two Guards battalions positioned themselves to stop the Northern Irish and Huguenots who had crossed the Boyne at Rosnaree. Taking advantage of some broken ground they reduced the attacking frontage of their opponents, taking awaytheir advantage in numbers. Flanking attacks were tried by the Williamites, but they were hampered by terrain and the holding force in the centre suffred heavy casualties, two units being forced to retreat. Two dragoon regiments advanced by the river and forced the 2nd battalion of the King's Guards to turn to face them. Fearing a breakthrough James also deployed a unit from the centre, reducing his force in this vital sector. Just when decisive action was needed the Williamite dragoons failed to charge, giving the Jacobites time to redeploy.
Meanwhile the slaughter continued at Oldbridge. The Williamite artillery had at last found the range and the Jacobite infantry supporting those units manning the barricades began to suffer heavy casulaties. Another wave of infantry, supported by cavalry crossed the Boyne. The Dutch infantry on the left suffered casulaties from the enemy musketry and were then charged by the Horse. They broke, as others had before them and a vicious cavalry melee ensued at the ford. The Dutch horse eventually prevailed, but suffered severely when they pursued their opponents within range of the defenders of Oldbridge. On the right of the ford, the Scots Guards, plus the rallied remnants of the Dutch Guards pushed forwards towards the defences. Although suffering heavy casualties they forced the defenders back. James took counsel from his advisors. Reports from the flanks indicated that they were at the limits of their endurance and enemy pressure was increasing. In the centre only two fresh battalions remained, the cavalry was spent and fresh enemy troops were approaching the ford. If they fell back now they might save the army, any delay and a rout may result. The French brigade in reserve held open the road to Dublin for the moment. James realised only one possible course of action could be taken and he ordered the retreat.
For the Williamites this was a blessed relief. Casulaties had been heavy, units were disorganised by the terrain and the bulk of the cavalry, which could have hindered the Jacobite retreat were still on the northern bank of the Boyne.
As before, more photos available at www.flickr.com/photos/wargameamateur
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