Feature: Scenario pack: Lighting the fuse. Derry 1688/1689

Lord Mountjoy's Regiment leave the city in November 1688

This is the first in a series of Derry packs. It focuses on the events which sparked the conflict - the arrival of the Earl of Antrim's Regiment to replace Lord Mountjoy's Regiment as garrison. Nothing out of the ordinary there, one unit replacing another however, Derry was a Protestant town populated by planter families, many from London (hence the alternative name London- derry). 

The Earl of Antrim's Regiment question fishermen on Derry Quay

 Antrim's regiment was recruited from the glens of Antrim and the Scottish Highlands. These men were affiliated to the Catholic Macdonnell (Macdonald) clan. A letter (now widely believed as a fake) known as the Comber Letter had been circulated amongst the Protestant communities in Ireland saying that on December 9th 1688, Catholics would rise up and slaughter Protestant civilians - men, women and children, in their homes.

The new Derry scenario pack

 This kind of agit-prop was bound to create a reaction and so on the 8th December, a bunch of lads known as the Apprentice Boys - shut the gates of Derry in the faces of the King's soldiers. 


Volunteers flock to the city for support and self preservation - March 1689

Coincidental with this act, a pretender to the throne had invaded England and caused Kings James II to flee. He was the King's son in law/nephew. Willem van Oranje. He was a Dutchman although half-Stuart (through his mother (the King's sister) and through marriage to his cousin, the King's daughter, Princess Mary. His main reason for the coup? He needed English money, soldiers, ships and power to stave off the conquest of his own country by the all-powerful French monarch Louis Quatorze (XIV) - Le Roi Soleil.


Scratchbuilt section of Derry's walls - BH

Complicated? Fascinating! 


A section of Neville's contemporary map of the siege. I believe it was created months afterwards.

These three scenarios model the tension around the port city of Derry on December 7th and 8th  1688 and the first action when the city was besieged in April 1689. 


John Michelbourne(Mitchelburn) English officer and defender of Derry

Many of the characters who will become very familiar, begin to make appearances in this pack such as Adam Murray. John Michelbourne and others. 


A model of the city. Photo courtesy of Peter A.


Two of the games are Donnybrookers and the third is a small BLB battle modelling the frenetic activity around the city's walls as the Jacobite host closed in to begin the longest siege in the history of Britain. 

The view west from the walls the low ground was the bog. Jacobite lines were beyond.


So much action happened around Derry between March and July 1689 that it is likely there will be at least six Derry packs. We have to deal with the battles and skirmishes crossing the rivers to reach the city. The actions on Windmill Hill and at Pennyburn, the riverine activities of the garrison including forays to the east bank of Lough Foyle and upriver. The attacks on the walls facing the Bogside, Kirke's expedition and of course, breaking the Boom. 



The boys close the gates. Museum in Derry.

I have been fascinated by the siege for years and have made some studies of my own which have given an insight into the complex politics of both sides which were far from harmonious. The tensions between Anglicans and Presbyterians within the garrison. The power politics within the Irish and English factions of the Jacobite besiegers which were further complicated by the Machiavellian French.


Jacobite soldiers of the besieging force.

Enjoy the excitement and intrigue of an event the still resonates in modern times.



Battle on April 18th 1689 - Scenario from the pack