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The Williamites reached the Boyne on 29 June. The day before the battle, William himself had a narrow escape when he was wounded in the shoulder by Jacobite artillery while surveying the fords over which his troops would cross the Boyne. The battle itself was fought on 1 July O. As a diversionary tactic, William sent about a quarter of his men under the cover of morning mist to cross the river at Roughgrange, about 4 kilometres 2.
The Duke of Schomberg's son, Meinhardt , led this crossing, which a small force of Irish dragoons in picquet under Neil O'Neill unsuccessfully opposed. What neither side had realised was that there was a deep, swampy ravine at Roughgrange. Because of this ravine, the opposing forces there could not engage each other, but literally sat out the battle as artillery engaged. The Williamite forces went on a long detour march which, later in the day, almost saw them cut off the Jacobite retreat at the village of Naul.
At the main ford near Oldbridge, William's infantry, led by the elite Dutch Blue Guards , forced their way across the river, using their superior firepower to slowly drive back the enemy foot soldiers, but were pinned down when the Jacobite cavalry, commanded by James II's son the James FitzJames, 1st Duke of Berwick ,  counter-attacked.
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Having secured the village of Oldbridge, some Williamite infantry tried to hold off successive Jacobite Irish cavalry attacks with disciplined volley fire, but were scattered and driven into the river, with the exception of the Blue Guards. William's second-in-command, the Duke of Schomberg, and George Walker were killed in this phase of the battle. The Jacobites retired in good order. William had a chance to trap them as they retreated across the River Nanny at Duleek , but his troops were held up by a successful rear-guard action.
The casualty figures of the battle were quite low for a battle of such a scale—of the 50, or so participants, about 2, died. William's army had far more wounded.
At the time, most casualties of battles tended to be inflicted in the pursuit of an already-beaten enemy; this did not happen at the Boyne, as the counter-attacks of the skilled Jacobite cavalry screened the retreat of the rest of their army, and in addition William was always disinclined to endanger the person of James, since he was the father of his wife, Mary.
The Jacobites were badly demoralised by the order to retreat, which lost them the battle. Many of the Irish infantrymen deserted, abandoning clothing in their escape. The Jacobite army abandoned the city and marched to Limerick , behind the River Shannon , where they were unsuccessfully besieged. Soon after the battle, William issued the Declaration of Finglas , offering full pardons to ordinary Jacobite soldiers, but not to their leaders.
After his defeat, James did not stay in Dublin, but rode with a small escort to Duncannon and returned to exile in France, even though his army left the field relatively unscathed. The battle was overshadowed by the defeat of an Anglo-Dutch fleet by the French two days earlier at the Battle of Beachy Head , a far more serious event in the short term;  only on the continent was the Boyne treated as an important victory.
Its importance lay in the fact that it was the first proper victory for the League of Augsburg , the first-ever alliance between the Vatican and Protestant countries. The victory motivated more nations to join the alliance and in effect ended the fear of a French conquest of Europe. The Boyne also had strategic significance for both England and Ireland.
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It marked the beginning of the end of James's hope of regaining his throne by military means and probably assured the triumph of the Glorious Revolution. In Scotland, news of this defeat temporarily silenced the Highlanders supporting the Jacobite rising , which had been led by Bonnie Dundee who was killed the previous July at the Battle of Killiecrankie. Due to the political situation mentioned above, Catholic institutions amongst William's continental allies hailed his victory with bell-ringing.
The battle caused the Jacobites to abandon the city of Dublin, which was occupied by William's forces without a fight. The war in Ireland had not ended however. It was not until the following year and battle of Aughrim that their forces were broken and after another siege of Limerick , they surrendered to William's general Godard de Ginkel l.
The war in Ireland formally ended with the Treaty of Limerick. This allowed over 14, Irish soldiers under Patrick Sarsfield, to leave for France and allowed most Irish Catholic land owners to keep their land provided they swore allegiance to William of Orange. Originally, the 12 July commemoration was that of the Battle of Aughrim ,  symbolising Irish Protestants' victory in the Williamite war in Ireland.
At Aughrim, which took place a year after the Boyne, the Jacobite army was destroyed, deciding the war in the Williamites' favour. The Boyne, which, in the old Julian calendar , took place on 1 July O. In , the Gregorian calendar was also adopted in Ireland. But, after the Orange Order was founded in amid sectarian violence in County Armagh , the two events were combined in the late 18th century. The Battle of the Boyne remains a controversial topic today in Northern Ireland , where some Protestants remember it as the great victory over Catholics that resulted in the sovereignty of Parliament and the Protestant monarchy.
In recent decades, "The Twelfth" has often been marked by confrontations, as members of the Orange Order attempt to celebrate the date by marching past or through what they see as their traditional route. Many nationalists still see these marches as provocative, whilst Unionist marchers insist that it is part of their historical right to celebrate. Better policing and improved dialogue between the sides in the 21st century have made for more peaceful parades. The site of the Battle of the Boyne sprawls over a wide area west of the town of Drogheda.
In the County Development Plan for , Meath County Council rezoned the land at the eastern edge of Oldbridge , at the site of the main Williamite crossing, to residential status. A subsequent planning application for a development of over houses was granted by Meath County Council and this was appealed against by local historians to An Bord Pleanala The Planning Board. In March , after an extremely long appeal process, An Bord Pleanala approved permission for this development to proceed. The battle's other main combat areas, at Duleek, Donore and Plattin, along the Jacobite line of retreat, are marked with tourist information signs.
On 4 April , in a sign of improving relations between unionist and nationalist groups, the newly elected First Minister of Northern Ireland, the Reverend Ian Paisley , was invited to visit the battle site by the Taoiseach Prime Minister Bertie Ahern later in the year. Following the invitation, Paisley commented that "such a visit would help to demonstrate how far we have come when we can celebrate and learn from the past so the next generation more clearly understands".
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