After suffering catastrophic losses at the Battle of Aughrim (July 1691), including the decapitation of their leader Saint Ruth, the Jacobite forces retreated to Limerick where they were pursued by the Williamite army led by Godert de Ginkel. The city was held under siege from August to October 1691. Ginkel surrounded the city and began a series of attacks upon the defensive walls. Eventually these attacks led to a large part of the wall being broken down. This allowed the Williamite forces access to Limerick. In order to counter this attack the defensive forces who were protecting Thomand bridge were forced to retreat to the city. The Frenchmen in command of the entrance refused to open the gates to allow the Irish to escape the fighting. Many of those who fled were either killed by the attacking Willimites or else forced into the River Shannon where they drowned. French commanders were a common feature on the Jacobite side, but upon seeing the blatent disregard for the lives of the Irish, Patrick Sarsfield (1660-1693) took command and began surrender negotiations with the WIlliamites to end the bloodshed. It was Sarsfield and Ginkel who signed the Treaty of Limerick which guranteed the safety of the Irish civilians and granted them the right to religious freedom as Catholics. In exchange Sarsfield and the 10,000 men of the Jacobite forces, along with 4,000 women and children were to withdraw from Ireland and leave for France in a departure that would be remembered as The Flight of the Wild Geese.