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Prince Charles Edward Stuart
Attempt to seize Charles at Moy Castle


Meanwhile, the Highland army was proceeding in its march to Inverness. After remaining a few days at Blair-Athole, Charles marched to Ruthven in Badenoch, the barrack of which was taken and blown up by a party under Gordon of Glenbucket, who made the small garrison prisoners. He reached Moy castle, a seat of the laird of Mackintosh, about ten miles from Inverness, on the 16th of February, with an advanced guard of about 50 men. As Charles's forces were widely scattered, he resolved to halt at Moy till he should concentrate a force sufficient to attack the Earl of Louden, who was posted at Inverness with 2,000 men.

Hearing of Charles's arrival at Moy castle, and that he had not above 500 or 600 men with him, Lord Louden formed a design to seize him during the night while off his guard. The better to conceal his project, his lordship, at three o'clock in the afternoon, completely invested Inverness on all sides, posting guards and a chain of sentinels round the town, with positive orders not to suffer any person to leave it on any pretext whatever. He ordered, at the same time, 1,500 men to hold themselves in readiness to march at a moment's warning; and, having assembled them without noise, he put himself at their head, and instantly set off, planning his march so as he might arrive at the castle of Moy about eleven o'clock at night.

Notwithstanding the secrecy, however, with which Lord Loudon concocted his scheme, the plan was divulged by the imprudence or perfidy of some persons intrusted with the secret. According to one account (for there are several), the design was communicated to Lady Mackintosh, a zealous Jacobite, by Fraser of Gorthleck, in a letter which he sent to her, and in another letter which he sent to her, and in another letter which she received at the same time from her mother, who, though a Whig, felt a repugnance to allow Charles to be made a prisoner in her daughter's house, in which he had taken up his residence as a guest. Another account is, that while some English officers were drinking in a tavern in Inverness, waiting the hour of their departure, a girl of thirteen or fourteen years of age, who happened to wait on them, paid great attention to their conversation, and, from certain expressions dropped by them, discovered their design, - that she immediately left the house, escaped from the town, notwithstanding the vigilance of the sentinels, and immediately took the road to Moy, running as fast as she was able, without shoes or stockings, which, to accelerate he progress, she had taken off, - and that on arriving she informed Lady Mackintosh of the design against the prince. The Jacobite Memoirs, however, have furnished a third version of this affair, which appears to be more correct in details. It is there stated that Lady Mackintosh's mother, who lived in Inverness, having received notice of Lord Loudon's design, despatched a boy, about fifteen years of age, named Lauchlan Mackintosh, to Moy, to apprise the prince thereof, - that the boy, finding he could not pass by Lord Loundon's men without running the risk of being discovered, concealed himself behind a wall till they had passed, when, taking a different road, he reached Moy and have the alarm. The prince, who was in bed, was instantly awakened, and, jumping out, put on his clothes, left the house with a guard of about thirty men, and disappeared in a neighbouring wood.

As soon as Lady Mackintosh was informed of Lord Loudon's design, she sent five or six of her people, headed by a country blacksmith, named Fraser, to watch the advance of Loudon's troops. This man, with a boldness almost incredible, formed the extraordinary design of surprising the advancing party, in the expectation that they would fall prey to a panic. With this in view, he posted his men on both sides of the road to Inverness, about three miles from Moy, and enjoined them not to fire till he should give directions, and then not to fire together, but one after the other, in the order he pointed out. After waiting for some time, the party was apprised of the advance of Lord Loudon's troops by the noise they made in marching. When the head of the detachment, which consisted of 70 men under the laird of Macleod, was within hearing, the blacksmith called out with a loud voice, "Here come the villains who intend to carry off our prince; fire, my lads; do not spare them; give them no quarter". He thereupon discharged his piece in the direction of the detachment, and his party, after following his example, ran in different directions, calling upon the Macdonalds and Camerons to advance on the right and left, and repeating aloud the names of Lochiel and Keppoch. Impressed with the belief that the whole Highland army was at hand, the advanced guard instantly turned its back, and communicating its fears to the rear, a scene of indescribable confusion ensued. The sauve-qui-peut which burst forth from the discomfited legions of Napoleon on the plains of Waterloo, was not more appalling to the flying French than were the names of the Camerons and Macdonalds to the ears of Lord Loudon's troops on the present occasion. In the hurry of their flight many were thrown down and trodden upon, and so great was the panic with which the fugitives were seized, that the flight continued till they got near Inverness. The Master of Ross, who accompanied the party, and was one of those who were overwhelmed, observed to Mr Home, that he had been in many perils, but had never found himself in such a grievous condition as that in which he was at the rout of Moy. In this affair the laird of Macleod's piper, reputed the best in Scotland, was shot dead on the spot. On the dispersion of Lord Loudon's party, Charles returned to the castle.


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