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Prince Charles Edward Stuart
Expedition against Lord Loudon


The first enterprise that Charles undertook, after capturing Fort George, was the siege of Fort Augustus. To reduce this fortress, and with the ulterior view of laying siege to Fort William, Brigadier Stepleton was sent into Stratherrick with the French piquets and a detachment of Lord John Drummond's regiment, and appeared before Fort Augustus about the end of February. Without waiting for his artillery, which consisted of a few pieces found at Fort George, he attacked the old barrack and carried it immediately, the garrison returning to the fort. Mr Grant, who had succeeded M. Mirabelle as chief engineer, since the siege of Stirling, opened a trench upon the 3d of March. The garrison held out two days, when, in consequence of the explosion of the powder magazine by the falling of a shell, the fortress surrendered, and the garrison, which consisted of three companies of Guise's regiment, were made prisoners of war. Leaving Lord Lewis Gordon with a few troops in command of the place, the brigadier marched to Fort William, which he invested on the land side.

Pursuant to his plan of operations, the prince, in the beginning of March, sent Lord Cromarty with a detachment, consisting of his own regiment, the Mackintoshes, Macgregors, and Barridale's men, to drive the forces under Lord Loudon out of Ross-shire. Finding that his lordship was unable to accomplish the task which had been assigned him, Charles despatched Lord George Murray to his assistance with the Macdonalds of Clanranald and a battalion of Lochiel's regiment. He reached Dingwall the first night, where he found Lord Cromarty's detachment; but his lordship had been absent two days at his own house with a strong guard of Mackenzies. Lord George marched next day for
Tain, where he understood Lord Loudon was posted; but on the road he learned that his lordship had crossed the Dornoch Frith to Sutherland, and had quartered his troops in the town of Dornach and the neighbourhood. Not having any boats to carry his men across the frith, his lordship, after consulting his officers, returned to Dingwall, where he quartered his men. The reason of retiring a day's march farther back was to throw Lord Loudon off his guard, as it was contemplated to bring boats along the coast and attempt the passage. There was nothing to prevent the detachment marching round the head of the frith; but Lord Loudon having a sufficiency of boats, might have eluded his pursuers by recrossing to Tain; and, as Lord George would, by such a course, have been several days' march from Inverness, the main body of the Highland army would have been in a critical situation, if the Duke of Cumberland's army had reached the neighbourhood of Inverness, while the corps under Lord George Murray was on the north side of the Frith of Dornoch. After sending notice to Lord Cromarty of the disposition of his forces, and that the Duke of Perth would take the command, Lord George returned to Inverness the following day, to execute a design he and Macpherson of Cluny had concerted, to surprise the castle of Blair, and to beat up the quarters of the government troops in Athole, who, from information he had received, had committed great excesses in that district.

To carry the enterprise against Lord Loudon into execution, all the fishing boats that could be collected on the coast of Murray were brought to Findhorn. A few gentlemen, to whom the charge of collecting this small flotilla had been intrusted, had conducted the matter with such secrecy and expedition, that no person in the government interest was ware of it; but after the boats were all in readiness, a difficulty presented itself in getting them across the Moray frith without being perceived by the English cruisers that were continually passing along the coast. Moir of Stonywood, however, undertook to convey the boats to Tain, and he accordingly set out one night with this little fleet, and arrived at his destination next morning without being observed by the enemy. On the flotilla reaching Tain, the Duke of Perth divided his force into two parts; and while, with one of them, he marched about by the head of the frith, he directed the other to cross in the boats. Under the cover of a thick fog this division landed without being discovered, and the duke, having united his forces on the north side of the frith, advanced upon Dornoch. When near that town, he came up with a party of 200 men, who were on their march to join Lord Loudon. This party instantly fled; but Major Mackenzie, who commanded it, with four or five officers, and sixty privates, were made prisoners. Among the officers was a son of Mr Macdonald of Scothouse, who was taken prisoner by his own father. The main body, under Lord Loudon, abandoned Dornoch in great consternation, and fled north towards Glenmore, pursued by the Jacobite force. Both parties marched all night; but the fugitives kept ahead of their pursuers. After a chase of about thirty miles, the Duke of Perth discontinued the pursuit, and halted at the head of Loch Shin. While following the enemy during the night, great anxiety prevailed among the Macdonalds in the Duke of Perth's detachment, lest, in the event of an engagement, they might not be able, notwithstanding their white cockades, to distinguish themselves from the Macdonalds of Skye, who, like the other Macdonalds, wore heather in their bonnets. Upon reaching the head of Sutherlandshire, Lord Loudon seperated his army. Accompanied by the lord-president and the laird of Macleod, he marched to the sea-coast with 800 of the Macdonalds and Macleods, and embarked for the
Isle of Skye. Part of his own regiment, with several officers, took refuge in Lord Reay's country. Finding that Lord Loudon's troops had dispersed, the Duke of Perth returned to Inverness, leaving Lord Cromarty in Sutherland with a sufficient force to keep Lord Sutherland and Lord Reay's people in check. The dispersion of Lord Loudon's army was considered of such importance by Charles, that he immediately despatched an officer to France with the intelligence. In this expedition, several vessels in the Frith of Dornoch, having some valuable effects on board, fell onto the hands of the insurgents.


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