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Prince Charles Edward Stuart
Narrow escape of Charles


Charles remained eight days in the neighbourhood of Achnacarry. Having expressed a strong desire to see the French officers who had landed at Pollew, they were brough to him. These gentlemen had come from Dunkirk in a small vessel, with 60 others, who had formed themselves into a company of volunteers under these two officers. Two of the volunteers landed along with the officers, and were taken prisoners. One of them, named Fitzgerald, a Spanish officer, was hanged at Fort William, on the ground of having been a spy in Flanders, and the other, a M de Berard, a French officer, was afterwards exchanged upon the cartel. The officers fell in with Mr Alexander Macleod, one of Charles's aides-de-camp, to whom they delivered some despatches they had brought over to the French ambassador, and they continued to wander in Seaforth's country till Lochgarry, hearing that they had letters to the prince, sent a Captain Macraw and his own servant to find them out and bring them to Lochiel, as the prince could not be found. When brought to Lochiel, he suspected them to be government spies. On Charles expressing his wish to see these officers, the Rev John Cameron, who had lately joined, told him what his brother Lochiel thought of them, and advised him to act with great caution. The prince confessed that it appeared a very suspicious circumstance, that two men, without knowing a word of Gaelic, and being perfect strangers in the country, should have escaped so long if they were not really spies; but as they had told Lochiel that they had never seen the prince, he thought that he might see them safely by a stratagem, without being known to them. He therefore wrote them a letter to this effect:- that, in order to avoid falling into his enemies' hands, he had been under the necessity of retiring to a distant part of the country, where he had no person with him except one Captain Drummond and a servant, and, as he could not remove from the place of his concealment without danger, he had sent Captain Drummond with the letter; and as he could repose entire confidence in him, he desired them to deliver any message they had to Drummond. This letter the prince proposed to deliver himself, as Captain Drummond, and the officers being sent for, were introduced to him under his assumed name. He delivered them the letter, which they perused, and he then obtained from them all the information they had to communicate, which, as his affairs then stood, was of little importance. They remained with him two days, and put many questions about the prince's health, his manner of living, &c. Thinking the packet they had delivered to Mr Macleod might be of use, Charles sent for it; but as the letters were in cipher he could make nothing of them, not having the key.

About this time Charles made a very narrow escape, under the following circumstances. Information having been sent to the camp at Fort Augustus that Charles or some of his principal adherents were in the neighbourhood of Loch Arkaig, a party was despatched in quest of them. One of Clune's sons and Cameron the minister had gone to the strath of Clune to obtain intelligence, and had entered a hut which Clunes had built for his family after his house had been burnt. They had not, however, been half-an-hour within, when a little girl came running into the house, in great haste, and said that she saw some soldiers approaching. At first they thought that the child was mistaken, as Lochgarry had promised to place a guard between Fort Augustus and Clunes, to give intelligence of the approach of troops; but going out of the house, they found that the girl was correct in her information. It was then about eight o'clock in the morning, and the prince, with one of Clune's sons and Peter Grant, was sleeping in a hut on the face of the hill on the other side of the water of Kaig, about a mile from Clune's hut. Whilst old Cameron, therefore, remained to watch the motions of this party, one of his sons and the minister went off to arouse Charles. Crossing the water under cover of the wood, they came within pistolshot of the soldiers, who proceeded down into the strath. When awaked and informed of his danger, Charles, with great composure, called for his gun, and, looking down the vale, saw a number of soldiers demolishing Clune's hut and searching the adjacent wood. Charles and his attendants immediately resolved to remove to a distance, and to conceal their flight, ascended the hill along the channel of a torrent which the winter rains had worn in the face of the mountain. Clearing this hill without being seen, they proceeded to another mountain, called Mullentagart, of a prodigious height, and very steep and craggy. They remained all day on this hill without a morsel of food. One of Clune's sons came to them about twelve o'clock at night with some whisky, bread, and cheese, and told them that his father would meet them at a certain place in the hills, at a considerable distance, with provisions, and the young man returned to let his father knwo that he might expect them. Charles and his attendants set out for the appointed place at night, and travelled through most dreadful ways, amongst rocks and stumps of trees, which tore their clothers and limbs. Such were the difficulties they encountered, that the guides proposed to halt and rest till the morning, but Charles, though exceedingly exhausted, insisted on going on, that they might not break their appointment with Clunes. Worn out at last with fatigue and want of food, the prince was not able to proceed farther without assistance. Though almost in the same situation themselves, the Highlanders offerd him their aid, and two of them laying hold each of an arm, supported him till he arrived at the end of this very laborious journey. They met Clunes and his son, who had already killed a cow and dressed a part of it for their use.

Charles remained in this remote place with his companions till the arrival of Lochgarry and Dr Cameron. They informed him that they had been with Lochiel and Cluny, and that it had been concerted among them that the prince should come to their asylum for some time; and they added, that Cluny would meet his Royal Highness at Auchnacarry, on a certain day, in order to conduct him to Badenoch. Being also informed by them that the passes were not so strictly guarded as formerly, Charles crossed Loch Arkaig, and took up his abode in a fir wood belonging to Lochiel, on the west side of the lake, to await the arroval of Cluny. Impatient to see two such tried friends as Lochiel and Cluny, Charles would not wait for Cluny's coming to Auchnacarry, but set out for Badenoch with such guides as he had. Next day Charles arrived at a place called Corinauir, in Badenoch, where he passed the night. Cluny had passed on to Auchnacarry the same day by another way. Lochiel who had skulked in his own country about two months, had sought an asylum among the Braes of Rannoch, where he was attended by Sir Stewart Thriepland, an Edinburgh physician, for the cure of the wounds he had received in his ancles. On the 29th of June they fell in with Macpherson of Cluny, who conducted them to a more secure retreat on Benalder, a hill of immense circumference, on his own property, on the borders of Rannoch. Lochiel, who had since that time lived on this mountain with his friend Cluny, was now residing in a small miserable hovel on the side of the hill, at a place called Mellenauir, or Millanuir, attended by Macpherson of Breakachie, Allan Cameron, his principal servant, and two servants of Cluny.

Dr Archibald Cameron
Dr Archibald Cameron

On the morning of the 30th of August, Charles, accompanied by Lochgarry, Dr Cameron and two servants, set out for Mellenauir. They were all armed, and on approaching the hut they were mistaken by Lochiel for a party of militia, who, he supposed, had been sent out in search of him from a camp a few miles of. From the lameness in his feet, Lochiel was not in a condition to attempt an escape, but there seemed to be little danger, as both parties were equal in point of numbers, and the party in the hut had this advantage, that they could fire their first volley without being observed, and as they had a considerable quantity of fire arms, they could discharge another volley or two before the advancing party could reload their pieces. The danger to which Charles and his friends were now exposed was greater than that which Dr Cameron and Clunes had run, as, on the present occasion, the party in the hut, resolving to receive their supposed enemies with a general discharge of all the firearms, had actually planted and levelled their pieces; but happily for Charles and his friends, they were recognised just as Lochiel and his attendants were about giving their fire. Upon making this fortunate discovery Lochiel left the hut, and, though very lame, went forward to meet the prince. On coming up to Charles Lochiel was about to kneel, but Charles prevented him, and clapping him on the shoulder, said, "Oh no, my dear Lochiel, we do not know who may be looking from the top of yonder hills, and if they see any such motions they will immediately conclude that I am here". Charles always considered Lochiel as one of his best friends, and placed the greatest confidence in him; and the generous chief showed, by his unbounded attachment to the prince, that this confidence was not misplaced. The meeting, therefore, of two such friends, after so many perils and escapes, was extremely joyous.


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