Legends of The Black Watch or
The Lost Regiment - A Love Story
I have been told that a
better or a braver fellow than Louis Charters of ours never drew a sword.
He was, as the regimental records show, captain of our 7th company, and
major in the army when the corps embarked for service in the Illinois in
1768 ; but prior to that his story was a strange and romantic one. Louis
was a cadet of one of the oldest houses in Scotland, the Charters of
Amisfield ; thus he was a lineal descendant of the famous Red Riever.
Early in life he had been gazetted to an ensignc in Montgomery's
Highlanders, the old 77th, when that corps was raised in 1737 by Colonel
Archibald Montgomery (afterwards Earl of Eglinton and Governor of
Dumbarton), belong the Frasers, Macdonalds, Camerons, Macleans, and other
Charters was a handsome and enthusiastic soldier, of the old chivalry and
romance of the Highlands but, at the time he joined the Black Watch,* with
the remnant of Montgomery's regiment, which volunteered for our ranks in
1763, he was a pale, moody, and disappointed man, who had no hope in the
service, but that it might procure him an honourable death under the balls
of an enemy. The story of Louis Charters was as follows :—
In January, 1757, he was
recruiting at Perth for the 77th, when it was his good, or perhaps ill
fortune, to become attached to a young lady possessed of great
attractions, whom he had met at a ball, and who was the only daughter of
the Laird of Tullynairn, a gentleman of property in the vicinity of the
Emmy Stuart was
four-and-twenty, and Louis was three years her senior. She was tall and
beautiful in face and figure ; her hair was chesnut, her eyes hazel, and
there was a charming droop in their lids which enhanced all her varieties
of expression, especially the droll, and lent to them a seductive beauty,
most dangerous to the peace of all who engaged in a two-handed flirtation
with her; for although that word was unknown to the fair maids of Perth in
those days, yet they flirted nevertheless, and none more than the lively
Though her charming figure
was almost hidden by her frightful hoop petticoat, and her beautiful hair
by white powder—but that, if possible, increased the brilliance of her
eyes and complexion—none knew better than Emmy the piquant mode of
arranging her capuchin, of holding a vinaigrette under her pretty pink
nostrils; and your great-grandmother, my good reader, never surpassed her
in the secret part of putting those devilish little patches on her soft
cheek, or about her bright roguish eyes, in such a manner as to give
double point to those glances of drollery or disdain in which all ladies
then excelled; or, worse still, an amorous languish, levelled la Francaise,
in such a mode as would have demolished a whole battalion; while the
adorable embonpoint of her figure was somewhat increased by the
arrangement of her busk, her jewelled necklace, her embossed gold watch
and tui, which no lady was ever without, and which Emmy of course carried
at her waist.
When she left the assembly,
there was always such a crush of gay gallants about the door to see her
depart, that Louis seldom got her safely into her sedan or coach without
swords being drawn, and some unfortunate being run through the body, or
having a few inches of a flaming link thrust down his throat; for the "
fine fellows" of those days were not over particular in their mode of
resentment when a pretty woman was concerned. The " Blood," or to Buck,"
or Maccaroni," of the last century was a very different
fellow from the peaceful unmitigated " snob " of the present day.
It was no wonder that Louis
loved Emmy; the only marvel would have been had he proved invulnerable; so
he fell before a glance of her bright hazel eyes, as Dunkirk fell before
the allied armies. But Emmy was so gay in manner, distinguishing none in
particular, that Charters was often in an agony of anxiety to learn
whether she would ever love him; and moreover, there was one of ours, a
Captain Douglas, recruiting in Perth, who possessed a most annoyingly
handsome person, and who hovered more about the beautiful Emmy than our
friend of the 77th could have wished. To make the matter worse, Douglas
was an old lover, having met Emmy at a ball three years before, and been
shot clean through the heart by one other most seductive glances.
Emmy was so full of
repartee and drollery, that though Charters was always making the most
desperate love |D her, he was compelled to mask his approaches under over
of pretty banter, or mere flirtation; thus leaving him an honourable
retreat in case of a sharp repulse; for he could not yet trust himself to
opening the trenches in earnest, lest she might laugh at him, as she had
done at others; and Louis knew enough of the world to be aware, that a
lover once laughed at is lost, and may as well quit the field.
So passed away the summer
of—I am sorry to give so antique an epoch—1757. The snow began to powder
the bare scalps of the Highland frontier; the woods of Scone and Kinnoull
became stripped and leafless, and their russet spoils where whirled along
the green inches and the reedy banks of the Tay; then the hoar frost wove
its thistle blades on the windows in fine morning, and our lovers found
that a period was put to their rambles in the evening, when the sun was
setting behind the darkening mountains of the west.
Now came the time to ballot
for partners for the winter season; and then it was that Louis first
learned to his joy that he was not altogether indifferent to the laughing
belle. The fashion of balloting for partners was a very curious one, and
now it is happily abolished in Scottish society ; for only imagine one^s
sensations, good reader, on being condemned to dance everything with the
same girl, and with her only, during a whole winter season ! Besides, as
the devil would be sure to have it so, one would always have the girl one
did not want. The laws respecting partners were strictly enforced, and
when once settled or fairly handfasted to a dancing girl for the season, a
gentleman was on no account permitted to change, even for a single night,
on pain of being shot or run through the body by her nearest male
In the beginning of the
winter season, the appointment for partners usually took place in each
little coterie before the opening of the first ball or assembly. A
gentleman's triple-cocked beaver was unflapped, and the fans of all the
ladies present were slily put therein; the gentlemen were then
blindfolded, and each selected a fan; then she to whom it belonged however
ill they might be paired or assorted, was his partner for the season. Such
was the strange law, most rigidly enforced in the days of Miss Nicholas,
who was then the mirror of fashion and presiding goddess of the Edinburgh
When the time for balloting
came, great was the anxiety of poor Louis Charters lest his beloved Emmy
aright fall to the lot of that provoking fellow Douglas of ours; but judge
of his joy when Emmy told him, with the most arch and beautiful smile that
ever lighted up a pair of lovely hazel, eyes, bow to distinguish her fan
from amid the eighteen or twenty that were deposited in the hat.
"Now, my dear Mr.
Charters," said she in a whisper, " I never pretended to be ferociously
honest, and thus my unfortunate little tongue is always getting me into
some frightful scrape; but I shall gift you a token by which you will know
my fan. Does that make you supremely happy?"
"Happy, Emmy? Dear Emmy,
more than ever you will give me credit for!"
"Do not be sure of that,
and do not make a scene, lest some one anticipate you."
"But the fan——"
"Has a silver ball in lieu
of a tassel. Now go and she indicated.
He soon selected the fan
and drew it to the annoyance of Douglas, who beheld him bring it to the
fair owner; and her hazel eye twinkled with joy as Charters kissed her
hand with a successful air of ardour and respect. Honest Charters quite
tipsy with joy. Emmy had now showed that he was not without interest to
her; and was not this a charming admission from a young beauty, who could
command any number of wedding-rings at any hour she pleased ? Thus,
according to the witty Sir Alexander Boswell, who (for one of his squibs)
was shot one morning by Stuart of Dusiearn,
"Each lady's fan a chosen Damon bore,
With care selected many a day before."
With the dancing of a whole
season before them, the reader may easily imagine the result. All the
tabbies, gossips, and coteries of the fair city had long since assigned
them to each other; and though the mere magic of linking two names
constantly together has done much to cajole boys and girls into a love for
each other, no such magic was required here, for Emmy, I have said, was
four-and-twenty, and Louis was three years her senior.
Finding himself completely
outwitted, and that the fan of a demoiselle of somewhat mature age and
rather unattractive appearance had fallen to his lot, Willy Douglas "
evacuated Flanders"' i.e., forsook the ballroom, and bent-all his energies
to recruiting for the second battalion of the Black Watch, leaving the
fair field completely to his more successful rival.
But though assigned to
Charters by the fashion of the time, and by her own pretty manoeuvre, as a
-partner for the season, our gay coquette would not yet acknowledge
herself conquered; and Charters felt
with some anxiety that she was amusing herself with him, and that the time
was drawing near when he would have to rejoin his regiment, which was then
expecting the route for America, over the fortunes of which the clouds of
war were gathering. Besides, Emmy had a thousand little whims and teasing
ways about her, all of which it was his daily pleasure, and sometimes his
task, to gratify and to soothe; and often they had a quarrel—a real
quarrel—for two whole days. These were two centuries to Louis; but then it
was of course made up again; and Emmy, like an Empress, gave him her
dimpled hand to kiss reminding him, with a coy smile, that "A lover's
quarrel was but love renewed."
"True, Emmy; but I would
infinitely prefer a love that required no renewal," said Charters, with a
"How tiresome you become!
You often make me think of Willy Douglas. Well, and where shall we find
this remarkable love you speak of?"
"Ah, Emmy, you read it in
every eye that turns to yours; it fills the very air you breathe, and
sheds a purity and a beauty over everything.^
"Then you always see beauty
"Oh, Emmy, I always see
you, and you only; but 'you are still bantering."
"Do you know, Captain
Charters, that I do not take it polite to tell a woman that she is
beautiful" said Emmy, pretending to pout, while her eyelids drooped, and
she played with her fan. To tell any ordinary woman that she was beautiful
might offend her, if she was sensible; but to tell her so, though you have
the sense of a thousand,
"Best be pleasing, because
you are conscious of your life, beauty, Emmy, and know its fatal power—but
alas! too well."
"What!" exclaimed Emmy, her eyes flashing with Joy and fun, I am
beautiful, then ?"
For much so for my peace.
Beautiful! One Stuart, you are dangerously so. But you with me cruelly,
Emmy. Think how time is gliding away—and a day must come when I shall be
no longer here.^
Her charming eyelids drooped again.
"A time—well, but remember there is an Italian poet who says, All time is
lost that is not spent in love."
Charters gazed at her
anxiously, and after a momentary pause, with all his soul in his eyes and
on his tongue, he said :—
"Listen to me, dearest Emmy. Of all things necessary to conduce to man's
happiness, love is the principal. It purifies and sheds a glory, a halo
over everything, but chiefly around the beloved object herself. It awakens
and matures every slumbering virtue in the heart, and causes us to become
as pure and noble as a man may be, to make him more worthy of the woman we
love. Such, dear Emmy, is my
love for you."
This time Emmy heard him in
silence, with downcast eyes, a blush playing upon her beautiful cheek, a,
smile hovering on her alluring little mouth, with her breast heaving and
her pretty fingers playing nervously with her fan and the frills of her
This conversation may be
taken as a specimen of a hundred that our lovers had on every convenient
opportunity, when Louis was all truthful earnestness —devotion and anxiety
pervading his voice and manner ; while Emmy was all fun, drollery, and
coquetry, yet loving him nevertheless.
But a crisis came, when
Charters received, by the hand of his chief friend, Lieutenant Alaster
Mackenzie, of the house of Seaforth, a command to rejoin his regiment,
then under orders to embark at Greenock, to share in the expedition which
Brigadier-General Forbes of Pittencrief was to lead against Fort du Quesne,
one of the three great enterprises undertaken in 1758 against the French
possessions in North America. How futile were the tears of Emmy now !
"Though divided by the sea, dear Louis, our hope will be one, like our
love," she sobbed in his ear.
"Think—think of me often,
very often, as I shall think of you."
"I do not doubt you, Louis.
I now judge of your long, faithful, and noble affection by my own. Oh,
Louis ! have been foolish and wilful; I have pained you often; but you
will forgive your poor Emmy now ; she judges of your love by her own."
It was now too late to
think of marriage. Emmy, subdued by the prospect of a sudden and long
separation from her winning and handsome lover, and by a knowledge of the
dangers that lay before him by sea and land, the French bullet, the Indian
arrow—all the risks of war and pestilence—was almost broken-hearted on his
departure. The usual rings and locks of hair, the customary embraces, were
exchanged; the usual adieus and promises—solemn and sobbing promises of
mutual fidelity—were given, and so they parted ; and with sad Emmy's kiss
yet lingering on his lips, and her undried tears on his cheek, poor
Charters found himself marching at the head of his party of fifty
recruits, while the drum and fife woke the echoes in the romantic Wicks,
of Baiglie, as he bade a long adieu to beautiful Perth, the home of his
Emmy, and joined the headquarters of Montgomery's Highlanders at Greenock.
But amid all the bustle of
the embarkation in transports and ships of war—such rough sea-going ships
ay Smollet has portrayed in his "Roderick Random"—Charters saw ever before
him the happy, bright, and beautiful Emmy of the past year of joy; or as
he had last seen her, pale, crushed, and drooping in tears upon his
breast—her coquetry, her drollery, her laughter, all evaporated, and the
true loving and trusting woman alone remaining—her eyes full of affection,
and her voice tremulous with emotion.
Louis sailed for America
with one of the finest regiments ever sent forth by Scotland, which, in
the war that preceded the declaration of American independence, gave to
the British ranks more than sixty thousand soldiers—few, indeed, of whom
ever returned to lay their bones in the land of their fathers.
consisted of thirteen companies, making a total of 1460 men, including 6
sergeants who were armed with Lochaber axes, and 30 pipers armed with
target and claymore.
Once more among his
comrades, the spirit of Charters rose again; a hundred kindly old
regimental sympathies were awakened in his breast, and, though the keen
regret of his recent parting was fresh in his memory, yet in the
conversation of Alaster Mackenzie (who shared his confidence), and in his
military duty, he found a relief from bitterness—a refuge which was denied
to poor Emmy, who was left to the solitude of her own thoughts and the
bitter solace of her own tears, amid those familiar scenes which only
conduced to add poignancy to her grief, and served hourly to recall some
memory of the absent, and those hours of love and. pleasure that had fled,
perhaps never to return.
* See "Present Conduct of the Chieftains Considered." Edinburgh: 1773.
thus it appears," says an anti-ministerial pamphlet, published in 1763, "
that out of 756 officers commanding in the Army, garrisons, &c., 210 are
Scots : and out of 1930 in the Navy, 536 are Scots." The table was thus:—
Meanwhile, Charters had not
a thought or hope, desire or aim, but to do his duty nobly in the field,
to obtain promotion, and to return to wed Emmy. A year—two years—yea, even
three, though an eternity to a lover, would soon pass amid the bustle and
excitement of war and of foreign service. Three years at most, then, would
find him again at the side of Emmy, hand in hand as of old. But, alas! as
poor Robert Burns says pithily—
"The best-laid schemes of mice and men Gang aft ajee."
Though our lovers had resolved that nothing should exceed the regularity
of their correspondence, and that the largest sheets of foolscap should be
duly filled with all they could wish each other to say, in those days when
regular mails, steamers, telegraphs, and penny postage were yet concealed
in Timers capacious wallet, neither Emmy nor Charters had quite calculated
upon the devious routes or the strange and wild districts into which the
troops were to penetrate, or the chances of the Western war, with all its
alternate glories and disasters.
After a lapse of two long
and weary months, by a sailing vessel poor Emmy received a letter from
Louis, and, in the hushed silence of her own apartment, the humbled
coquette wept over every word of it—and read it again and again—for it
seemed to come like the beloved voice of the writer from a vast distance
and from that land of danger. Then when she looked at the date and saw
that it was a month—a whole month—ago, and when she thought of the new
terrors each day brought forth, she trembled and her heart grew sick; then
a paroxysm of tears was her only relief, for she was a creature of a
nervous and highly excitable temperament.
It described the long and
dreary voyage to America in the crowded and comfortless transport—-one
thought ever in his soul—the thought of her; one scene ever around him—sea
and sky. It detailed the hurried disembarkation and forced march of
General Forbes's little army of 6200 soldiers from Philadelphia in the
beginning of July, through a vast tract of country, little known to
civilized men ; all. but impenetrable or impassable, as the r6ads were
mere war paths, that lay through dense untrodden forests or deep morasses
and over lofty mountains, where wild, active, and ferocious Indians, by
musket, tomahawk, scalping-knife, and poisoned arrow, co-operated with the
French in harassing our troops at every rood of the way. He told how many
of the strongest and healthiest of Montgomery's Highlanders perished amid
the toils and horrors they encountered; but how still he bore up, animated
by the memory of her, by that love which was a second life to him, and by
the darling hope that, with God's help, he would survive the campaign and
all its miseries, and would find himself again, as of old, seated by the
side of his beloved Emmy, with her cheek on his shoulder and her dear
little hand clasped in his. He sent her son Indian beads, a few
forget-me-nots that grew amid the grass within his tent; he sent her
another lock of his hair, and prayed kind God to bless for the sake of his
poor absent heart that loved her so well.
And here ended this
sorrowful letter, which was dated from the camp of the Scottish Brigadier,
who halted at Raystown, ninety miles on the march from Fort du Quesne.
Thus, by the time Emmy received it, the fort must have been attacked and
lost or won.
and with what protracted agony did she long for intelligence—for another
letter or for the War-office lists! But days, weeks, months rolled on; the
snow descended on the Highland mountains; the woods of Kinnoull were again
leafless ; again the broad Inches of Perth wore the white mantle of
winter; the Tay was frozen hard as flint between its banks and between the
piers of the old wooden bridge; there now came no mails from America; no
letter reached her; and poor Emmy, though surrounded by admirers as of
old, felt all the misery of that deferred hope which " maketh the heart
Meanwhile Louis, at the
head of his company of Montgomery's Highlanders, accompanied the force of
Brigadier Forces, who, in September, despatched from Eaystown Colonel
Bouquet to a place called Loyal Henning, to reconnoitre the approach to
Fort du Quesne. The colonel's force consisted of 2000 men; of these he
despatched in advance 500 Provincials and 400 of Montgomery's regiment,
under Major James Grant of Ballindalloch, whose second in command was
Captain Charters. Despite the advice of the latter, Grant, a brave but
reckless and imprudent officer, advanced boldly towards Fort du Quesne
with all his pipes playing and drums beating, as if he was approaching a
friendly town. Now the French officer who commanded in the fort was a
determined fellow. He it was who had behaved with such heroism at the
recent siege of Savannah, where he had been sergeant-major of Dillon's
Regiment of the Irish Brigade in the service of King Louis. When the Oomte
d'Tgstaing madly proposed to take the fortress by a coup-de-main, M. Ie
Comte Dillon, anxious to signalize his Irishmen, proposed a reward of a
hundred guineas to the first grenadier who should plant a fascine in the
fosse, which was swept by the whole fire of the garrison ; but his purse
was proffered in vain, for not an Irishman would advance. Confounded by
this, Dillon was upbraiding them with cowardice, when the sergeant-major
"Monsieur de Comte, had you not held out a sum of money as an incentive,
your grenadiers would one and all have rushed to the assault."
The count put his purse in his pocket.
"Forward!" cried he—forward went the Irish grenadiers, and out of 194 who
composed the company, 104 left their bodies in the breach.
But to resume : the moment
the soldiers of Grant were within range, the French cannon opened upon
them, and under cover of this fire, the infantry made a furious sortie.
"Sling your muskets! Dirk
and claymore," cried the major as the foe came on. A terrible conflict
ensued, the Highlanders fighting with their swords and daggers, and the
Provincials with their fixed bayonets; the French gave way, but, unable to
reach the fort, they dispersed and sought shelter in the vast forest which
spread in every direction round it. Here they were joined by a strong body
of Indians, and returning, from amid the leafy jungles and dense foliage
they opened a murderous fire upon Major Grant's detachment, which had
halted to refresh, when suddenly summoned to arms.
A yell pierced the sky. It
was the Indian war-whoop, startling the green leaves of that lone American
forest, and waking the echoes of the distant hills that, overlook the
plain of the Alleghany; thousands of Red Indian warriors, horrible in
their native ugliness, their streaky war paint, jangling mocassins and
tufted feathers, naked and muscular, savage as tigers and supple as eels,
with their barbed pears, scalping-knuives, tomahawks, and French muskets,
burst like a living flood upon the soldiers of Ballindalloch. The
Provincials immediately endeavoured to form square, but were broken,
brained, scalped, and trod under foot, as if a brigade of horse had swept
over them. While, in the old fashion of their native land, the undaunted
77th men endeavoured to meet the foe, foot to foot and hand to hand, with
the broad-sword, but in vain. Grant ordered them to throw aside their
knapsacks, plaids, and coats, and betake themselves to the claymore, and
the claymore only. For three hours a desultory and disastrous combat was
maintained—every stump and tree, every bush, rock, and stone being battled
for with deadly energy and all the horrors of Indian warfare—yells,
whoops, the tomahawk and the knife—were added to those of Europe, and
before the remnant of our Highlanders effected an escape, Captains
MacDonald and Munro, Lieutenants Alaster, William and Robert Mackenzie,
and Colin Campbell, were killed and scalped, with many of their men.
Ensign Alaster Grant lost a hand by a poisoned arrow; but of all who fell,
Charters most deeply regretted Alaster Mackenzie, his friend and
confidant, to save whom, after a shot had pierced his breast, he made a
desperate effort and slew three Indians by three consecutive blows; but
this succour came too late, and Mackenzie's scalp was torn off before he
breathed his last.
"Stand by your colours,
comrades, till death !" were his last words. Farewell, dear Charters—may
God protect you for your Emmy's sake—we'll meet again!"
"Yes—again—in heaven" he
answered, and expired with his sword in his hand, like a brave and pious
The Bed men were like
incarnate fiends, and, amid groans, yells, prayers, and entreaties, were
their knees in frenzy, drinking blood from the spouting veins and bleeding
scalps of their victims. The combat was a mere massacre, and seemed as if
all hell had burst its gates and held jubilee in that wild forest of the
savage West. The Provincials were destroyed. Grant, with nineteen
officers, fell into the hands of the French; and of his Highlanders only
150 succeeded in effecting a retreat to Loyal Henning, under the command
of Louis Charters, to whose skill, bravery, and energy, they unanimously
attributed their escape. Many of their comrades who were captured died
under agonies such as Indians, Turks, or devils alone could have devised ;
and the story of one —Private Allan MacPherson—who escaped a cruel death
by pretending that his neck was sword-proof, as related by the Abbe Eeynal,
and General Stewart of Garth, is well known.
James Grant of
Ballindalloch died a general in the army in 1806 ; but he never forgot the
horrors of his rashness at Fort du Quesne, which was abandoned to
Brigadier Forbes on the 24th November; by this he was deprived of a
revenge, and to win it Charters had volunteered to lead the forlorn-hope.
Poor General Forbes died on the retreat.
Charters' regiment served next in General Amherst's army at Ticonderoga,
at Crown Point, and on the Lake Expedition, where he saved the life of
Ensign Grant—now known as Alaster the One-handed—by bearing him off the
field when wounded; but during all those desultory and sanguinary
operations, he never heard from Emmy, nor did she hear from him. He
suffered much ; he nearly perished in the snow on one occasion with a
whole detachment; he was wounded in the left shoulder on that night of
horrors at Ticonderoga, and had a narrow escape from a cannon-ball in the
fight with a French ship, when proceeding on the expedition to Domimque
under Lord Rollo and Sir James Douglas; but though the ball spared, his
head, the wind of it raised a large inflamed spot, which gave him great
trouble and pain. He was with his corps at the conquest of the Havaanah ;
he was at the capture of Newfoundland with the 45th and the Highlanders of
Eraser, and he served with honour in a hundred minor achievements of the
brave Highlanders of Montgomery.
Renewed or recruited thrice
from the Highland clans, the old 77th covered themselves with glory, and
of all the Scottish corps in the King's service, there was none from which
the soldiers more nobly and rigidly transmitted to their aged parents in
Scotland the savings of their poor pay or the prize money gained by their
blood in the Havannah. In one of his (unanswered) letters to Emmy Stuart,
Louis says, "I have known some of our poor fellows, my dear girl, who
almost starved themselves for this purpose."
One of the majors being
killed at the storming of the Moro, his widow, in consideration of his
great services, was permitted to sell his commission. Louis was now senior
captain, and the regiment knew well that he, having only his pay, was
unable to purchase it: but so greatly was he beloved by the soldiers, many
of whom, in America, had thrown themselves before the sharp tomahawks and
poisoned arrows of the Indians to save him, that they subscribed each
Highlander so many days' pay to purchase his majority ; and the plunder of
the rich Havannah having put these brave souls in good funds, the money
was all fairly laid on the drum-head in one hour, when the corps was on
evening parade in the citadel of El Fuerte.
Such a noble instance of
camaraderie and true soldierly sentiment never occurred in the British
service but once before ; and then it was also in an old Scottish regiment
which had served, I believe, in the , wars of Queen Anne, before the
amalgamation of the forces of the two kingdoms."
This was the most noble
tribute his soldiers could pay to Charters, who was duly gazetted when the
regiment was stationed at New York in the summer of 1763, to enjoy a
little repose after the toils of the past war.
The services and adventures
so briefly glanced at here, had thus spread over a period of five years—to
Louis, long and weary years—during which he had never heard of Emmy but
once ; and now he had no relic of her to remind him of those delightful
days of peace and love that had fled apparently for ever. The ring she had
given him, warm from her pretty hand, had been torn from his finger by
plunderers as he lay wounded and helpless on the ramparts of Fort Loudon,
on the confines of far Virginia ; her fan was lost when his baggage was
taken on the retreat from Fort du'Quesne ; the locket with her hair had
been rent from him, when he was taken prisoner and stripped by the French,
in the attack on Martinique. He was changed in appearance too; his hair
once black as night was already seamed by many a silvery thread, yet he
was only two-and-thirty. His face was gaunt and wan, and bronzed by the
Indian sun and keen American frost. His eyes, like the eyes of all inured
to facing death and danger, pestilence and the bullet, were fierce at
times, and keen and haggard; and when tidings came, or it was mooted at
mess, that the war-worn regiment of Montgomery was once again to see the
Scottish shore, poor Louis looked wistfully into his glass, and doubted
whether Emmy would know him ; for between the French and the Cherokees he
had acquired somewhat the aspect of a brigand.
Peace was proclaimed at
last, and the Government made an offer to the regiment, that such officers
and men as might choose to settle in America should have grants of land
proportioned to their rank and services. The rest might return to Scotland
or volunteer into other corps. A few remained among the colonists, and on
the revolt of America in 1775, were the first men to join the standard of
George III., who ordered them to be embodied as the 84th or Royal Regiment
of Highland Emigrants. The rest—most of whom volunteered to join the Black
Watch—with the band, pipes, and colours, under Louis Charters, embarked at
New York, and, full of hope and joy, with three hearty cheers, as their
ship cleft the waters of the Hudson and bore through the Narrows, saw the
future capital of the western world sink
in the distance and disappear astern.
Five years!..... Emmy must
now be nearly nine-and-twenty's thought Louis; in a month from this time I
shall see her—shall hear her voice—shall be beside her again, assuring her
that I am the same Louis Charters of other days."
But month after month
passed away, and six elapsed after the sailing of the transport from New
York had been duly notified by the London and the Edinburgh Gazettes, and
yet no tidings reached Britain of the missing regiment of Montgomery.
During all these five long
years—those sixty months —those one thousand eight hundred and twenty-five
days, every one of which had been counted by poor Louis—how fared it with
the beautiful Emmy Stuart who was still the belle of the fair city ?
So far. as the defective
newspapers of those days, when Edinburgh had only three (and those of
London seldom came north), supplied intelligence, she had traced the
operations of Montgomery's Highlanders in the Canadas, the States, on the
Lakes, and in the West Indies, in the despatches of Brigadier Fybes,
of Colonel Bouquet, Lord Kollo, and others; she had frequently seen the
name of her lover mentioned, as having distinguished himself, and twice as
having been left wounded on the field. I need not dwell on her days and
nights of sickening sorrow and suspense, which no friendship could
Save once, no letter from
Louis had ever reached her; yet poor Louis had written many: from among
frozen and bloody fields—from wet bivouacs, yet Emmy, the belle; the
coquette, remained true, for she knew the chances of war ; and that, until
the regiment returned homeland he proved false, she could not desert her
But Willy Douglas of the
Black Watch, who had been all this time comfortably recruiting about Perth
and Dunkeld (thanks to his uncle, the Duke of Douglas), was wont to remind
her that the 40th Regiment had been more than forty years abroad, and the
battalion of Montgomery might be quite as long.
After three years had
passed without letters arriving, Emmy still mourned and loved Louis more
than ever; while well-meaning friends, who never thought of consulting the
army list, assured her that he was killed ; but it availed them nought.
Then five years elapsed,
and in all that time there came. no letter yet, when taunted that Louis
had forgotten her, she replied as Cleopatra did to Alexis when he advised
her to deem her lover cruel, inconstant, and ungrateful:—
"I cannot, if I could;
these thoughts were vain, Faithless, ungrateful, cruel if he be, I still
must love him !"
But time changes all
things. A pleasing and sad recollection was now beginning to replace her
lively affection for Charters. Tired of worshipping one who had become
little more than a beautiful statue, her admirers had disappeared
gradually, till the assiduous Douglas alone remained in the position of a
tacit and privileged dangler. Willy was an honest-hearted fellow, and with
his real love for Emmy there was mingled much of pity for what she
suffered on account of his "devilish neglectful rival," as he termed
Charters. Emmy had long been insensible to his addresses ; but as Douglas,
who was very prepossessing, was the nephew of the last Duke of Douglas,
and had a handsome fortune, her father requently, earnestly, and
affectionately urged her to accept his proposals; while her mother
reminded her that she was past eight-and-twenty now; and added, that in a
new and more fortunate attachment—in the love that is supposed to follow
marriage—she would forget the sorrows of the past. But Emmy, though
knowing that this was all mere sophistry, was about to give a silent
acquiescence to their schemes, when, turning over the leaves of an old
periodical, one day, in a dreamy and listless mood, her eye fell on the
"A union of fortunes, not a union of hearts, is the thing generally aimed
at in marriage, and, by those who esteem themselves prudent people, is
thought the only rational view. There is no divine ordinance more
frequently disobeyed than that wherein God forbids human sacrifices, for
in no other light can most modern marriages be viewed. Brazen images,
indeed, are not the objects of their worship; a purer metal is their
deity. Every one who reads in ancient history of human sacrifices,
exclaims against the horrid practice and trembles at the narrative, though
there is scarcely one of the female readers, if she is of a marriageable
age, who is not ready to debt her person, like an adorned victim, in the
hope of tempting some golden idol to receive a free-will offering."
Emmy thought of Douglas's
fortune, and the book fell from her hand.
"No, no" she said with a
shudder; "I shall not be the adorned victim offered up to this golden
idol" and from that time she resolved to decline his addresses.
On the day succeeding this brave resolution came tidings "that" the
remnant of Montgomery's Highlanders, under the command of Major Louis
Charters, had sailed from New York six weeks ago, and were daily expected
at Greenock, from whence that gallant corps had sailed for the wars of the
Far West in 1758.
Now came Emmy's hour of triumph, and already Louis seemed before her,
loving, trusting, and true; and hourly she expected to have in his own
hand-writing, assurance of all her hear desired ; but, alas ! time rolled
on—days became weeks—weeks became months, and no tidings reached Britain
of the Highlanders of Montgomery.
"The lost regiment" was
spoken of from time to time, till even friends, comrades, and relations
grew tired of futile surmises, and their unaccountable dis-appearance
became like a tale that is told—or a fragment of old and forgotten
For a time a sickening and
painful suspense had been kept alive by occasional reports of pieces of
wreck with red coats and tartan fluttering about them, having been espied
in the Atlantic; vessels waterlogged and abandoned were passed by solitary
ships, and averred to be the missing transport; craft answering her
description had been seen to founder in tempests off the banks of
Newfoundland; but after eight months had elapsed nothing was heard of what
was emphatically called the lost regiment.
Emmy mourned now for Louis
as for one who was dead - one who, after all his toil and valour,
suffering and constancy (she felt assured he had been constant), was
sleeping in the great ocean that had divided them so long.
Tired of all this her
friends had arrayed her in mourning as for one who was really dead; and to
carry out a plan of realizing this conviction, her father had erected in
the church of St. John a handsome marble tablet to the memory of Charters
; and this cold white slab in memoriam met Emmy's heavy eyes every time
she raised them from her prayer-book on Sunday. So at last Louis was
dead—she felt convinced of it, and, with a reluctant and foreboding mind,
she consented to a marriage with Captain Douglas of the Black Watch—a
consent in which she had but one thought, that in making this terrible
sacrifice she was only seeking to soothe the anxiety and gratify the
solicitations of her mother, who was now well up in the vale of years, and
who loved her tenderly.
Emmy was placid and
content; but though even cheerful in appearance, she was not happy; for
her cheek was ever pale and her soft hazel eyes, with their half-drooping
lids, failed to veil a restlessness that seemed to search for something
vague and undefined.
They were married. We will
pass over the appearance of the bride, her pale beauty, her rich lace, the
splendour of all the accessories by which the wealth of her father, of her
husband, and the solicitude of her kind friends surrounded her, and come
the crisis in our story—a crisis in which a lamentable fatality seemed to
rule the destinies of the chief actors in our little drama.
The minister of St. John's
Church had just pronounced the nuptial blessing, and the pale bride was in
her mother's arms, while the officers of the Black Watch were crowding
round Douglas with their hearty congratulations; a buzz of voices had
filled the large withdrawing room, as a hum of gladness succeeded the
solemn but impressive monotony of the marriage service, when the sharp
rattle of drums and the-shrill sound of the fifes ringing in the Southgate
of Perth struck upon their ears, and the measured march of feet, mingling
with the rising huzzahs of the people, woke the echoes of every close and
A foreboding smote the
heart of Captain Douglas. He sprang to a window and saw the gleam of arms—
the glitter of bayonets and Lochaber axes, with the waving of plumed
bonnets above the heads of a crowd which poured along the sunny vista of
the Southgate; and, as the troops passed, led by a mounted officer whose
left arm was in a sling—a bronzed, war-worn, and weather beaten band—their
tartans were recognised as worn as the tattered colours which streamed in
ribbons on the wind, and their name went from mouth to mouth :—
The Lost Regiment—the
Highlanders of Montgomery !"
A low cry burst from Emmy;
she threw up her clasped hands, and sank in a dead faint at her mother's
feet. All was consternation in the house of Stuart of Tullynairn; and the
marriage guests gazed at the passing soldiers, as at some fascinating but
unreal pageant—but on they marched, cheering, to the barracks, with drums
beating and pipes playing; and now the mounted officer, who had been
gazing wistfully at the crowded windows, stoops from his saddle and
whispers a few words to another—Alaster the One-handed, now a captain—then
he turns his horse, and, dismounting at the door, is heard to ascend the
stair; and in another moment, Louis Charters, sallow thin, and
hollow-eyed, by long toil and suffering, his left arm in a sling and his
right cheek scarred by a shot, stands amid all these gaily-attired guests
in his fighting jacket, the scarlet of which had long since become
threadbare and purple.
He immediately approached
Emmy, who had now, partially recovered and gazed at him, as one might gaze
at a spectre, when Douglas threw himself forward with a hand on his sword.
What is the meaning of all
this said Louis, who grew ashy pale, and whose voice sank into Emmy's
soul; have you all forgotten me—Louis Charters of Montgomery's Regiment ?"
"No!"' replied Douglas,
"but your presence here at such a time is most unfeeling, and
"Miss Stuart has just been made my wedded wife; thus any remarks you have
to make, sir, you will please address to me."
Louis started as if a
scorpion had stung him, and his trembling hand sought the hilt the old
minister addressed him and the guests crowded between them all aside and
turned from word or glance from Emmy. Time had frozen her, and mute
despair gard yet still beautiful eyes.
"Half an hour earlier and I
had saved myself!" exclaimed Charters! Half-hour I loitered in Strathearn
there to refresh his weary soldiers.
And now to explain this
Tempest-tossed and under
jurymasts, after long beating against adverse winds, the transport, with
the remnant of his regiment, had been driven to 37 and 40 degrees of north
latitude, and was stranded on the small isles of Corvo and Flores, two of
the most western and detached of the Azores. There they had been lingering
among the Portuguese for seven months, unknown to and unheard of by our
Government; and it was not until Charters, leaving Alaster Grant in
command at Corvo, had visited Angra, the capital of the island, and urged
the necessity of having his soldiers transmitted home, that he procured a
ship at Ponta del Gada, the largest town of these lands, and sailing with
the still reduced remnant of his corps—for many had perished with the
foundered transport—he landed at Greenock, from whence he was ordered at
once to join the 2nd Battalion of the Black Watch, into which his soldiers
had volunteered, and which, by a strange fatality, was quartered in
Perth—the home of his Emmy, and the place where for five long years he had
garnered up his thoughts and dearest hopes.
The reader may imagine the
emotions of poor Emmy on finding that her lover lived, and that her heart
was thus cruelly wrenched away from all it had treasured and cherished for
years. Then, as if to aggravate her sorrow, our battalion marched the next
day for foreign service, and Louis again embarked for America, the land of
his toil, without relentless fate permitting Emmy to excuse or explain
Douglas left the corps and
took his wife to Paris, where he fell in a duel with a Jacobite refugee.
Emmy lived to be a very old
woman, but she never smiled again.
Thus were two fond hearts
separated for ever. Three months after Louis landed in America he died of
a broken heart say some; of the marsh fever say others. He was then on the
march with a detachment of ours up the Mississippi, a long route of 1500
miles, to take possession of Fort Charters in the Illinois. His friend, a
Captain Grant—Alaster the One-handed—performed the last offices for him,
and saw him rolled in a blanket, and buried at the foot of a cotton-tree,
where the muskets of the Black Watch made the echoes of the vast prairie
ring as they poured three farewell volleys over the last home of a brave
but lonely heart.