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Apparitions, Wraiths, The Second Sight
The Spectre Piper


DURING the rebellion of 1745-46, in Prince Charles Edward Stuart’s retreat from Derby, the main body of his Highlanders were compelled, on their northward march through Badenoch, to make a short halt in the wild pass of Drumouchtdar, in order to enable the rear and other stragglers of the ill-fated army to overtake them. Being sorely harassed by a party of English cavalry, the men began to murmur and grumble at the Prince’s stubbornness in not giving them permission to dislodge the horsemen, and at his seeming unwillingness to give the order to charge.

The unfortunate Prince, not wishing to risk a combat with the fresh and well-trained dragoons, owing to the deplorable condition of his own men, endeavoured to reason them out of such an insane idea, and explained to the best of his ability the utter foolishness of the strategic move in question. But the eager Highlanders paid no attention to his counsel, and determined on their own account to assail the enemy. Resolving at all hazards to dislodge them from the position they occupied on the hill, they straightway prepared for action, and about midday marched to the attack. The assaulting party consisted of two regiments of infantry—the clans M’Donald and M’Pherson; while the enemy mustered about six hundred men.

The battle commenced, and great was the carnage, as the dismounted cavalry, in expectation of an attack, had during the night constructed earthworks and dug trenches. Every available stone and boulder had in this way been piled up to repel the onslaught of the fierce Gaels, who charged with terrible force, hewing and slashing everything that came in their way, and destroying all and sundry who impeded their progress. Savage and grim, they were determined either to conquer or die; and, charging again and again, they at last with difficulty gained a footing within the trenches. Once there, the dirk and claymore soon decided the fortune of the day, and eventually the enemy, completely routed, fled in all directions. Hamstringing the horses, the Celts immediately started in pursuit, and cut down the fugitives to a man. The last man of the English who met his death at the point of a Highland claymore fell on the banks of the "Ault-na-Sassenach," or "Englishman’s burn." The burn is called by that name to this day; and the spot where the last survivor was killed is marked by an upright stone erected in the moss, about nine yards from the edge of the stream.

And it is said that persons who chance to pass over the moor at the hour of gloaming are suddenly startled by the wailing of a bagpipe, but find it impossible to tell from whence comes the melancholy strain. People also aver that, in the twilight, other sounds no less strange and weird are heard, and that spectres are seen engaged in mortal combat on the site of the old battle-ground. Various antique relics— claymores, dirks, musket-barrels, and the like—have been found in and about the trenches, a few of which I have myself seen.


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