A very gallant soldier was Sir James Campbell of Lawers,
a son of the second Earl of Loudoun. He obtained a commission in the
Scots Greys, and in the battle of Malplaquet served under Prince Eugene
as lieutenant-colonel of his regiment. In arranging the field the prince
stationed the Scots Greys at a certain point with orders not to move.
The battle was fought with much stubbornness on both sides, and for a
time the issue appeared doubtful. Suddenly Campbell thought he saw where
a cavalry charge might be of advantage to his side, and hurling his
dragoons at the enemy’s lines, he cut his way through their ranks and
This unexpected charge threw the enemy into confusion and
decided the issue of the day in that quarter. In making it, Campbell had
disobeyed the orders of his leader, but Prince Eugene was too great a
man to bear a grudge. On the following morning the troops were drawn up,
and the prince thanked the gallant officer before the whole army for
When George the Second came to the throne, Campbell was
appointed governor and constable of Edinburgh Castle. In 1742 war was
declared against France, and Campbell accompanied the king to Germany as
general in command of the British cavalry. In the battle of Dettingen he
greatly distinguished himself. At the head of his troops he charged the
Maison du Roi, or household troops of France; broke their ranks ; and
after the battle was invested a Knight of the Bath by King George in
presence of the entire army, British and Hanoverian.
The battle of Fontenoy followed, when Sir James Campbell
headed charge after charge against the army of Marshal Saxe. Towards the
close of the day his leg was taken off by a cannon-ball. He was carried
out of the fight lamenting that he ould take no further part in the
action; but the veteran, seventy-eight years of age, died while he was
being put into a litter. His country has never produced a braver or a
more daring soldier.
John, second Duke of Argyll, was noted both as a soldier
and as a statesman. The first duke had wished to make a scholar of his
son, but the boy longed for nothing so much as a military life.
After a great deal of persuasion he prevailed upon his
father to take him to London and introduce him to King William the
Third. He told the king of his desire, and William, who had taken a
liking to the bright little fellow, and thought there might be something
in him, gave him his first commission when he was fourteen.
A proud boy was John, Marquis of Lorne ; and proving
himself a born soldier, brave and energetic, he became a colonel at the
age of seventeen. A few years later he. was taken by the king on one of
his foreign campaigns, and distinguished himself at the siege of
When his father died he succeeded him in command of the
Scottish Horse Guards, was invested with the Order of the Thistle, and
sworn a Privy Councillor. The young duke was then under twenty-five
years of age, and his friends expected great things from him. A writer
who knew him says,—
“His family will not lose in his person the great figure
they have made for many ages in that kingdom, having all the fine spirit
and good sense natural to that family. Few of his years have a better
understanding or a more manly temper. He hath seen most of the courts of
Europe, is very handsome in his person, fair complexioned, about
twenty-five years old.”
The same biographer goes on to say that “his want of
application in his youth his Grace soon retrieved by reading diligently
the best authors.”
Two years later the duke was made Lord High Commissioner
to the Scottish Parliament. As he was approaching Edinburgh he was met
by a large cavalcade of the most noted personages in the kingdom, who
escorted him in triumph to the town.
In the following year he was with Marlborough in all his
famous engagements. He was present at the battle of Ramillies, where he
showed signal valour; at the siege of Ostend, and at the attack upon
Menin, where his troops took possession of the town when it surrendered.
For a short time he had to return home, but as soon as his duties were
over he hastened back with all speed to the seat of war.
In February 1707, having been appointed colonel of the
3rd Regiment of Foot, or Buffs, he commanded several battalions at the
battle of Oudenarde, where his troops were the first to engage the
enemy. Holding their position with great resolution against a much
larger force, the Buffs under Argyll helped greatly in winning the day.
He took part in the siege of Lille, which resulted in a fresh success
for British arms; and commanded as major-general at the siege of Ghent,
taking possession of the town and citadel in the name of the king.
In April the victorious young duke was raised to the rank
of lieutenant-general, and commanded under General Schylemberg at the
attack upon Tournay, the stronghold being reduced after an assault
lasting three days.
The battle of Malplaquet followed upon the 11th of
September, when Argyll “ behaved with the bravery of youth and the
conduct of a general.” He displayed extraordinary bravery in dislodging
the enemy from their strong position in the woods of Sart—an extremely
difficult and dangerous operation. By what seemed a miracle he escaped
from the action unhurt, although his clothing was riddled with bullets,
which passed through his coat, hat, and periwig.
During the whole of the campaign the duke remained
active, and also during that of 1710. He won a reputation nearly as
great as that of Marlborough, and his influence over his men was
wonderful. They admired his bravery and loved him for the way in which
he shared their perils and hardships without a thought for his own
safety or comfort.
In 1711 Argyll was appointed ambassador to Charles the
Third of Spain, and commander-in-chief of the British forces in that
country. He hoped that now his chance had come to do as great things as
Marlborough; but when he reached Barcelona he found the British army in
distress. Supplies had almost run out, and the men were greatly reduced
by losses in the battles which had taken place.
The duke had been promised both money and reinforcements;
but he sent message after message home and no help came. Bitterly
disappointed, Argyll had to raise money to feed his starving troops, and
was obliged at last to retire to Minorca without striking a blow.
After the peace Argyll was appointed coalman der-in-chief
of the forces in Scotland, governor of Edinburgh Castle, and governor of
Minorca ; but he was still extremely angry at the treatment which he had
received in Spain. He quarrelled with the queen’s ministers, and was
dismissed from the command of the Scottish Horse Guards, and deprived of
the governorship of Edinburgh Castle and of Minorca.
When Queen Anne died, George the First raised Argyll to
great honours. In the following year the first Jacobite rebellion broke
out in Scotland, and the duke was sent to put down the rising. It was a
hard task for him, for he had to fight against his own countrymen; but
he behaved with great humanity as well as firmness. When he reached
Scotland he found King George’s party quite unprepared, with danger
threatening on all sides. Argyll at once went to Edinburgh and put the
defences of the city in order; then he pushed on towards Stirling, where
the government forces numbered only eighteen hundred and forty men.
Making Stirling his headquarters, Argyll gathered
reinforcements from Glasgow and other towns, and remained there in a
strong position to prevent the Earl of Mar and his Highland Jacobites
from joining the insurgents in the Lowlands and in England.
The Jacobites gathered in force at Haddington and
prepared to make a dash upon Edinburgh ; but the Lord Provost sent a
messenger post haste to the Duke of Argyll, and called out the
train-bands and volunteers for the protection of the city.
Immediately upon the arrival of the messenger the duke
sent for all the horses in the countryside and mounted two hundred foot
soldiers upon them ; then he summoned three hundred picked dragoons, and
placing himself at their head, made a forced march on Edinburgh. He
arrived just in time, for the relief party entered the West Port as the
insurgents were approaching the eastern gate.
Finding themselves foiled, the Highlanders set off
towards Leith, where they barricaded themselves within the half-ruined
citadel left by Oliver Cromwell ; seized the cannon from the vessels in
the harbour, and prepared for a desperate defence. The following day was
spent in defying the duke, who was without cannon for an attack. He
retired to Edinburgh to collect guns; but the insurgents, seeing that
the attempt was hopeless, left the fortress] during the night, and made
their way towards Seaton.
Messages arrived informing the duke that Mar had broken
up his camp in Perth, and was on the way to force the passage at
Stirling with his whole army. Argyll set off in haste, but found that
the movement was a feint to draw him away from the Jacobite operations
Some weeks were spent in suspense, Argyll meanwhile
keeping himself fully informed of the movements of the enemy; then on
the i ith of November Mar advanced towards Stirling.
Argyll immediately crossed the bridge with his forces,
which amounted to three thousand five hundred men, while the insurgents
numbered about nine thousand. Marching rapidly forward, he reached the
heights above Dunblane just as the advance guard of the enemy was
nearing Sheriffmuir, an elevated table-land on the lower slopes of the
The night was bitterly cold, and both armies remained
under arms on opposite heights, the Highlanders sleeping in the open air
in their plaids.
At dawn on the following morning the insurgents drew
themselves up in line of battle on an eminence. Seeing the strong
position taken up by the Duke of Argyll the Earl of Mar assembled his
officers, chiefs, and men, made them a stirring speech, reminding them
of the wrongs suffered by the Stuarts, and the enmity of their clans
towards England, and ended with the question “Fight or not?”
“Fight!” was the reply which burst from the entire army;
and with triumphant cries the wild Highlanders swept down upon the
followers of Argyll. Seeing that the Earl of Mar’s design was to avail
himself of his larger numbers, the duke drew off his forces, and led
them up a slope on the opposite side of the moor.
The combatants were now among hills which hid the one
army from the other. The left of each became detached from the right,
and when the left wing of the Royalists met the impetuous charge of the
Highlanders both sides fell into confusion.
Sir John MacLean, a Jacobite and chief of his clan,
placed himself at the head of his men, and said with a loud
voice, cc Gentlemen, this is a day we have long wished to see. Yonder
stands MacCallum More for King George ; here stands MacLean for King
James. God bless MacLean and King James! Charge!”
The response was a wild rush of the Highlanders, which
was received with a heavy fire by the Royalist troops. The chief of Clan
Ranald fell, but Glengarry started forward with a shout of "Revenge!”
rallied his followers; and the left of Argyll’s army, hopelessly
outnumbered, was soon flying towards Dunblane pursued by the
Highlanders, who gave no quarter.
Meanwhile, the duke’s cool courage was enabling his
followers to withstand the shock of the Highlanders’ assault on the left
and centre. The steady fire of the Hanoverians caused the ranks of the
insurgents to waver, and the duke left them no time to recover.
Observing that a morass upon which the insurgents had counted for
protection on the right side was frozen hard, he ordered General
Cathcart to cross it with a body of cavalry and charge them in the
flank. The movement was successful, and the left of the Jacobite army
took refuge in a headlong flight, the Earl of Mar being among the
Placing himself at the head of his cavalry, the duke
pursued the fugitives towards the river Allan. Several times they
rallied ; but the steady onset of the Royalist cavalry broke their
resistance, and the rout was complete.
Returning from the pursuit, the duke found the victorious
right division of Mar’s forces drawn up on a hill. Each side shouted
defiance to the other, but neither had strength left to renew the
attack, and darkness closed in upon what was left of the two armies.
Both sides had sustained great losses, and both claimed the victory, the
right of each having been victorious while the left was defeated. But
all the advantages of the fight remained with Argyll, whose skilful
management had saved the small force under his command from being wiped
out by the greatly superior body of insurgents. When rallied with having
obtained a partial victory he replied, still panting with his
“If it wasna weel bobbit, we’ll bob it again.”
On the following morning he expected to have to renew the
battle, but on approaching the enemy’s camp he found it deserted, the
insurgents having drawn off towards Perth during the night. Their losses
had been very great, and their ranks became much thinned by desertion.
Argyll’s watchfulness prevented them from joining their friends in
England, and when news came of the defeat of the Jacobites in England
Mar was inclined to ask for terms.
Argyll’s great wish was to avoid further bloodshed among
his own countrymen. He was as kind as he was brave, and during the
Highlanders’ flight he had tried to spare them as much as possible. He
offered quarter to all, and when he saw King George’s cavalry cutting
down the gallant “lads” he cried out, “Oh spare the poor blue bonnets!”
He wrote to the government for power to make peace; but
no answer came. The Highlanders were greatly offended, and Mar’s forces
declared that they would go on fighting. The Chevalier, whom they
considered their rightful king, reached Scotland soon afterwards, and
was received in Perth with royal honours.
Argyll’s next step was to order the English war vessels
in the Firth of Forth to attack Mar’s garrison in the castle of
Burntisland. The fortress surrendered, and the royal troops took
possession of the greater part of Fifeshire, which had been a stronghold
of the insurgents. Six thousand Dutch auxiliaries under the Earl of
Cadogan joined the camp at Stirling, and the northward march was begun
on January 21.
A hard frost, followed by a heavy fall of snow, made
travelling slow and difficult. The duke collected two thousand
countrymen to clear the ground; and the insurgents having laid waste the
country between Perth and Stirling, the troops were ordered to carry
provisions for twelve days. On reaching Auchterarder they found that the
village had been burned by order of the Chevalier, and the troops
bivouacked that night among the ruined walls, with the snow lying three
feet deep around them. The last day of January had arrived when the army
crossed the river Earn and advanced to within eight miles of Perth.
The alarm was given in the insurgents’ quarters, and the
leaders began to disagree. The Highlanders were all for fortifying the
town, and making what defence they could against the much stronger force
“Do?” cried a Highlander, at the bare suggestion that the
garrison was too weak to fight; “what shall we do? Let us do that which
we were called to arms for, and which certainly was not to run away. Why
did the king come here? Was it to see his subjects butchered like dogs
without striking a blow for their lives and honour? ”Some one said that
the Chevalier was not safe with so small an army. “ Let him trust his
safety to us,” replied the Highlander; “if he is willing to die like a
prince, he will see that there are ten thousand men in Scotland willing
to die with him.”
But it was found that there were neither provisions nor
ammunition in Perth for a siege, and that the Duke of Argyll had men
enough to blockade the town and take possession of all the surrounding
country, while the defenders would be caught like rats in a trap. The
Jacobites resolved to abandon the town, and two days after the approach
of Argyll the army crossed the Tay on the ice, after throwing all the
artillery into the river.
The king’s troops took possession of Perth ; but the cold
was so intense and the weather so stormy that it was impossible to set
out in pursuit of the rebels, who reached Montrose without being
molested. They were preparing to defend the city, when to their
amazement the Chevalier, accompanied by the Earl of Mar and Lord
Drummond, entered a vessel which was in the harbour, and set sail for
France. General Gordon broke the news to the army, and led the men to
Aberdeen, with the forces of the Duke of Argyll hot on their heels.
The duke was too kind-hearted to harass the brave men who
had risked everything for the man whom they believed to be their
rightful king, and the insurgents were allowed to disperse. Bodies of
men were sent through the Highlands to restore order, and Argyll
returned to Edinburgh, where he was entertained at a public banquet, the
magistrates not having forgotten how he had defended the city in the
From Edinburgh he went to London, where he was graciously
received by George the First; but soon afterwards, to the astonishment
of his friends, he was suddenly deprived of all his honours.
In Scotland the indignation was great. Lockhart of
Carnwath tried to win the duke to the Jacobite cause, but Argyll replied
only by a dignified silence.
After two years he was restored to favour, and his great
services rewarded by his being created Duke of Greenwich. Afterwards he
became a field-marshal, and made himself still more popular in Scotland
by defending the city of Edinburgh against the riots of a mob.
He was appointed master-general of the ordnance, colonel
of the royal regiment of Horse Guards, and commander-in-chief of all the
forces; but shortly afterwards he resigned, having again been treated
unjustly by the government.
From this time he lived in retirement, and the Chevalier,
hoping to win his great adversary at last to his cause, sent him a
letter addressed in his own hand. But Argyll, although offended, was too
honourable to take part in any underhand dealings. He made no reply, and
sent the letter to the government.
On the 7th of October 1743 the great duke died, and was
buried in Westminster Abbey. With regard to his appearance and
character, one of his friends has written that he was endowed with
everything calculated to attract and chain the eye— personal beauty and
an expressive countenance; a commanding air and the most engaging
gracefulness of manner. He was warm-hearted, frank, honourable, and
magnanimous, but fiery-tempered, rash, ambitious, haughty, and impatient
Lieutenant-Colonel Alexander Campbell of Fonab served
with distinction in his great clansman’s regiment in the French wars,
and was made a captain for his brave conduct in the battle of
Some time afterwards he was in command of a small body of
Highlanders helping to defend the fortress of Dixmunde, under a Danish
governor. The enemy were in great strength, and after a siege of
twenty-four hours, finding the garrison were getting the worst of it,
the governor thought it was no use resisting any longer.
“What,” cried Campbell; “give in while we have a round of
shot or a sound man left? Think what an example it will be to the others
if we yield without showing fight. What will they think of us in his
Majesty’s army and among the allies? We shall be remembered as cowards
as long as men tell each other of the great war with France!”
But the governor thought it would be a useless waste of
life to continue, and nothing that Campbell could say could induce him
to change his mind.
“I would hold out as long as I could fire a shot,” cried
Campbell when he saw that he could not prevail. “That is not a
Scotsman’s way of fighting.” And he left the council, angry and ashamed,
to tell his countrymen that the governor was going to capitulate.
A chorus of anger and dismay went up from the Highlanders
when the news was announced.
“The governor gives in while the men can still fight!”
they cried ; “we would pepper the French until we dropped before we
Fierce looks were darted towards the governor’s quarters
and bitter words were spoken as the men discussed the question in low,
“It is not we who give in,” cried a stout Highlander at
last. “Scotsmen are not cowards. We don’t capitulate. Let the governor
do as he likes!”
Then when some one came out to lower the .flag which
floated over the ramparts, the Scots made a rush for their own standard.
“The Scottish flag shall never fall into the hands of the
enemy,” cried the foremost one.
“That it shall not,” replied the others; and they tore
down the colours, which they rent in pieces before throwing them on the
When the garrison left the fort the Scots marched out in
a compact body, holding themselves erect, and looking at the victors
with defiance. Campbell said nothing, but felt secretly proud of the
spirit of his Gaelic lads.
Years later he was sent to the Isthmus of Darien to aid
the Scots who had established a little colony there.
When his ship reached port he found his countrymen in a
sorry plight. The Spaniards had insisted upon treating the settlers as
pirates, and were threatening them by land and sea. To crown their
miseries fever was raging among them, and there was hardly one but had
fallen a victim.
Something had to be done quickly, or the little colony
would be wiped out. The new councillor collected two] hundred
settlers—all who had strength to walk—and with these and about forty
Indians he set out to meet the Spaniards. Two or three days the little
force marched, crossing a mountain range and making their way through
virgin forest; until at last, at a place called Toubocanti, they came
upon the enemy, about sixteen hundred in number, in a strongly fortified
Campbell ordered a charge, and so vigorous was the attack
of the colonists that the enemy were dislodged and put to flight with a
loss of two hundred, including the leader. The losses among the Scots
were twenty killed and forty wounded, Campbell himself having received a
ball in the shoulder.
Regardless of their hurts, the survivors set out upon a
triumphant march back to the colony. In a few days they came in sight of
the town; but what was their dismay when they saw five Spanish
men-of-war in the harbour!
“We’re just in time,” said Campbell; “we may save the
poor fellows yet.” The troops set off at a quick march, and found their
countrymen paralyzed with terror. What could a handful of sick and
exhausted men do against five warships with crews complete?
A council of war was called, and our clansman was
disgusted when the settlers made up their minds to capitulate. He
stormed, argued, implored, and even charged them with cowardice; but it
was all in vain. Sickness and starvation had broken their spirit, and in
any case resistance was all but hopeless.
“I don’t surrender,” said Campbell; and he strode angrily
from the council chamber.
Honourable terms were granted to all save Campbell. His
fate would probably have been a Spanish prison; but he escaped into the
forest with a few companions pluckier than the rest.
Marvellous adventures befell them as they made their way
through league upon league of unknown country, where savage Indians and
wild animals were the only living inhabitants. Shaggy, uncouth figures
they had become by the time the perilous journey was over, and months
after their escape they reached New York, whence they sailed for
In his native land Alexander Campbell received a warm
welcome. A gold medal was struck in his honour, and he became known as
“the hero of Darien.”