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The Life and Diary of Lieut. Col. J. Blackader
Chapter IV


Formation of the Regiment—Preliminary conditions of their service— Quartered at Perth—Rebellion in the Highlands—Siege of Edinburgh Castle.

For more effectually maintaining tranquillity in the absence of regular troops, three Scots Regiments, which had been in the Dutch service, were ordered for Edinburgh, under command of General Mackay, viz. his own, Brigadier Balfour’s, and Colonel Ramsey’s. They landed in Scotland towards the end of March, and were quartered about Leith and the suburbs. Their arrival relieved the Cameronian Guard, who were chiefly inhabitants of Glasgow, or its vicinity; and they were dismissed with the thanks of the Convention, for their seasonable assistance; for having, as it is expressed, taken up arms, and continued watching and warding; during which time, they had demeaned themselves soberly and honestly, been active and instrumental in preventing tumults, and in securing the peace and quiet, both of the meeting and of the place.

A proclamation, requiring all men between sixteen and sixty to be ready in arms, was issued, and at the same time, warrant granted to General Mackay to raise, by beat of drum, four regiments of foot, and one of dragoons. The Cameronians in the west country, chiefly in and about Douglas, had already deliberated with their friends, on the propriety of furnishing a regiment of infantry for his majesty’s service; and it is to their voluntary resolutions principally, that Lord Angus’ Regiment owes its origin, of which we are now to give the reader some account.

The first and most active leaders in the affair, were Laurie of Blackwood, who had suffered by a most iniquitous process under the late reign ;f and Captain William Cleland, a gallant youth, who had served in the army of the Covenanters. So soon as the proposal was agreed to, they made an offer to the Meeting of Estates, to levy, in fourteen days, two battalions, each to consist of ten companies of sixty men. A general meeting for concerting and adjusting the necessary measures, was appointed to convene on the 29th, of April, at the Kirk of Douglas. As a useful preparative in so important a matter, recourse was had to the exhortations of the pulpit. On the day before the meeting, vast crowds had assembled. Three of their most popular preachers, Shields, Boyd, and Lining, alternately addressed the congregated multitudes, on a field or holm close by the town. The eloquence of the speakers, aided by the force and pertinence of appropriate texts, gave a new edge and ardour to their patriotic zeal. The scope of their arguments was, to rouse the audience to a vigorous and simultaneous movement,—to clear away certain doubts that had been started, respecting the lawfulness or expediency of admitting such as had not owned or faithfully adhered to their cause, or who differed from them any way in principles and profession.

It was a point on which they were extremely scrupulous, and a question that had been agitated with some bitterness, whether it was not a sinful association, to enlist under the same banner with those who had been the instruments and abettors of tyranny, or who had not kept their conscience clear of oaths, tests, and declarations. This diversity of opinion prevented the adoption of any express conditions, and the meeting was prorogued till the 13th of May.

Meantime, several petitions and copies of resolutions were drawn up, and submitted for the approbation of their intended officers, stating, in special terms, the motives of their undertaking, and the conditions upon which they were willing to tender their services. These conditions, however, though honestly intended, were too exceptionable to meet with the concurrence of the officers; some of them being beyond the power of subjects to grant, others inconsistent with the laws of military discipline. A brief declaration was then drawn up by Hume of Pol wart, which met the views of both parties, and on the 14th of May, the regiment, consisting of 1200 men, was mustered on the holm of Douglas. Cleland, who was now chosen their Lieutenant Colonel, went through the whole battalion, addressing each company separately in a short speech, and causing the terms of agreement to he read and explained. James, Earl of Angus, a youth under twenty, and only son to the Marquis of Douglas, was appointed Colonel. 4 The two brothers, Michael and Alexander Shields were chosen, the former clerk, the other chaplain to the regiment, for it was expressly stipulated, that they should be provided with a minister of their own persuasion, and each company with an elder, for promoting piety and reproving offenders. The following is a copy of the articles referred to.

I. That all the officers of the regiment shall he such as in conscience and prudence, may, with cordial confidence, he submitted unto and followed; such as have not served the enemy in destroying, nor engaged by oaths and tests to destroy the cause, now to he fought for and defended.

II. That they shall he well affected, of approven fidelity, and of a sober conversation.

III. They declare: That the cause they are called to appear for is, the service of the king’s majesty, in the defence of the nation ; recovery and preservation of the Protestant religion; and in particular, the work of reformation in Scotland, in opposition to Popery, prelacy, and arbitrary power, in all its branches and steps, until the government of church and state be brought back to their lustre and integrity, established in the best and purest terms.

Such were the conditions of their formation; and upon the same terms they offered, if necessary, to equip two or three regiments more, without beat of drum or expense of levy-money.

It was in this patriotic corps that young Blackader volunteered as a cadet, and served for sixpence a-day. Through what peculiar interest or connexion he entered this regiment, is not known. But most probably it was owing to his intimacy with the Lieutenant Colonel, who had been a fellow-student with him at the University. Cleland was well acquainted with his family, having been occasionally on the patrol that guarded his father at Conventicles, and as we have seen, was a conjunct agent with his eldest brother, in promoting the Revolution f His noviciate seems, however, to have been but short, as in less than two months he carried a Lieutenant’s partisan.: It does not appear that he had ever been a member of the United Societies; and he certainly did not entertain their peculiar views of ecclesiastical affairs: But in other respects, he possessed all the necessary qualifications. He could plead exemption from the prevailing defections and compliances of the times. He had never been guilty of hearing curates or indulged clergymen; of supporting the cause of antichrist by paying cess, or debauching his conscience by oaths and tests. These, at the formation of the regiment, were deemed exclusive and insuperable objections, although they became afterwards less scrupulous in filling up their ranks.

Each company, on being mustered, was paid £35, sterling, per advance, to be collected from the shires of Lanark and Peebles. Towards the end of May, they were ordered to march under Lieutenant Colonel Cleland to Perth, where they were to quarter, and on theip way to halt at Stirling, that such as had not arms and accoutrements, might be provided from the magazine in the castle. The Commanding Officer had orders to furnish them with powder and ball, and matches for their firelocks. Brigadier General Balfour delivered to them 400 pikes, and the same number of muskets, with halberts for forty sergeants. Before marching to Perth, they were commanded to rendezvous for some time about Falkirk, Larbert, St. Ninians, Doune, and Kilsyth, in order “to clear the braes of Stirling-shire of lowse and ill-affected men, who might be found in arms,” In the month of July, they lay at Perth as a check on the Viscount Dundee, who had made several irruptions into the Lowlands, to plunder and levy contributions.

The activity and artifices of that enterprising rebel had begun to diffuse a spirit of insurrection over the North, which was become formidable to the government. He had quitted Edinburgh, as was mentioned, under pretence of assassination; but, in reality, to summon the Clans to arms. For some weeks he remained inactive at his own house of Disdope, in Angus-shire, expecting succours from Ireland. The Convention, dreading his designs, had summoned him to return, which he refused in a disrespectful letter, and was outlawed. The Earl of Leven with 100 foot, and some troops of dragoons, were despatched to apprehend him, but he made his escape to the mountains. He repaired directly to the Duke of Gordon’s territory, with the intention of raising, in a body, the vassals of that nobleman.

His purpose being known, Mackay himself went in pursuit of him, leaving charge of Edinburgh Castle, then under siege, to Brigadier Balfour and Sir John' Lanier, not so much for reducing that fortress, as for preventing the Duke of Gordon from joining his friends in the Highlands, as his extensive interest might have proved dangerous. He took with hinr four troops of Lord Colchester’s Regiment, and Sir Thomas Livingston’s dragoons; and marched rapidly by Brechin, Fettercairn, and Stratlibogie, to Elgin. Dundee made his way to Inverness, 1st May, and by this time his party had greatly increased, being joined by M‘Donald of Keppoch with 900 men. Not daring to offer battle to Mackay, and disappointed in raising the number of adherents lie expected, he withdrew to Lochaber, where he appointed a general rendezvous of the Clans, to meet against the 18th day of May. Here his force increased immensely: Glengarry joined him with nearly 800 men; Clan Rannald with 200; Stewart of Appen, and McDonald of Glenco with 200; M'Donald of Keppoch with 200, and Lochiel with 600 of the Camerons. He was unexpectedly joined by 1000 of the Athol-men, whom Lord Murray, the Marquis’ son, had raised on his father’s estate for the service of William; under pretence, however, of espousing the opposite interest. When their real destination was explained to them, they quitted their ranks, and their hereditary chieftain—a rare instance of feudal infidelity—and running to the nearest brook, they filled their bonnets with water, drank to the health of King James, and marched off to Lord Dundee.

With these, and other re-inforcements, and the addition of 500 recruits from Ireland, Dundee saw himself at the head of nearly 6000 men.

Many motives concurred to attract the roving Highlanders to his standard, besides their romantic admiration of his character, their attachment to James, or even their natural love of war. Plunder had more captivating charms in their eyes than either. All the arts and discipline of their commander could not restrain their predatory habits. Notwithstanding every precaution of centinels and rear-guards, “ they were marching off every night by forties and fifties, with droves of cattle, and loaden with spoils.” Some of the chiefs had no other concern, than to retain those forfeited estates of which they had got possession; others were hopeful to enrich themselves by new attainders. “In all the progress of the army,” says Mackay, “benorth the Tay, the people seemed to bear little sense of their deliverance except a few. They seemed more disposed to submit to, and embrace the party which they judged most likely to carry it; their zeal for the preservation of their goods goeing with them, far beyond the considerations of religion, and liberty.—It was neither out of love for King James, nor hatred for King William, that made them rise; at least, the wisest of them, as Lochiel of the Camerons, whose cunning engaged others that were not so much interested in his quarrel. But it was out of apprehension of the Earl of Argyle’s apparent restoration and favour, because he had some of his forfeited estates, and several combined Highlanders held lands of the Earl’s.”

A general expectation was entertained by the Jacobites, that the estates of their opponents would recompense them, and the most golden prospects were held out repeatedly in letters to Lord Dundee, from the Earl of Melfort, secretary to James, Happily, however, these expectations were frustrated, and this formidable insurrection eventually quelled by the defeat of the rebels, 17th June, at Killicrankie. That defeat, though it can scarcely he termed a victory, proved sufficiently decisive by the death of Dundee. He fell early in the action, by a musket-ball which entered at an opening of his mail, beneath the arm, while elevating it in the act of giving command.| His followers, though they had broken the lines of the enemy, and by the impetuosity of their attack, spread terror and flight on all sides, lost a victory within their reach, hy their eagerness for spoil and pillage. They stript the slain of their own party, and even their own general, leaving his hody on the field, which could not for some time he distinguished from those of the common soldiers.

Though Mackay had the superiority in numbers, he sustained a very considerable loss; the main causes of which were,—the disadvantage of the narrow pass where they fought—his want of dragoons, which were the only troops the enemy were afraid of,—and the extraordinary mode of fighting practised by the Highlanders, with which his men were totally unacquainted. Of their singular method of attack, he gives the following description:—

“The Highlanders never fight against regular forces, upon any thing of equal terms, without a sure retreat at their hack, particularly if their enemy be provided with horse. And to he sure of their escape, in case of a repulse, they attack hare footed, and without any clothing but their shirts, and a little Highland doublet, whereby they are certain to outrun any foot; and they will not readily engage, where horse can follow the chase to any distance. Their way of fighting, is to divide themselves by clans; the chief, or some principal man being at their heads, with some distance to distinguish betwixt them.

They come on slowly till they be within distance of firing, which, because they keep no rank or file, doth ordinarily little harm. When their fire is over, they throw away their firelocks, and every one drawing a long broad-sword, with his targe in his left hand, they fall a running towards the enemy, who, if he stand firm, they never fail of running with much more speed back again to their hills, which they usually take at their back, except they happen to be surprised by horse or dragoons, marching through a plain, or camping negligently. All our officers and soldiers were strangers to the Highlanders’ way of fighting, which mainly occasioned the consternation they were in. To remedy this for the future, having taken notice on this occasion, that the Highlanders are of such a quick motion, that if a battalion keep up firing till they be near to make sure of them, they rush upon it before our men can come to their second defence, which is with the bayonet fixed within-side the muzzle of the musket.

The general having observed this method of the enemy, he invented the way tq fasten the bayonet to the muzzle on the outside, by two rings, that the soldiers might safely keep up their fire till they pour it into the enemy’s breast, and then have no other motion to make but to push with it as with a pike.”

The Castle of Edinburgh had by this time surrendered, after a siege of more than two months. On the 6th of April, Mackay had erected four batteries, intending to storm it in a few days. One of them was raised at Multrassie’s hill, another at Castle Collups, and a third at Heriot’s Hospital, near which was a mortar for throwing bombs, On the 17th, the cannonading commenced briskly on both sides. But in the beginning of May, Mackay having gone north in pursuit of Dundee, the siege was left in charge of the Earl of Leven and the Cameronians, who, with immense labour, drew a deep trench round the whole west side of the rock, extending from the West-Port, to St. Cuthbert’s Kirk.

In a few weeks, Sir John Lanier, having arrived from England, undertook to reduce the fortress, and converted the siege into a regular blockade. An attempt was likewise made to assault it on the side next to the town, by raising a breast-work of woolsacks on the Castle-hill, near the place called the Blue-stone. The city of Edinburgh was required to furnish whatever number of packs might be necessary for the service, to be reimbursed for any damage the wool might sustain. This project, however, was found impracticable, and abandoned. Operations were conducted with so much vigour, that in a short time the walls were battered down in several places, and the fortifications rendered almost ruinous. The Duke found himself compelled to beat a parley, and on the 30th of May he wrote, to Lord Ross desiring a conference. His Lordship not thinking it safe to venture within the gates, proposed to meet his Grace on the Castle-hill, which the Duke refused. It appeared however that this was a mere contrivance to gain time, and that he only wanted a temporary suspension of arms, in. order to repair the bartisans and cover the roofs of the houses with earth; for the bombs had destroyed most of the stores and magazines, and penetrated to the very cellars. He pretended also that the public registers were sustaining injury, and desired they might be removed, with a design, it was supposed, either of despatching or receiving private intelligence.

Hostilities were immediately renewed with increased activity. The besiegers kept up an incessant fire, throwing in shells night and day, with a design to keep the garrison in perpetual alarm, and weary them out through the want of sleep and necessary repose. They had sunk mines, and advanced their trenches to the very bottom of the walls. They endeavoured to cut off their supply of water by draining the North Loch, thinking it would dry up the well in the castle. But notwithstanding all their vigilance, the garrison contrived to get stores and intelligence secretly conveyed to them by means of spies and partisans which they had in the town. Women' were nightly employed either in furnishing information, or in procuring fresh provisions. A regular correspondence with the rebels in the North was held, through the medium of a rude and rather singular telegraph. This mode of communication was the contrivance of a woman, a grand-daughter of the Bishop of Galloway. She inhabited the upper flat of one of the highest houses in the street that runs from the Lawn-market to the Castle-hill. Whatever intelligence she wished to communicate, she was in the habit of writing, in large capital letters, on a tablet or hoard, which she exposed at her window, so that the Duke, with the aid of a telescope, could easily read it from the castle walls. The signal of good news was a white cloth which she hung out at the same place, and a black one when she heard any thing unfavourable.

The secret mystery of these intrigues was at length discovered, and the true state of the garrison made known by means of some deserters who had been apprehended while making their escape. It appeared that their ammunition and provisions were nearly expended, being scarcely sufficient for three weeks consumption, and that they would have wanted water had they not been providentially relieved by a late extraordinary fall of snow. The bombs had destroyed the greater part of the bread, wine, and beer in the cellars, and forced the Duke, with the principal officers, to retire and lodge within the strongest vaults. Threatened with ruin and starvation, and despairing of relief, the Duke found himself obliged to capitulate. For this purpose' he hung out a white flag as the signal of surrender; upon which, Commissioners were immediately sent up to treat with him. While they were debating together upon the terms of capitulation, which, on the part of the Duke, were deemed rather high and unreasonable, a certain person ran suddenly into the castle and delivered several letters to the Duke, either from Dundee, it was alleged, or the late King James, then in Ireland. The Commissioners, considering it unfair that any man, upon such an embassy, should have access to the castle during the truce, without their consent, insisted that the messenger should be delivered up to their Lands. This the Duke refused to do, and the treaty was in consequence broken off. The garrison immediately began to discharge both their great and small shot, and continued all night to fire upon the city, and wherever they imagined they could do most mischief. Many houses were much damaged, several persons were killed, and others wounded. Next day, however, the 13th of June, the Duke agreed to surrender, and obtained honourable terms for the garrison, who marched to the castle-hill, where they laid down their arms, and delivered up the keys; thousands of people having collected10to witness that gratifying spectacle, and testify their joy by loud acclamations, who never could regard themselves as secure while that important fortress remained in the hands of their enemies.*

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