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Prince Charles Edward Stuart
Association of Chiefs

Meanwhile the Duke of Cumberland was using every effort to capture the persons of the young Chevalier and his principal adherents. For this purpose, several detachments were sent out by the duke from his camp at Inverness in different directions, and as he was desirous that Charles should not fall alive into his hands, his instructions to the commanders of the detachments were to make no prisoners. One of these detachments, under Colonel Cockayne, proceeded to Moy castle, and after shooting some fugitives who had taken refuge in that mansion, and massacring some old men, women and children, returned to Inverness, carrying along with them Lady Mackintosh, who, on her arrival there, was committed to custody by the duke. Another party went to castle Downer, the seat of Lord Lovat, which they burnt to the ground, having previously secured a large quantity of booty, which they carried to Inverness. A body of 600 Grants was sent into the Frasers' country to reduce and disarm that powerful clan; and the Monroes, Mackays, and Sutherlands, were scattered over the shires of Ross, Cromarty, Sutherland, and Caithness, to keep the disaffected in these counties in check. To secure the passages to the isles, Lord Fortrose, son of the Earl of Seaforth, proceeded to raise the Mackenzies, and orders were given along the coast to prevent any suspicious persons from making their escape by sea. Cobham's and Lord MackKer's dragoons were posted along the east coast, and bodies of militia were stationed at the passes leading into the Highlands to intercept all persons who might attempt to escape to the lowlands. The pass of Stirling was also guarded by a detachment posted at the Fords of the Frew, and the Edinburgh regiment was spread along the south side of the Frith of Forth, to apprehend such of the insurgents as might attempt to cross that arm of the sea. Besides these different detachments, a body of 1,700 militia, under the Earl of Loudon, the laid of Macleod, and Sir Alexander Macdonald, the last of whom had raised his men before the battle of Culloden, and another body of 800 Argyleshire men under General Campbell, afterwards Duke of Argyle, spread themselves over Lochaber, all eager to secure the person of the prince. In short, no means were neglected to attain this object; and the eager pursuers required no other stimulus to urge them on that the splendid reward of 30,000, which had been offered for the capture of the royal fugitive.

The departure of Charles from Lochnanuagh was not known at Inverness till some days after he had sailed, and the place of his destination become a matter of interesting speculation. No doubt could exist that he designed to seek refuge among the western islands, and as St Kilda is the most distant and the least frequented of the whole, it was supposed that Charles had repaired thither. Acting on this supposition, General Campbell collected some sloops of war and transports, and having embarked a considerable body of troops, set sail for St Kilda. After touching at Barra and some other islands, and searching for the prince, he approached St Kilda, the inhabitants of which, alarmed at the sight of the fleet, fled and concealed themselves in the cliffs of the rocks. Landing with some of his forces, the general inquired at some of the inhabitants, whom he discovered in their recesses, what had become of the "Pretender"; but these people answered, with great simplicity, that they had never heard of such a person, - that they had indeed been informed that their laird (Macleod) had lately been at war with a woman a great way abroad, and that he had overcome her. This, they added, was all they knew of the affairs of the world. General Campbell, however, not satisfied with this statement, made a search over the island, but not finding any strangers, returned to the main land after visiting South Uist.

Anticipating the utter ruin which awaited them and their followers, if no attempt was made to resist the meditated designs of the Duke of Cumberland, several chiefs and others held a meeting at Mortlaig on the 8th of May, at which they entered into a bond for their mutual defence, and agreed never to lay down their arms, or make a general peace, without the consent of the whole. They may be supposed to have come to this resolution the more readily, as a sum of 35,000 louis d'ors had been received a few days before by two French frigates which had arrived on the west coast. By the bond of association, the chiefs agreed and solemnly promised, with the utmost expedition, to raise in behalf of the prince and in defence of their country, as many able-bodied armed men as they could on their respective properties, and they further promised and agreed, that the following clans, viz., Lochiel, Glengarry, Clanranald, Stewarts of Appin, Keppoch, Barisdale, Mackinnons, and Macleods, should assemble on Thursday, the 15th of May, at Auchnacarry, in the braes of Lochaber. To facilitate the junction of the different corps with all possible speed, it was agreed that the Frasers of Aird and the other Jacobite clans on the north side of the river Ness, should join the people of Glenmoriston and Glengarry, and that the Frasers of Stratherrick, the Mackintoshes and Macphersons, should assemble and meet at the most convenient place in Badenoch on the same day; - that the Macgregors, and Menzies' and Glenlyon's people should march to Rannoch and join the Rannoch and Athole men, and be kept in readiness to receive intelligence and orders to meet the main body in the braes of Mar, or at any other place that might be considered convenient, - that Gordon of Glenbucket and Colonel Roy Stewart should intimate the resolutions of the meeting to Lord Lewis Gordon, Lords Ogilvy and Pitsligo, the Farquharsons, and the other principal gentlemen in the north, who were to be directed to fix a place of rendezvous among themselves, and that Macpherson of Cluny and Colonel Roy Stewart should advertise the principal gentlemen of the Mackintoshes of the resolutions adopted by the meeting. The better to conceal their designs from the Duke of Cumberland, the assembled chiefs agreed not to discover or reveal to any of their men or inferior officers, the agreement they had entered into, nor the day and place of rendezvous, till they had assembled their respective corps. It was finally agreed, that should any one engaged in the association make separate terms for himself, he should be looked upon as a traitor to the prince, and be treated by his associates as an enemy.

The associated chiefs had been too sanguine in their expectations, not one of them being able, for various reasons, to meet on the day appointed. Clanranald's people refused to leave their own country, and many of Glengarry's had delivered up their arms. Lochgarry came with a small party to Invermely on the 20th of May; but, after staying one night, he crossed Loch Arkaig and did not return. Lochiel and Barisdale met at Auchnacarry, the place of rendezvous, on the 21st or 22d of May, but with very few men, and they were almost surprised by a large party of the government forces on the morning of the 23d, who took an officer and two of Lochiel's men prisoners. The Highlanders immediately dispersed, and Lochiel, seeing no change of marking an effectual stand under existing circumstances, wrote a circular to his brother chiefs, advising them to disperse their people; but, as great expectations were entertained that the French king would send assistance, he requested them to preserve their arms as long as possible.

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