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Prince Charles Edward Stuart
Charles captures the town and castle of Inverness

Having assembled his men next morning, Charles advanced upon Inverness with the intention of attacking Lord Loudon, and taking revenge for the attempt of the preceding night; but his lordship, not feeling inclined to wait for the prince, retired into Ross-shire, by crossing the Moray Frith at the ferry of Kessock. Charles took immediate possession of Inverness, and laid siege to the castle then named Fort George. This structure, which was situated on a hill to the south-west of Cromwell's fort, had been raised at the Revolution; and had cost the government, since its erection, above 50,000. The castle was fortified in the modern manner, being a regular square with four bastions, and it commanded the town and the bridge over the river Ness.

This fortress had a garrison of eighty regular troops; but, on his departure from Inverness, Lord Loudon threw into it two of the independent companies, one of Grants, and the other of Macleods. The castle on the present occasion mounted sixteen pieces of cannon, and was well provided with ammunition and provisions. The prince summoned the fortress to surrender, but Grant of Rothiemurchus, the governor, refused to comply. Though Charles had left his heavy artillery behind, he found no difficulty in reducing this fort, as the little hill on which it was built was so contiguous to the town that it could be easily approached on that side, without exposure to fire. It was resolved to undermine the castle and blow it up; but, after a siege of two days, and when the mine had been completed, the garrison surrendered. This event took place on the 20th of February. The prince, however, did not spare the fortress, which he blew up immediately after the surrender; a sergeant in the French artillery, who was charged with the operation, losing his life on the occasion.

On the same day that Charles arrived at Moy, the division under Lord George Murray had reached Spey side; and the day before Fort George surrendered he had arrived with his men in the neighbourhood of Inverness. In consequence of a great fall of snow, which took place on the day Lord George marched from Aberdeen, his march had been most fatiguing; and the French piquets and Lord John Drummond's regiment were obliged to halt a day at Kintore and Inverury. After giving the prince an account of his march, Lord George, contemplating the possibility of a retreat to the Highlands, mentioned a plan, devised by him and Lord Pitsligo, to assess the shires of Banff, Moray, and Nairn in 5,000 bolls of meal, for the use of the army; and he proposed that the greater part of it should be sent to the Highlands for subsistence, in case of retreat thither. The prince approved of the plan; but directed that the whole of the meal, when collected, should be brought to Inverness.

With the exception of two detachments, which took possession of Blair and Castle Menzies, the army of the Duke of Cumberland lay inactive at Perth till the 20th of February, on which day he put his army in motion for the north, in four divisions. He sent notice to the Prince of Hesse to march to Perth, and in his way to leave two battalions at Stirling. At the same time he directed the remains of Ligonier's and Hamilton's dragoons to be cantoned at Bannockburn, and St. George's dragoons to be posted at Bridge of Earn. With the assistance of these cavalry regiments, which were placed under the command of the Earl of Crawford, it was thought that the Prince of Hesse would be able to check the insurgents, and prevent their progress south, should they give the duke the slip. In marching north, the duke's army took the road along the coast, as Lord George Murray had done. On the 27th of February the army arrived at Aberdeen, where the duke took up his quarters, till the advance of spring should enable him to take the field. A few days before his arrival, a vessel from France had landed at Aberdeen three troops of Fitz-James's horse, with five officers, and a piquet of Berwick's regiment. These troops, with a party of men under Moir of Stonywood, left Aberdeen on the duke's approach.

Compelled by circumstances to abandon, with the short space of three weeks, the whole tract of low country from the Avon to the Don, on which he chiefly relied for the subsistence of his army, followed by a large army with powerful resources in its rear, which it could render speedily available, and narrowly watched by the forces under Lord Louden, the situation of Charles now became very critical. The fertile province of Moray and part of the adjacent territory had, by the expulsion of Lord Loudon from Inverness, no doubt come into his possession; but he could not expect to maintain his ground in this district for any length of time without a precarious struggle. He had it in his power, whenever he pleased, to retire into the neighbouring Highlands, where his pursuers would scarcely venture to follow him; but, without previously securing a supply of provisions from the Low country, he could not keep his army together in a district where the means of subsistence were extremely scanty. The possibility of such a retreat was contemplated by Lord George Murray, but, from aversion to such a design, or from want of foresight, Charles, as just stated, overruled his lordship's proposal to send a supply of provisions to the Highlands.

Judging from the slowness of the Duke of Cumberland's motions, that a considerable time would elapse before he would venture to cross the Spey, Charles resolved to employ the interval in carrying through a series of operations which he and his friends projected. The principal of these were the reduction of Fort Augustus and Fort William, and the dispersion of Lord Loudon's army. To secure subsistence for his army, he cantoned the greater part of the division which had marched by Aberdeen between that town and Inverness; and, as after the retreat from Stirling he had directed any supplies that might be sent to him from France to be landed to the north of Aberdeen, he occupied all the little towns along that coast. As this district was generally disaffected to the government, it was an easy matter to guard it with the few troops that were dispersed over it; and no danger was to be apprehended till the English army came up, when the various parties were directed to fall back from post to post as the duke arrived.

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