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General History of the Highlands
1689 - 1691

THE news of Mackay’s defeat reached Edinburgh on Sunday the 28th of July, the day after the battle, and threw the partizans of the government, who were there assembled, into the greatest consternation. In the absence of official details, the most gloomy accounts were given by a few terrified stragglers who arrived in the capital, and who gave out that, with the exception of themselves, the whole of Mackay’s army had been destroyed. In the state of disorder and confusion which prevailed, the Duke of Hamilton, the Commissioner to the revolution parliament, summoned a meeting of the privy council, at which orders were issued to raise all the fencible men in the west, and to concentrate all the forces in the south at Stirling, to which point it was supposed Dundee (of whose death they were not aware) would be rapidly hastening; and on the supposition that Mackay was either killed or made prisoner, Sir John Lanier was ordered west to take the command.

During two entire days the ferment continued in the capital, and every hour added to the fears of those who had most to dread from a counter-revolution. At length, when the minds of men were wrought up to the highest pitch of terror and dismay, intelligence was received of the death of Dundee, and shortly thereafter a despatch from General Mackay, giving an account of the battle, and of his safe retreat to Stirling. An event so unlooked for and so important as the death of the only man in whom the hopes of King James rested, and from the decision of whose character the supporters of the revolution settlement anticipated the most fearful consequences, was hailed by the Duke of Hamilton and his friends with transports of joy. They had indeed good reason to rejoice, for although the battle had been disastrous to their forces, the loss which King James had sustained in the person of Dundee was irreparable.

On arriving at Stirling, Mackay met Sir John Lanier, who communicated to him the orders that had been issued by the government on receiving the news of his defeat. So decisive had the battle of Killiecrankie appeared to them that they had given up all idea of maintaining a position on the north of the Forth, all the country beyond which they meant to abandon to the victorious arms of Dundee, and to confine their operations to a defence of the fords of the Forth, and the pass and bridge of Stirling. In pursuance of this design orders had been sent to Barclay’s regiment, which was quartered in the county of Aberdeen, to retire upon Dundee, and Lanier had despatched an express to his own regiment, which lay partly at Alnwick and partly at Morpeth, to hasten down to Scotland. This plan, however, was disapproved of by Mackay, and he, therefore, as he says, "resolved to alter these measures, knowing how hard a pull we would have, if he left the north, which are absolutely the best men of that kingdom for the war, to the discretion of the enemy, where he would not only get great numbers to join him, but also take possession of towns and seize upon the public revenues, whereby they could form a fashion of government, and so have more plausible ways, not only to maintain but also to engross their party, than ever they have had."

For these reasons Mackay determined to take the field again without delay, and to give, as he observes, "some eclat to the service, and hinder the disaffected of the shires of Perth and Angus to rise in arms against the government," he resolved to march direct to Perth with the forces which were at hand, and place a garrison there. Fortunately some of the troops which the privy council had ordered to rendezvous at Stirling were already there, and others were at hand. Preparatory to his march he sent Sir John Lanier to Edinburgh to hasten the advance of his own regiment, consisting of nine troops of horse, and, also of Hayford’s dragoons, consisting of eight troops, and ordered eight troops of horse, and four of dragoons, both of which had been newly levied, and Lord Colchester’s regiment of horse, not above 500 men in all, to join him at Stirling on the morning of Wednesday, the 31st of July. Many thousands of men in the western counties were now assembling of their own accord in consequence of Mackay’s defeats but disliking such auxiliaries, "whose pretensions," he says, "appeared already exorbitant enough," and who, if employed, might think that the government could not be maintained without their assistance, he intimated that he would not require their services, and ordered them to return to their homes.

The horse and dragoons having come to Stirling as directed, with these he departed for Perth at two o’clock in the afternoon, giving orders to a newly-raised battalion of foot, consisting of Mar and Bargeny’s regiments, to follow him. On his way he could obtain no intelligence respecting the motions of the enemy, as he found the houses mostly deserted by their inhabitants, who had taken up arms and had gone to join the standard of’ King James. On approaching the river Earn, however, Mackay’s scouts, who, to prevent notice of his approach, kept only a musket-shot in advance, were saluted with a loud "qui vive" by two horsemen. The scouts, four in number, answered this challenge by a discharge from their carabines, which brought down the two horsemen, one of whom was shot dead. The other was mortally wounded, and though he spoke a few words, was not able to answer some questions put to him for eliciting information. As Mackay conjectured from this occurrence, that the main body of the enemy was not far off, he altered his line of march, and crossing a pretty steep hill to the north, reached the field of Tippermuir, a few miles west from Perth.

Having been informed at Tippermuir, that the enemy lay encamped at Dunkeld, and that a party of their horse and foot was in Perth for the purpose of carrying off some meal which had been sent thither by the council for the use of Mackay’s army, the general drew off his men to the left to throw himself between Dunkeld and Perth, and thereby cut off the party. He himself marched down upon Perth, but on coming within sight of the town was disappointed to observe that about 30 of the enemy’s horse had already crossed the Tay, and were beyond his reach. He proceeded on his march, and when within half a mile of the town observed the foot party, which consisted of about 300 Athole-men, approaching. The Highlanders, who had not the most distant idea that there was a single enemy nearer than Stirling, were almost petrified with horror when they beheld such a large body of cavalry ready to pounce upon them, and for a time they stood quite motionless, not knowing what to do. Apprehensive that they might attempt to escape by a ford near the place where they stood, Mackay despatched four troops of dragoons at full gallop to prevent their passage. The Athole-men seeing that their retreat would be cut off, threw themselves into the Tay, whither they were followed by the horse and dragoons, who cut them down in the water without mercy. About 120 of the Athole-men were killed and 30 made prisoners. In this affair Mackay lost only one man, who had imprudently pursued to a distance a small party of the Highlanders.

This disastrous skirmish, whilst it raised the expectations of the revolutionists, threw a damp over King James’s supporters, and augured ill for the success of Colonel Cannon, who had assumed the command of James’s army on the death of Dundee. This officer, though a faithful adherent of his royal master, was altogether unfit for the command of such an army. He seems to have possessed none of Dundee’s genius, and his regular military experience rendered him totally unfit to deal with such an irregular and capricious race as were the Highlanders, with whose habits, feelings, and dispositions, he was totally unacquainted. Had Dundee lived he would probably have carried his victorious army across the Forth, seized upon the capital and dispersed the government; but his successor did not know how to take advantage of the victory which had been obtained, and instead of marching instantly south, he merely advanced to Dnnkeld, about 16 miles from the field of the recent battle, where he remained encamped for several days, when the party he had sent to Perth was attacked and almost destroyed by the dogged and steady Mackay.

At Dunkeld, Cannon was joined by the Stewarts of Appin, the Macgregors and the Athole-men under Lord James Murray, of which circumstance Mackay was informed soon after his arrival at Perth. In the meantime he took care to secure the town against attack by erecting palisades, and sent out patrols during the night to bring notice of the enemy should they approach the town. Cannon, however, made no attempt to disturb Mackay, and after passing several days at Dunkeld in inactivity, he raised his camp and proceeded northwards along the skirts of the Grampians with a force of about 3,000 men. It was the intention of Mackay to have returned to Edinburgh to consult with the privy council as to the best means of speedily settling the peace of the kingdom, and to leave Mar and Bargeny’s regiments and six troops of cavalry in garrison at Perth; but on hearing of Cannon’s movement to the north he abandoned his intention, and after despatching orders to Sir John Lanier to proceed to Perth with all possible haste along with the horse and dragoons which were expected from England, he crossed the Tay with his whole cavalry force, consisting of nearly 1,500 men, leaving two battalions of foot behind, and advanced towards Coupar Angus. At Coupar he received intelligence from some prisoners who had been taken at Killiecrankie, and who had escaped on the march north, that Cannon had marched as far as Glen Isla, about eight miles from Forfar, where he had encamped. Mackay in consequence continued his march to Forfar, where he learned that Cannon had made another movement to Clova.

After passing two nights at Forfar, he received notice that Cannon had crossed the mountains and entered Braemar. As Mackay considered that these movements of Cannon were intended by him as a ruse to draw him north, and that when Cannon had accomplished his object he meant immediately to recross the mountains and enter Angus, where he expected some reinforcements to join him, Mackay sent orders to Lanier to advance to Forfar, to serve as a check upon Cannon should he again enter Angus, and proceeded himself to Aberdeen, which he reached the second day, to the great joy, he says, of most of the inhabitants, who were in dread of a visit from the Highlanders that very night.

On arriving at the Braes of Mar, Cannon was joined by the Farquharsons, the Frasers, the Gordons of Strathdown and Glenlivet, and by 200 of the Macphersons. Keppoch and young Lochiel also met him. At Aberdeen, Mackay received an express from the Master of Forbes, informing him that Cannon had taken up a very strong position upon his father’s lands, having the Highlands at his back and a wood to cover him in front; the position being so well chosen that he could keep up a free communication with his friends in the lower parts of the shires of Aberdeen and Banff. Judging that Cannon’s object in selecting such a position was to strengthen himself in horse from the adjoining low country, of which species of force he stood in most need, Mackay, with the view of obstructing his levies, ordered Sir Thomas Livingston to leave the command of the forces at Inverness with Sir James Leslie, and to repair immediately to Strathbogie with his regiment of dragoons, with instructions, should the enemy appear in that quarter, to march farther to the left across the low country, and to send him despatches from time to time, announcing the state of matters. At the same time he ordered Sir John Lanier to send Hayford’s regiment of dragoons to Aberdeen to strengthen him.

After remaining a day at Aberdeen, Mackay marched up Deeside to beat up Cannon’s quarters, but learning on his march that the Highlanders had left Lord Forbes’s lands and had gone north in the direction of the Duke of Gordon’s territory, he drew off his men next morning at break of day towards Strathbogie, for the purpose of covering Livingston’s march. Mackay having nothing but cavalry, got the start of Cannon, and reached Strathbogie before Cannon arrived at the castle of Auchindoun, where he intended to fix his head quarters. At Auchindoun, Cannon was informed that Mackay was already at the castle of Strathbogie, a distance of about six miles. He, thereupon, called a council of war to discuss the expediency of giving battle to Mackay. A preliminary question was agitated by the Highland chiefs as to the right of the Lowland officers to sit in the council, the former contending that as none of these officers had any troops under their immediate command, and were wholly unacquainted with the discipline of the Highlanders and their mode of fighting, they had no right to deliberate on the subject, and were unable to form a correct judgment on the question they were called upon to discuss. The decision of this point lay with Cannon, who, by the advice of the Earl of Dunfermline, decided the question against the Highlanders. A judgment more unfortunate to the cause of King James could not have been pronounced, as it gave rise to jealousies and strifes among the officers, and when the question whether a battle should be hazarded was put to the vote, the clans who were for fighting Mackay immediately, found themselves in a minority. This was followed by a resolution to return to Athole. As matters stood, the chances of victory on either side may be considered to have been pretty fairly balanced, but subsequent events showed that Cannon in the present instance omitted the best opportunity he was ever destined to have of gaining a victory which might have decided the fate of Scotland.

Although Mackay’s men were almost worn out with extreme fatigue, being kept under arms every night for a considerable time, and only allowed an occasional repose by turns during the day-time, the general resolved to follow Cannon with all possible despatch.

The cause of Cannon’s movement was owing to the following circumstances. The privy council wishing to obtain possession of the castles of Blair and Finlarig, had sent a letter to Mackay at Strathbogie with instructions to proceed to these places before the rainy season should set in, for the purpose of reducing and putting garrisons into them. Mackay, in answer, stated his inability to undertake such a service in the face of the formidable force which lay so near him, and that he did not conceive there was any necessity for being in such a hurry, as, from the proximity of these castles to the low country, he could make himself master of them at any time if sufficiently strong. But he observed, that if the council was bent upon the undertaking, they might direct Sir John Lanier to order some foot and Barclay’s regiment to join him from Forfar, and with these and three battalions of the Dutch regiments, then at Perth, and which had not been at the battle of Killiecrankie, execute that piece of service. Upon receiving Mackay’s answer, the council ordered the Earl of Angus’s regiment, known by the name of the Cameronian regiment—a band of stem, fearless, religious enthusiasts from the west— to advance to Dunkeld, with the view, it is supposed, of supporting Lanier. Mackay was quite averse to the employment of these men, and disapproved of the plan of posting them so near the Highlands, the effect of which, he observed, would be, that they would be instantly attacked, "because the enemy had not such prejudice at any of the forces as at this regiment, whom they called the Cameronian regiment, whose oppression against all such as were not of their own sentiments, made them generally hated and feared in the northern counties. Accordingly, no sooner had they encamped at Dunkeld, than some of King James’s friends in Athole resolved, to put them off, and a notice was sent to Cannon to return south with that view, in consequence of which, he raised his camp and proceeded suddenly towards the Dee, as already mentioned.

Mackay followed him, and on arriving at Aberdeen, warned Sir John Lanier of the advance of Cannon, and to prevent the Highlanders from making any inroads, he sent out small parties of his men to scour the neighbouring country. When Lanier was informed of Cannon’s approach, he left Forfar, where he was posted with his own and Barclay’s regiment, for Brechin, near to which town the enemy had advanced. Some skirmishing took place between the advanced posts, with loss on both sides. The Highlanders, thereupon, retired to the hills, and Lanier, who was ignorant of the object of Cannon’s march, returned to Forfar. Here he received orders from the privy council to march to the castles of Blair and Finlarig, in consequence of which he proceeded to Coupar-Angus the following day, where intelligence was brought him from Colonel Rainsay, that the Highlanders were marching upon Dunkeld. He was informed at the same time that the Cameronian regiment, which was disadvantageously posted, would assuredly be defeated, if not immediately supported. Instead of sending any instructions to Ramsay, who required his advice, Lanier delayed forwarding an answer till he should arrive at Perth the following day, "in which interim," says Mackay, "if the providence of God had not blinded Cannon, and disheartened his Highlanders from continuing their attack, the regiment had certainly been lost, for they had two full days time to carry them, and all their defence was but low gardens, in most places not above four feet high."

On Sunday morning, the 18th of August, the Cameronians, in expectation of an attack, began to entrench themselves within some inclosures about the Marquis of Athole’s house at Dunkeld. The country people, in parties of ten and twenty, appeared during the morning on the neighbouring hills, and about four in the afternoon a body of about 300 men drew up on a hill to the north of Dunkeld, whence they despatched a messenger, who carried a halbert surmounted by a white cloth as a flag of truce, with a letter without any subscription, addressed to Lieutenant-colonel Cleland, the commanding officer, of the following tenor:-

"We the gentlemen assembled being informed that ye intend to burn the town, desire to know whether ye come for peace or war, and do certify you, that if ye burn any one house, we will destroy you." To which communication Lieutenant-colonel Cleland replied as follows :—" We are faithful subjects to King William and Queen Mary, and enemies to their enemies; and if you, who send these threats, shall make any hostile appearance, we will burn all that belongs to you, and otherwise chastise you as you deserve."

On the first alarm of the Highlanders approach to Dunkeld, Colonel Ramsay sent up some troops of horse and dragoons under Lord Cardross to assist the Cameronians in case of attack. This party arrived at Dunkeld on Tuesday morning, but the Highlanders not being yet sufficiently numerous, showed no disposition to attack the Cameronians that day. At night, Cleland received intelligence that the fiery cross had been sent round, and that a considerable gathering had taken place, and next morning the Highlanders began to appear in large parties among the hills, between whom and some detached parties of horse and foot which Cleland sent out to scour the country, some brisk skirmishing took place during the day. The Highlanders having retired, Cleland’s forces returned to Dunkeld in the evening, where Lord Cardross received an order from Colonel Ramsay to return instantly to Perth, from an absurd apprehension that the cavalry could be of little use in defending the position occupied by the Cameronian regiment. When Cleland, who appears to have been a determined, sensible, clear-headed enthusiast of about 30 years of age, was informed of this extraordinary mandate, he remonstrated with Cardross in the strongest manner against complying with it, as the safety of his regiment might be involved in the result; but his lordship pleaded his instructions, which gave him no discretionary power, and he departed for Perth the same evening, leaving the Cameronians to the tender mercies of their bitterest enemies, the Highlanders. Cleland’s obvious course was to have followed the cavalry, but though the danger was imminent, he disdained to abandon the post which had been assigned him, and easily prevailed upon the Cameronians to remain and meet the enemy at all hazards. Burton truly says that it is difficult to imagine a position more dangerous for a Lowland force than the little village of Dunkeld, being deep sunk among hills commanding it, and cutting off retreat, while a rapid river forms the diameter of their semicircle.

The parties which had appeared during the day consisted entirely of Athole-men, whose numbers probably did not exceed 500 or 600; but in the evening they were joined by the whole of Cannon’s force, amounting to nearly 4,000. To the great surprise and dismay of the Cameronians, this formidable body appeared at six o’clock next morning, Wednesday the 21st of August, on the hills about Dunkeld formed in order of battle. The situation of the Cameronians was now critical in the extreme. They had no alternative but to fight or surrender, for retreat was not in their power. A capitulation would have been the obvious course, but the great abhorrence in which the Cameronians were held by the Highlanders, gave faint hopes of obtaining the usual terms of civilized warfare from the inveterate host which hung over them on the surrounding heights. They, therefore, adopted the desperate resolution of defending themselves to the last extremity, and they hoped, that by posting themselves advantageously behind the walls and enclosures adjoining the village and Dunkeld-house, they would be able to keep the Highlanders in check till some relief might arrive.

The Cameronian commander accordingly made the necessary preparations for defence. He first posted parties of his men in the cathedral and steeple, and in Dunkeld-house. The remainder of his men he disposed behind the walls of the adjoining gardens and parks, and along some ditches which he caused to be thrown up to extend his line of defence. All these arrangements were completed before 7 o’clock in the morning, about which time the Highlanders appeared moving down the hills towards Dunkeld. Desirous to gain possession of the town, to dislodge the Cameronians, or to draw off their attention from the points where he meant to direct his main attack, Cannon despatched a small train of artillery down a little hill near the town, accompanied by 100 men clad in armour, who were followed by a party of Highlanders on foot. To prevent the Cameronians from escaping by the ford across the Tay, he sent two troops of horse round the town, who took up a position betwixt the ford and the church, while two other troops were placed at the opposite end of the town. When the party arrived at the bottom of the hill, they were opposed by a small body of men whom Cleland had posted behind a stone wall, but after some smart firing, this body was obliged to give way and to retire to Dunkeld-house. Another party of the Cameronians, which had been posted at the other end of the town, was obliged also to retire. Having forced the outposts, the whole body of the Highlanders rushed furiously into the town, which they entered at four different points at once. The Cameronians, however, firmly maintained their ground within the enclosures, from which they kept up a galling and destructive fire upon the Highlanders, who in vain attempted to dislodge them. Finding their broad-swords of little avail against the pikes and halberts of an enemy protected by stone walls, the Higblanders retired to the houses, and some to the heights near the town, from which they kept up a sharp though ineffectual fire upon the Cameronians, who returned it with much better effect. The Cameronians, however, soon sustained a heavy loss in the death of Cleland, their brave commander, who, in the act of exhorting his men to stand firm to their posts, was, within an hour after the engagement commenced, mortally wounded by two bullets, one of which pierced his liver, the other entering his head at the same instant.  Aware of his fate, he attempted to gain Dunkeld-house, lest his men, seeing him expire, might become dispirited; but he was unable to reach the threshold, and expired in their presence.

During three hours an incessant firing was kept up on both sides, which might have continued for several hours longer without producing any definite result, unless, indeed, the ammunition of either party had become exhausted. Probably from the dread of such a contingency, which would have been fatal to the Cameronians. Captain Munro, to whom, on the death of Cleland, the command had fallen, resolved to attempt to dislodge the Highlanders from the houses by setting the town on fire. He accordingly sent into the town several small parties of pikemen with burning faggots upon the points of their pikes to set fire to the houses in which the Highlanders were posted. This order was executed with such promptitude, that in a short time the whole town was in a conflagration. The scene which the town now presented was one of the most heart-rending description. The din of war was indeed no longer heard, but a more terrific sound had succeeded, from the wild shrieks of despair which issued from the dense mass of smoke and flame which enveloped the unfortunate sufferers. To add to the calamity, the pikemen had coolly locked the doors of such of the houses as had keys standing in them, and the unhappy intruders being thus cut off from escape, perished in the flames. No less than 16 Highlanders were, in consequence, burnt to death in one house. With the exception of three houses, possessed by the Cameronians, the whole of the town was consumed.

The Highlanders finding their ammunition all spent and seeing that they could no longer maintain their position among the ruins of the town, began to retire to the hills about eleven o’clock, after having sustained a loss of about 300 men. The Cameronians, whose loss was trilling, on seeing the Highlanders depart, set up a loud shout, threw up their caps, beat their drums, and waved their colours in token of triumph, demonstrations which must have been exceedingly galling to the feelings of the Highlanders, who only four hours before had assured themselves of an easy conquest. It is stated in the Cameronian account of the battle, that an attempt was made by Cannon to induce the Highlanders to renew the attack, bat they declined, for this reason, that although still ready to fight with men, they would not again encounter devils. To show their gratitude to God for "so miraculous a victory," the Cameronians spent a considerable part of the afternoon in singing psalms of praise and thanksgiving.

The Highlanders were greatly discouraged by the repulse which they sustained at Dunkeld, and they attributed the misfortune to the incapacity of Cannon, in whom they consequently lost all confidence. Perceiving that they could no longer keep the field with any probability of success under such a commander, they retired to Blair, and after entering into a bond of association to support the cause of King James, and for mutual protection, they departed for their homes, leaving Cannon and his Irish troops and the few lowland gentle:. men to shift for themselves. Cannon went to Mull, and resided with the chief of Maclean.

In the meantime Mackay left Aberdeen for the purpose of joining Lanier, leaving behind him Sir Thomas Livingston, with his regiment and nine troops of cavalry, to keep the adjoining northern counties in awe. At Brechin he learnt that Lanier had received an order from the privy council to march into Athole, in consequence of which information he joined him at Perth on the 26th of August he thereafter left Perth, with the greater part of the forces which he found there assembled, and took the route to Blair. It was clearly the interest of James’s party to have burned the castle of Blair, so as to prevent Mackay from placing a garrison in it to overawe the neighbouring country; but if such was the intention of the Highlanders, they were deterred from putting it in execution by a message from Mackay, who threatened, in the event of the castle being burnt, to raze every house in Athole to the ground, and to burn’ and destroy all the corn in that district. Mackay remained ten days at the castle of Blair, during which time many of the Athole people took advantage of an indemnity which he offered them, and delivered up their arms. Having placed a garrison of 500 men in the castle, and given orders to raise a pallisade and breast-work round it, he was forced to return to Perth in consequence of continual rains, which made him also forego a resolution he had entertained of marching to the head of Loch Tay, and placing a garrison in the castle of Finlarig, belonging to the Earl of Breadalbane, who, according to him, was "one of the chiefest and cunningest fomenters of the trouble of that kingdom (Scotland), not for love of Ring James, but to make himself necessary to the government." The subsequent conduct of this nobleman fully corroborated this opinion. After the rains had subsided, a detachment of 200 men under Lord Cardross, took possession of Finlarig castle, notwithstanding that the proprietor had, shortly before, taken the oaths to the government, and found bail for his allegiance.

While the death of Dundee seemed to give stability to the government in Scotland on the one hand, its safety appeared to be endangered on the other, by the jealousies and dissensions which agitated the parliament. Among the persons who had been instrumental in bringing about the revolution, there were some extreme Presbyterians, who, seeing that their expectations were not to be realized, and that all the offices of trust were monopolized by a few favourites about court, became factious and impatient, and were ready to seize the first opportunity that offered of overturning the government. Sir James Montgomery was at the head of this disaffected party, which, during the ensuing winter, held several private meetings. The result was, that a most extraordinary and unnatural coalition took place between the Jacobites and the discontented Presbyterians for the restoration of King James. By uniting their votes in parliament they expected to embarrass the government, and make it odious to the people, and thereby pave the way for the return of the exiled monarch; but their designs were disconcerted by a discovery of the plot.

Mackay had now grown heartily tired of the service, and as his plans for the subjugation of the Highlands had been treated with indifference or neglect by the government, he became desirous to resign his commission, and retire to Holland, his adopted country, there to spend the remainder of his days in peace. There. was certainly nothing in the situation of his native country at the period in question to induce him to remain. An unpaid, disorderly, and mutinous army; an oppressed people, a discontented nobility, a divided parliament and council; "church divided into two more irreconcileable factions, though both calling themselves Protestants, than Rome and Geneva," matters deemed of so little importance by the first reformers as scarcely to be mentioned in their writings, preferred by the "religious zealots" of those days to the well-being of the whole Protestant church, the Episcopal ministers who had been ejected preaching "King James more than Christ, as they had been accustomed to take passive obedience more than the gospel for their text "—these considerations all tended to disgust a man of a moderate and conciliating disposition like Mackay, and made him "look upon Scotsmen of those times in general, as void of zeal for their religion and natural affection, seeing all men hunt after their particular advantages, and none minding sincerely and self-deniedly the common good, which gave him a real distaste of the country and service; resolving from that time forward to disengage himself out of it as soon as possible he could get it done, and that the service could allow of." Mackay, however, failed in obtaining even a temporary leave of absence during the winter, by the intrigues of Lord Melville and Viscount Tarbet, who, as he says, suspecting an interview with William, who was then in Holland, to be the object of his proposed visit thither, were afraid that he would induce William to adopt a system different from that hitherto followed in the management of Scottish affairs.

Mackay finding that he would not succeed in his application for leave of absence, began to apply himself with great perseverance to accomplish his long-desired project of erecting a fort at Inverlochy, capable of containing 1,000 or 1,200 men, to keep the western Highlanders in check. In a communication which he made to King William on the subject, he requested to be supplied with three frigates of about 30 guns each, 10 or 12 ships of burden, and 3 or 4 dozen of large boats, 3,000 muskets, 400 chevaux de frise, and 2,000 spades, shovels, and pickaxes, with money sufficient to purchase two months provisions for 3,000 or 4,000 men. On receiving these supplies he proposed to march with this force through Argyle about the end of March, as far as Dunstaffnage, where he meant to embark his men in the ships, and thence proceed to Inverlochy, and land them under the protection of the guns of the ships of war. No notice, however, was taken of this proposal either by William or his ministers, notwithstanding that its importance was urged in repeated letters from Mackay, who, in consequence, grew quite impatient, and threatened to throw up his commission. At length the privy council having, at his request, written a letter to the king on the subject, he ordered the frigates to be sent down, with some arms and ammunition, and implements for commencing the work; but the required supply of money was not forthcoming, without which the expedition could not be undertaken. Anxious, however, to get the fort erected with as little delay as possible, Mackay offered to the privy council to proceed to Inverlochy with a select detachment of 600 men, provided they would give him provisions for three months; but although a sum of five or six hundred pounds would have almost sufficed for this purpose, the council pleaded the impossibility of raising the money. In this emergency he applied to the city of Glasgow, the magistrates of which undertook to hire vessels for transporting the detachment, and to furnish him with the necessary provisions, and such articles as he might require for completing the fort, in addition to those sent down from England. Major Ferguson, who was appointed to command this expedition, repaired to Glasgow; hut he was detained there about five weeks waiting for the provisions. The news, however, of such an armament being in preparation, and a report purposely circulated by Mackay, that it was much larger than it actually was, having reached the Highlands, had the effect of preventing many of the Islanders and the inhabitants of the adjoining mainland from joining Major-general Buchan, who took the field in April 1690.

Before the arrival of this officer, the Highlanders had resolved to place themselves under the command of Sir Ewen Cameron of Lochiel, having, in consequence of their defeat at Dunkeld, lost confidence in Cannon as a commander. After that disaster, Lochiel and the other Jacobite chiefs had represented to James the precarious state of his affairs in Scotland, and the necessity there was for sending them aid; but James was too much occupied with preparations for resisting a threatened invasion of Ireland, by his son-in-law, to attend much to his Scottish concerns. He, however, sent over a vessel with some clothes, arms, ammunition, and provisions, and a few Irish officers, among whom was Major-general Buchan, with a commission, as commander-in-chief of all the Jacobite forces in Scotland.

On Buchan’s arrival, a meeting of the chiefs and principal officers was held at Keppoch, to deliberate upon the course they ought to pursue. As no reinforcement had arrived from Ireland, and as the plot between the Jacobites and the disappointed chiefs of the Presbyterians, which had raised the expectations of King James’s partizans, had been discovered, the meeting was divided in opinion, upon the expediency of renewing hostilities. Some, thinking the cause quite desperate, proposed to submit to the government, which they knew was quite disposed to grant them the most favourable terms; but this proposition was warmly resisted by Lochiel, who had great influence with his fellow chiefs. He stated that he had adhered to the cause of Charles II. at a time when it was more desperate than that of his royal brother now was, who was still at the head of an army in Ireland, and who had many friends in Britain, ready to declare themselves, when a fit opportunity offered; that under these circumstances, he considered they would disgrace themselves, if they abandoned the cause they had pledged themselves to defend, and that for his own part he would neither listen to terms from the government, nor lay down his arms, without an express order from King James himself. In consequence of this declaration, the meeting unanimously resolved to continue the war; but as the labours of the spring season were not over, they postponed the muster of the clans, till those should be completed; and in the mean time directed Major-general Buchan, to employ the interval in beating up the enemy’s quarters, along the borders of the lowlands for which purpose a detachment of 1,200 foot was to be placed at his disposal.

When Mackay heard that Buchan had taken the field, he ordered Sir Thomas Livingston,— whom he had despatched north from Aberdeen to Inverness, with his regiment, in the month of January, to watch the motions of the Highlanders,—to keep a sharp outlook after Buchan, who, it was supposed, would probably make a descent upon the lowlands of Moray or Banff. Sir Thomas had at this time, besides his own regiment of dragoons, three regiments of foot, and some troops of horse, under his command, posted in and about the town of Inverness. Hearing that Buchan was marching through Lochaber and Badenoch, Livingston made two successive marches up the country, in the direction Buchan was said to be advancing, but on both occasions, from the great difficulty he experienced in obtaining provender for his horses, and provisions for his troops, he was obliged to return to Inverness without seeing Buchan, or hearing anything concerning him. Having ascertained that the feeling of hostility towards the government was rapidly extending, and that it had even reached the clans, who had hitherto, in appearance at least, shown themselves favourably inclined to the revolution, Livingston, thereupon, despatched a letter to Mackay, acquainting him of the circumstance, and stating that if Buchan was not speedily opposed, he was afraid that by far the greater part of the northern counties would join him. That he might obtain early intelligence of Buchan’s motions, and avoid the difficulties he had experienced in his former marches for want of provisions, Livingston took up a position eight miles from Inverness, with a select body of 1,200 men, consisting of his own regiment, which amounted to 300 men, 400 of Leslie’s regiment, a company of 100 of Lord Reay’s Highlanders, 300 of Grant’s Highlanders, and two troops of horse.

On receiving Livingston’s despatch, Mackay sent orders to the different detachments which lay at Stirling, Glasgow, Dundee, and other places, amounting together to 3,000 men, to assemble without delay at Perth, that they might be in readiness, should a general rising in favour of King James take place in the north, to support Livingston, and to serve as a check upon the southern Highlands. He, at the same time, directed Lieutenant-colonel Buchan, brother of King James’s general, who commanded the forces in the city and county of Aberdeen, consisting of a battalion of Ram-say’s regiment, the Cameronian regiment, and five troops of horse and dragoons, to march upon any point Livingston should direct.

In the mean time Major-general Buchan was advancing through Badenoch with the design of marching down Speyside into the Duke of Gordon’s country, where he expected to be joined by some of the vassals of that nobleman. At Cuhakill he held a council of war to determine whether to take up a position in that neighbourhood, where they would be secure from the attacks of Livingston’s cavalry, or proceed farther down the Spey. As Buchan’s force did not exceed 800 men, and as they were aware that a large force of horse and foot lay at Inverness, the Highland officers were unanimously of opinion that they should not advance beyond Culnakill, but should march the following day to Glenlochy, and encamp among the adjoining woods. Buchan, who appears to have been as incapable of conducting a Highland force, and as ignorant of the mode of warfare pursued by the Highlanders as Cannon, his predecessor, now second in command, rejecting the Highland officers advice, on the following day marched down the Spey as far as Cromdale, where he encamped on the last day of April. 

Livingston was, at this time, lying within eight miles of Strathspey, on the grounds of the laird of Grant, where he received notice the same day from a captain in Grant’s regiment, who, with a company of men, held possession for the government of Balloch, now Grant castle, in the vicinity of Cromdale, that Buchan was marching down Strathspey. Desirous of attacking him before he should have an opportunity of being joined by the country people, Livingston marched off towards the Spey, in the afternoon, and continued his march till he arrived within two miles of Balloch castle. As it was already dark, and the night far advanced, and as a difficult pass lay between him and the castle, Livingston proposed to encamp during the night; but not finding a convenient place, he, by the persuasion of one of his officers who was acquainted with the pass, and who undertook to conduct him safely through it, renewed his march, and arrived at the top of the hill above the castle at two o’clock in the morning. Buchan’s men were then reposing in fancied security near Lethindie, on the adjoining plain of Cromdale, and the fires of their camp, which were pointed out by the captain of the castle to Livingston, showed him that he was much nearer the enemy than he had any idea of Mackay says, that had Livingston been aware that the Highlanders were encamped so near the pass, he would not have ventured through it during the night, having little confidence in the country people; nor would the enemy, had they suspected Livingston’s march, left their former station and encamped upon an open plain, a considerable distance from any secure position, "just as if they had been led thither by the hand as an ox to the slaughter."

As several gentlemen of the adjoining country had sought an asylum in the castle on hearing of Buchan’s advance, the commander, in order to prevent any knowledge of Livingston’s approach being communicated to the Highlanders, had taken the precaution to shut the gates of the castle, and to prohibit all egress; so that the Highlanders were as ignorant of Livingston’s arrival as he had previously been of their encampment at Cromdale. Such being the case, the commander of the castle advised him to attack the Highlanders without delay, and he himself offered to conduct the troops into the plain. This proposition having been acceded to, the troops were allowed half an hour to refresh themselves, after which they marched down through the valley of Auchinarrow to the river. Finding a ford below Dellachaple, guarded by 100 Highlanders. Livingston left a detachment of foot and a few dragoons to amuse them, while, with his main body, led by some gentlemen of the name of Grant on horseback, he marched to another ford through a covered way, a mile farther down the river, which he crossed at the head of three troops of dragoons, and a troop of horse, a company of his Highlanders forming the advanced guard. After he reached the opposite bank of the Spey, he perceived the Highlanders, who had received notice of his approach from their advanced guards at the upper ford, in great confusion, and in motion towards the hills, he thereupon sent orders to a part of his regiment, and another troop of horse to cross the river and join him; but, without waiting for them, he galloped off at full speed towards the hills, so as to get between the fugitives—the greater part of whom were almost naked—and the hills, and intercept them in their retreat. The cavalry were accompanied by the company of Highlanders which had crossed the river, and who are said to have outrun their mounted companions, a circumstance which induced the flying Highlanders, on arriving at the foot of the hill of Cromdale, to make a stand; but, on the approach of Livingston and the remainder of his dragoons and horse, they again took to their heels. They turned, however, frequently round upon their pursuers, and defended themselves with their swords and targets with great bravery. A thick fog, which, coming down the side of the mountain, enveloped the fugitives, compelled Livingston to discontinue the pursuit, and even to beat a retreat. According to Mackay, the Highlanders had 400 men killed and taken prisoners, while Livingston did not lose a single man, and only 7 or 8 horses; but Balcarras states his loss at about 100 killed, and several prisoners; and the author of the "Memoirs of Dundee" says, that many of Livingston’s dragoons fell. A party of the Camerons and Macleans, who had in the flight separated from their companions in arms, crossed the Spey the following day, but, being pursued by some of Livingston’s men, were overtaken and dispersed on the moor of Granish near Aviemore, where some of them were killed. The rest took shelter in Craigelachie, and, being joined by Keppoch and his Highlanders, made an attempt to seize the castle of Lochinclan in Rothiemurchus, but were repulsed with loss by the proprietor and his tenants.

The news of the disaster at Cromdale was received with feelings of dismay by the partisans of King James at Edinburgh, who began to regret that they had not embraced an offer which had been made by King William for a cessation of arms. On the other hand, the friends of the government were elated with Livingston’s success, and hastened the long delayed expedition to Inverlochy, under Major Ferguson, which accordingly set sail from Greenock on the 15th of May. Having obtained the consent of King William to march into Lochaber, Mackay made preparations for the expedition; and, although the Earl of Melville, the commissioner to the Scottish parliament, gave him notice of some dangerous plots against the government both in England and Scotland, which might require the presence of a large force in the lowlands to check, yet, as he considered the subjugation of the Highlands of primary importance, he resolved to proceed on his expedition; and, accordingly, on the 18th of June, marched from Perth at the head of about 3,000 horse and foot. As his route to Inverlochy would bring him within a short day’s march of the enemy, and as he was desirous—agreeably, as he says, to a military maxim, "without necessity, to put nothing to an apparent hazard when the success is of great importante,"—to avoid an engagement in a country full of defiles and difficult passes till he should join the forces in the north under Sir Thomas Livingston, he resolved to march towards Strathspey, and thence through Badenoch into Lochaber. To conceal from the enemy his design of marching north, after entering Athole, he made a movement as if he intended to enter Badenoch by the nearest route, and then turning suddenly to the right, took the road to Strathspey. Having joined Livingston in Strathspey on the 26th of June, the united forces, after a day’s rest, marched towards Badenoch.

The Highlanders who, after their dispersion at Cromdale, had returned to their homes, had re-assembled on hearing of Mackay’s approach; but, from the fewness of their numbers, they made no attempt to obstruct his passage through Badenoch. Being informed that they had taken possession of a strait and difficult pass through which they expected him to march, he, on the 1st of July,—the very day on which the celebrated battle of the Boyne was fought,—made a feint with four troops of horse and dragoons as if he intended to pass that way, for the purpose of deceiving the enemy; after which he suddenly changed his march to the left. After traversing mountains and bogs, he entered Lochaber by Glenspean the same night, and arrived at Inverlochy on the 3d of the month.

The site of the old fort, which had been erected by Oliver Cromwell, did not please Mackay, as it was commanded by a neighbouring hill; but, as a more eligible one could not be found, he commenced the work on the 5th of the month, and, in eleven days the wall was raised to its full intended height of twenty feet from the bottom of the fosse, and pallisaded round with a chemin couvert and glacis. Having finished the fort, which was named Fort-William, in honour of the king, he was about proceeding to send a detachment into Mull to reduce that island, but received despatches from the privy council announcing the defeat of the English and Dutch fleets, and requiring his return to the South as soon as possible, with as many of his forces as could be spared, in consequence of an expected invasion from France. He therefore marched from Inverlochy for the South on the 18th, leaving behind him 1,000 men in garrison in the new fort. He arrived in Badenoch on the 20th by easy marches, and leaving his army in camp the whole of the 21st to rest themselves, he went with a party of 150 horse and dragoons to inspect Ruthven castle which the Jacobite forces had burnt the preceding year. Here he left the company of Lord Reay’s Highlanders with instructions to the commander to raise a breastwork round an old square wall, within which the garrison might remain secure against surprise or attack. Lie then descended into Athole, and arrived at Perth on the 26th of July, being little more than five weeks since he set out on his long projected expedition.

During his absence Major-general Buchan and Colonel Cannon, each at the head of a select body of cavalier horse, had been scouring the low country. The latter, in particular, with 200 horse, had attacked Lord Cardross’s dragoons who were stationed in Menteith, and had pursued them down as far as the park of Stirling. On his arrival at Perth, Mackay being informed of the proceedings of Cannon’s party, sent orders to the troops at Stirling to march out in quest of them, while he himself, after receiving a supply of biscuit from Dundee, resolved to march from Perth with a detachment for the purpose of intercepting them; but Cannon had passed through the heights of Athole towards Braemar before the troops at Stirling left that town. Mackay followed after them for two days with a force of 1,000 men, but was unable to overtake them. Being unprovided for a longer march, he returned on the third day to Stirling, whence he despatched three troops of Cardross’s dragoons, and one of horse, to support the Master of Forbes who was guarding Aberdeenshire.

Buchan and Cannon having united their forces, and being joined by Farquharson of Inverey, at the head of 500 or 600 of the Braemar Highlanders, descended into the adjoining low parts of Aberdeenshire, Mearns, and Banff, to unite themselves to some of the country Jacobite gentlemen, leaving behind them a body of 160 men, to block up Abergeldie, in which Mackay still kept a garrison. They were at first opposed on their descent into the low country, by the Master of Forbes, and Colonel Jackson, with eight troops of cavalry, which was fully more than sufficient to have repulsed in a level country, any body the Highlanders could then bring into the field. Buchan, however, having purposely magnified the appearance of his forces, by ranging his foot over a large extent of ground, and interspersing his baggage and baggage horses among them, inspired the Master of Forbes and Jackson with such dread, that they considered it prudent to retire before a foe apparently so formidable in appearance, and their fears increasing after they had begun their retreat, they set off towards Aberdeen at full gallop, and never looked behind, till they had entered the town, after a race of upwards of 20 miles. Buchan, who had no immediate design upon Aberdeen, followed the alarmed cavalry, and such was the effect of the retreat upon some of the neighbouring noblemen and gentlemen, that they joined Buchan in the pursuit. The inhabitants were thrown into a state of the greatest alarm at this occurrence, and the necessary means of defence were adopted, but Buchan made no attempt to enter the town.

When Mackay received intelligence of this "disorder," as he terms the flight of Forbes and Jackson, he instantly despatched Colonel Cunningham with 300 men, and two troops of cavalry, to the north to join Jackson; but Cunningham was unable to effect a junction, as Cannon lay encamped between him and Jackson. As the fears nf a French invasion had subsided, Mackay, on hearing of Cunningham’s failure, marched north himself in such haste that he carried neither baggage nor provisions along with him; but on his way north he learned that Buchan had left the neighbourhood of Aberdeen, and was marching southward. On hearing of Mackay’s advance, Buchan drew off his men to the right, and crossed the hills. On arriving at the Dee, he left Cunningham with a detachment at the castle of Aboyne, and proceeded with his own division to raise the siege of Abergeldie. In the course of this march, a party of 60 dragoons, under Major Mackay, fell in among the hills, with a body of 200 Highlanders, under Inverey, all of whom were either killed or made prisoners. The chief himself made a very narrow escape, having been trampled under the horses’ feet, and left for dead on the field. Mackay also laid waste the fertile country about Abergeldie, to the extent of twelve miles round, and burnt from 1,200 to 1,400 houses, by way of reprisal, for having blocked up the garrison.

Having united all his forces in the north, with the exception of those which lay at Inverness, Mackay marched as far north as Strathdon, where he was told that the greater part of the north was hostile to the government, and was ready to rise in arms, which information made him at once resolve to proceed north with all possible haste in order to get Buchan’s force dispersed, before any general rising should take place. Leaving therefore his foot behind, he proceeded north with his cavalry in great haste, and in the course of his march was informed that Buchan was not only on his way north, but that he expected to be joined by several thousand Highlanders. He, therefore, continued his march with great celerity, allowing his men no more time than was absolutely necessary for refreshing their horses, and arrived within four hours’ march of the enemy, before they received any notice of his approach. Buchan had reached Inverness, and was only waiting for the Earl of Seaforth’s and other Highlanders, whom he expected to join him in attacking the town; but on hearing of Mackay’s advance, he crossed the river Ness, and retired along the north side of the Loch.

The Earl of Seaforth, afraid of the consequences which might result to him personally, for the part he had acted, sent his mother, the Countess Dowager of Seaforth, and Mackenzie of Coul, to Mackay, to inform him that he would accede to such conditions as might be agreed upon between them and Mackay. An agreement was accordingly entered into, by which it was stipulated, that the earl should deliver himself into Mackay’s hands, to be kept as a prisoner at Inverness, till the privy council should decide as to his future disposal; and to conceal this arrangement from the Jacobite party, it was farther agreed that the earl should allow himself to be seized as if by surprise, by a party of horse under Major Mackay, at one of his seats during the night. The earl, however, disappointed the party sent out to apprehend him, in excuse for which, both he and his mother, in letters to Mackay, pleaded the state of his health, which they alleged would suffer from imprisonment. The earl cannot certainly be blamed for having demurred placing himself at the unconditional disposal of such a body as the privy council of Scotland, some of whom would not have hesitated to sacrifice him, if by doing so they could have obtained a share of his estates.

Mackay was so irritated at the deception which had been practised upon him, that he resolved to treat the earl’s vassals "with all the rigour of military execution." Having, however, a warm feeling for the earl’s friends, on account of their being "all Protestants, and none of the most dangerous enemies," as he says, end being more desirous to obtain possession of the earl’s person than to ruin his friends, he caused information of his intentions upon the earl’s lands to be sent to Seaforth’s camp, by some of his own party, as if from a feeling of friendship to him. Contrary to Mackay’s anticipations, Seaforth surrendered himself, and was committed prisoner to the castle of Inverness. About this time the Earl of Argyle—who had fled to Holland in 1685, on his father’s execution, but returned with the Prince of Orange, and was reinstated by the Convention in his father’s estates and title—with a force of 1,900 foot, and 60 dragoons, invaded Mull, the inhabitants of which took the oaths of allegiance to the government, and delivered up their arms. He was, however, from the state of the weather, obliged to leave the island, before effecting the reduction of Duart castle, and left 300 men behind him to keep it in check. Maclean himself, with a few of his friends, took refuge on Carnburrow, an inaccessible rock near Mull.

King James’s affairs had now become utterly desperate in Scotland, and his defeat at the battle of the Boyne, on the 1st of July, 1690, almost annihilated his hopes in Ireland. Unable to collect any considerable body of men together, Buchan, after wandering through Lochaber, dismissed the few that still remained with him, and along with Sir George Barclay, Lieutenant-colonel Graham, and other officers, took up his abode with Macdonell of Glengary, Cannon and his officers retiring to the isles, under the protection of Sir Donald Macdonald. In their retreats, these officers who had displayed the most heroic attachment to the cause of the unfortunate king, under the most trying circumstances, still continued to cherish some distant hopes of his restoration, and were prepared to enter upon any service, however hazardous, which might lead to such a consummation.

At length, seeing no chance of making a successful effort in favour of James, they, in connexion with the chiefs, sent over the Earl of Dunfermline to France in the spring of 1691, to represent to him the state of matters, and to receive his commands. Having received instructions from his majesty to enter into a negotiation with the government, a meeting of the principal officers and the Jacobite chiefs was held at Achallader in Glenorchy on the 30th of June, which was attended by the Earl of Breadalbane on the part of the government, at which a cessation of hostilities was agreed upon till the 1st of October. To get the chiefs to submit to the government, money and other inducements were held out to them by Breadalbane, at whose disposal a sum of about 15,000 or 20,000 had been placed by King William. They, however, declined to come to any definite arrangement at this time, and requested liberty to send Sir George Barclay and Major Menzies to France, to obtain the sanction of King James, to enter into a treaty with the government, a request which was reluctantly granted. After learning from these officers the miseries to which the clans were reduced, and the utter hopelessness of attempting another campaign under existing circumstances, James allowed them to make the best terms they could with the government. Accordingly, and in terms of a proclamation issued by the government on the 27th of August, 1691, promising an indemnity to all persons who had been in arms, and who should take an oath of allegiance to the government before the 1st of January 1692; all the chiefs, with one unfortunate exception, which will be afterwards noticed, gave in their adherence, and took the oath within the prescribed time. Buchan and Cannon with their officers, in terms of an agreement with the government, were transported to France, to which country they had asked and obtained permission from their royal master to retire, as they could no longer be serviceable to him in their native land.

We are sorry that it is beyond the province of the present work, even did space permit, to give a detailed account of the heroic and almost quixotically chivalrous conduct of Dundee’s officers, after their emigration to France. In order that they might not be a burden on their royal master King James, they entered the French service, forming themselves into a company of "private sentinels" or common soldiers, four of their number being appointed officers, whose conduct gives "no opportunity of speaking well of. They numbered only about 150, and so effectively performed their duty in the service of France, that, unsuited as they were for the hard life of common soldiers, and cheated by their heartless officers of the few comforts provided for them, in a very short time "the earth closed over the last remains of the gentlemen-adventurers who followed the banner of Dundee." They bore all their hardships with cheerfulness and even gaiety, winning the tears and love of the women wherever they passed, and the respect of their French comrades. The following incident must suffice as an example of their fearless hardihood.

"The Germans had made a lodgement in an island in the Rhine (near Strasburg). The French, from an opinion that the river was impassable without boats, had ordered a number for the passage. Among other troops intended for the service, this company was ordered to keep a station opposite to the island until the boats should arrive but finding, upon examination, the ford, though difficult, not impassable, they, according to the custom of the Highlanders in wading through rivers, joining their hands together, and entering the river in a line with its current, the strongest men in the upper part, and the weaker in the under, so that those who were highest up the stream broke all its force, and tying their arms and clothes on their shoulders, passed to the island in sight of both armies on the opposite bank, and drove ten times their number from the lodgement. The French cried out in admiration, ‘A gentleman, in whatever station, is still a gentleman.’ ‘Le gentilhomme est toujours gentilhomme.’ The place is called l’Isle d’.Ecosse to this day."

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