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General History of the Highlands
1715 - 1716

Having, for the sake of continuity, brought the narrative of the English branch of the insurrection to a close, in the preceding chapter, we now proceed to detail the operations of the royalist and Jacobite armies under Argyle and Mar respectively, and the other transactions in the north which preceded its total suppression.

Inverness at the end of the 17th century

Before, however, entering upon an account of the doings of the main body of the rebeIs in Scotland, we must notice briefly the re-capture by the royalists of Inverness partly through the instrumentality of our old friend Simon Fraser, afterwards Lord Lovat. Finding it impossible to gain the confidence of the court of St. Germains, Simon, on the breaking out of the rebellion, resolved to seek the favour of King George by using his power as head of his clan on behalf of the royalists. The clan had sent over some of their number to France to bring Simon home, in order that he might tell them what side he desired them to espouse; these had got the length of Dumfries on the day in which that town was thrown into a state of consternation by the Lord Justice-Clerk’s letter, announcing its proposed capture by the rebels. Simon was received there with much suspicion, and he and his followers placed under guard, notwithstanding the pass he had managed to obtain from Lord Townshend. This he obtained on volunteering to accompany the Earl of Sutherland to the north, and induce the clan Fraser to abandon the Jacobites and join the royalists. Although the estates and honours were in possession of the daughter of the late Lord Lovat, and although her husband, Mackenzie of Fraserdale, had joined the rebels with a number of the clan, still, according to Highland custom, Simon was the real head of the clan, and as such his influence was paramount.

On arriving in the north he found three hundred men, who had refused to follow the Jacobite banner of his rival, ready at his call. Placing himself at their head, like a sovereign with an army, he sent notice to the disaffected clansmen who had followed the legal owner of the estates, to return immediately to their duty to their true chief, threatening them with ejection from their holdings, and military execution against their families and possessions, if they failed. As men exorcised by a command which it would be wicked and futile to resist, the Frasers left Mar’s camp, just before the momentous battle of Sheriffmuir, and joined their brethren. Lovat found Duncan Forbes, afterwards the great and good Lord-President, defending the old fortalice of Culloden, while his father-in-law, Hugh Rose, held his neighbouring tower of Kilravock against repeated attacks, and with a well-ordered force of 200 men, made his mansion do the proper service of a fort in protecting the surrounding country. Their efforts were important from their position. Northward of Loch Ness, and the chain of minor lakes, the power of the Earl of Sutherland, on the government side, balanced that of Seaforth, Glengarry, and the other Jacobite leaders; and in their absence at Mar’s camp, was superior. Thus the fortified houses near Inverness, had all the importance of border fortresses; and the reduction of Inverness, for the Hanover interest, would relieve their owners of their perilous position, by giving their friends the command of the pass between the North Highlands and the rest of Scotland. The small body under Rose and Forbes, with Lovat’s, and a party of the Grants, amounted in all to about 1,300 men—a considerable force in that war of small armies. They laid plans for systematically investing Inverness; but before it was necessary to operate on them, the garrison silently evacuated the place, dropping down the river in boats on the night of the 13th of November, and sailing for the northern coast of the Moray Firth. This affair seems to have cost no other casualty than the death of a brother of Rose of Kilravock, in a premature and rash attack. Thus the government had the command of the eastern pass between the North Highlands and the low country, leaving passable only such routes, beyond the western extremity of Loch Ness, as were not liable to be interrupted by the garrison at Fort William."

When the Jacobite general took the field he was so unprovided with money, that after Colonel Hay entered Perth he could spare him only fifty guineas for the use of his detachment, and so exhausted had his little treasury become shortly after he took up his quarters there, that he was reduced to the necessity of laying the surrounding country, and the shires of Fife, Kinross, and Clackmannan under contribution. By an order dated from the camp at Perth on the 4th October, he required every man of substance attending the standard of the Chevalier, to raise amongst his tenants and possessors, the sum of twenty shillings on every hundred pounds Sects of valued rent, and such landed proprietors as did not immediately or before the 12th of October, attend his standard, were mulcted in double that amount. This order appears to have had little effect, as it was renewed on the 21st of October, when it was rigorously enforced, and the penalty of military execution threatened against those who should refuse to implement it.

To compel compliance, parties of horse and foot were despatched through the adjoining country. One of these, consisting of 200 foot and 100 horse, being sent towards the town of Dunfermline, information of their march was brought to the Duke of Argyle on Sunday, the 23d of October. His grace immediately despatched Colonel Cathcart with a detachment of dragoons to intercept them, who, receiving intelligence that the insurgents had passed Castle Campbell, and had taken up their quarters for the night in a village on the road to Dunfermline, continued his march during the whole night, and coming upon the village unperceived at five o’clock in the morning, surprised the party, some of whom were killed and others taken while in bed. Among these were eleven gentlemen, including Gordon of Craig, Gordon younger of Aberlour, and Mr. Murray brother to the laird of Abercairney.

After this affair, and for want of more stirring excitements, a sort of paper war was carried on between the two generals, which, if attended with little practical effect on either side, served at least to keep up in a more marked manner the distinction between the adherents of the government and the partizans of the Jacobite interest. When informed of the Earl of Mar’s order for an assessment, the Duke of Argyle issued a counter one, on the 25th of October, prohibiting and discharging all persons from giving or furnishing the insurgents with money or provisions, under the pains of high treason, and for greater publicity he directed the same to be intimated at each parish church door after divine service, and before the dismissal of the congregation. This mandate was followed two days thereafter by another from the duke, requiring all well-affected noblemen, gentlemen, justices of the peace, magistrates, and ministers, "to persuade and encourage all able-bodied and well-affected men," in their respective parishes, in town and country, to enlist in the regular army, and promising a bounty of forty shillings sterling, and a discharge from the service, if required, at the end of three months after the suppression of the insurrection. This order was answered by a proclamation from the Earl of Mar, dated November 1st, prohibiting and discharging all persons whatever, under the highest penalties, from giving obedience to it; and whereas he had promised his protection, as he observes, to all ministers who behaved themselves dutifully, and did not acknowledge "the Elector of Brunswick as king, by praying for him as such in their churches and congregations ;" yet as several of them continued the practice, and might thus "involve and mislead innocent and ignorant people into traitorous and seditious practices," he expressly prohibited "all ministers, as well in churches as in meeting-houses, to acknowledge the Elector of Brunswick as king, and that upon their highest peril." And he ordered all officers, civil and military, to shut up the church doors of such ministers as should act in contempt of the order, to apprehend their persons and bring them prisoners to his camp. Many ministers, to avoid compliance with this order, absented themselves from their charges, but others who ventured openly to brave it, were apprehended and treated with severity. Mar, however, found a more pliant body in the non-jurant episcopal clergy, some of whom attached themselves to his camp, and harangued his troops from time to time on the duties they owed to their lawful sovereign, "King James VIII."

Although the earl seems to have calculated greatly upon the assistance of France, yet his stay at Perth appears to have been prolonged rather by the tardiness of the Earl of Seaforth, in reaching the insurgent camp, than by any intention of waiting for supplies from France, or the expected invasion of England by the Duke of Ormond; for no sooner did Seaforth arrive with the northern clans, about the beginning of November, than Mar began to concert measures with his officers for opening the campaign. The march of the Earl of Seaforth had been retarded by the Earl of Sutherland, at the head of a considerable number of his own men, and of the Mackays, Rosses, Munroes, and others; but having compelled them to disperse, he proceeded on his march with about 3,000 foot and 800 horse, leaving a sufficient force behind to protect his own country, and keep the royalist clans in check.

Hitherto the Jacobite commander, from the procrastinating system he had pursued, and from jealousies which had arisen in his camp among his officers, had experienced considerable difficulty in keeping his forces together. Of all men, the Highlanders were the most unlikely to relish the inactive duties of a camp, and as the duration of their services lay entirely with themselves, it was evident that the longer Mar delayed bringing them into action, the risk of their abandoning him was proportionably increased. It was not therefore without reason that one of the leaders remarked that he was afraid the Highlanders would desert their colours in three cases :—1. If they were long without being brought to action, they would tire and go home; 2. If they fought and were victorious, they would plunder and go home; 3. If they fought and were beaten, they would run away and go home.

To counteract the injurious effect which a state of inaction might produce upon the minds of his men, Mar buoyed up their hopes by issuing from time to time, by means of a printing press brought from Aberdeen, and superintended by Freebairn of Edinburgh, a variety of fabricated accounts, highly favourable to their cause, respecting the progress of the rebellion in the south, and the great exertions making by the Chevalier’s friends in France, all which accounts were swallowed with the utmost credulity by his unsuspecting adherents.

About the time the Earl of Seaforth arrived at Perth, General Gordon had advanced as far as Castle Drummond with the western clans on his way to Perth; and as Mar had now resolved to attempt the passage of the Forth, he despatched an express to Gordon, to join him on his march. At a council of war, which was held on the 9th of November, the Jacobite chiefs came to the determination of leaving Perth the following day for Dunblane. On obtaining possession of this town, Mar’s design was to detach three different bodies, of 1,000 men each, to Stirling bridge, and the two adjacent fords above, for the purpose of amusing Argyle, while he himself with the main body of his army, consisting of nearly 8,000 men, should attempt to cross the river at a ford a little way above those selected for the intended ruse. In the event of success, the three detached bodies were to be directed to form a junction and follow the main body without delay, but in case the Duke of Argyle abandoned Stirling to oppose the passage of the main body, they were to enter the town and fall upon his rear.

Accordingly, on the morning of Thursday, the 10th of November, Mar departed from Perth, leaving a garrison behind under Colonel Balfour, besides a scattered force of about 3,000 men quartered in different parts of Fife. The earl not calculating upon a return to Perth, took all his baggage along with him, and provisions sufficient to support his army for twelve days. The insurgents took up their quarters for the night at Auchterarder, and on the following day were joined by the western clans under General Gordon. The army rested the whole of the 11th. On the morning of the 12th, Mar ordered General Gordon to march forward with 3,000 men of the clans, and eight squadrons of horse under Brigadier Ogilvie and the Master of Sinclair, and take possession of Dunblane. After ordering the rest of the army to parade on the moor of Tullibardine, he departed for Drummond castle to hold an interview with the Earl of Breadalbane, having previously directed General Hamilton to follow Gordon with the main body.

As early as the morning of Thursday the 10th of November, the Duke of Argyle had received intelligence from some of his spies at Perth, of Mar’s intended march, and of his plan for effecting the passage of the Forth. Fortunately for Argyle, his little army had been lately almost doubled by reinforcements from Ireland, and it now amounted to 2,300 foot, and 1,200 cavalry, all in the best order and condition; but though formidable from its composition when united, it was too weak to divide into detachments for resisting at different points the passage of an army thrice as numerous, in an attempt to cross the Forth. As Argyle, therefore, saw he could no longer retain his position on the banks of the river, which, from its now beginning to freeze, would soon be rendered more passable than before, he determined to cross and offer the insurgents battle before they should reach its northern bank. Though he exposed himself by this bold step to the disadvantage of fighting with a river in his rear, he considered that the risk would be sufficiently counterbalanced by the advantage which his cavalry would have by engaging the enemy on level ground.

Dunblane about the time of the rebellion

Having called in several small detachments which were quartered at Glasgow, Kilsyth, and Falkirk, Argyle crossed Stirling bridge on the morning of the 12th of November, for Dunblane, much about the same time that Mar’s forces had begun to advance upon that town in an opposite direction from Auchterarder. In a short time after their setting out, Argyle’s advanced guard took possession of Dunblane, of which circumstance General Gordon was apprised on his march. Having halted his division, Gordon sent an express, announcing the intelligence to General Hamilton, who despatched it to the Earl of Mar, and in a short time he forwarded a second express confirming the previous news, and adding that the enemy were in great force. Hamilton, upon receipt of this last despatch, halted his men on the ground adjoining the Roman camp at Ardoch, about five miles from Dunblane, till he should receive instructions from the earl. Mar soon thereafter returned from Drummond castle, and being desirous of obtaining additional intelligence from the general in advance, ordered Hamilton to remain in his position, and to hold his men in readiness to march on a moment’s notice. This order had, however, been scarcely issued, when a fresh despatch arrived from General Gordon, announcing that the Duke of Argyle was in Dunblane with his whole army. Mar thereupon desired Gordon to remain where he was till the main body of the army should come up, and having ordered three guns to be fired, the signal agreed upon to be given Hamilton for putting his men in marching order, the latter immediately formed his division and put it in motion. After a junction between the two divisions of the army had been formed, the insurgents marched to the bridge of Kinbuck, about four miles from Dunblane, where they passed the frosty night under arms without covering or tent. The Duke of Argyle, who had the most exact intelligence brought to him of the motions of the insurgents, left Dunblane and formed his army in order of battle in the evening, on a rising ground above the house of Kippenross, about two miles north-east of the town. His army was drawn up in one extended line. In the centre were eight battalions of foot under the command of Major-General Wightman. The right wing consisted of five squadrons of dragoons, under Lieutenant-General Evans, and in similar number, at the head of whom was Lieutenant-General Witham, composed the left wing. After thus drawing up his men, his grace issued orders that no tent should be pitched during the night either by officer or private soldier; that all the officers without distinction should remain at their posts; and that the troops should rest on their arms in the exact order in which they had been formed. The severest penalties were threatened against those who should infringe these orders. Though the night was extremely cold, the troops lay down upon the bare ground, and snatched a few hours repose. The duke himself retired to a sheep-cot at the foot of a hill on the right of the army, where he passed the night sitting on a bundle of straw.

Athough the two armies had bivouacked during the night within three miles of each other, and were only separated by the Sheriffmuir, an elevated and uneven waste, skirted the west by the high road from Stirling to Perth, near the river Allan, yet so ignorant was Mar of the movements of Argyle, that so far from supposing him to be within such a short distance of his camp, he imagined that he still remained at Dunblane; and it was not until he observed a reconnoitring party of Argyle’s cavalry on the adjoining heights of the Sheriffmuir next morning, that he became aware of his immediate proximity. This party was headed by the duke himself, who had aroused his army by break of day, and who, after issuing instructions to his men to prepare for battle, had ascended at an early hour the hill where his advanced guard was posted, to survey the position of the insurgents.

The Earl of Mar had also put his men under arms shortly after break of day, and when Argyle’s party of observation was first noticed, Mar was busily engaged ranging his men in marching order, preparatory to advancing upon Dunblane. Conceiving that Argyle meant to offer him battle immediately, he instantly assembled all the chiefs, and after addressing them in an eloquent speech, in which he painted in glowing colours the wrongs of their prince and their country, and congratulated them that the day had at length arrived when they could revenge their injuries in open battle, he desired to know if they were willing to engage. The Marquis of Huntly alone raised some objections, and some few were heard in an under-tone to advise a return to Perth till the spring; but the voices of Huntly and his supporters were drowned by loud shouts of "fight, fight !" from the rest, who at once galloped off to their different posts.

The Earl of Mar, thereupon, resumed the marshalling of his army, which formed into two lines with a rapidity and decision that would have done honour to veteran troops; but by accident, three squadrons of horse posted on the left, misled by a cry from the Highlanders, of "horse to the right," left their position and took ground on the right, an unfortunate mistake for the insurgents, as it contributed to the defeat of their left wing.

The centre of the first line was composed of ten battalions of foot, consisting of about 4,000 men under the command of the captain of Clanrarald, Glengary, Sir John Maclean, the laird of Glenbucket, Brigadier Ogilvie, and the two brothers of Sir Donald Macdonald of Sleat. General Gordon, who had long served in the army of the Czar of Muscovy, was at the head of these battalions. On the right of this line were placed two of the Marquis of Huntly’s squadrons of horse, and another called the Stirling squadron, which carried the Chevalier’s standard. This squadron, which consisted wholly of gentlemen, also bore the title of "the Restoration regiment of horse." The Perthshire squadron formed the left wing. The centre of the second line consisted of eight battalions of foot, viz., three of the Earl of Seaforth’s foot, two of the Marquis of Huntly’s, the Earl of Panmure’s battalion, and those of the Marquis of Tullibardine, of Drummond, commanded by the Viscount of Strathallan, and of Logie-Almond, and Robertson of Strowan. On the right of this second line were posted two squadrons of horse under the Earl Marischal. The Angus squadron was on the left. The whole of the force thus formed for action may be estimated at 8,000, besides which there was a corps de reserve of 400 horse posted considerably in the rear.

While this formation was going on, the Duke of Argyle observed for several hours with great attention the various evolutions of the insurgents; but from the nature of the ground occupied by them he could not obtain a full view of their line which extended through a hollow way, the view of which was obstructed by the brow of a hill occupied by a party of Mar’s troops. From Mar’s advanced guards looking towards Dunblane, the duke conjectured that the insurgents intended to march in that direction; but he was undeceived in this idea by a movement on the part of a mass of the insurgents towards his right, as if they intended to cross the moor and fall upon the flank of his army. As a large morass lay in the way of the insurgents, Argyle, in advancing from Dunblane, had conceived himself free from danger on that side; but it had now been rendered quite passable for foot as well as horse by a keen frost during the preceding night. As soon as Argyle saw this large body advance up the face of the moor, which, from the right wing of the insurgents being concealed from his view by a rising ground, he supposed was the main body of Mar’s army, he requested the advice of the officers who surrounded him as to how he should act. It was the general opinion, an opinion in which the duke himself concurred, that there would be less risk in engaging the insurgents on the high grounds than in waiting for them in the position occupied by the duke’s army; but although most of the officers thought that there would not be sufficient time to bring forward the troops and to change the order of battle, a change which was absolutely necessary, the duke resolved to draw out his troops upon the moor.

Having come to this determination, the duke returned quickly to the army, and ordered the drums to beat the General. This order was given about eleven o’clock; but although the drums instantly beat to arms, an hour elapsed before the troops were ready to march. The new order of battle was as follows. The duke’s first line consisted of six battalions of foot, all old troops, amounting scarcely to 1,800 men. On the right were posted three squadrons of dragoons, being the best in the army, namely, Evans’s, the Scots Greys, and the Earl of Stair’s. On the left there were placed three squadrons of dragoons, namely, Carpenter’s, Ker’s, and a squadron of Stair’s. The second line was composed of only two battalions of foot, with a squadron of dragoons on each wing. The right wing of the army was commanded by the duke himself, the centre by General Wightman, and the left by General Witharn. Behind Evans’s dragoons, on the right wing, a body of about sixty horse, noblemen and gentlemen volunteers, took up a station.

The body which Argyle had observed coming up the face of the moor, was a squadron of the Earl Marischal’s horse and Sir Donald Macdonald’s battalion, under their respective commanders. These had been despatched by the Earl of Mar, to drive away the reconnoitring party under the Duke of Argyle from the height; but on its disappearing, they returned and reported the circumstance to the earl. On receiving this intelligence, Mar gave orders to his troops to march up the hill in four columns. The whole army was accordingly put in motion, but they had not proceeded far when the Earl Marischal, who was in advance, observed Argyle forming his lines on the southern summit of the hill, at a short distance from him. He notified the circumstance to Mar, who instantly gave orders to his men to quicken their pace up the hill. In the hurry of their ascent, the second line pressed so closely upon the first as to occasion some confusion on the left when again getting into line, and it was in consequence of this disorder that the squadrons of horse forsook their position on the left, and took ground on the right.

Before the insurgents reached the summit of the moor, Argyle’s right wing was fully formed, but the greater part of his centre and left, who were moving up the ascent by a gradual progression from right to left, had not yet reached their ground. Argyle’s right now found itself within pistol-shot of Mar’s left, but from the greater extent of Mar’s line, it considerably outflanked Argyle’s left.

As soon as the Earl of Mar perceived that Argyle’s line was only partially formed, he resolved instantly to attack him before he should be able to complete his arrangements; and having sent orders to his right and left to fall simultaneously upon the enemy, Mar placed himself at the head of the clans, and being apprised by a firing on his left that the action had commenced, he pulled off his hat, which he waved, and with a huzza led forward his men upon the half-formed battalions which composed the left wing of the enemy. Arrived within pistol-shot, the Highlanders, according to custom, poured in a volley upon the English infantry. The fire was instantly returned, and, to the dismay of the Highlanders, Alan Muidartach, the captain of Clanranald, was mortally wounded. He was instantly carried off the field, and, as his men clustered around him, he encouraged them to stand firm to their posts, and expressed a hope that the result of the struggle in which they were engaged would be favourable to the cause of his sovereign. The loss of a chief, who, from the stately magnificence with which he upheld his rank, and the urbanity of his disposition, had acquired an ascendency over the minds of his people, could not fail to depress their spirits, and make them almost overlook the danger of their situation. While absorbed in grief, they were in a moment roused from their dejection by Glengary, who, observing their conduct at this juncture, sprung forward, and throwing his bonnet into the air, cried aloud, in the expressive language of his country, "Revenge! Revenge! Revenge today, and mourning to-morrow !" No sooner had this brave chieftain pronounced these words, than the Highlanders rushed forward, sword in hand, with the utmost fury, upon the royalist battalions. The government troops attempted to stem the impetuosity of the attack, by opposing the Highlanders with fixed bayonets, but the latter pushed them aside with their targets, and rushing in with their broad-swords among the enemy, spread death and terror around them. The three battalions on Argyle’s left, which had never been properly formed, unable to rally, instantly gave way, and falling back upon some squadrons of horse in their rear, created such confusion, that within seven or eight minutes after the assault, the form of a battalion or squadron was no longer discernible. A complete rout ensued; and there seems no doubt that the whole of Argyle’s left would have been completely destroyed, had not General Witham, at the head of the squadrons which were upon the left of the battalions, checked the advance of Mar’s horse by a charge, in which he succeeded in capturing a standard. Afraid of being outflanked by Argyle’s left wing, which extended far beyond his position, and being ignorant of what was passing on the right wing of the royalists, the view of which was concealed by the unevenness of the ground, Witham retired in the direction of Dunblane. The Earl of Mar pursued the disordered mass to the distance of only half a mile, and having ordered his foot to halt till he should put them in order, resolved to follow the enemy and complete the victory; but receiving intelligence that his left wing and second line had given way, and that his artillery had been taken, he retraced his steps, and took up a position on the top of the stony hill of Kippendavie, till he should receive further information respecting the fate of his left wing.

This wing, which was the first to begin the attack, opened a fire upon Argyle’s right wing when almost within pistol shot. The Highlanders thereafter steadily advanced, and pouring a second volley among the enemy, with a precision and effect not to be surpassed by the best disciplined troops, rushed up, sword in hand, to the very muzzles of their muskets. Though the fire was destructive, and made Evans’s dragoons reel for a time, the English troops maintained their ground, and the foot kept up a platooning, which checked the fury of their assailants. The struggle continued for some time without any decided advantage on either side; but as Argyle began to perceive that he could make no impression in front upon the numerous masses of the insurgents, and that he might be out-flanked by them, he resolved to attack them on their flank with part of his cavalry, while his foot should gall them with their fire in front. He therefore ordered Colonel Cathcart to move along the morass to the right with a strong body of cavalry, and to fall upon the flank of Mar’s left wing, a movement which he executed with great skill. Cathcart, after receiving a fire from the insurgent horse, immediately charged them, but they sustained the assault with great firmness. Borne down by the superior weight of the English dragoons, whose horses were much larger than those of the insurgents, the Scottish horse, after nearly half-an-hour’s contest, were compelled to give way. The foot of Argyle’s right having made a simultaneous attack upon Mar’s first line of foot, the latter also were forced to fall back, and Mar’s horse and foot coming into contact with his second line, they mixed indiscriminately, and a general rout in consequence ensued.

After receding a short distance, the insurgent horse, which consisted principally of the Jacobite gentry of Perthshire and Angus, attempted to rally and even to charge Argyle’s cavalry in their turn, but they were again forced to retire by the pressure of the English dragoons, who kept advancing in regular order upon the receding masses of the insurgents. Determined, however, not to yield one inch of ground without the utmost necessity, the cavalier horse made repeated efforts to drive the enemy back, and, in the course of their retreat, made ten or twelve attempts at different places to rally and charge the advancing foe; but unable to resist the overwhelming pressure of the English cavalry, they were, after three hours’ hard fighting, driven across the river Allan by Argyle’s dragoons. Some idea may be formed of the obstinacy of the contest, when it is considered that the distance from the field of battle to the river is scarcely three miles. To the gallant stand made by the horse may be ascribed the safety of the foot, who would have been probably all cut to pieces by the dragoons, if the attention of the latter had not been chiefly occupied by the horse. The foot, however, suffered considerably in the retreat, notwithstanding the humanity of the Duke of Argyle, who endeavoured to restrain the carnage. Besides offering quarter to such of the Jacobite gentlemen as were personally known to him, he displayed his anxiety for the preservation of his countrymen so far, that on observing a party of his dragoons cutting down a body of foot, into which they had thrown themselves, he exclaimed with a feeling of deep emotion, "Oh, spare the poor Bluebonnets !"

As Mar’s right wing had been concealed from the view of Argyle, the latter conceived that the numerous body he was driving before him formed the entire insurgent army. He, therefore, resolved to continue the pursuit till dark, and to support him, he ordered General Wightman, who commanded his foot upon the right, to follow him with his Battalions as quickly as possible. Wightman accordingly proceeded to follow the duke with a force of rather more than three regiments; but he had not marched far, when he heard a firing on his left, to ascertain the cause of which, he sent his aid-de-camp in the direction whence the firing proceeded. This officer returned in a short time, and reported that the half of Argyle’s foot, and the squadrons on the left, had all been cut off by the right of the insurgents, which was superior in point of numbers to Argyle’s left. Wightman thereupon slackened his pace, and despatched a messenger to inform the duke of the fate of his left wing. Afraid of being attacked in his rear by Mar’s right wing, he kept his men in perfect order, but no demonstration was made to follow him. When informed of the defeat of his left wing, Argyle gave over the pursuit, and joining Wightman with five squadrons of dragoons, put his men in order of battle and marched boldly to the bottom of the hill, on the top of which the enemy, amounting to 4,000 men, were advantageously posted. Argyle had now scarcely 1,000 men under him, and as these were already greatly exhausted, he judged it expedient to act on the defensive; but the insurgents showed no disposition to engage, and both parties, as if by mutual consent, retired from their positions in different directions The duke filed off his men to the right, in marching order, towards Dunblane; but as he still dreaded an attack, he formed his men several times on the march, wherever he found the ground convenient, and waited the approach of the enemy. Mar drew off his men toward Ardoch, where he passed the night, and Argyle’s troops lay under arms during the night in the neighbourhood of Dunblane.

As might have been expected, on an occasion of such dubious success on either side, both parties claimed a victory, but impartiality will confer the palm on neither. 

"There’s some say that we wan, and some say that they wan,
And some say that nane wan at a’ man;
But one thing I’m euro, that at Sherramuir
A battle there was that I saw, man.
And we ran, and they ran, and they ran, and we ran,
But Florence ran fastest of a’ man."
The Battle of Sheriffmuir in Hogg’s Jacobite Relics

Argyle, it is true, visited the field of battle the following morning, which Mar might also have done had he been inclined, and this circumstance, therefore, can afford no argument in support of his pretensions. Neither can the capture of standards and colours by Argyle be considered as a proof of success, for although he took fourteen colours and standards, including the royal standard called "the Restoration," besides six pieces of cannon and other trophies, Mar, according to the official Jacobite account, captured four stands of colours, several drums, and about 1,400 or 1,500 stands of arms. Accounts the most contradictory have been given by both parties of the losses sustained by them. According to the rolls of Argyle’s muster-master general, his loss amounted to 290 men killed, 187 wounded, and 133 prisoners, making a grand total of 610, while the Jacobite account makes the loss in killed and wounded on the side of Argyle amount to between 700 and 800. On the other hand, the Jacobites state their loss in killed at only 60, and that very few of their men were wounded, while the royalists say that they lost, in killed and wounded, about 800 men. Supposing the royalist statement correct, the comparative loss of the insurgents scarcely exceeded one-third of that sustained by the government forces.

Several officers were killed on the royalist side. Among the wounded was the Earl of Forfar, a brave officer who commanded Morison’s regiment. He received a shot in the knee, and sixteen other wounds, of which he died at Stirling about three weeks after the battle. Several persons of distinction were killed on the side of the insurgents, among whom were the Earl of Strathmore, and the Captain of Clanranald. A considerable number of gentlemen were taken prisoners by Argyle, but many of them escaped, and he was able to carry only 82 of them to Stirling. Of this number were Lord Strathallan, Thomas Drummond his brother, Walkinshaw of Barrowfield, Drummond of Logie-Drummond, and Murray of Auchtertyre.

On whichsoever side success lay, the battle, in its consequences, was most important in many respects to the government, as it was immediately followed by the desertion of a considerable number of the clans. With the exception of the Macdonalds, who particularly distinguished themselves on the right, and the Perthshire and Angus horse who withstood the repeated shocks of Argyle’s cavalry, the remainder of the insurgent army made little resistance. The Macphersons and the Macgregors, (the latter commanded by Rob Roy, the chief’s uncle), did not join in the contest at all, but looked on as if unconcerned about the result. Some of the clans, disgusted at the pusillanimity or indifference exhibited by their associates, and others dispirited by the firmness displayed by the government forces, returned to their homes, thus verifying the observation made by a Jacobite in reference to the clans, that whether victorious or beaten, they would run away and go home. The defection of these clans was a severe blow to Mar, and made him abandon the idea of crossing the Forth. He, therefore, returned to Perth with the remains of his army, and to encourage the friends of the Jacobite interest, circulated the most favourable accounts of his alleged success at Sheriffmuir, and of the state of the Chevalier’s affairs, although he himself began to consider them desperate. The Duke of Argyle, on the other hand, retired to his headquarters at Stirling, intending to resume offensive operations as soon as some expected reinforcements should arrive.

For he ne’er advanc’d from the place he was stanc’d, 
Till no more was to do there at a’ man."
Battle of Sheriffmuir.

["A short time previous to the Earl of Mar’s rising, their (the Macgregors’) depredations in the Lennox, and on the lower banks of Lochlomond, had been carried to such an extremity, that the military force of the west country was raised against them, and all the warriors of the clan seem to have been driven from their country, and to have retreated to the north, even as far as the mountains of Loch-Arkaig and Glengarry. Accordingly we find Rob Roy there in September and October 1715.

"From thence he came down with the rest of the clans, and joined general Gordon in Strathfihlan. He was with the clans before Jnverary, and was active in making some reprisals both by carrying off cattle on the banks of Loch-Fyne, and capturing ships that lay at anchor in the loch.

"He marched with the clans to Ardoch, and was present at the battle of Sheriffmuir, but kept a shy distance, thereby weakening that wing of the army to which the Macgregors were placed as a corps-de-reserve, on what principle it is not easy to determine, if it was not, as the hard suggests, to watch who gained the day, and then assist them in disposing of the booty.

"Before the friends of the Stuarts, however, could be properly brought to a head, Rob performed a very signal service to many of them by an act worthy of his character, and exactly in his own way. At the great hunting of Bras Mar, it has been mentioned what a number of noblemen and chiefs signed the bond of faith and mutual support. By the negligence of a chieftain to whose charge this important and dangerous document was committed, it fell into the hands of Captain Campbell, then at Fort William; and when it became known that a man of such determined Whig principles held this bond, those who signed it were seriously alarmed, and various plans were suggested for recovering it. Rob Roy Macgregor, who was at this clan meeting, had also affixed his name; but on his own account he was indifferent, as he regarded neither king nor government. He was, however, urged by several chiefs, particularly his patron, to exert himself; and if possible to recover the bond. With this view he went to Fort William in disguise, not with his usual number of attendants, and getting access to Captain Campbell, who was a near relation of his own, he discovered that, out of revenge for the contemptuous manner in which the chieftains now treated the captain, he had put the bond into the possession of the governor of the garrison, who was resolved to forward it to the privy council; and Rob, learning by accident the day on which it was to be sent, took his leave, and went home. The despatch which contained the bond was made up by Governor Hill, and sent from Fort William, escorted by an ensign’s command, which in those countries always accompanied the messages of government. On the third dav's march, Rob and 50 of his men met this party in Glendochart, and ordering them to halt, demanded then despatches. The officer refused; but Rob told him, that he would either have their lives and the despatches together, or the despatches alone. The ferocious looks and appearance of Rob and his men bespoke no irresolution. The packet was given up; and Rob, having taken out the bond he wanted, begged the officer would excuse the delay he had occasioned, and wishing him a good journey, left the military to proceed unmolested. By this manoeuvre many chieftains kept on their heads, and the forfeiture of many estates was prevented.

"The following notices are from Mr. Moir’s MSS.

"One of the causes of the repulse of part of Mar’s forces was the part which Rob Roy acted; this Rob Roy, or Bed Robert, was uncle to the laird of Macgregor, and commanded that clan in his nephew’s absence; but on the day of battle he kept his men together at some distance, without allowing them to engage, though they showed all the willingness imaginable; and waited only an opportunity to plunder, which was it seems the chief design of his coming there. This clan are a hardy rough people, but noted for pilfering, as they lie upon the border of the Highlands, and this Rob Roy had exercised their talents that way, pretty much in a kind of thieving war he carried on against the Duke of Montrose, who had cheated him of a small feudal estate.

"The conduct of this gentleman (who was wont, as occasion served, to assume the name of Campbell, his own being prohibited by act of parliament) was the more surprising, as he had ever been remarked for courage and activity. When desired by one of his own officers to go and assist his friends, he remarked, ‘If they cannot do it without me, they cannot do it with me.’ It is more than probable, however, that his interference would have decided the day in favour of his own party. He continued in arms for some years, and committed great depredations in the shires of Dumbarton and Lennox, particularly on the Duke of Montrose’s lands, defeating several detachments sent to reduce him."—Jacobite Relics, vol. ii. pp. 248 —251.]

The attempt of Mar to disguise the real state of matters was too gross to deceive his adherents, and there were not a few who already began to entertain thoughts of making their own terms with the government: but the Highland chiefs and the principal officers remained firm, and urged Mar to risk another battle even with his reduced forces. The earl, however, though personally brave, was not the man to comply with an advice so opposed to the rule he had laid down for himself, never to engage without a very superior force on his side. But had he been of a different opinion, the receipt of the news of the re-capture of Inverness would probably have precluded him from moving a second time upon Stirling.

It has been remarked as a singular circumstance in this history of Mar’s insurrection, that the three important events which decided its fate should have occurred in regular daily succession. Inverness was captured on the 18th of November, and on the same day Mackintosh’s forces, cooped up in Preston, had to maintain a precarious struggle against the attacks of Wells’s army. Next day witnessed the battle of Sheriffmuir, and at the very time the insurgents in Preston were offering terms of surrender, the right wings of Argyle’s and Mar’s armies were pursuing, with all the confidence of victory, the wings to which they were respectively opposed. And lastly, while on the 14th the insurgents in England were capitulating at Preston, the two rival armies in the north were retiring to their head-quarters, each of them claiming a victory.

The arrival of the Chevalier had been long anxiously looked for by his friends in Scotland He was now about to gratify their desire of beholding his person; but James had already missed the golden opportunity, which presented itself at an early stage of the insurrection, of recovering his father’s crown. Had he, on arriving at St. Malo, whither he proceeded from Lorraine at the breaking out of the insurrection, instantly taken shipping, he would not only have complied with the declared wishes of his adherents, but would have evinced at once a determination to maintain his claim. Instead of embarking, however, immediately, as ho should have done, he spent so much time in the shipment of supplies, which he was desirous should precede his departure, that he was at last altogether prevented from sailing by some men-of-war, which appeared off the harbour of St. Malo, and which had been sent by the British government to intercept him. That he might not disappoint the expectations of his partisans, he resolved to go to Dunkirk in quest of shipping, and having traversed the country in disguise, he embarked at that port, about the middle of December, on board a small French vessel of eight guns, which had formerly been a privateer. He was attended by five persons only, who, to prevent suspicion, were disguised as French officers. Among these were the Marquis of Tynemouth, son of the Duke of Berwick, and Lieutenant Allan Cameron, a son of Lochiel.

Regardless of the evident risk which he ran, by attempting a descent upon the eastern coast of Scotland, he sailed from Dunkirk in the small vessel in which he had embarked, after leaving instructions to despatch after him two other vessels that lay in the harbour with his domestics, and some stores for the use of his army. It was the Chevalier’s intention to have landed in the vicinity of the Frith of Tay, and accordingly, after steering in a northerly direction, he stood across for the coast of Angus, which was descried after a voyage of five days; but observing, at some distance, a sail, which he judged to be unfriendly, he altered his course to northward with the design of landing at Peterhead, of which the Earl Marischal was the feudal superior. The vessel which carried the Chevalier came, however, sufficiently near to land to intimate by signals to the friends of the prince in the neighbourhood that he was on board, which intelligence was immediately conveyed to the camp at Perth, where it was received with a feeling of intense delight.

The Chevalier arrived off Peterhead, on the 22d of December, seven days from the date of his departure from Dunkirk, and immediately landed with his small retinue of five persons, all disguised as seamen. After despatching the vessel to France with the news of his arrival, he and his companions took up their abode in the town for the night. He passed the next night at Newburgh, a seal of the Earl Marischal, having previously sent Lieutenant Cameron to Perth with the intelligence of his landing. The Chevalier continued his journey towards Perth, and on the 24th passed incognito through Aberdeen, and arrived at Fetteresso, the principal seat of the Earl Marischal, where he remained several days. As soon as Lieutenant Cameron reached Perth, the Earl of Mar, the Earl Marischal, General Hamilton, and about thirty other gentlemen, mounted their horses, and set off to meet the Chevalier. This cavalcade arrived at Fetteresso on the 27th, and the persons composing it were introduced to "the king," and had the honour of kissing his hand. After the breaking up of the court, the Chevalier was proclaimed at the gates of the house, and printed copies of the declaration which he had issued in Lorraine were immediately dispersed.

The Chevalier intended to have proceeded next day on his journey to Perth, but he was detained at Fetteresso till the 2d of January, by two successive fits of ague, which, however, did not prevent him from receiving addresses from the "Episcopal clergy of the diocese of Aberdeen," and from the magistrates, town council, and Jacobite inhabitants of the town.

While at Fetteresso the Chevalier exercised some of the functions of royalty, by conferring titles of dignity on some of his adherents. He raised the Earl of Mar to a dukedom; and, according to report, conferred the honour of knighthood upon Bannerman, the Jacobite provost of Aberdeen, who presented the address from that city. Having recovered from his attack, the Chevalier left Fetteresso on the 2d of January, and went to Brechin, where he passed the night. Next day he moved forward to Kinnaird, and on the 4th reached Glammis Castle, the principal seat of the Earl of Strathmore. At Glammis Mar drew up a letter, in which he gave a very flattering account of the Chevalier. As the object of this letter was to impress the people with a favourable opinion of the Chevalier, Mar ordered it to be printed and circulated as widely as possible. The letter is written with address, and may still be perused with interest:

"Glames, 5 Jan. 1716

"I met the king at Fetteresso on Tuesday se’enight, where we staid till Friday; from thence we came to Brechin, then to Kinnaird, and yesterday here. The king designed to have gone to Dundee to-day, but there is such a fall of snow that he is forced to put it off till to-morrow, if it be practicable then; and from thence he designs to go to Scoon. There was no haste in his being there sooner, for nothing can be done this season, else he had not been so long by the way. People, everywhere, as we have come along, are excessively fond to see him, and express that duty they ought. Without any compliment to him, and to do him nothing but justice, set aside his being a prince, he is really the first gentleman I ever knew:

He has a very good presence, and resembles King Charles a great deal. His presence, however, is not the best of him. He has fine parts, and despatches all his business himself with the greatest exactness. I never saw any body write so finely. He is affable to a great degree, without losing that majesty he ought to have, and has the sweetest temper in the world. In a word, he is every way fitted to make us a happy people, were his subjects worthy of him. To have him peaceably settled on his throne, is what these kingdoms do not deserve; but he deserves it so much that I hope there is a good fate attending him. I am sure there is nothing wanting to make the rest of his subjects as fond of him as we are, but their knowing him as we do; and it will be odd if his presence among us, after his running so many hazards to compass it, do not turn the hearts, even of the most obstinate. It is not fit to tell all the particulars, but I assure you he has left nothing undone, that well could be, to gain every body; and I hope God will touch their hearts.

"I have reason to hope we shall very quickly see a new face of affairs abroad in the king’s favour, which is all I dare commit to paper.


On the morning of the 6th of January the Chevalier left Glammis for Dundee, which town he entered about eleven o’clock A.M. on horseback, amidst the acclamations of the inhabitants, the Earl of Mar riding on his right hand, and the Earl Marischal on his left, and followed by a train of nearly 300 adherents on horseback. To gratify the people who flocked round him eager to behold him and to kiss his hand, he, at the request of his friends, remained about an hour on horseback at the cross of the burgh, after which he rode out to the house of Stewart of Grandtully in the neighbourhood, where he dined and passed the night. On the following day he proceeded along the Carse of Gowrie to Castle Lyon, a seat of the Earl of Strathmore, where he dined, and thence to Fingask, the seat of Sir David Threipland, where he spent the night. Next day, being Sunday, he took up his abode in the royal palace of Scone, where he intended to stay till the ceremony of his coronation should be performed.

On Monday the Chevalier made his public entry into Perth. He met, however, with a cold reception, and he himself felt evidently disappointed at the appearance of the camp. He had heard much of the Highland chiefs and the clans, and being desirous to see "those little kings (the chiefs,) with their armies," a select body of Highlanders exhibited before him. Their appearance gave him great satisfaction, but when he ascertained the paucity of the number in the camp, he could not repress the chagrin and disappointment he felt. On the other hand, the friends of the Chevalier were equally disappointed. Neither his appearance nor demeanour on the present occasion tended in any shape to justify the exaggerated encomiums of Mar, and his lugubrious deportment while at Perth tended more to alienate the affections of his adherents, and depress their spirits, than even the disappointment of supplies from France. The following is an account, doubtfully attributed to the Master of Sinclair, of the appearance of the Chevalier on his arrival at Perth, his behaviour while there, and their consequent effects upon his followers.

"His person was tall and thin, seeming to incline to be lean rather than to fill as he grows in years. His countenance was pale, but perhaps looked more so than usual, by reason he had three fits of ague ‘which took him two days after his coming on shore. Yet he seems to be sanguine in his constitution, and there is something of a vivacity in his eye that perhaps would have been more visible if he had not been under dejected circumstances, and surrounded with discouragement, which it must be acknowledged were sufficient to alter the complexion even of his soul as well as of his body. His speech was grave, and not very clearly expressive of his thoughts, nor over much to the purpose; but his words were few, and his behaviour and temper seemed always composed. What he was in his diversions we know not: here was no room for such things. It was no time for mirth. Neither can I say I ever saw him smile. Those who speak so positively of his being like King James VII. must excuse me for saying, that it seems to say they either never saw this person, or never saw King James VII.; and yet I must not conceal that when we saw the man whom they called our king, we found ourselves not at all animated by his presence; and if he was disappointed in us, we were tenfold more so in him. We saw nothing in him that looked like spirit. He never appeared with cheerfulness and vigour to animate us. Our men began to despise him; some asked if he could speak. His countenance looked extremely heavy. He cared not to come abroad amongst us soldiers, or to see us handle our arms or do our exercise. Some said the circumstances he found us in dejected him. I am sure the figure he made dejected us; and had he sent us but 5,000 men of good troops, and never himself come among us, we had done other things than we have now done. At the approach of that crisis when he was to defend his pretensions, and either lose his life or gain a crown, I think, as his affairs were situated, no man can say that his appearing grave and composed was a token of his want of thought, but rather of a significant anxiety grounded upon the prospect of his inevitable ruin, which he could not be so void of sense as not to see plainly before him, at least when he came to see how inconsistent his measures were, how unsteady the resolution of his guides, and how impossible it was to make them agree with one another."’

The Chevalier returned to Scone in the evening, and notwithstanding the ominous symptoms of the day, proceeded to form a council preparatory to exercising the functions of royalty. From Scone he soon issued no less than six proclamations; one for a general thanksgiving for his safe arrival; another enjoining the ministers to pray for him in the churches; a third, establishing the currency of foreign coin; a fourth, ordering a meeting of the convention of estates; a fifth, commanding all fencible men from sixteen to sixty to repair to his standard; and a sixth, fixing the 23d of January for his coronation at Scone. These assumptions of sovereign authority were, however, of a very evanescent character, as they had scarcely been issued when the Chevalier and his principal friends resolved to abandon the contest as hopeless. Indeed, from the reduced state of the army, and its deficiency in arms and ammunition, a determination had been come to by his party, a month before he landed, to retire from Perth as soon as Argyle should march against it; but being ignorant of that resolution, and believing that the insurgents intended to defend Perth, Argyle delayed his advance till he should be joined by large reinforcements from England and Holland.

Though continued in the command of the army, Argyle, for some reason or other, was not a favourite at court. Of his fidelity there could be no suspicion, and his conduct had lately shown that he wanted neither zeal nor ability to perform the task which had been assigned him. It has been conjectured that the leniency which he was disposed to show towards his unfortunate countrymen was the cause of that hidden displeasure which ended in the dismissal of himself and of his brother, the Earl of Islay, from all their employments. The rejection of an application which he made to the government for extended powers to treat with the insurgents after the battle of Sheriffmuir, goes far to support the supposition. But whatever were his views, he appeared to be in no hurry to pursue the insurgents, probably from an idea that they would disperse of their own accord. By the arrival of a body of 6,000 Dutch auxiliaries, and other reinforcements from England, Argyle found himself, early in January, at the head of upwards of 10,000 men, besides a large train of artillery. Desirous of expelling the insurgents from Fife before advancing north, a detachment of Dutch and Scotch troops crossed the Frith of Forth by the duke’s orders, and under cover of some men-of-war, landed at Burntisland, of which they took possession. On receiving this intelligence the insurgents immediately abandoned all the towns on the north side of the Frith, a circumstance which was attended with serious consequences to their friends at Perth, who were in consequence entirely cut off from their supplies of coals, at an unusually inclement season.

About the end of January, Argyle was in full condition to march north, but the snow, which had fallen to a great depth, appeared to him to offer a formidable obstruction to the march of an army unaccustomed to a winter’s campaign; and which, from the insurgents having burnt and destroyed the villages on the road, would have to bivouac two or three nights in the open air, exposed to all the rigours of a northern winter. For these reasons Argyle urged, at a council of war, which was held at Stirling, a postponement of the march; but General Cadogan, who had been sent down to Scotland to hasten the duke’s motions, insisting upon an immediate advance, and having openly accused Argyle of a want of zeal, his Grace made preparations for marching, and to facilitate the transport of his cannon and waggons, issued orders for assembling some thousands of the country people to clear away the snow.

Although the Jacobite leaders had come to the resolution of abandoning Perth as soon as the Duke of Argyle should advance upon it, they nevertheless gave indications as if they really meant to hold out. Pursuant to an order of a council, which was held on the 16th of January, the most strenuous exertions were made to fortify the town, and both officers and men vied with one another in hastening the completion of the works. What the motives of the leaders may have been in thus practising a deception upon the army it is impossible to conceive; perhaps the distant hope of being joined by the more remote clans, the chance of some fortunate, though unlooked for, occurrence in the chapter of accidents, or an idea that their men could not be otherwise kept together, may have been the inducing causes of these defensive preparations; but whatever their motives were, the apparent determination shown by the leading men to meet the enemy, had the most beneficial effect upon the army, which evinced a strong desire to engage. In this wish they thought they were to be gratified sooner than they expected, by the arrival of some country people at Perth who brought intelligence that Argyle was advancing with all his cavalry, and 4,000 foot mounted on horses. This news was, however, premature, and had originated in the appearance of a reconnoitring party of 200 dragoons, which Argyle had sent forward on the road to Perth, on the 21st of January, and which the fears of the people had magnified into an army.

All doubts, however, were removed in a few days, by the receipt of authentic intelligence at Perth, that Argyle having completed his arrangements, was to leave Stirling for Perth on the 29th of January, with his whole army. The counciliors of the Chevalier were dismayed at this intelligence, but it had quite an opposite effect upon the mass of the army. Nothing was to be heard in the Jacobite camp but the voice of joy and rejoicing, and congratulations, on the expected happy result of an encounter with the enemy, were exchanged on all sides —between the officers and gentlemen volunteers, and the common soldiers and clansmen. While the former were pledging each other in their cups and drinking to "the good day," so near at hand, as they thought, which was to crown the Chevalier’s arms with victory, the latter, amid the din of the warlike bagpipe were to be men giving each other a cordial shake of the hand as if fully assured of success.

Whilst these congratulatory exhibitions were going on, the councillors of the Chevalier were deliberating upon the course they should pursue; but although they sat during the whole night they could come to no decided resolution. When the irresolution of the council became generally known, the men could not restrain their indignation, and a general opinion began to prevail among them that they had been betrayed. Impressed with this feeling, they became mutinous, and carried their insubordination so far as to insult the officers, whom they supposed had betrayed them, in the streets, and to load them with reproachful epithets. The gentlemen volunteers also participated in the same sentiments; and one of them from the higher parts of Aberdeenshire was heard to declare before a group of malcontents assembled in the streets, that the clans should take the person of the Chevalier out of the hands of the weak councillors who surrounded him, adding that he would find 10,000 gentlemen in Scotland who would hazard their lives for him, if he was equally ready as a prince to risk his own life in vindicating his right to the crown. A friend of the Earl of Mar, after remonstrating with this party, asked what they wished their officers to do.—" Do," replied a Highlander, "what did you call us to take arms for? Was it to ruin away? What did the king come hither for? Was it to see his people butchered by hangmen, and not strike a stroke for their lives? Let us die like men and not like dogs."

Amid the confusion and perplexity occasioned by such a state of things, Mar convened another meeting of the council on the evening of the 29th, at which a resolution to retreat was entered into chiefly at Mar’s suggestion. His reasons for advising an abandonment of the enterprise for the present, were, 1st, the failure of the Duke of Ormond’s attempt to invade England; 2dly, the great accession of force which Argyle had received from abroad; and, lastly, the reduced state of the Jacobite forces, which did not exceed 4,000 men, and of whom only about 2,500 were properly armed. Besides these there were, according to the Master of Sinclair, other reasons of a private nature which influenced Mar to give the advice he did, the chief of which, says the above-named authority, was that the Earl of Seaforth, the Marquis of Huntly, and other Jacobites who were in treaty with the government, had basely resolved to deliver up the Chevalier to the Duke of Argyle, that they might procure better terms for themselves than they could otherwise expect. This odious charge, which is not corroborated by any other writer, must be looked upon as highly improbable.

Before communicating to the army the resolution to retreat, a general meeting of all the officers was held at Scone on the following day, when they were informed of the determination of the previous evening, and of the reasons which had led to it It was then secretly resolved that the Chevalier and his principal officers should take shipping at Montrose for France, and that the army should be disbanded as soon as it reached the Highlands, or as soon as circumstances permitted; but to save appearances with the men, it was given out, that as Perth was untenable, it became necessary to retire to a stronger position, where they could not only defend themselves, but keep up a more secure and direct communication with their friends in the north. At this time there were three ships lying in the Tay off Dundee, which had lately arrived with supplies from France; and to secure these for the conveyance of the Chevalier and his followers, a French officer and clergyman were despatched to Dundee with orders to sand them down the coast to Montrose, there to wait his arrival.

On the return of the officers to the camp, they promulgated the order to retreat to their men, and, as might have been anticipated, it was received with scorn and contempt. Among the Jacobite inhabitants of the town who had shown themselves very zealous in the cause of the Chevalier, the intelligence caused nothing but dismay, as from the prominent and decided part they had taken, they had incurred the penalties of treason against the government. The morning of the 31st of January was fixed upon for the retreat, but a body of about 800 Highlanders, disliking the aspect of affairs, and displeased with the conduct of the principal officers, quitted Perth the preceding night for the Highlands by way of Dunkeld. Preparatory to his departure, the Chevalier went from Scone to Perth in the evening, and took up his residence in the house of Hay the provost, a stanch Jacobite, where he supped and passed the night. At ten o’clock next morning the rebels began their march across the Tay, which was covered with ice of extraordinary thickness. About noon the whole army had passed, and was on the march to Dundee along the Carse of Gowrie.

Second Duke of ArgyleMeanwhile, the Duke of Argyle was advancing upon Perth as fast as the nature of the difficulties he had to contend with would admit of. He had left Stirling on the 20th of January, and marched to Dunblane. Next day he advanced as far as Auchterarder, which had been entirely burnt by the rebels. Here they passed the night upon the snow without "any other covering than the fine canopy of heaven." On the following day a detachment of 200 dragoons and 400 foot, which had been sent forward to protect the country people who were engaged in clearing away the snow, took possession of the castle of Tullibardine, the garrison of which had capitulated. The Duke of Argyle had resolved to take up his quarters for the night in this fortress; but receiving intelligence that the rebels had retired from Perth that morning, he ordered a party of 400 dragoons and 1,000 foot to hasten forward to take possession of that town. The duke, at the head of the dragoons, arrived at Perth about two o’clock in the morning of the 1st of February; but the foot, who were greatly fatigued, did not come up till ten o’clock. The remainder of the duke’s army reached Perth that evening.

The distance from Stirling to Perth is only 34 miles, yet such was the obstruction that Argyle’s army met with from the snow, that their march occupied three entire days. The difficulties of the march and the privations which his men had suffered by resting two nights on the snow, exposed to all the severities of the weather, had exhausted his men, that it was not till the day after his arrival at Perth that the duke could muster a force sufficiently strong to pursue the enemy.

On the 2d of February Argyle left Perth at the head of six squadrons of dragoons, three battalions of foot, and 800 Highlanders. He stopped at Errol that night, and entered Dundee next day. Having learned that the Chevalier had left Dundee the preceding day on his way to Montrose, the duke sent forward a detachment towards Arbroath, and being joined by the remainder of his army on the 4th of February, he despatched on the same day three battalions of foot, 500 of his own Highlanders, and 50 dragoons, towards Arbroath, and another detachment of 300 foot, and 50 dragoons, in the direction of Brechin; but their march was retarded for some time by the snow. On the 5th the duke followed with the remainder of the army; and while he himself, at the head of the cavalry, took the high road to Brechin, General Cadogan with the infantry marched in the direction of Arbroath.

During the retreat to Montrose, suspicions began to be entertained in the Chevalier’s army, that it was his intention to embark for France, notwithstanding the assurances of the principal officers to the contrary. The unusual route along the sea-coast gave credence to the rumour; but when they approached Montrose, and saw some French vessels lying at anchor off the shore, their suspicions were confirmed, and the men began to manifest symptoms of discontent. The insurgent army arrived at Montrose on the 3d of February, where it was intended they should pass the night; but the Chevalier’s advisers, alarmed at the murmurings of the troops, ordered them to march the same night towards Aberdeen, where it was given out they meant to make a stand till succours should arrive from abroad. This assurance had the desired effect upon the troops, who accordingly began their march in the expectation that the Chevalier would follow them. To prevent suspicion, his horses were ordered to be brought before the door of the house where he lodged at the hour appointed for the march, and his guards were ordered to mount, and to hold themselves in readiness to accompany him.

Meanwhile the Chevalier was busily employed in making the necessary preparations for his approaching departure. To relieve his memory from the imputation of having voluntarily abandoned the brave men who had taken up arms in his cause, it is due to him to state that he had been all along opposed to such a step, and it was not until he had been repeatedly and earnestly urged by his friends that he could be prevailed upon to give his consent to retire beyond seas. He said he was ready to suffer every hardship, and expose himself to every danger, rather than abandon those who had risked their all in his service; but being assured by his friends, that the course they advised might be ultimately beneficial to both, he reluctantly yielded to their entreaties. His principal motive for acceding to their wishes was the consideration that, if relieved from his presence, the government might be disposed to give better terms to his followers than they would be otherwise disposed to grant.

Before his departure he ordered a commission to be drawn up, by which he appointed General Gordon commander-in-chief, with all necessary powers, and particularly with authority to treat with the enemy. He wrote, at the same time, a paper containing his reasons for leaving the kingdom, and along with which he delivered to the general all the money in his possession, (excepting a small sum which he reserved for defraying the expenses of himself and suite,) with instructions, after paying the army, to apply the residue in indenmifying the inhabitants of the villages which had been burned, for the losses sustained by them. At the same time the Chevalier put the following letter to the Duke of Argyle, which he dictated to a secretary, into the hands of General Gordon, respecting the appropriation of the money so left. It is an interesting document, and exhibits the humanity of the prince in a favourable point of view:-

"For The Duke of Argyle
Montrose, 4th February,

"It was the view of delivering this my ancient kingdom from the hardship it lay under, and restoring it to its former happiness and independency, that brought me into this country; and all hopes of effectuating that at this time being taken from me, I have been reduced much against my inclination, but by a cruel necessity, to leave the kingdom with as many of my faithful subjects as were desirous to follow me, or I able to carry with me, that so at least I might secure them from the utter destruction that threatens them, since that was the only way left me to show them the regard I had for, and the sense I had of their unparalleled loyalty.

"Among the manifold mortifications I have had in this unfortunate expedition, that of being forced to burn several villages, &c., as the only expedient left me for the publick security, was not the smallest. It was indeed forced upon me by the violence with which my rebellious subjects acted against me, and what they, as the first authors of it, must be answerable for, not I: however, as I cannot think of leaving this country without making some provision to repair that loss, I have, therefore, consigned to the magistrates of ...... the sum of ........, desiring and requiring of you, if not as an obedient subject, at least as a lover of your country, to take care that it be employed to the designed use, that I may at least have the satisfaction of having been the destruction and ruin of none, at a time I came to free all. Whether you have yet received my letter, [It is presumed this is the letter alluded to in a conversation between Lockhart of Carnwath and Captain Dougall Campbell, who is represented by him as "a person of great worth and loyalty, and a bosoms friend of Argyle’s." "Being with me (says Lockhart) at my country house, he (Campbell) asked me if I heard Argyle blam’d for having received and given no answer to a letter writt to him by the king whilst he was at Perth. I told him I had, but could not agree with those who censured him, for I had such an abhorrence of breach of trust, that had I been the duke’s adviser, it should have been to doe as he did; for tho there was nothing I so much desired as to see him engaged in the king’s cause, I wisht it done in a way consistent with his honour. Captain Campbell smiled and told me, he was to acquaint me of a secret which he must previously have my solemn word I would communicate to none, which he had given when it was revealed to him, having however obtained liberty afterwards to speak of it to me. After giving him the assurance he demanded, he told me that the letter was not delivered to the duke, for in his late Highland progress, he saw it and another to Lord Isla in the hands of the person to whose care they were committed, (but who that person was he would not tell me), who receiving them unseal’d, did not, after perusal, think it for the kings service to deliver them, that to the duke being writt in a style by no means to be approved of; ‘and, indeed,’ added Campbell, ‘when I read them, I was entirely of the same mind, and could not but think that Mar or some other person, with a view of rather widening than healing the breaches, had prevail’d with the king to write after that manner.’ The letter to Isla was writt as to a man of business, insisting on the unhappy state of Scotland, and that nothing but a dissolution of the union by the king’s restoration, could prevent the utter ruin of that country. That to the duke did invite him to return to his loyalty and duty, threatening him, if he neglected, with revenge and the utter extirpation of his family, for what he and his predecessors had done in this and the last century. I do not pretend to narrate the precise words of this letter, nor did Campbell mention them as such to me; however, I have narrated what he said was the aim and purport of the letter. "—Lockhart Papers, vol. ii. pp. 14, 15.]  or what effect it hath had upon you, I am as yet ignorant of; but what will become of these unhappy nations is but too plaine. I have neglected nothing to render them a free and prosperous people; and I fear they will find yet more than I the smart of preferring a foreign yoak to that obedience they owe me; and what must those who have so obstinately resisted both my right and my clemency have to answer for ? But however things turn, or providence is pleased to dispose of me, I shall never abandon my just right, nor the pursuits of it, but with my life; and beseech God so to turn at last the hearts of my subjects, as that they may enjoy peace and happiness by submitting to what their interest and duty equally require of them. As for your own particular, you might, if you had pleased, joined interest and greatness in your own person; but, though you have refused to do that, I must earnestly request of you to do at least all in your power to save your country from utter ruin, and to be just at least to them, since you are it not to me.

" I thought to write this in my own hand, but had not time.


This letter was accompanied by a note of the following letter to General Gordon, written in the Chevalier’s own hand:-

"General Gordon is hereby empowered, as soon as he has no other further occasion for the money left in his hands for the subsistence of the troops, to forward, if he thinks fitt, the enclosed letter to the duke of Argil, and to fill up the blanks of my letter with the name of the town where he shall leave the money, and the sum he shall leave.

"James R"

It was not until the eve of his departure, that James thought of selecting the persons he wished to accompany him in his flight, but the near approach of the enemy, of whose motions he had just received intelligence, and the murmurings and jealousies of his troops compelling him to hasten his departure, he was narrowed in his choice, as some of the friends, whose presence he desired, were at some distance from Montrose. The first individual he pitched upon was Mar; but the earl begged that he might be left behind with the army. The Chevalier, however, insisted that he should go; and on representing to him that reasons almost equally strong existed for Mar’s departure as for his own, that his friends would make better terms with the government without him than with him, and that his services could be of no use in Scotland under existing circumstances, he gave his consent.

Matters being adjusted, the Chevalier left his lodgings privately about nine o’clock on the evening of the 4th of February, accompanied only by one of his domestics, and having met Mar at his lodgings, they both proceeded by a private way to the beach, where a boat was lying in readiness to receive them, which carried them on boad a small French vessel that lay at a little distance from the shore. The boat was immediately sent back, and returned in about a quarter of an hour with the Earl of Melfort, Lord Drummond, and the remainder of the Chevalier’s suite. Being favoured with a fresh breeze from the west-south-west, the vessel stood directly out to sea, and after a voyage of five days, arrived in safety at Waldam, near Gravelines in French Flanders.

The insurgents, under General Gordon, marched to Aberdeen, which they entered on the morning of the 6th of February. Here he communicated to his men the paper of instructions he had received from the Chevalier, which, he informed them, he had been ordered not to open till their arrival at Aberdeen. In this writing the prince complained of the disappointments he had met with, particularly from abroad, and informed the army of the necessity he was under, for his own preservation, to leave the country. He thanked them for having entered so cheerfully into his service, and imputed the failure of the enterprise to the apathy of others, who had not seconded their efforts as they had promised to do. He advised them to consult their own safety by keeping together in a body under General Gordon till he should order them to disperse, and concluded by encouraging them to hope for better times. After reading this document, the General notified to his men that their pay would cease after that day.

General Cadogan arrived at Montrose on the afternoon of the 5th of February with three regiments of foot, and 600 of Argyle’s Highlanders, and the duke reached Brechin with the dragoons the same night. The whole royalist forces continued their march the following day towards Aberdeen, but they could not overtake the insurgents, who were nearly two days march in advance. The latter left Aberdeen on the 7th, and the Duke of Argyle entered it the following day at the head of 400 dragoons. The main body of the insurgents, chiefly foot, marched in the direction of Old Meldrum, but a party of about 200 horse, among whom were many officers and gentlemen-volunteers, took the route to Peterhead, where some vessels were lying to carry them to France. The Duke of Argyle, without waiting for the coming up of the rest of his army, immediately sent 200 dragoons, and a party of foot under Major-General Evans, to cut off the retreat of the latter, but he did not overtake them. Upwards of 100 of the gentlemen composing this party escaped to France.

Meanwhile the insurgents continued their march westwards into Moray, and after marching through Strathspey, retired into Badenoch, where they quietly dispersed. During their retreat, however, many, whose houses lay contiguous to their route, gradually withdrew from the ranks, so that before their arrival in Badenoch a considerable reduction had taken place in their numbers. Though closely pursued by Argyle’s troops, the insurgents did not lose 100 men during the whole retreat, so well and orderly was it conducted by the Jacobite commander.

After the dispersion of the insurgents, about 160 officers and gentlemen-volunteers who had followed the army into the Highlands, hearing that two French frigates, destined to receive on board such of the adherents of the Chevalier as might be inclined to retire abroad, had arrived off the Orkney coast, sallied from the hills on horseback, and crossing the low country of Moray embarked in boats at Burgh-head, and landed in Caithness. From Caithness they proceeded to the Orkney islands, where they had the good fortune to reach the French ships, which carried them to Gottenburg. Among this party were Lord Duffus, who, being a seaman, entered into the naval service of the King of Sweden, Sir George Sinclair, Sir David Threipland of Fingask, and General Eckline. Most of these refugees entered into the Swedish army then about to invade Norway.

Thus ended an enterprise badly contrived, and conducted throughout with little judgment or energy. Yet notwithstanding the disadvantages under which it was attempted, it might have succeeded, if the efforts of the Scottish Jacobites had been seconded by the Jacobites of England; but the latter, though decidedly hostile to the House of Brunswick, were not inclined to risk their lives and fortunes in a doubtful contest, in support of the pretensions of a prince known to them only by name, and to whose religion many of them felt a deep-rooted repugnance.

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