Tales of a Grandfather, by Walter Scott

Chapter 76

IN the mean while, and even before the day appointed by Charles Edward for erecting his standard, the civil war commenced. This was not by the capture of the Duke of Argyle, or the projected attack upon the forts, neither of which took place. But the hostile movements of the Highlanders had not escaped the attention of the governor of Fort Augustus, who, apprehensive for the safety of Fort William, which lay nearest to the disaffected clans, sent a detachment of two companies under Captain John Scott, afterwards General Scott. He marched early in the morning of the 16th of August, with the purpose of reaching Fort–William before nightfall. His march ran along the military road which passes by the side of the chain of lakes now connected by the Caledonian Canal. Captain Scott and his detachment had passed the lakes, and were within eight miles of Fort–William, when they approached a pass called High Bridge, where the river Spean is crossed by a steep and narrow bridge, surrounded by rocks and woods. Here he was alarmed by the sound of a bagpipe, and the appearance of Highlanders in arms. This was a party of men belonging to MacDonald of Keppoch, and commanded by his kinsman, MacDonald of Tiendreich. They did not amount to more than twelve or fifteen men, but showing themselves in different points, it was impossible for Captain Scott to ascertain their number. He detached a steady sergeant in advance, accompanied by a private soldier, to learn the meaning of this opposition; but they were instantly made prisoners by the mountaineers. Scott, who was a man of unquestionable courage, was desirous of pursuing his route and fighting his way. But his officers were of a different opinion, considering that they were to storm a strong pass in the face of an enemy of unknown strength, and the privates, who were newly raised men, showed symptoms of fear. In this predicament Captain Scott was induced to attempt a retreat by the same road along which he had advanced. But the firing had alarmed the country; and the Highlanders assembling with characteristic promptitude, their numbers increased at every moment. Their activity enabled them to line the mountains, rocks, and thickets overhanging the road, and by which it was commanded, and the regulars were overwhelmed with a destructive fire, to which they could only make a random return upon an invisible enemy. Mean while the hills, the rocks, and dingles, resounded with the irregular firing, the fierce shrieks of the Highlanders, and the yellings of the pibroch. The soldiers continued to retreat, or rather to run, till about five or six miles eastward from High Bridge, when Keppoch came up with about twenty more men, hastily assembled since the skirmish began. Others, the followers of Glengarry, had also joined, making the number about fifty. The Highlanders pressed their advantage, and showed themselves more boldly in front, flank, and rear, while the ammunition of the soldiers was exhausted without having even wounded one of their assailants. They were now closely surrounded, or supposed themselves to be so; their spirits were entirely sunk, and on Keppoch coming in front, and summoning them to surrender, on pain of being cut to pieces, they immediately laid down their arms. Captain Scott was wounded, as were five or six of his men. About the same number were slain. This disaster, which seems to have arisen from the commanding officer’s neglecting to keep an advanced guard, gave great spirits to the Highlanders, and placed in a flattering light their peculiar excellence as light troops. The prisoners were treated with humanity, and carried to Lochiel’s house of Auchnacarrie, where the wounded were carefully attended to. As the governor of Fort–Augustus would not permit a surgeon from that garrison to attend Captain Scott, Lochiel, with his wonted generosity, sent him on parole to the Fort, that he might have medical assistance. The war being thus openly commenced, Charles moved from the House of Glenaladale, which had been his last residence, to be present at the raising of his standard at the place of rendezvous in Glenfinnan. He arrived early on the 19th of August in the savage and sequestered vale, attended only by a company or two of the MacDonalds, whose chief, Clanranald, was absent, raising his men in every quarter where he had influence. Two hours elapsed, and the mountain ridges still looked as lonely as ever, while Charles waited as one uncertain of his fate, until at length Lochiel and the Camerons appeared. This body amounted to seven or eight hundred. They advanced in two lines, having betwixt them the two companies who had been taken on the 16th, disarmed and marching as prisoners. Keppoch arrived shortly afterwards with three hundred men, and some chieftains of less importance brought in each a few followers. The standard was then unfurled; it was displayed by the Marquis of Tullibardin, exiled, as we have already said, on account of his accession to the rebellion in 1715, and now returned to Scotland with Charles in the Doutelle. He was supported by a man on each side as he performed the ceremony.1 The manifesto of the old Chevalier, and the commission of regency granted to his son Charles Edward, were then read, and the Adventurer made a short speech, asserting his title to the throne, and alleging that he came for the happiness of his people, and had chosen this part of the kingdom for the commencement of his enterprise, because he knew he should find a population of brave gentlemen, zealous as their noble predecessors for their own honour and the rights of their sovereign, and as willing to live and die with him, as he was willing at their head to shed the last drop of his blood.

A leader of the clan of MacLeod appeared at this rendezvous, and renounced on the occasion his dependence upon his chief, whom indeed he did not acknowledge as such, and promised to join with his own following. Lochiel and some others of the chiefs present took this opportunity of writing to MacLeod and Sir Alexander MacDonald, to engage them to join, as the writers alleged their honour obliged them. This letter gave great offence to both the chiefs, and to Sir Alexander in particular, who alleged the insinuation it contained as a reason for the part he afterwards took in this affair.

Tidings were soon heard that the Government troops were in motion to put down the insurrection.

The Prince had resolved to avoid the great mistake of Mar in the year 1715, and to avail himself to the uttermost of the fierce and ardent activity of the troops whom he commanded, and it was with pleasure that he heard of the enemy’s approach. He remained for a few days at Auchnacarrie, the house of Lochiel, and finding the unwillingness which the Highlanders evinced to carry baggage, the impossibility of finding horses, and the execrable character of the roads, he left a quantity of swivel-guns and pioneer’s tools behind, as tending only to encumber his march. In the mean time, he was joined by the following clans:— MacDonald of Glencoe brought with him 150 men; the Stuarts of Appin, under Ardshiel, amounting to 250; Keppoch brought 300 MacDonalds; Glengarry, the younger, joined the army, as it marched eastward with about 300-making a total of nearly 2000 men.

There was an association drawn up and signed at Auchnacarrie, by the chiefs who had taken the field, in which the subscribers bound themselves never to abandon the Prince while he remained in the realm, or to lay down their arms, or make peace with Government, without his express consent. While the insurrection was thus gathering strength and consistency, the heads of the official bodies at Edinburgh became apprised of its existence, which, however rash on the part of the Adventurer, was yet very hazardous to the state, on account of the particular time when it broke out. George II. was absent in Hanover, and the Government was in the hands of a Council of Regency, called Lords Justices, whose councils seemed neither to have evinced sagacity nor vigour.

Early in summer, they had received intelligence that the young Chevalier had a design to sail from Nantes with a single vessel; and, latterly, they had heard a rumour that he had actually landed in the Highlands. This intelligence was sent by the Marquis of Tweeddale to the commander-inchief; to Lord Milton, a Scottish judge, who was much consulted in state affairs; to the Lord Advocate, the President of the Court of Session, and the Lord Justice Clerk. These principal officers or advisers of Government formed a sort of council for the direction of state affairs.

The report of Charles’s landing at length reached Edinburgh with such marks of authenticity, as no longer to admit of doubt. The alarm was very considerable, for the regular forces of Britain were chiefly engaged on the continent. There were not in all Scotland quite three thousand troops, exclusive of garrisons. Of three battalions and a half of infantry, only one battalion was an old corps; the rest were newly raised. Two regiments of dragoons, Hamilton’s and Gardiner’s, were the youngest in the service. There were independent companies levied for the purpose of completing the regiments which were in Flanders: and there were several companies of a Highland regiment, which Lord Loudon commanded, but who, being Highlanders, were not to be much trusted in the present quarrel. Out of this small force, two of the newly raised companies had been made prisoners at High Bridge. Yet, reduced as his strength was, Sir John Cope, the commander-inchief, deemed it equal to the occasion, and resolved to set out northward at the head of such troops as he could most hastily assemble, to seek out tile Adventurer, give him battle, and put an end to the rebellion. The Lords Justices approved of this as a soldierlike resolution, and gave orders to the general to proceed to put his plan in execution.

Sir John took the field accordingly on the 19th of August, and marched to Stirling, where he left the two regiments of dragoons, as they could have been of little use in the hills, and it would have been difficult to obtain forage for them. His infantry consisted of between fourteen and fifteen hundred men; and, together with a train of artillery and a superfluity of baggage, he had with him a thousand stand of spare muskets, to arm such loyal clans as he expected to join him. None such appearing, he sent back 700 of the firelocks from Crieff to Stirling. His march was directed upon Fort Augustus, from which, as a central point, he designed to operate against the insurgents, where-ever he might find them. As this route was the same with that by which the Highland army were drawing towards the Lowlands, Sir John Cope had no sooner arrived at Dalnacardoch, than he learned, from undoubted intelligence, that the Highlanders were advancing, with the purpose of meeting and fighting him at the pass of Corryarrack. How this intelligence affected the motions of the English general I will presently tell you, but must, in the first place, return to the operations of the young Chevalier and his insurrectionary army. Amongst other persons of consequence with whom the Prince had held correspondence since his landing, was the celebrated Lord Lovat, who, highly discontented with Government for depriving him of his independent company, had long professed his resolution to return to his original allegiance to the Stewart dynasty, and was one of those seven men of consequence who subscribed the invitation to the Chevalier in the year 1740. As no one, however, suspected Lovat of attachment either to King or political party farther than his own interest was concerned, and as the Chevalier had come without the troops, money, and arms, which had been stipulated in that offer of service, there was great reason to suspect that the old wily chief might turn against the Adventurer, and refuse him his support. It chanced, however, that Lovat had attached considerable importance to the idea of becoming Duke of Fraser, and Lord Lieutenant of Inverness-shire; and the desire of obtaining these objects, though but of ideal value, induced him, notwithstanding his natural selfish sagacity, to endeavour to secure them, at the same moment while he was meditating how to escape from fulfilling the promises of which these titular honours and offices were to be the guerdon.

While the Chevalier lay at Invergarry, Fraser of Gortuleg, an especial confident of Lovat, waited upon the Prince in the capacity of his chief’s envoy, and made an humble request for the patent of the dukedom and the lieutenancy, which King James VIII. had promised to him. At the same time, the emissary brought a specious, but evasive protestation of Lovat’s respect for the Stewart family, and his deep regret that his age and infirmities, with other obstacles, would not permit him instantly to get his clan to take up arms. Such a message was easily seen to evince a desire to seize the bait, without, if possible, swallowing the hook it covered. But Lovat was a man of great importance at the time. Besides his own clan, which he retained in high military order, he had also great influence over the Laird of Cluny, his son-in-law, and chief of the MacPhersons, over the MacIntoshes, the Farquharsons, and other clans residing in the neighbourhood of Inverness, who were likely to follow his example in rising or remaining quiet. Sir Alexander MacDonald of Sleat, and the Laird of MacLeod, were also much in the habit of taking his advice, and following his example. He was not, therefore, to be disobliged; and as the original patents, subscribed by James himself, had been left behind with the heavy baggage, the Chevalier caused new deeds of the same tenor to be written out, and delivered to Gortuleg for Lovat’s satisfaction.

The crafty old man, by the same messenger, made another request, which had a relish of blood in it. I have told you that Lovat’s most intimate friend had been Duncan Forbes, now Lord President of the Court of Session, to whose assistance he owed his establishment in the country and estate of his ancestors, in the year 1715. They had continued since that period on the most intimate terms, Lord Lovat applying, according to his nature, every expression of devotion and flattery which could serve to secure the President’s good opinion. As Duncan Forbes, however, was a man of perfect knowledge of the world, he speedily traced Lovat’s growing dislike to the established government; and being, by his office, as well as his disposition, a decided friend to the ruling dynasty, he easily fathomed Lovat’s designs, and laboured to render them abortive. Their correspondence, though still full of profession and adulation on Lovat’s side, assumed a tone of mutual suspicion and alarm, which made the latter to grow weary 01 the President’s active, vigilant, and frequent remonstrances. Gortuleg, therefore, stated Lovat’s extreme sense of the power which the President had to hurt the cause of the Stewart family, and demanded a warrant from the Prince, authorizing him to secure his friend, the President, dead or alive. The Prince declined granting it in the terms required, but signed a warrant for seizing the President’s person, and detaining him in close custody. With these documents Fraser of Gortuleg returned to his wily and double-dealing old master. In the mean time, Lovat’s conduct exhibited strange marks of indecision. He became apprised by the Lord President, that Sir Alexander MacDonald and MacLeod had declined to join the Chevalier,-a resolution, indeed, to which the prudential advice of Forbes had strongly contributed, -and he expressed his own determination to adhere to the established government. While these intrigues were in progress, the Chevalier obtained accurate accounts of Sir John Cope’s movements, from deserters who frequently left Lord Loudon’s companies, which consisted chiefly of Highlanders, these men having a strong temptation to join the ranks of the Chevalier, in whose service their relations and chief were engaged.

The Prince was so much animated at the prospect of battle, that he summoned together his clans, now augmented by the Grants of Glenmorriston, in number one hundred men — burned and destroyed all that could impede his march, and sacrificed his own baggage, that the men might not complain of hardship. By a forced march he assembled his adherents at Invergarry, where he gave them some hours’ repose, in order that they might be the better fitted for the fatigues of the impending battle.

On the morning of the 26th August, the Chevalier marched to Aberchallader, within three miles of Fort Augustus, and rested for the evening. On the dawning of the next morning, he resumed his march, to dispute with Sir John Cope, whom all reports announced to be advancing, the passage of the rugged pass of Corryarrack. This mountain is ascended by a part of Marshal Wade’s military road, which attains the summit by a long succession [seventeen] of zig-zags, or traverses, gaining slowly and gradually on the steep and rugged elevation on the south side, by which General Cope was supposed to be advancing. The succession of so many steep and oblique windings on the side of the hill, the other parts of which are in the highest degree impracticable, bears the appropriate name of the Devil’s Staircase. The side of the mountain, save where intersected by this uncouth line of approach, is almost inaccessible, and the traverses are themselves intersected by deep mountain ravines and torrents, crossed by bridges which might be in a very short time broken down, and, being flanked with rocks and thickets, afford innumerable points of safe ambush to sharpshooters or enfilading parties. The Chevalier hastened to ascend the northern side, and possess himself of the top of the hill, which has all the effect of a natural fortress, every traverse serving for a trench. He displayed exulting hope and spirits, and while putting on a new pair of Highland brogues, said with high glee, “ Before I throw these off, I shall fight with General Cope.” He expected to meet the English general about one o’clock. MacDonald of Lochgarry, with the Secretary Murray, were ordered to ascend the hill on the north side, and reconnoitre the position of the supposed enemy. But to their astonishment, when they reached the summit, instead of seeing the precipitous path filled with the numerous files of Cope’s army in the act of ascent, they looked on silence and solitude. Not a man appeared on the numerous windings of the road, until at length they observed some people in the Highland garb, whom they at first took for Lord Loudon’s Highlanders, who, as familiar with the roads and the country, it was natural to think might form the advanced guard of the English army. On a nearer approach, these men were discovered to be deserters from Cope’s army, who brought the intelligence that that general had entirely altered his line of march, and, avoiding the expected contest, was in full march to Inverness.

The truth proved to be, that General Cope, when he approached within a day’s march of the Chevalier and his little army, saw objections to his plan of seeking out the Adventurer and fighting him, which had not occurred to him while there was a greater distance between them. It could have required no great powers of anticipation to suppose, that the Highlanders would rally round their Prince in considerable numbers, impressed by the romantic character of his expedition; or to conjecture that, in so very rugged a country, an irregular army would take post in a defile. But General Cope had not imagined such a rapid assembling of the mountaineers as had taken place, or a pass so formidable as the Devil’s Staircase, on Corryarrack. This unlucky general, whose name became a sort of laughing-stock in Scotland, was not by any means a poltroon, as has been supposed; but he was one of those second-rate men, who are afraid of responsibility, and form their plan of a campaign more with reference to the vindication of their own character, than the success of their enterprise. He laid his embarrassments before a council of war, the usual refuge of generals who find themselves unable to decide, of their own judgment, upon arduous points of difficulty. He had received exact information concerning the numbers and disposition of the enemy from Captain Sweetenham, an English officer, who was taken prisoner by the insurgents, while on his route to take the command of three companies lying at Fort William, and, having been present at the setting up of the standard, described the general huzzas and clouds of bonnets which were flung up on the occasion. The prisoner had been treated with much courtesy, and dismissed to carry the report that the rebels intended to give General Cope battle. Sir John Cope laid the intelligence before the council. He stated the unexpected numbers of the Highland insurgents, the strength of their position, the disappointment which he had met with in not being joined, as he expected, by any of the well-affected inhabitants of the country, and he asked the advice of his officers.

It was now too late to enquire, whether the march into the Highlands was at all a prudent measure, unless the English general had possessed such a predominant force, as to be certain of crushing the rebellion at once; or whether the forming a camp at Stirling, and preventing the Chevalier from crossing the Forth, while, at the same time, troops were sent by sea to raise the northern clans who were friendly to Government, in the rear of the Adventurer’s little army, might not have been a preferable scheme. The time for option was ended. General Cope had proposed, and the Government had sanctioned, the advance into the north, and the plan had been acted upon. Still it does not appear to have been necessary that Cope should have relinquished his purpose so meanly as was implied in the march, or rather flight, to Inverness, which so much dispirited his troops, and gave such enthusiastic courage to the insurgents. Indeed, no general in his senses would have attacked the defile of Corryarrack; but had Cope chosen to have encamped on the plain, about two miles to the south of Dalwhinnie, he could not have been forced to fight but on his own terms, with the full advantage of his artillery and his superior discipline, and Charles must have either given battle at a disadvantage, or suffered extremely by the want of money and provisions. Sir John, in the mean time, might have drawn his supplies from Athole, and would have overawed that highly disaffected district, the inhabitants of which, relieved from his presence by his march to Inverness, immediately joined the rebels. The superiority of the Highland army in numbers was but trifling, and such as the discipline of regular troops had always been esteemed sufficient to compensate, although there is reason to think that it was greatly exaggerated to the English general. None of this reasoning seemed to influence the council of war; they gave it as their opinion that the troops should be drawn off to Inverness, instead of making a stand, or retiring to Stirling, although the option involved the certain risk of exposing the Low country to the insurgents.

Sir John Cope, having his motions thus sanctioned by the opinion of the council of war, advanced for a mile or two, on the morning of the 27th of August, in his original direction, till he reached the point where the road to Inverness leaves that which leads to Fort–Augustus, when the march was suddenly altered, and the route to Inverness adopted.

The exultation which filled the Highlanders on learning Cope’s retreat was of a most exuberant description; but it was mingled with disappointment, like that of hunters whose prey has escaped them. There was an unanimous call to follow the retreating general with all despatch, and compel him to fight. Cope had, indeed, some hours the start; but, in a council of chiefs, it was proposed to march five hundred picked men across the country, to throw themselves by rapid marches between Inverness and the English general’s forces, and detain the regulars until the rest of the army came up in their rear. The advantages to be gained by an unopposed march into the Lowlands were, however, superior to what could be obtained by the pursuit, or even the defeat of Sir John Cope, and the latter plan was given up accordingly. An attempt was made, on the part of the Highlanders, to surprise or burn the barracks of Ruthven; but they were bravely defended by the little garrison, and the attempt proved unsuccessful. They therefore directed their march southward upon Garviemore.

In the mean time, the intrigues of Lord Lovat continued to agitate the north, while the Lord President Forbes endeavoured, by soliciting Government for arms, by distributing commissions for independent companies, of which twenty were intrusted to his disposal, and by supplying money from his private purse, to animate the clans who remained attached to Government, and to confirm those which were doubtful.

The old chief of the clan Fraser, apparently seconding all his measures, was, in fact, counteracting them as far as he could, and endeavouring, if not to turn the scale in favour of the young Adventurer, at least to preserve the parties in such a state of equality, that he himself might have a chance of determining the balance, when he could see on which side there was most to be gained He feared, however, the shrewd sense, steady loyalty, and upright character of the President, and regarded him with a singular mixture of internal fear and hatred, and external affected respect and observance. A jesuitical letter to Lochiel, in which Lovat alleges his fear of the President. whom he states to be playing at cat and mouse with him, is, perhaps, the most extraordinary picture of this extraordinary person’s mind that can be exhibited.

The line of conduct to be adopted by MacPherson of Cluny, whose numerous and hardy clan is situated chiefly in the district of Badenoch, was at this time a matter of great importance. This chief was a man of a bold and intrepid disposition, who had shown more respect for the laws of property, and more attention to prevent depredations, than any other chief in the Highlands, Lochiel perhaps excepted. He entered into extensive contracts with the Duke of Gordon, and many of the principal proprietors in countries exposed to the Highland caterans, agreeing for a moderate sum of yearly black-mail, to secure them against theft. This species of engagement was often undertaken by persons like Rob Roy, who prosecuted the trade of a freebooter, and was in the habit of stealing at least as many cattle as he was the means of recovering. But Cluny MacPherson pursued the plain and honourable system expressed in the letter of his contract, and by actually securing and bringing to justice the malefactors who committed the depredations, he broke up the greater part of the numerous gangs of robbers in the shires of Inverness and Aberdeen. So much was this the case, that when a clergyman began a sermon on the heinous nature of the crime of theft, an old Highlander of the audience replied, that he might forbear treating of the subject, since Cluny, with his broadsword, had done more to check it than all the ministers in the Highlands could do by their sermons.

This gentleman had been named captain of an independent company, and therefore remained, in appearance, a friend of Government; but, in fact, he only watched an opportunity to return to the allegiance of James VIII., whom he accounted his lawful sovereign. In compliance with his father-in-law Lovat’s mysterious politics. Cluny waited on Sir John Cope on the 27th of August, and received that general’s orders to embody his clan. But on the next morning the chief of the MacPhersons was made prisoner in his own house, and carried off to the rebel camp. Whether he was entertained there as a captive, or as a secret friend, we have not now the means of knowing. He was conveyed along with the Highland army to Perth, seemingly by constraint.

On 28th August, the Prince bivouacked at Dalwhinnie, himself and his principal officers lying on the moor, with no other shelter than their plaids. On the 29th he reached Dalnacardoch, being thus enabled by the retreat of the English army to possess himself of the passes of the mountains between Badenoch and Athole, and to descend upon the latter country. On the 30th, Charles arrived at Blair in Athole, a castle belonging to the Duke of Athole, whose family, with his Grace’s elder brother, Lord Tullibardine, and his uncle, Lord Nairne, were well disposed to the cause of the Prince, though his grace, who enjoyed the title, was favourable to Government. 1 lie families and clans of Stewarts of Athole, Robertsons, and others of less importance, were all inclined to support the insurgents, having never forgotten the fame which their ancestors had obtained In a like cause during the wars of Montrose. The name and authority of the Marquis of Tullibardine was well calculated to call these ready warriors to arms. He was, as we have said, the elder brother of the Duke who enjoyed the title, and had been forfeited for his share in the rebellion of 1715,-a merit in the eyes of most of the vassals of his family. The Prince remained two days at Blair, where he was joined by Viscount Strathallan and his son; by Mr Oliphant of Gask and his son; and the Honourable Mr Murray, brother to the Earl of Dunmore, John Roy Stewart, a most excellent partisan officer, also joined the Prince (to whom he had devoted his service) at this place. He arrived from the continent, and brought several letters with him from persons of distinction abroad. They contained fair and flourishing promises of good wishes and services to be rendered, none of which civilities ever ripened into effectual assistance. On the 3d of September, in the evening, the Highland army reached Perth, where it was joined by two persons of first-rate consequence; namely, the Duke of Perth, with two hundred men, whom he had collected while in hiding, in consequence of the warrant which was out for the purpose of arresting him, and the celebrated Lord George Murray, fifth brother of the Marquis of Tullibardine, already mentioned. Both these noblemen were created lieutenant-generals in the Prince’s service. It was at this time, and upon this occasion, that a sort of jealousy took place between these two great men, which had a sinister effect upon the future affairs of Charles Edward. “We have already given the character of the Duke of Perth, as he was called, a gentleman in the highest degree courtly, pleasing, and amiable, particularly calculated to be agreeable to a person educated abroad, like the Prince, and not likely to run the risk of displeasing him by rough admonition and blunt contradiction. All his habits and opinions had been formed in France, where he had spent the first twenty years of his life. He even spoke English with some marks of a foreigner, which he concealed under the use of the broad Scottish dialect. He was a man of the most undoubted courage, but had no peculiar military talent.

Lord George Murray was a man of original and powerful character. He had been engaged with his brother, the Marquis of Tullibardine, in the affair of 1715, was also present at the battle of Glenshiel, in 1719, and had served for some time in the Sardinian army, then no bad school of war. He had at a later period been reconciled to the reigning family, by the interest of his brother, the actual Duke of Athole. It is said, he had even solicited a commission in the English army. It was, however, refused; and in 1745 he reassumed his original sentiments, and joined Prince Charles Edward. Lord George Murray was in many respects an important acquisition. He was tall, hardy, and robust; and had that intuitive acquaintance with the art of war, which no course of tactics can teach. Being little instructed by early military education, he was unfettered by its formal rules; and perhaps in leading an army of Highlanders, themselves undisciplined, except from a sort of tact which seemed natural to them, he knew far better how to employ and trust their native energies than a tactician accustomed to regular troops would have ventured to attempt. He was, moreover, undauntedly brave, and in the habit of fighting sword-inhand in the front of the battle; he slept little, meditated much, and was the only person in the Highland army who seemed to study the movements of the campaign. The chiefs only led their men to the attack in the field, and the French and Irish officers had been so indifferently selected, that their military knowledge did not exceed the skill necessary to relieve a guard; and only one or two had served in a rank above that of captain. Over such men Lord George Murray had great superiority. He had, however, his failings, and they were chiefly those of temper and manners. He was proud of his superior talents, impatient of contradiction, and haughty and blunt in expressing his opinions.

It happened also not unfrequently, that the Prince himself and his tutor, Sir Thomas Sheridan, both extremely ignorant of the British constitution and habits of thinking, suffered sentiments of arbitrary power to escape them, as impolitic as they were ungracious. In checking and repelling such opinions, Lord George Murray did a most valuable service to his master; but the manner in which he performed a task necessarily unpleasing was often rude and assuming, and with the best intentions lie gave offence, which was not the less sensibly felt by the Prince, that his situation obliged him to suppress all outward indication of his displeasure. From’ this peculiarity of Lord George Murray’s temper, there was early formed in the Prince’s council a party who set up the Duke of Perth in opposition to him; although the gentle, honourable, and candid temper of the Duke mitigated the animosity of the internal faction. John Murray, the secretary, who having been the early agent of Prince Charles’s party, possessed a great share of his master’s confidence, was supposed to have been chiefly desirous of setting the claims of the Duke of Perth in opposition to those of Lord George Murray, as he considered the former a person over whom his own ambitious and active disposition might preserve an influence, which he could not hope to gain over the haughty and confident temper of the latter nobleman. Mr Murray is supposed chiefly to have insisted upon Lord George’s having taken the oaths to Government, and having been willing to serve the House of Hanover. By these insinuations he impressed on the Prince a shade of suspicion towards the general, who was the most capable of directing the movements of his army, which was never entirely eradicated from his mind, even while he most felt the value of Lord George Murray’s services. Charles’s high idea of the devotion due to his rights by his subjects, rendered him jealous of the fidelity of a follower, who had not at all times been a pure royalist, or who had shown any inclination, however transitory, to make his own peace by a compromise with the reigning family. The disunion arising from these intrigues had an existence even at Perth, in the very commencement of their enterprise, and continued till the very end of the affair to vex and perplex the councils of the insurgents.

On his arrival at Perth also, the Chevalier first found the want of money, which has been well called the sinews of war. When he entered that town, he showed one of his followers that his purse contained only a single guinea of the four hundred pounds which he had brought with him in the Doutelle. But Dundee, Montrose, and all the Lowland towns north of the Tay, as far as Inverness, were now at his command. He proceeded to levy the cess and public revenue in name of his father; and as such of his adherents, who were too old or timid to join the standard, sent in contributions of money according to their ability, his military chest was by these resources tolerably supplied. Parties were sent for this purpose to Dundee, Aberbrothwick, Montrose, and other towns. They proclaimed King James VIII., but committed little violence except opening the prisons; and it is remarkable, that even in my own time, a chieftain of high rank had to pay a large sum of money on account of his ancestors having set at liberty a prisoner who was detained for a considerable amount of debt. It was no less necessary to brigade the men assembled under this adventurous standard. This was, however, easily done, for the Highlanders were familiar with a species of manoeuvring exactly suited to their own irregular tactics. They marched in a column of three abreast, and could wheel up with prompt regularity, in order to form the line, or rather succession of clan columns, in which it was their fashion to charge. They were accustomed also to carry their arms with habitual ease, and handle them with ready promptitude; to fire with a precise aim, and to charge with vigour, trusting to their national weapons, the broad-sword and target, with which the first rank of every clan, being generally gentlemen, was completely armed. They were, therefore, as well prepared for the day of battle as could be expected from them; and as there was no time to instruct them in more refined manoeuvres, Lord George Murray judiciously recommended to the Prince to trust to those which seemed naturally their own. Some modelling and discipline was, however, resorted to, so far as the short interval would permit. The time which Charles Edward could allot to supply his finances, arrange the campaign, and discipline his army, was only from the 4th to the IIth of September; for he had already adopted the daring resolution to give eclat to his arms, by taking possession of the Scottish capital, and was eager to advance upon it ere Sir John Cope could with his forces return from the north for its defence.


Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 12:00