William Fraser.

The earls of Cromartie; their kindred, country, and correspondence (Volume 2) online

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in the world cou'd ever eugage me to abandon the same, nor to take any step that
cou'd bring the least stain upon my honour. As my grand-aunt found that she cou'd
not prevail on me to follow her advice, she set out early next morning for Edenbourgh,
very much cast down for the bad success of her jurney. Much about the same time
that the French troops landed in Scotland, Collonel Llacklachlan arriv'd at Perth from
Carlisle, having been sent by the Prince, immediately after the reduction of that place,
with orders to all the Commanders of the Highlanders at Perth to march, without loss
of time, with their men into England to join the Prince's army. As the Prince did
not know that my father was to come up himself with his men, the orders for the
march of his regiment were address'd to me. Most of the Commanders were very keen
for obeying these orders, and for marching directly ; but Lord John Drummond oppos'd
this vigourously. In a council of war, which was held on that occasion, and in which I
assisted. Lord John Drummond allow'd that in general obedience to orders was absolutely
necessary in war, for those that were for a march insisted much on this ; but he mantain'd
at the same time that the arrival of the French troops in Scotland greatly alter'd the
situation of affairs, and that if this sircumstance had been known to the Prince, he wou'd
not have order'd our march, because it was now contrary to the good of his service.
He told us further that the King his master's orders to him were to reduce the forts in
Scotland before he undertook any other expedition, and that for this purpose he had
brought over a train of battering artilery with him. He said that if we shou'd, not-
withstanding all this, march to England, that it was not in his power to march along
with us, and that so soon we were gone the French troops wou'd be overpower'd and
cut to pieces, and that their artilery wou'd fall into the enemy's hands. He concluded
with saying that he was convinc'd that if this shou'd happen, his most Christian Majesty
VOL. II. 3 C

wou'd be so provok'd at our Iiaveing abandon'd his troops, and at the disgrace brought
by that means on his arras, that he wou'd give us no further assistance either in men or
money. Lord Drummond's arguments having prevail'd on Lord Strathallan and on
some others, all further thoughts of marching into England were laid entirely aside. It
was then propos'd that Lord John Drummond shou'd lay siege to the Castle of Sterlin,
and that my father shou'd, at the same time, march to the north with a considerable
body of the Highland clans, to dissipate the forces that were assembled at Inverness,
under the Earl of Loudoun's command, and to make himself master of that place ; and
this project was agreed to, tho' it was not put in execution ; and in effect I believe that
we were not strong enogh to undertake two expeditions of that sort at the same time.
While we were deliberating at Perth to attack the Earl of Loudoun, that Lord was
forming a design to attack Lord Luis Gordon, who was rising forces for the Prince's
service in Aberdeenshire, and to drive him out of that country. In the month of
December Mr. Macleod march'd from Inverness with a considerable body of his own
clan, and with other troops, to put this project in execution. In the mean time Lord
Luis Gordon, having been join'd by a detachment of the French troops, resolv'd to attack
the enemy. He met them at Inverury, about ten miles from Aberdeen, and gain'd an
easy victory. In a few minutes Mr. Macleod and his troops were put to the rout ;
they fled with great precipitation, nor did they think themselves safe till they had
recross'd the river of Spey. Towards the end of the month of December I was sent to
Dumblain with the regiment, together with the Camerons and some other troops. The
reason of our having been sent there is as follows : — Some time before the Prince
march'd into England he appointed Mr. Macgregor of Glengyle to be Governor of Doun
Castle, a house belonging to the Earl of Murray, and which was at that time a place of
consequence, as it cover'd a bridge over a rivulet which secur'd our communication
with the ford of the Frews on the river of Forth. Mr. Macgregor had his own clan
for a garrisson, but when the Highland army was march'd into England, and the King's
troops were arriv'd at Sterlin from Berwick, Mr. Macgregor, thinking himself too weak
to stand an attack, aply'd to Lord Strathallan for succours, on which Mr. Macdonald
of Glenco, with his men and a body of the Stuarts of Appin, were sent to reinforce
Doun Castle ; but these gentlemen, thinking themselves still unable to sustain an attack
from the troops at Sterlin, shou'd General Blackney think proper to distourb them,
apply'd for a further re-inforcement, for which Glenco and the Commander of the
Stuarts came themselves to Perth to solicite. It Avas then resolv'd to send the detatchment
I have mentioned above to Dumblain, which was sufficient to secure Doun Castle from


any attacks that cou'd be made against it from the enemy at that time, as we were
within two miles of that place and within sight of Sterlin. We march'd from Perth
the twenty-eight of December, and halted that night at Crief ; next day we march'd to
Dumblain. I immediately took pocession of the Bridge of AUand, which is, so far as I
remember, half way between Dumblain and Sterlin, and next day I visited the country
about, and plac'd guards where I thought it wou'd be necessary, and that in such a manner
that it was not possible for a single person to come out of Sterlin on our side the river of
Forth without being immediately seen by our centinels. When we march'd from Perth
the command-in-chief of our detachment was given conjointly to Mr. Cameron of Lochell,
the elder, and to me ; but Lord John Drummond, who, since his arrival in Scotland, had
taken the command-in-chief of the whole army upon himself, told me that he depended
most on me for what was to be done, as Lochell only had the name of command — his
great age dispensing him from the fatigue. This made me exert myself to the outmost
of my power to have everything done as it ought to be. A few days after we had been at
Dumblain, Lord John Drummond came there ; and haveing visited all the posts, he
express' d great satisfaction with the dispositions I had made. I do not pretend to take
any honour to myself from this as if it had been my own doings ; I shall ingeniously
own that I was assisted in all this by some French oflBcers whom I had prevail'd on to
go along with me from Perth to Dumblain. After having been some days at Dum-
blain I took a tour to Perth, so well to see what was doing there as to receive the
pay for the regiment. I found that my father was gone with some troops into Fife
shire, to raise the public revenues of that country. I stay'd but one day at Perth, and
was greatly surpris'd to learn, on my return to Dumblain, that our men, imagining that
I was not to return to them, had resolv'd to go home, and had actualy march'd out of
the town for that purpose ; their officers had gone after them, and prevail'd on them,
with great difficulty, to return to their duty. And here I cannot avoid making a
reflextion, which is, that as a party which is in arms against an establish'd Government
lies under many and great dissad vantages, this is none of the least of them, that their
troops cannot be subjected to military discipline nor to martial law, and that the only
way that one has to keep them from abandoning their coulours is by flattery and good
words, and even by winking at many disorders which can never be allow'd of in a
regular army. This I reflected on at that time, and therefore resolv'd to pretend total
ignorance of what had pass'd during my absense ; nor had I reason to repent this con-
duct, for the men made no other attempt of that sort again so long as the war continu'd.
In the begining of January, Doctor Cameron, who was one of the Prince's aid-de-camps.


and is the same gentleman who was executed some years afterwards at London, came
from Glasgow to Dumblain, to see his father and his lady, who was likewise then there.
This gentleman was the first who gave us certain accounts of the Prince's being arriv'd
with his army at Glasgow. As Mr. Cameron was to return there in a day or two,
I resolv'd to go along with him. The motive which induc'd me to undertake this
journey was the great desire I had of seeing the Prince, for whom I had conceiv'd the
highest veneration, and I thought that I cou'd with all safety leave my post, as we had
nothing then to fear from Sterlin, the greatest part of the King's troops having march'd
from that place toEdenbourgh on the first accounts they had of the return of the High-
land army to Scotland. We set out from Dumblain the twelfth of January, and arriv'd
the same evening at Glasgow. T immediately went to pay my respects to the Prince,
and found that he was already set down to supper. Doctor Cameron told Lord George
Murray, who sat by the Prince, who I was, on which that Lord introduc'd me to the
Prince, whose hand I had the honour to kiss, after which the Prince order'd me to take
my place at table. After supper I follow'd the Prince to his apartment, to give him
an account of the situation of his aft'airs in the north, and of what had pass'd in these
parts during the time of his expedition to England. I found that nothing surpris'd
the Prince so much as to hear that the Earl of Seaforth had declar'd against him, for
he hear'd without emotion the names of the other people who had join'd the Earl of
Loudoun at Inverness ; but when I told him that Seaforth had likewise sent two hundred
men to Inverness for the service of the Government, and that he had likewise hinder'd
many gentlemen of his clan froui joining my father for the service of the Stuart family,
he tourn'd to the French minister, and said to him, with some warmth, He^ mon Dieu,
et tSea/orth est aussi contre moi ! The Prince, having resolv'd to lay siege to Sterlin,
sent orders to the troops at Perth, and to Lord Luis Gordon, to join him at that
place without loss of time. On the forteenth of January 1746, the Highland army
march'd from Glasgow in two coUumns ; the one, commanded by Lord George Murray,
march'd to Falkirk, where they were to remain to cover the siege, and the other, led by
the Prince himself, and which was to carry on the siege under the Duke of Perth's com-
mand, march'd that day to Kilsyth, and next day to the neighbourhood of Sterlin. The
Prince fix'd his headquarters at Bannockburn-House, which belongs to Sir Hugh Peterson,
and the army was canton'd in the neighbouring villages. The Prince march'd on foot
at the head of the troops from Glasgow to Bannockburn-House in very deep roads, and
T march'd along with him. He had march'd in the same way in his expedition to
England, probably to encourage his army, and to animate them to follow him with

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more chearfulness. The town of Sterlin surrender'd to us in a clay or two, being a
place of no defence, but General Blackney retir'd with the garrison into the castle, which
he was resolv'd to defend to the last extremity. As the Duke of Perth was to go to
Perth the day after the army arriv'd at Bannockburn, and was to have an escort, I
resolv'd to take that opportunity of returning to my post. We arriv'd late at night at
Dumblain, and I found that the regiment had been sent the day before to Aloa to
cover the French artilery and amunition, which was to be transported from that place
to Sterlin. Next day I join'd the regiment. While we were taking the measures that
were thought to be the most proper for makeing ourselves masters of the Castle of Sterlin,
the Court of London neglected nothing that they thought cou'd disconcert our designs.
Immediately after the reduction of Carlisle, several regiments, so well from the Duke
of Cumberland's army as from that commanded by Felt ]\Iarechal Wade, march'd to
Edenbourgh. These regiments, joined to the troops that were before in Scotland, formed
a very considerable army, the command of which was given to the General Halley.
That General thought that the most effectual way to prevent our undertaking the siege
of Sterlin Castle wou'd be to take or destroy the battering artilery, and this he resolv'd
to attempt, which made my post at Aloa very difficult. A day or two after I arriv'd
at that place, I gote a ship sent me for the transporting of the artilery, which was
seiz'd for that purpose some miles further down the river by a detachment of the Duke
of Perth's regiment, who brought it to Aloa. Some of the King's sloops, which lay
not far from the place from which this ship was taken, endeavour'd to retake her, for
which purpose they sent their long boats in i^ursuit of her ; but as I march'd down to
the river side with the regiment upon the first allarms being given, the enemy retir'd.
But that it might appear that they did something, they set fire to one or two other
ships which lay at the same place from which we had taken the one ; but this did not
affect us, as one ship was all that we had occasion for. In the meantime I took all
the precautions possible for defiending myself in case I shou'd be attack'd. I caus'd
erect some of the cannon in battery on the shore, and I plac'd strong guards where they
were necessary. I order'd the rest of the troops to be lodg'd in two or three barns,
so that there might be large bodys of them together. I order'd them likewise to ly
with their cloaths on, and with their arms by them, so that they cou'd be ready to
march the moment that the signal was given. By the time that the ship was almost
loaded, I receiv'd advice that a large body of the enemy was come up the river in
transport ships, and that they were lying at Kinkardin, which is but three or four miles
from Aloa. I immediately sent spies to Kinkardin to bring me accounts if the enemy were


landing, and to endeavour to discover what their designs might be. I likewise sent out
patrulls, with orders to approach so near as they safely cou'd to Kinkardin for the same
purpose. I then sent an express to Dumblain with a letter address'd to the Duke of
Perth, or in his absense to Lord John Drummond, acquainting him of the enemy's being
come to Kinkardin, and of the aprehensions I had of being attack'd, for which reason
I requir'd speedy succours. It was about midnight when all this pass'd, and the enemy
attempted nothing that night, which was certainly very luckly for me ; but they
probably did not imagine me to be so weak as I realy was. Next morning my father
and Lord John Drummond came to Aloa. That night the enemy attempted to set fire
to our ship, for which purpose they sent up a long boat full of men, but being dis-
cover'd in time, they were repuls'd with loss. Finding that this design miscarried,
they seem'd then resolv'd to attack us on the land side. Next day they debark'd their
troops at Kinkardin, but, on the first appearance of their design, Lochell cross'd the
river with the Camerons to join us. While he and I were marching out with our men
to occupy the post where we design'd to receive the enemy, Lord John Drummond and
my father, foUow'd by some officers, rode forward to observe their motions, and found
that they were returning with some hurry on board their ships. It seems they had
seen the Camerons crossing the river above, and judging from this circumstance that
they wou'd be met by a body of troops equal in number to themselves, they did not
think proper to hasard the event of a combat. The same evening the ship sail'd up
the river with so much of the artilery and ammunition as she cou'd conveniently carry,
and having landed them at Polmese, on the opposite side, she return'd next day to Aloa
to take on board the remainder. Lord John Drummond and my father had by this
time left me, having gone over to Bannockburn, but Lochell remained at Aloa with the
Camerons. The rest of the artilery being soon embark'd, the ship sail'd up the river with
it ; but the tide failing soon, she was oblig'd to cast anchor two miles above Aloa, on
which I march'd up along the river side with the regiment to cover her from any
attack which might be made by the enemy. Next day Lord John Drummond came
to me, and, after he had given some orders relating to the artilery, we went together
to a gentleman's house in that neighbourhood, where we propos'd passing that night.
I had not been above an hour or two in bed, where I hop'd to get some rest after the
great fatigue and watching which I had undergone for several nights before, when I
was awak'd by Mr. Alexander Macleod, one of the Prince's aid-du-camps, who deliver'd
me a letter from Secretary Murray, acquainting me that the enemy were advancing to
give us battle, and that it was the Prince's commands that I shou'd cross the Forth


without loss of time and join the army. I immediately gote up and assembl'd the
regiment. As a like order was sent to Lochell, he arriv'd with the Camerons by break
of day at the place where I was, which was the properest for crossing at, as the river
was narrowest there. The Camerons cross'd first, and as we had but one boat, the day
was pretty far advanc'd before I gote over. The first order which Lord John Drum-
mond gave me was to leave only a part of the regiment to guard tlie artilery, and to
join the army with the rest ; but by the time I got over the river, I receiv'd orders
to leave the whole regiment, and this I did ; but as I thought there might be a battle
that day, which I wou'd be very sory not to be at, I resolv'd, for my own part, to
join the army. Mr. Murray of Polmese lent me a horse, my own horses not being yet
come over. I found the Prince advancing at the head of the army towards Falkirk ;
but as General Halley halted that day at Falkirk, where he encamp'd, we return'd soon
after to Bannockburn. In the evening my father and I went to Polmese, where we
had our quarters assign'd us ; the regiment was likewise quarter'd in the farm-houses
about. Next day the army was assembl'd at Bannockburn, where we were form'd in
order of battle, and remain'd several hours waiting for the enemy ; but as they remain'd
quiet in their camp, we return'd at last to our respective quarters, having receiv'd orders
to be on the same ground again next morning by break of day. The Highlanders,
who are very much adicted to superstition, were very desirous that the battle might
be fought at Bannockburn, as they thought that they wou'd then certainly win it because
their ancestors had wone a great victory over the English at the same place some ages
before. Next morning, which was the twenty-eight of January, we were again form'd
on the same ground. I was sent with my father's regiment to the head of the Torwood,
where, together with some other regiments, we were to oppose the enemy shou'd they
attempt to advance to us that way ; but as they still continu'd quiet in their camp, we
receiv'd orders to rejoin the army. It was then resolv'd, in a council of war held on
the field, to march and attack the enemy in their camp. The Duke of Perth was left
at Sterlin to guard the tranches. The army march'd in order of battle in two lines by
the right flank ; and leaving the Torwood on our left, we cross'd the river of Carron
at Donipace. As we were mounting the hill on the opposite side, we saw the enemy
marching from their camp. The two armies march'd parralel to each other for some
time, endeavouring to gain the advantage of the ground. About half-an-hour after
three of the clock in the afternoon, the battle began on our right wing, commanded by
Lord George Murray, which General Halley caus'd to be attack'd by his dragoons ;
but we having receiv'd them with a brisk fire, oblig'd them to reel oft', and their own



infantry beeing form'd behind tliem, they were forc'd to ride of between the two
armies, by which means they receiv'd the fire of the greatest part of our first line, from
which they siiffer'd very much. We then attack'd the enemy's infantry, sword in hand,
and soon put them to flight. Two regiments on their right made some stand, but not
being supported, they were soon forc'd to follow the example of the rest of their army.
Our left wing, commanded by Lord John Drummond, had the same success as our
right, so that the enemy was beat on all sides. Had our army been disciplin'd, or had
we been commanded by experienc'd generals, I am fully convinc'd that we wou'd have
cut the King's army to pieces ; for after they were drove from the field, they certainly
were in the greatest consternation. But the Highlanders pursu'd at first in the
greatest confusion, every man runing after the enemy, and without any reguard to
their ranks, which were soon broke ; and when they were come to the brow of the
hill, they then stop'd their pursuit, and walk'd about, talking with each other and tell-
ing what merveils they had perform'd, with the same unconcern as if no enemy had
been near. I run after the enemy like everybody else ; but meeting soon after with
an ofiicer of the King's army, who some Highlanders were threatening to kill after
he had been taken prisoner, I took him from them and carry'd him to Lord George
Murray, who was hard by, and his Lordship caus'd him to be conducted to the rear-
guard. We then observ'd a great body of men on a rising ground to our right, which
we took to be a detatchment of the enemy ; and as their army was still in sight. Lord
George Murray said that if they return'd to the charge, he was affraid that they wou'd
still take the victory out of our hands, considering the great confusion we were
then in. I told his Lordship that, in my oppinion, the best thing he cou'd do wou'd
be to order the Highlanders to form a line directly without reguard to what clans or
regiments they belonged to, as it wou'd take too long time to seperate them from
each other. Lord George approv'd of my advice, and order'd it to be put in exe-
cution. In the meantime such regiments of the second line as had not gone into
the general confusion, together with the piquets of the Irish brigade, were brought
up to the brow of the hill, where a line was soon form'd. As I did not know
where my father was with his regiment, I join'd myself to the Irish piquets, re-
solv'd to fight with them should the enemy return to the charge ; but they, far from
having any such design, were retiring with precipitation, overjoy'd to find themselves
not pursu'd. The men whom we had seen on the rising ground to our right were a
number of country people whom curiosity to see the battle, and perhaps a design of
striping the dead, had drawn together. I remain'd with the Irish piquets till it was


dark, but finding then that the enemy was gone and that there wou'd be no more action,
I mounted my horse, which I hickyly gote not far from that, and went to look for the
Prince. I found him in a little hutt on the top of the hill, where he was sitting by
the fireside, having Sir Thomas Sheridan, the ajutant General Sullivan, and some
others about him. I had not been long here before word was brought that our army
had taken pocession of the town of Falkirk, and likewise of the enemy's camp,
baggage, and artilery, which they had abandon'd on their retreat. On this the Prince
and his suite mounted on horseback and went to the town. The enemy had set fire to
their camp, but the heavy rain which fell all that afternoon hinder'd the fire from doing
any considerable dammage. This great rain was, I beleive, likewise one reason which
hinder'd us from pursuing the King's army in their retreat that night to Linlithgow.
Next day they return'd to Edenburgh. As for our array they were glad to get shelter
from the bad weather in the town of Falkirk and in the enemy's camp. I had the
honour to sup that night with the Prince, who ask'd me about my father, who, he said,
was wounded. This made me very uneasy, as I had not seen my father since the
begining of the battle. So soon as we rose from table, I went thro' the town in search