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Reign of George II. (Continued.) page 12

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Cumberland reached Perth on the 6th, and halted there some days, to reconnoitre and reduce the neighbouring district. On the 26th he was at Aberdeen - seeing no Highlanders anywhere, but finding, through his exploring parties, considerable quantities of muskets, bayonets, ball, and powder hidden amongst the heather, under the snow in the mountains. He was now joined by six thousand Hessians, who had landed at Leith in February, and who had been hired in place of the Dutch, who had withdrawn in consequence of a protest of lord John Drummond, who declared that he, being a French officer at the head of a French regiment, and these troops being part of those who had capitulated at Tournay and Dendermond on condition that they should not serve against any troops of France, their presence was a breach of the treaty. Cumberland's army now amounted to eight thousand foot and nine hundred cavalry. With this force he continued his march towards Inverness, a fleet accompanying him along the coast with supplies and ammunition. At Banff he hanged two Highland spies, who were, in their rude way, taking the number of his troops by notching them on a stick. His whole track, in fact, was marked by gibbets for the like executions, and he set fire to the chapels of the episcopalian Scots, who were in general Jacobites, Thence he proceeded to Fochabers, on the right bank of the Spey, where lord John Drummond and his regiment of Irish and Scotch from France were posted on the opposite side to resist the passing.

Charles, on reaching Inverness, had found it rudely fortified by a ditch and palisade, and held by lord Loudon with two thousand men. Charles took up his residence at Moray castle, the seat of the chief of the Macintoshes. The chief was in the king's army with lord Loudon, but lady Macintosh espoused the cause of the prince zealously, raised the clan, and led them out as their commander, riding at their head with a man's bonnet on her head, and pistols at her saddle-bow. Lord Loudon, hearing that Charles was living in an easy security at Moray, sent out a nocturnal party to surprise and carry him off; but they were met by a small party of the Macintoshes in a wood, who, favoured by the darkness, made them believe that the whole Highland army was upon them, and caused them to retreat in such haste, that their flight was called the Route of Moray.

Charles, the next morning, the 17th of February, called together his men, and on the 18th marched on Inverness. Lord Loudon did not wait for his arrival, but got across the Moray Frith with his soldiers, and accompanied by the lord- president Forbes, into Cromarty. He was hotly pursued by the earl of Cromarty and several Highland regiments, and j was compelled to retreat into Sutherland. Charles entered Inverness, and began to attack the British forts. Fort George surrendered in a few days, and in it they obtained sixteen pieces of cannon and a considerable stock of ammunition and provisions. They then very unwisely proceeded to the distant forts of Augustus and William. Fort Augustus was thirty miles off, and that they soon reduced; but Fort William, which was still more remote, and only to be reached through the wintry mountains, tended but to exhaust the soldiers, and, at the same time, defeat their efforts. Lochiel and general Stapleton, who undertook this service with the Macdonalds of Keppoch, the Stuarts of Appin, and the French-Irish piquets, had to drag the heavy guns by men, and were not able to range them before the fort before the 20th of March, and they had to be eventually recalled to stand against Cumberland, having been compelled to spike their heavy guns and leave them behind.

Lord Cromarty was more successful in an expedition into Rosshire after lord Loudon. Loudon and Duncan Forbes at first made a brave stand, but lord George Murray joining Cromarty, they were compelled to cross the Dornoch Frith into Sutherland. Lord George sent the duke of Perth with Cromary after them, and returned himself to Inverness. Cromarty and Perth succeeded in driving Loudon and the lord-president to extremities, so that they were compelled to disband their forces and escape themselves with Macleod into the isle of Skye. Unfortunately, Cromarty was afterwards surprised by a body of Sutherland militia, and made prisoner with his officers at Dunrobin Castle.

Lord George Murray himself hastened into the wilds of Badenoch, where, being joined by Macpherson of Cluny, they divided their force into small bodies, surprised various outposts of Cumberland stationed at farm-houses and inns, and carried off a considerable number of prisoners. They attacked the castle of Blair, where Sir Andrew Agnew was quartered with a number of officers, but their small field-pieces took no effect on the strong walls, and, after blockading him eighteen or twenty days, they were obliged to draw off.

But, notwithstanding these partial advantages, and though the duke and his army were enduring all the severities of a Highland winter, exposed to the cutting east winds on that inclement coast, and compelled to keep quarters for some time, Cumberland was steadily seizing every opportunity to inclose the Highlanders in his toils. His fleet cut off all supplies coming by sea. They captured two vessels sent from France to their aid, on board of one of which they took the brother of the duke of Berwick. The " Hazard," a sloop which the Highlanders had seized and sent several times to France, was now pursued by an English cruiser, and driven ashore on the coast of Sutherland, containing a hundred and fifty men and officers, and ten thousand pounds in gold, which the clan Mackay, headed by lord Reay, got possession of. This last blow, in addition to other vessels sent out to succour him being compelled to return to France, reduced Charles to the utmost extremities. He had only five hundred louis-d'ors left in his chest, and he was obliged to pay his troops in meal, to their great suffering and discontent. "Our army," says Macdonald, in his journal, "got no pay for some time, but meal only, which the men, being obliged to sell out and convert into money, it went but a short way for their other needs, at which the poor creatures grumbled exceedingly, and were suspicious that we officers had detained it from them."

Men and officers, however, only shared the same miserable need. Though better able, from their habits, to bear the wintry severity of the weather than the English, Cumberland's troops had abundance to keep up their strength, whilst they were fast sinking from actual famine. They were cooped up in a miserably barren country; the adventurers from France and Spain were especially disgusted at this campaign against cold and hunger, and numbers contrived to steal away from this scene of dearth. Cumberland was, in fact, already conquering them by reducing them to mere feeble skeletons of men. The dry winds of March rendered the rivers fordable, and, as soon as it grew milder, he availed himself of this to coop the unhappy Highlanders up still more narrowly in their hungry wilds, and stop all the issues into the Lowlands by which they might obtain provisions. He himself lay at Aberdeen with strong outposts in all directions; Mordaunt at Old Meldrum, and Bland at Strathbogie. As soon as he received an abundance of provisions by a fleet of transports, along with Bligh's regiment, hearing that the Spey was fordable, on the 7th of April he issued orders to march, and the next day set forward himself from Aberdeen with lord Kerr's dragoons and six regiments of foot, having the fleet still following along the shore with a gentle and fair wind. On reaching the Spey lord John Drummond disputed their passage, Laving raised a battery to sweep the ford, and ranged his best marksmen along the shore. But the heavier artillery of the duke soon drove lord John from the ground, who set fire to his barracks and huts, and left the ford open to the enemy, who soon got across. On Sunday, the 13th of April, the English advanced to Alves, and on the 14th reached Nairn. As tlue van, consisting of the Argyllshire men, some companies of grenadiers, and Kingston's light horse, entered Nairn, the rear of lord John Drummond had not quitted it, and there was some skirmishing at the bridge. The Highlanders still retreated to a- place called the Lochs of the Clans, about five miles beyond Nairn, where the prince came up with reinforcements, and, turning the flight, pursued the English back again to the main body of their army, which was encamped on the plain to the west of Nairn.

That night Charles and his chief officers lay at Culloden House, the seat of the able and patriotic lord-president, Duncan Forbes; but the troops were obliged to lie on the moor amid the heather, which served them for both beds and fuel, the cold being very severe. They were up early in the morning, and formed in order of battle on Drtimmossie Muir, the part of the heath of Culloden near to Culloden House. No enemy, however, appeared, and there the poor hungry men lay for most of the day with no other food than a biscuit per man. Lord Elcho was sent off to reconnoitre, and he brought word that the English army was halting at Nairn to keep the duke's birthday, and were feasting, drinking, and singing, and showing no intention of marching that day. If Charles and his officers had been wise, they would have seized this opportunity to draw off their army and get across the straits, as it was totally unfit to cope with the English, either in numbers or condition. The English were full of food and rest; the Highlanders were actually reduced by famine, and so many had dispersed amongst the hills to seek food, that they could not muster above five thousand men. Lochiel had joined them with his Camerons during the night; but Cromarty, as we have said, was just captured in Sutherland, and Cluny was still absent in Badenoch with his Macphersons. The policy of an able general would have been to draw Cumberland away from the coast, where his fleet supplied him with all necessaries; to have led him on into the mountains, where his men would soon have suffered more from hardship and scarcity than the Highlanders, and where they might have harassed and cut them off by ambushes amongst the wild woods and hills. But, from the time of the return from Derby, Charles seemed to have lost his enthusiasm, which had carried him on; and, if we take away this quality, perhaps we shall find that nowhere had he displayed the genius of a great general. He was clearly of a temperament which, if well, or even tolerably supported, would perform brilliant exploits by onward and dashing enterprise; but we seek in vain for any evidences of those qualities of foresight and management which made Washington and Wellington successful. Nothing could now have been so fatal as to attempt a battle against well-fed troops, with every advantage of generalship, artillery, and choice of ground, with men who had for months been subsisting on a famine fare, and who were numbers of them squandered through the country seeking for subsistence. Even had they waited another day, Lochiel said they would be able to muster fifteen hundred men more. A council of war being called, Lochiel stated this fact as a plea for delay; lord John Drummond, the duke of Perth, and others, were of the same opinion; but lord George Murray declared for making a night march, and surprising the duke's army whilst it would lie, as they supposed, asleep in a drunken debauch. Charles, who had the same idea, but had not yet broached it, embraced lord George with ardour, declaring it of all things his own wish. The idea was adopted, yet the slightest military wisdom would have shown them the futility of the scheme. The men were in a general state, not only of famine, but of discontent, from the non-payment of their arrears. When the officers returned to their regiments to put them in order for the march,- they found a good number of them gone away to Inverness to endeavour to procure some food. Messengers were sent in hot haste to recall them, but the poor hungry wretches declared that they might kill them if they pleased, but that they would not go back until they had obtained some food. This condition of the troops, growing desperate with hunger, and such numbers having run from the ranks, made many think that the march ought to be given up; but Charles would not hear of it, and about eight o'clock in the evening lord George put himself at the head of the army, and the word was given to advance. The distance to Nairn was twelve miles, but lord George proposed to proceed down the river and cross it at about three miles above Nairn, which would make the route considerably more. He hoped by this plan to be able to attack the enemy at once in flank and rear as well as front. The orders were to march in profound silence, the word being "king James VIII." No firearms were to be used, but, on reaching the tents, they were to cut the cords, let the tents fall on the heads of the sleepers, and dispatch them through the canvas with their dirks. Lord George led the van, lord John Drummond the rear. The night was dark, and the men soon began to stumble through bog and mire, making their march heavy, and causing them to curse and swear.

It was soon found that the men were so feeble and incapable of walking, even, to say nothing of fighting after a fourteen or fifteen miles march, on empty stomachs, that it was impossible to make the rear keep up with the van. Many lay down by the roadside and in the wood of Kilravock from sheer exhaustion. Lord John sent forward to request lord George to halt, that the rear might come up; but, as this was not attended to, lord John Drummond and most of the officers hastened to the van, and lord John said aloud to lord George Murray, "Why will you go on? There is a gap of half a mile in the line, and the men won't come up." A halt was then made, and lord George afterwards said that he had been desired to halt fifty times by aides-de-camp and other officers before he had gone six miles. It was plain that the whole attempt was nothing less than madness. They had calculated on being at Nairn at two o'clock, but it was that hour before they had all passed Kilravock House, only four miles from the English camp. It was clear that it would be daylight long before they reached Nairn, and they could only get there to be slaughtered in helplessness, for they would be too tired either to fight or run away. It was therefore agreed to return. Charles had never come up to the front himself, but sent O'Sullivan to say that he should have been glad of the attack, but that lord George Murray would judge whether it were practicable.

The retreat was made, and the men found themselves again in the morning on the bleak, black heath of Drum- mossie, hungry and worn out, yet in expectation of a battle. The duke of Cumberland, according to Home, had been quite aware of their night march, and ready to receive the enemy. There was yet time to do the only wise thing - retreat into the mountains, and depend upon a guerilla warfare, in which they would have the decided advantage. Lord George Murray now earnestly proposed this, but in vain. "Why," says lord George, "what I have now mentioned was not performed, let them answer who were determined against a hill campaign, as they called it. What I can aver is, that myself and most of the clans - at least, all those that I spoke with - were for this operation; and his royal highness could have supported the fatigue as well as any person in the army. It is true, Sir Thomas Sheridan, &c., could not have undergone it; so we were obliged to be undone for their ease. As to provisions, had I been allowed any direction, we would not have wanted, though, perhaps, not the best, for years, so long as there were cattle in the Highlands or meal in the Lowlands."

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