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MARCHES AND COUNTERMARCHES.
Lys. This lion is a very fox for his valour.
, Midsummer Night's Dream.
In the meantime, Mackay was lingering at Inverness, in the hope of being speedily joined by the vassals of the Earl of Sutherland and Lord Reay, and by the large Dutch party which he had sent for from Edinburgh.
Had that Dutch party commenced its march immediately after receiving his order, it might have easily reached him, and thus a great deal of mischief would have been saved. Unfortunately, just as it was about to leave Edinburgh, a large fleet of Dutch herring busses appeared at the mouth of the Firth of Forth, and, being mistaken for the vessels of a French fleet which rumour represented as about to invade the kingdom, it was thought necessary by the managers of state affairs to detain the forces as a guard to the capital. The mistake was discovered in the course of a few days, and Colonel Ramsay then began his march. He proceeded by Perth, intending, according to the advices of his General, to march through Athole and
Badenoch to Inverness. As he proceeded, however, he became intimidated by the hostile appearance of the country, and by a report which the natives industriously circulated, that Dundee was between him and Inverness, with an immense force. So great did his alarm at length become, that, after he had gone within twenty miles of Ruthven in Badenoch, where he bad appointed Mackay to meet him, and after he had sent an express to inform the general of the particular time when he should be there, he found it necessary to retreat to Perth. Had he left Edinburgh two days before, he would have met a messenger whom Mackay despatched to steer him clear of Dundee, but who, passing through Athole at a time wben it was unawed by the presence of his forces, was intercepted by Stewart of Ballechan. To add to the misfortune, Balleehan sent the despatches of this messenger to Dundee, who, immediately taking advantage of them, concentrated about two thousand of bis forces, and hurried from his place of rendezvous in Lochaber, in order to fall upon the first of the two parties which fell in his way, while they were yet separate. • Mackay received Colonel Ramsay's despatch on a Saturday night; and such was bis laudable promptitude to make the contemplated junction, that he -was on the march next morning from Inverness to Ruthven, with only two days' provisions. It was not till he was half way towards the point of meeting, that he received information of Ramsay's retreat. The Commander of the garrison of Ruthven there met him with a message, which at once put him in possession of that intelligence, and increased his distress, by telling bim that Dundee had
just that morning entered Badenoch, and was not only a few miles distant. It is not easy to conceive the chagrin which a soldier in his circumstances must have felt at receiving this express.
It now remained for him either to fall back upon Inverness, or to march down Strathspey. In the former case, he would preserve an important post, which could afford lodging to his men ; but was exposed to the risk of being shut up by Dundee from all supplies, and prevented from forming a junction with Colonel Ramsay. In the latter case, he would lose an important post, but might have the compensatory advantages of keeping Dundee away from the Duke of Gordon's country, of protecting that of the Laird of Grant, who was now with him, a valuable auxiliary, and of being able to communicate with his detachments in the south by the way of Angus. Out of two possible evils, he says in his Memoirs, he chose the last and least apparent-to move down Strathspey.
After a toilsome march of twenty-four hours, he gained the lower and more champaign part of that grand valley. Dundee followed close behind, and encamped at the distance of a few miles, in a more hilly part of the vale. After a short period of refreshment, the Whig general, thinking he might adventure a slight trial of strength with the enemy, made a secret and nocturnal advance towards his leaguer, till he got to a pass within a mile of it ; when all at once, about ten in the morning, he showed himself, and gave symptoms of a desire to come to an action. Dundee, however, did not take the least notice of his approach, being perfectly secure, by the nature of the ground, from any attack he might make, at the same time that he was anxious rather to avoid than to come to an engagement. Mackay waited till late in the afternoon, in the hope of provoking him from his position ; after which he fell back to his own camp. He afterwards learned, as he himself informs us, that the Highlanders were not altogether unmoved at his approach, however indifferent their commander might have been. The Camerons, he says, no sooner learned that he was advancing, than they ran with the greatest precipitation to the hills, a distance of more than six English miles. The truth is, the Highlanders had never, at any period of their previous history, been brought to face regular troops, more especially regular cavalry, whom they regarded with peculiar respect and fear ; and they were now anxious, in case of being obliged to fight them, at least to have an advantage in respect of ground.
Mackay now judged it expedient to pitch himself in some situation where he could wait in security till he was joined by the portions of his army at present in the south. He chose a place called Colmnakill, about six miles farther down the Spey, where a tributary stream, debouching into that river, gave him protection on one side, while the river itself covered his rear, and where a summer lodge belonging to the Laird of Grant offered him at once lodging and provision. When he had fairly pitched himself, be selected a dozen of the tenants of the Laird of Grant, to act as intelligencers between his camp and that of the enemy. And he at the same time sent another of the Laird's tenants, an experienced and trust-worthy person, to hasten the march of his detachments out of Angur. Here he was soon gratified by the
junction of the two troops of Sir Thomas Living ston's regiment of dragoons, who had hitherto lain at Dundee.
Sir Thomas Livingston was one of those innumerable officers, civil and military, who, at the Revolution, found it convenient to accept of employment and pay under the new government, without, at the same time, thinking it at all necessary to resign their attachment to the old. We are told by Crichton, that, on his succeeding to the command of Dundee's regiment at the retirement of that nobleman to Holland, he came down to Congleton, where the men were lying, to inquire which of them would serve King William, and which would not: one of the officers gave him to understand, that, having sworn allegiance to King James, they could not, in bonour and conscience, draw a sword against him ; whereupon Sir Thomas, falling down upon his knees, drank a devout health to the exiled sovereign, and exclaimed, that he wished he might be damned, whenever he should command them to break that oath. An understanding being thus established between the Colonel and his men, they marched down to Scotland, for the apparent purpose of helping General Mackay to suppress Lord Dundee, though in reality intending to seize the first opportunity of revolting to the service of their old master. • It would really surprise a modern British officer, accustomed as he is to pay an undivided allegiance to his sovereign and country, to learn the uncertainty of principle which the extreme perplexity of the times introduced into the army at the period here under review. With affections