Sunday, 6 April 2014

Charles' Army Continue South Unhindered.

The Jacobite army arrived at Blair Atholl on 31 August to find that James, the present Duke of Atholl had left the castle over a week earlier in the care of Mr. Bissat, the factor to Duke James. This was to show that he would have no truck with the Jacobites, as his older brother Duke William had in previous Jacobite risings, and for which he was 'attainded', forcing him into exile in France for the last 30 years. The factor Mr. Bissat was not exactly complimentary about the Prince and the Jacobite army. Of the Prince he said that "He seemed to be good natured, but I do not think that he has very much in him" Of the Seven Men of Moidart, still sticking close to he Prince, Bissat remarked that they " were old useless fellows as ever I saw." Of the Highland army, he said that the Highlander amounted to only 2000, of which "two thirds are the poorest naked like creatures imaginable and indifferently armed with less than one half of the guns capable of firing. Some of them have guns without swords, and some have swords without guns." I don't think that Mr. Bissat had anything good to say about this Highland army, especially since the army stayed at Blair for seven days during which they lived well off the land. Old Duke William did not manage to raise many of the Atholl men for the Prince's army, even though, as their old duke, he was well liked and respected in these parts. But one man who had just arrived at Blair was the Gaelic poet and soldier of fortune, Colonel John Roy Stewart from Strathspey, once Quartermaster of the Scots Greys, and later in service with the French army. Charles knew him from France to be a very flamboyant officer, who "always went very gay." Charles formed a high opinion of John Roy's military successes and immediately sent him on a mission to Lord Lovat and to raise troops from among Clan Grant. Neil and Donald thought the Blair Atholl factor, Mr.Bissat, a 'soor-faced and carnapcious fellow,' but entre les deux, they could understand how galling it must have been to be left to contend with thousands of ravenous Highlanders, with His Grace nowhere to be seen. They also agreed with Bissat that the Jacobite army was in poor shape and badly armed. The Dalmore lads always spoke in Gaelic to the Highland men who were at times quite forthright in their views. Some insisted that unless they did battle with the Redcoats, and pretty soon, they would be going home for the harvest. An update of the Jacobite's progress was sent to Miss Grant in Inverness and appeared in a separate supplement of the Courant. The major British papers were given access to the 'Dalmore Reports' always a few days later and for a goodly price. The information in these reports was eagerly digested by the cognoscenti, but they struck awe in those, especially in the large cities, who followed the Hanovarian line. Mr Bisset was delighted to see the Prince and his army (and the old Duke William) leave Blair Atholl heading for Dunkeld, where King James was proclaimed King. When Charles arrived in Dunkeld, he took up residence there in Dunkeld House, which happened to be another house belonging to the Dukes of Atholl. As it happened, Duke James had been staying there (away from Blair and these Highlanders), but at the approach of the Jacobites (again) he had left Dunkeld, possibly back to Blair Castle ! The Jacobite army left Dunkeld on 4 September on their way to Perth, and that evening the Prince entered the City of Perth at the head of his troops, wearing his favourite tartan suit, trimmed with gold lace. As he and his troops marched through Perth, the Prince was happy with the enthusiastic welcome of the crowds of onlookers. Charles was quartered for some time in Perth at an inn, now called the Salutation Hotel. He would remain in Perth for the next week, where he would be joined by certain important personages, none more famous nor controversial that Lord George Murray, the younger brother of the 'two' Dukes of Atholl, and recognised as a most able and experienced military commander.

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