Tuesday, 24 June 2014
Letter to Mary Grant. The Rout of Moy.
Dear Mary, As you are aware, Inverness has not escaped the vicissitudes of the present troubles. You have had Hanovarian and Jacobite armies billeted in your midst, and more recently government forces under the command of Lord Loudon have occupied Inverness. On 15 February, Charles's force was just eight miles south of Inverness, and the army was quartered near the villages of Moy and Aviemore. On the next evening Charles visited Moy Hall, where he was welcomed by the now famous Colonel Anne Mackintosh, whose husband was on duty with the government forces. She was proud to play host to Prince Charles and provided 'a plentiful and genteel' supper for all of her seventy-five guests. News of Charles's whereabouts reached Lord Loudoun, who realised that fame and £30,000 could be won with a single blow. That night he left Inverness with some 1500 men to take the Prince by surprise at Moy. The Dowager Lady Macintosh, who like her daughter-in-law, Colonel Anne, was a true Jacobite. She lived in Inverness and heard of Loudoun's plan. She called on one of her clansmen, the 15 year old Lauchlan Macintosh, to set out for Moy to appraise the Prince of the grave danger which beset him. The Prince was wakened and left the castle with his bonnet on top of his nightcap and his shoes half-on. He and some of his men made their way down to the lochside. Meantime Colonel Anne was seen to be running through the vennels in her petticoat, shouting about the Prince's safety, 'running about in her shift like a madwoman', observed the ubiquitous Mr O'Sullivan. She then sent the blacksmith of Moy, one Donald Fraser, and four others to take up position on the roadside between Inverness and Moy to await the approach of Lord Loudon's men. When Loudoun's troops appeared, 'the Blacksmith' fired his pistol, followed by shots from the other four men and then all of them gave out loudly with the war cries of the Camerons,Macdonalds Macintoshes and those of other clans. This caused the greatest of panic in Lord Loudoun's vast army, and instantly they beat a retreat and returned to Inverness, imagining that the whole Jacobite army 'to be at their heels'. Colonel Anne Macintosh was now revered as "The Heroine" and the event came to be known as the 'ROUT OF MOY'. Loudoun's reasons or excuses for his army's disgraceful behaviour were the usual ones of surprise, panic and mass desertions. The Rout of Moy so demoralised Lord Loudoun's men that more than 200 troops deserted and the decision was taken by Loudoun to withdraw with his men to 'friendly' Ross and Cromarty to await the arrival of Cumberland's large army. Meanwhile Inverness fell to Charles's army without a shot being fired. On 20 February the garrison of the castle capitulated, after which the castle was entirely destroyed. Mary, as a resident of the 'dirty wee town' you will know about the events I have just related. Cumberland was exasperated and bewildered to hear how 1500 Hanovarian soldiers were routed by five men at Moy. Incomprehensible is a word Cumberland might use, but even that is inadequate to explain the lamentable cowardice of Loudoun and his troops. THE CHEVALIER JOHNSTONE related this sad story to me, which I share with you, Mary. "Monsieur Macdonald of Scothouse came to pass the day with me. He was a man of about forty years of age, endowed with a fine figure and a prepossessing address, joined to that, an agreeable exterior. He had all the qualities of soul which ordinarily distinguish the honourable and gallant man - brave, polite, obliging, of fine spirit and sound judgement......Although I had not known him long, I formed with him the closest friendship, despite the disparity in our ages......He was naturally of a gay disposition, but I perceived his melancholy on entering my dwelling." His eyes bathed in tears, M. Macdonald explained that he would be part of the detachment which that evening would attack Lord Loudon's army. His adorable son was, he said, an officer in one of Loudon's regiments, a position he had been fortunate to obtain for his boy, "not being able to foresee the descent of Prince Charles Edward into Scotland." It was common at that time for the sons of gentlemen to seek a commmission in the army of Great Britain. The greatest fear he had as a father was that during the affray, he might accidentally shoot dead his son. On the other hand he might be able to save his life by going on this detachment, " If I do not march, some other may kill him." The next evening The Chevalier heard a great knocking at the door. "There was the good father holding a young man by the hand, a lad of a jolly figure, tears in his eyes, but still sparkling with joy. Macdonald had taken his son prisoner, "and when I had hold of him he embraced me fervently, not regarding the others who were present." The Chevalier, Monsieur Macdonald and his 'prisoner' son, celebrated this wonderful outcome with supper in the chambers of the Chevalier de James Johnstone ( from Edinburgh ).