Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Battle of Inverlochy

'It was about the middle of December that Argyle was residing at his castle of Inverary, in the most perfect confidence that the enemy could not approach him, since he used to say he would not for a hundred thousand crowns that any one knew the passes from the eastward into the shire of Argyle. While the powerful Marquis was enjoying his fancied security of his feudal dominions, he was astounded with the intelligence that Montrose, with an army of Highlanders, wading through drifts of snow, scaling precipices, and traversing the mountain paths, known to none save the solitary shepherd or huntsman, had forced an entry into his country, which he was laying waste with all the vindictive severity of deadly feud. There was neither time nor presence of mind for defence. The able-bodied men were slaughtered, the cattle driven off, the houses burnt; and the invaders had divided themselves into three bands, to make the devastation more complete. Alarmed by this fierce and unexpected invasion, Argyle embarked on board a fishing boat, and left his country to its fate. Montrose continued the work of revenge for nearly a month, and then concluding he had destroyed the influence which Argyle, by the extent of his power, and the supposed strength of his country, had possessed over the minds of the Highlanders, he withdrew towards Inverness, with the purpose of organizing a general gathering of the clans. But be had scarce made this movement, when he learned that his rival, Argyle, had returned into the Western Highlands with some Lowland forces; that he had called around him his numerous clan, burning to revenge the wrongs which they had sustained, and was lying with a strong force near the old Castle of Inverlochy, situated at the western extremity of the chain of lakes through which the Caledonian canal is now conducted.



The news at once altered Montrose's plans.
 
He returned upon Argyle by a succession of the most difficult mountain-passes covered with snow; and the vanguard of the Campbells saw themselves suddenly engaged with that of their implacable enemy. Both parties lay all night on their arms, but by break of day, Argyle betook himself to his galley, and, rowing off shore, remained a spectator of the combat, when, by all the rules of duty and gratitude, he ought to have been at the head of his devoted followers. His unfortunate clansmen supported the honour of the name with the greatest courage, and many of the most distinguished fell on the field of battle. Montrose gained a complete victory, which greatly extended his influence over the Highlands, and in proportion diminished that of his discomfited rival...'
 
The text above comes from Walter Scott's "Tales of a Grandfather" (volume 49).  The Battle of Inverlochy was a victory for Royalist James Graham over Duncan Campbell of Auchinbreck.  The battle took place on February 2, 1645.

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