was not long before news of the Prince's arrival at Moy reached
Lord Loudoun, who at once saw it as an opportunity to win
at one blow not only lasting fame but a reward of £30,000.
Accordingly, that very night, having thrown a cordon of troops
round Inverness and strengthened the castle garrison, he marched
quietly out of the town, taking with him his own regiment
and as many as he could muster of the Independent Companies,
making some 1,500 men in all, his purpose being to take the
Prince by surprise.
News of his intention had, however,
reached the Dowager Lady Mackintosh, who lived in Inverness
and did not share her son's Hanoverian sympathies. Summoning
a fifteen-year-old Mackintosh clans-man named Lauchlan.
she instructed him 'to try if he could get past Lord Loudon's
men, and to make all the haste he could to Moy to warn the
Prince of what was intended against him'. Successfully dodging
Lord Loudon's patrols, young Lauchlan Mackintosh immediately
set out for Moy, arriving there in time to get the Prince
out of bed and warn him of the enemy's approach. Leaving
the house 'with his bonnet above his nightcap and his shoes
down in the heels', Charles now made his way down to the
side of the loch with some of his men, while Colonel Anne
was observed 'in her smock-petticoat, running through the
close, speaking loudly and expressing her anxiety about
the Prince's safety' - 'running about like a madwoman in
her shift', O'Sullivan called it.
Meanwhile, madwoman or not, she had,
with great presence of mind, sent the blacksmith of Moy,
one Donald Fraser, and four others to take up a position
'upon a muir, at some distance from Moy, towards Inverness,
and their await the approach of Lord Loudon's men'. On the
appearance of the enemy's advance guard, who seem to have
been led by the renegade MacLeod of MacLeod, 'the Blacksmith',
we learn, 'fired his piece, and the other four followed
his example', at the same time shouting at the top of their
voices the war cries of the Camerons, MacDonalds. Mackintoshes
and a number of other clans, 'which so far imposed on Lord
Loudon and his command, (a pretty considerable one) and
struck them with such panic that instantly they beat a retreat,
and made their way back to Inverness, imagining the Prince's
whole army to be at their heels'. This ingenious stratagem,
which won for Colonel Anne the additional title of The Heroine,
came to be known, appropriately enough, as the Rout of Moy.
The only casualty was MacLeod's hereditary piper Macrimmon
('reputed the best of his business in all Scotland' and
almost certainly Jacobite in sympathy), who fell mortally
wounded at the blacksmith's first discharge. Before leaving
Skye. Macrimmon. who possessed the second sight, had composed
a prophetic lament. Chu til rile tuille (I'll return no
more): MacLeod shall come back, But Macrimmon shall never.
Earlier that evening in Inverness,
a friend, who likewise possessed the second sight, had remarked
on meeting Macrimmon that his body seemed suddenly to shrink
to the stature of a small child.
Lord Loudon's own account of the engagement
at Moy throws an interesting light on that nobleman's character
and military capability: We marched on to the heights above
the watter of Nairn, when to my infinite mortification I
saw and heard, about a mile to my left, a running fire from
the whole detachment. They saw. or imagined they saw, five
Men on which they had made the Fire. Hut the Consequence
on the Main Body was very bad. for it threw us into the
greatest confusion. I got my own Regiment, at the head of
which I was. in the Front, saved from falling out of the
Road. All faced to where they saw the Fire. They were ten
men deep and all presented, and a good many droping shots.
one of which killed a Piper at my Foot whilst I was forming
them. The rest fell all back out of the Road to the Right
a considerable way, in the utmost confusion, and it was
a great while before 1 could get them brought up and formed.
and the Panick still so great that it was with the greatest
difficulty when the Party came in. which they did in twos
and threes, that 1 could. standing before the Muzzles of
their pieces, prevent them firing on them, and when I came
to count the corps (if 1 may call Independent Companies
by that name) I found I had lost the Five Companys in the
Rear, of whom, after all the search I could make. I could
hear nothing. After remaining an Hour on the ground and
finding that I had lost one third of my Men in a Body, besides
those who had left the Companys that remained with me, and
finding then the whole country was alarmed, I thought it
improper, especially in the condition the men were, to march
on to a superior Force, who must be prepared to receive
me, and concluded that the best thing left for me to do,
was to march back to town, which I accordingly did.
Their experiences at the hands of the
blacksmith of Moy had sadly demoralized Lord Loudon's men.
Next morning two hundred of them deserted and. after consultation
with MacLeod and Lord President Forbes. their noble commander
decided that his wisest course would be to withdraw with
his men across the ferry at Kessock to Ross and Cromarty
and there, in relatively friendly territory, await the arrival
of Cumberland's great army. His withdrawal was further accelerated
by the appearance before Inverness on the morning of I 8
February of the Prince's advance guard. At this he and his
force left headlong for the Kessock ferry, where they were
cannonaded by the Jacobites and still more of his men deserted.
A Jacobite force of Frasers and others was immediately sent
over the ferry after them. Meanwhile Charles, 'having got
up betwixt two and three thousand men', had taken possession
of Inverness without a shot being fired. On 20 February
the small Hanoverian garrison of the castle also capitulated
and the castle itself was demolished.
Cumberland's reaction on learning of
these events was one of exasperation and bewildered incomprehension.
I am really quite at a loss to explain all the contradictions
I meet here from morning to night, for I am assured by people
who should know the hills the best, that there are no places
between the Blair of Athol and Inverness where 500 men can
subsist in a body, yet Lord Loudoun has been driven across
the Firth with 2,000 men which he said he had, and expecting
a junction of 1,500 more, by that party of the rebels alone
which marched from Blair with the Pretender's son, and which
I could never make, by the best account I had, above 600
men.…But I am now in a country so much our enemy that
there is hardly any intelligence to be got, and, whenever
we do procure any, it is the business of the country to
have it contradicted to me that I may be always kept in
an uncertainty what I am to believe.
On 19 February Charles had established
himself some five miles outside Inverness at Culloden House,
the home of the Lord President, Duncan Forbes, who had left
hurriedly the day before with Lord Loudon. He was joined
two days later by Lord George Murray and Duke William of
- Extract from Fitroy Maclean,
'Bonnie Prince Charlie'