Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 22.djvu/354

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after blowing up his ammunition to prevent it falling into Dundee's hands. The appointed rendezvous of Mackay and Ramsay had been Ruthven Castle on the Spey, which was held for the government by Captain Forbes, and, on the retreat of Ramsay, it was captured by Dundee and razed to the ground. He then endeavoured to surprise Mackay, who decamped suddenly during the night. To get between him and the low grounds and cut off his retreat, Dundee marched swiftly up Glenlivet, and then turned down Strathdon. But for nightfall coming on he would have forced an engagement. On coming in sight of Mackay's troops the highlanders raised a great shout and threw off their plaids preparatory to an attack, but Mackay drew rapidly off, and on Dundee detaching a troop of horse to endeavour to provoke a skirmish, his troops only withdrew the faster. Dundee then took up his quarters at Edenglassy, but Mackay, as soon as he had effected a junction with Ramsay, retraced his steps and advanced against him. To give battle to the combined forces did not suit Dundee, who was in hope of large reinforcements from Ireland, and he precipitately retired to the hills, keeping always so strong a rear-guard that Mackay deemed it unwise to harass his retreat. On reaching Lochaber he dismissed most of the clans, retaining, however, two hundred of the Macleans, who ‘were far from their own country’ (Balcarres, p. 42). Mackay resolved, after leaving a detachment to protect Inverness, to retire to the lowlands until he was provided with means to establish a line of fortified posts in the Grampians. Taking advantage of his absence, Dundee made a tour through the more remote clans, and was so well received that he wrote from Moy, Inverness-shire, ‘I hope we shall be masters of the north.’ He was gaining a remarkable personal influence over the chiefs and their men by sharing their fatigues, sympathising with their feelings, and listening to their stories, and above all by his relationship to the great Montrose. Even his stern severity powerfully assisted him in winning their regard. The only punishment he inflicted was death: ‘All other punishment, he said, disgraced a gentleman, and all who were with him were of that rank; but that death was a relief from the consciousness of crime’ (Dalrymple, Memoirs, p. 74). Having completed his tour in the northern regions, Dundee now devoted his attention to securing the Atholl men, and obtaining possession of Blair Castle. The Marquis of Atholl, whose hesitation in Edinburgh had led to the abandonment of the convention at Stirling, had gone south to England for his health, and to be ‘as much as possible out of the world now in his old age’ (Murray to Melville, 11 June, in Leven and Melville Papers, p. 54). On hearing that his son, Lord Murray, had appointed a rendezvous of the Atholl men at Blair, Dundee wrote him urgent letters exhorting him to ‘declare openly for the liberty of his country’ (ib.) Receiving no answer he got a commission prepared, authorising the absent Marquis of Atholl to hold Blair Castle in the name of the king, and, delivering it to Stewart of Ballochin, steward of the marquis, commanded him in the absence of his lord to hold the castle for King James. To this Ballochin at once agreed. Murray thereupon gathered fifteen hundred of his men to capture it, but on arriving they demanded to know in whose cause they were expected to fight. Learning that it was not under but against Dundee, they at once forsook the ranks, and running to the adjoining stream of Baldovie they filled their bonnets with water, and drank to the health of King James. In the absence of their chief they did not venture to join Dundee, but returned to their homes. Dundee's procedure in Atholl alarmed Mackay, and he hastened to anticipate him by seizing Blair Castle. Learning that Mackay was moving towards the highlands, Dundee ordered a rendezvous of all the clans, and at the urgent request of Lochiel set out for Blair with the small detachment he had with him. Lochiel overtook him with 240 men just as he was entering Atholl; three hundred badly armed Irish under Cannon joined him shortly afterwards; the more distant adherents of Lochiel followed; and every hour afterwards detachments from the other clans came hurrying in. In all probability the forces at his disposal were about three thousand, when news reached him that Mackay was approaching the pass of Killiecrankie. At the council of war some were for holding the pass till they had a fuller muster, but Dundee opposed this, knowing that Mackay had collected his forces hurriedly, and was notably deficient in cavalry. Lochiel also was for giving battle. The scene of the encounter between Dundee and Mackay was specially selected by Dundee under the guidance of Lochiel. Never was an attack more carefully or deliberately planned. Mackay was unaware of Dundee's movements, and when, on reaching the narrow table-land at the top of the pass, he was met by the sight of the bonnets and plaids of the highlanders on the hills, he recognised at once that he was caught in a trap. On discovering that the bulk of Dundee's forces were concentrated on the hills to his right, he wheeled his men round to avoid the danger of a flank attack,