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THE BATTLE OF KILLIECRANKIE.1
THE CELTIC BATTLE-RUSH.
1. Early in the morning of Saturday the twenty-seventh of July, Dundee arrived at Blair Castle. There he learned that Mackay's troops were already in the ravine of Killiecrankie. It was necessary to come to a prompt decision. A council of war was held. The Saxon officers were generally against hazarding a battle. The Celtic chiefs were of a different opinion. Glengarry and Lochiel were now both of a mind. “Fight, my lord,” said Lochiel with his usual energy: "fight immediately: fight, if you have only one to three. Our men are in heart. Their only fear is that the enemy should escape. Give them their way; and be assured that they will either perish or gain a complete victory. But if you restrain them, if you force them to remain on the defensive, I answer for nothing. If we do.not fight, we had better break up and retire to our mountains." • 2. Dundee's countenance brightened. “You hear, gentlemen,” he said to his Lowland officers, “you hear the opinion of one who understands Highland war better than any of us. No voice was raised on the other side. It was determined to fight; and the confederated clans in high spirit set forward to encounter the enemy.
3. The enemy meanwhile had made his way up the pass. The ascent had been long and toilsome: for even the foot had to climb by twos and threes; and the bag. gage horses, twelve hundred in number, could mount only one at a time. No wheeled carriage had ever been tugged up that arduous path. The head of the column had 1 From Macaulay's History of England, by permission of Messrs. Longmans,
Green & Co.
emerged and was on the table-land, while the rearguard was still in the plain below. At length the passage was effected; and the troops found themselves in a valley of no great extent. Their right was flanked by a rising ground, their left by the Garry. Wearied with the morning's work, they threw themselves on the grass to take some rest and refreshment.
4. Meanwhile a fire of musketry was kept up on both sides, but more skilfully and more steadily by the regular soldiers than by the mountaineers. The space between the armies was one cloud of smoke. Not a few Highlanders dropped; and the clans grew impatient. The sun however was low in the west before Dundee gave the order to prepare for action. His men raised a great shout. The enemy, probably exhausted by the toil of the day, returned a feeble and wavering cheer. “We shall do it now," said Lochiel: “ that is not the cry of men who are going to win.” He had walked through all his ranks, had addressed a few words to every Cameron, and had taken from every Cameron a promise to conquer or die.
5. It was past seven o'clock. Dundee gave the word. The Highlanders dropped their plaids. The few who were so luxurious as to wear rude socks of untanned hide spurned them away. It was long remembered in Lochaber that Lochiel took off what probably was the only pair of shoes in his clan, and charged barefoot at the head of his
The whole line advanced firing. returned the fire and did much execution. When only a small space was left between the armies, the Highlanders suddenly flung away their firelocks, drew their broadswords, and rushed forward with a fearful yell.
6. The Lowlanders prepared to receive the shock: but this was then a long and awkward process; and the soldiers were still fumbling with the muzzles of their guns
The enemy the men.
and the handles of their bayonets when the whole flood of Macleans, Macdonalds, and Camerons came down. In two minutes the battle was lost and won. The ranks of Balfour's regiment broke. He was cloven down while struggling in the press. Ramsay's men turned their backs and dropped their arms. Mackay's own foot were swept away by the furious onset of the Camerons. His brother and nephew exerted themselves in vain to rally
The former was laid dead on the ground by a stroke from a claymore. The latter, with eight wounds on his body, made his way through the tumult and car. nage to his uncle's side.
7. Even in that extremity Mackay retained all his selfpossession. He had still one hope. A charge of horse might recover the day; for of horse the bravest Highlanders were supposed to stand in awe. But he called on the horse in vain. Belhaven indeed behaved like a gallant gentleman: but his troopers, appalled by the rout of the infantry, galloped off in disorder: Annandale's men followed: all was over; and the mingled torrent of redcoats and tartans went raving down the valley to the gorge of Killiecrankie.
8. Mackay accompanied by one trusty servant, spurred bravely through the thickest of the claymores and targets, and reached a point from which he had a view of the field. His whole army had disappeared, with the exception of some Borderers whom Leven had kept together, and of the English regiment, which had poured a murderous fire into the Celtic ranks, and which still kept unbroken order. All the men that could be collected were only a few hun
The general made haste to lead them across the Gairy, and having put that river between them and the enemy, paused for a moment to meditate on his situation.
9. He could hardly understand how the conquerors could
be so unwise as to allow him even that moment for deliberation. They might with ease have killed or taken all who were with him before the night closed in. But the energy
of the Celtic warriors had spent itself in one furious rush and one short struggle. The pass was choked by the twelve hundred beasts of burden which carried the provisions and baggage of the vanquished army. Such a booty was irresistibly tempting to men who were impelled to war quite as much by the desire of rapine as by the desire of glory. It is probable that few even of the chiefs were disposed to leave so rich a prize for the sake of King James. Dundee himself might at that moment have been unable to persuade his followers to quit the heaps of spoil, and to complete the great work of the day; and Dundee
was no more.
10. At the beginning of the action he had taken his place in front of his little band of cavalry. He bade them follow him, and rode forward. But it seemed to be decreed that, on that day, the Lowland Scotch should in both armies appear to disadvantage. The horse hesitated. Dundee turned round, stood up in his stirrups, and, waving his hat, invited them to come on. As he lifted his arm, his cuirass rose, and exposed the lower part of his left side. A musket ball struck him: his horse sprang forward and plunged into a cloud of smoke and dust, which hid from both armies the fall of the victorious general. A person named Johnstone was near him, and caught him as he sank down from the saddle. "How goes the day?" said Dundee.
“Well for King James, answered Johnstone: “but I am sorry for Your Lordship.” “ If it is well for him," answered the dying man, "it matters the less for me.” He never spoke again: but when, half an hour later, Lord Dunfermline and some other friends came to the spot, they thought that they could still discern some faint remains of life. The body, wrapped in two plaids, was carried to the Castle of Blair.- Lord Macaulay.
Questions on the lesson :—The date of Dundee's arrival at Blair Castle? The news he heard? The decision? The arguments used? The character of the pass? The position of Mackay's troops ? At what hour did the battle begin? Describe the advance of the Highlanders? How long did the decision of the day occupy? What was Mackay's last resource? Why was it unavailing? What course did he himself take? What soon engaged the attention of the clans ? What had been the fate of Dundee?
Killiecrankie.— The battle was fought in 1689. William and Mary were now King and Queen of England. No sword had been drawn for James in England. In Scotland, however, “John Graham of Claverhouse, whose cruelties in the persecution of the Western Covenanters had been rewarded by the title of Viscount Dundee, withdrew with a few troops from Edinburgh to the Highlands and appealed to the clans” in favour of the House of Stuart. Tie pass is in Perthshire on the Garry before its junction with the Tummel. It is upwards of thirty miles from Perth.
THE TORRID ZONE.
1. The Torrid Zone possesses vegetable wealth, which we should in vain expect to realize in the other regions of the globe. It is in that zone that the most juicy fruits and the most pungent aromatics arrive at perfect maturity, and vegetation of every kind is distinguished for stateliness, variety, and splendour. There the glowing beams of the sun raise the plant into a shrnb and the shrub into a tree. The simple sap, which in other regions merely flows in the veins of vegetables, there ripens and exudes through the stem under the form of balms, gums, ard juices, which either form powerful remedies against