"The storm continues" Scotland Things to Do Tip by iandsmith

Scotland Things to Do: 1,337 reviews and 2,738 photos

  Where some froze to death
by iandsmith

Clan Chief Alastair MacDonald arrived at Fort William on 31 December 1691, only to find he should have gone instead to Inveraray to take his oath. He eventually got there five days late. As a result, the Glen Coe MacDonalds did not appear on the list of clans who had taken the oath by the deadline.
Still worse for the MacDonalds, the Secretary of State for Scotland, an overbearing Sir John Dalrymple, wanted to set an example by punishing one of the clans who failed to take the oath. Although some had made no effort at all to take the oath, the Glen Coe MacDonalds, due to their lack of friends, were selected to set this example and they had no stronghold to shelter in and they lived in a valley whose exits could be blocked.
So it was that on 1 February, two companies of around 130 men were moved south from Inverlochy and billeted with the MacDonalds in Glen Coe. The troops were commanded by Captain Robert Campbell of Glen Lyon, a 60 year-old bankrupt alcoholic, most likely put in charge because he would follow his orders. These duly arrived, in writing, on 12 February, from Major Robert Duncanson. Captain Campbell and his men were to "fall upon the Rebells... and putt all to the sword under seventy." Listed to happen at 5am the following morning, 13th February.
There were up to 500 MacDonalds, scattered over the lower reaches of Glen Coe. The start of the battle was signalled by a fire lit on what is now called Signal Rock at 5am. It was dark, it was snowing, and reinforcements intended to block escape routes from the glen failed to turn up, leaving Captain Campbell to make his mark on history largely unaided.

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  • Updated Jan 13, 2006
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