Friday, 18 March 2011

The Jacobites leave Fort Augustus - On this day in Scottish Military History – 1746

In early March 1746 a small force of Jacobites had been despatched from Inverness to harry Hanoverian forces down Loch Ness. Clan regiments under the command of Cameron of Lochiel, MacDonnell of Glengarry and MacDonald of Keppoch along with some Irish Piquets and French gunners quickly reached the small Government outpost at Fort Augustus.

It had been built as part of General Wade’s improvements in the 1720s. It was a garrison post rather than a defensive position and was built to keep out marauding clansmen. It was not built to stop French gunners with siege cannon.

After only two days the fort fell when a shot from a French howitzer landed on the ammunition magazine and blew away part of the defences. Three compaines of the British regiment Guise's Foot (6th Foot) were taken prisoner, and more importantly the valuable cannon and supplies in the Fort could now be sent back to Inverness to help defend the Jacobite base.

Cameron of Locheil had other plans. He had been sent out by Prince Charles to flush the Hanoverians from the Great Glen and he intended to carry out that task. It suited him better to reduce Fort William which threatened his lands than to reinforce the main army at Inverness.

After time to regroup, Locheil's force left Fort Augustus on this day 265 years ago. Clan self-interest rather than Prince Charles's cause won the day. Instead of moving north to reinforce the main army at Inverness the Jacobites moved south again - towards Fort William.

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