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Letter to Prince Charles Edward Stuart
by Donald "The Gentle Lochiel," XIX Chief of Clan Cameron
& MacDonald of Keppoch
March 20, 1746
(regarding Campbell atrocities in Lochaber)


Yesternight we received a letter from Cluny, giving an account of the success of the party sent by his Royal Highness, and the command of Lord George Murray, to Athol; a copy of which letter we thought proper to send you enclosed.  And as you happen, for the present, to be contiguous to the Campbells, it is our special desire, that you instantly communicate to Airds, the Sheriff, and other leading men among them, our sentiments (which, God willing, we are determined to execute), by transmitting this our letter, and the enclosed copy, to any the nearest to you.

It is our opinion, that, of all men in Scotland, the Campbells had the least reason of any to engage in the present war against his Royal Highness's interest, considering that they have always appeared in opposition to the Royal family since the reign of K. James VI., and have been guilty of so many acts of rebellion and barbarity during that time, that no injured prince but would endeavour to resent it, when God was once pleased to put the power in his hands.  Yet his present Majesty, and his Royal Highness the Prince Regent, were graciously pleased, by their respective declarations, to forgive all past miscarriages to the most violent and inveterate enemy, and even bury them in oblivion, provided they returned to their allegiance: and tho' they should not appear personally in arms in support of the Royal cause, yet their standing neuter would entitle them to the good graces of their injured sovereign.  But, in spite of all the lenity and elemency that a prince could shew (sic) or promise, the Campbells have openly appeared, with their wonted zeal for rebellion and usurpation, in a most officious manner.  Nor could we ever form a thought to ourselves, that any men, endued with reason or common sense, would use their fellow-creatures with such inhumanity and barbarity as they do; and of which we have daily proofs, by their burning of houses, stripping of women and children, and exposing them to the open fields and severity of the weather, burning of corn, houghing [ham-stringing] of cattle, and killing of horses: to enumerate the whole would be too tedious at this time.  They must naturally reflect, that we cannot but look upon such cruelties with horror and detestation; and with hearts full of revenge, and certainly endeavour to make reprisals.  And we are determined to apply to his Royal Highness for leave and an order to enter their country, with full power to act at discretion; and, if we are lucky enough to obtain it, we shall shew (sic) that we are not to make war against women, and the brute creatures, but against men; and as God was pleased to put so many of them in our hands, we hope to prevail with his Royal Highness to hang a Campbell for every house that shall hereafter be burnt by them.

Notwithstanding the many scandalous and malicious aspersions, industriously contrived by our enemies, they could never, since the commencement of the war, impeach us with any acts of hostility that had the least tendency to such cruelty as they exercise against us, tho' often we had it in our power, if barbarous enough to execute it.

When courage fails against men, it betrays cowardice to a great degree to vent spleen against brutes, houses, women and children, who cannot resist.  We are not ignorant of their villainous intentions, by the intercepted letters from the Sheriff Airds, etc., which plainly discover, thatit was by their aplication, that their General, Cumberland, granted orders for burning, etc., which he could not be answerable for to the British parliament, it being most certain that such barbarity could never be countenanced by any Christian Senate.


Donald Cameron, of Lochiel
Alex. M'Donald, of Keppoch

I cannot omit taking notice that my people have been the first who have felt the cowardly barbarity of my pretended Campbell friends.  I shall only desire to live to have an opportunity of thanking them for it in the open field. - D.C.

Editor's Notes:  This letter was written at the beginning of the Jacobite siege of Fort William.  As may be seen, Donald "The Gentle Lochiel" was especially disappointed in the actions of the Campbells, the clan of both his wife and mother.  In a letter to his cousin, Cluny Macpherson, written this same day he reported that one hundred and fifty Campbells were in residence at Fort William.

It appears that multiple copies of this letter to Bonnie Prince Charlie were sent out from Glen Nevis (the Jacobite base of operations during the siege) with at least one copy being intercepted by Hanoverian forces (or purposely being sent, via Lochiel, perhaps to send a message of sorts.)  It was referenced in the March 1746 issue of Scots Magazine (see link below) alerting the Campbells that the Camerons and MacDonalds had thrown down the proverbial gauntlet and was also published in the April 1746 issue of The Gentleman's Magazine.  Speculation that this re-publication might have encouraged the Campbells to single out the Clan Cameron at the Battle of Culloden may be worthwhile, for the March 1746 issue was published just prior to the fateful contest on Drummossie Moor.  For additional material on this specific topic also see: Reports on the Siege of Fort William.