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Reports on the Siege of Fort William
from Scots Magazine
March & April, 1746


...By the 14th, the Duke had received the following accounts, dated the 4th, at Fort William.  "We have advice here, that a party of the rebels, amounting to 1000 men, is at Glenevis, within two miles of us; and that their train of artillery is to be to-morrow at Highbridge, which is six miles from this fort.  We have heard of the attacking of Fort Augustus, and expect to be attacked; but Gov. Campbell is determined to defend the place to the utmost of his power.  For some days past there have been some small parties of rebels posted on each the narrows of Carron; in which, on Saturday last, they took one of the boats belonging to the Baltimore sloop, as she was coming from Scallestall bay, and sent the crew prisoners to their head quarters.  As soon as we had intelligence of this accident, a council was called, consisting of land and sea-officers, and a resolution taken to send a strong party to dislodge the rebels.  In consequence thereof, early this morning Capt. Askew of the Serpent sloop sent his boat with 27 men in it, another boat of the Baltimore's with 24 men, and a boat belonging to Fort William, with 20, down the narrows; where they all arrived by day-light.  Capt. Askew's men landed first, and were immediately attacked by a party of 80 rebels, who fired upon them, but without doing them any damage; and upon the rest of the men belonging to the boats coming up, the rebels fled.  Our people pursued them, burnt the ferry-houses on both sides of the water, and a little town with about twelve houses in it, a quarter of a mile distant from the ferry-house on the North-side, and destroyed or brought off all their boats.  Two of the rebels were killed in this affair, and several wounded.  It was very lucky that our boats went down as they did; for there was a boat with a party of militia in it, that was coming hither from Stalker castle, which would probably have fallen into the hands of the rebels, but for the skirmish before mentioned."  - Capt. Frederick Scot came from Dunstasnage to Ellanstalker castle on the 6th; but could not get any farther, the rebels having guarded both sides of the narrows of Carron for two miles on that side Fort William.  On the night of the 6th, the centries at Ellanstalker saw several lights, which were thought to belong to the rebel parties marching towards Fort William form Strathappin, which is near the rock on which Ellanstalker castle stands, and Appin house is not a mile from it.

Gen. Campbell having got notice at Inverary, that the rebels had taken the Baltimore's boat, and hearing that they had likewise possessed themselves of the pass of Ardgour, so that nothing could pass to or from Fort William, his Excellency caused put four swivel-guns, with ammunition, &c. on board the Victory wherry, with an officer and 16 men, and a like number on board the Hopewell sloop, and sent them round.  They failed accordingly on the 8th.

Advice was received at Inverary the 11th, that the French, which were judged not to be many, had come up to Fort William, with the artillery on the 7th and 8th; and that they proposed to have a battery ready to play on the 10th.  But by letters from Capt. Scot, who had thrown himself into Fort William, dated the 15th, the rebels had not then begun the siege, but were bringing up their artillery for that purpose.  - Four gunners sent by the Duke from Aberdeen, passed through Glasgow on the 19th for Fort William; and next day came into that city from Edinburgh two companies of Johnson's foot, designed as a reinforcement for the same place.  Letters from Inverary give an account, that one of these companies had marched from that town on the 28th, and would be next morning at Dunstasnage, where they had wherries ready to transport them to Fort William.  'Tis added, that a deserter informed, that there were not above 5 or 600 of the clans and 300 French before Fort William; that on the 22nd they began to fire with six four-pounders and two eight-pounders, and talked of playing some great guns in two days after; and that Gov. Campbell had bravely defended the place, and, in order to prevent the rebels sheltering themselves near the fort, had caused burn the town of Maryburgh.

As the rebels could not cut off the communication by sea, the garrison was plentifully supplied with provisions from Inverary.  The siege was however continued till the 3rd of April, and then raised. An officer in the fort gives the following compleat journal of it.

"On the 24th of February this place was blockaded by the rebels, who they say are 1500, including the French piquets.  Brig. Stapleton commands the siege.  Lochiel commands the highlanders, consisting chiefly of his own clan, the Macdonalds of Keppoch and Glenco, and the Stewarts of Appin.

From the 24th February to the 20th March they kept every day firing, tho' at a considerable distance.  On the 20th, they began to raise batteries, and that night threw in a great many cohorn-shells of six inches diameter, and above inch thick in the shell.

21st, They began to cannonade from a battery of 3 guns, and that night threw in betwixt 60 and 70 more of these shells upon us.

22nd, They sent a French drum with a summons to surrender.  He was not admitted into the garrison, nor his credentials looked at.  On his return, they plied us hard all that day with their cannon, and betwixt 10 at night and 3 next morning, they threw in from one battery of 5 and another of 4 cohorn-mortars, no less than 194 of those large shells.  These batteries are about 200 yards distant from the walls.

23rd, They cannonaded us very closely this afternoon; but, in the afternoon, we made a triple discharge of 9 of our cannon, and 2 bomb-mortars, which silenced them.

24th, This morning they began again their cannonading from their first battery, which they continued on the 25th and 26th.

27th, They unmasked a second battery of 4 guns on the high ground above the Governor's garden, not above 200 yards distant; from which, and the other, they have fired 250 shot, besides a continued fire of small arms from the nearest battery.  The shot from their cannon were two thirds of them six pounders.  They threw in 50 more of their royals on us, but did us no further harm than wounding 2 men.

28th, They cannonaded us hard all this forenoon.  In the afternoon they were silent; but were busy erecting a new battery about 200 yards higher than their second battery, and to the West of it, to sweep our whole parade.

29th, This morning, by break of day, they unmasked a new battery at the Craigs, of 3 brass four pounders, within 100 yards of the walls, and cannonaded us from that and the other 3 batteries.   As they carried a furnace along with them, they threw in a great many hot bullets, and some bearded pieces of iron a foot long, and inch thick, which they designed should stick in our timber work, and set us on fire.  They fired grape and partridge shot, and plied us hard from all hands with small arms; but have done us very little damage.

30th, They cannonaded us hard from day-light till night, and continued throwing a few shells and hot bullets, some of which, after lying some time on the ground, could burn powder.

31st, Capt. Scot having ordered 12 men out of each company, amounting in all to about 150 men, to make a sally, they marched out about 11 o'clock to the Craigs, about 100 yards from the garrison, where the rebels had a battery; which, after a smart fire, they rushed in upon, and made themselves masters of 3 brass four pounders, 2 mortars, and their furnace, being the same they took from Sir John Cope at Preston.  They spiked up 2 large mortars, which they could not bring away, with 1 brass six pounder, which they brought under the walls.  They had all this time a warm skirmish with the rebels, and lost only 2 men, and had 3 wounded.  We brought in 2 prisoners, one of them a French gunner.

April 1st, This day the cannonaded us, but not very hotly.

2nd, They continued cannonading, but not so briskly as usual.  At 10 at night they threw in 17 shells, and fired 7 cannon, and gave over about 1 o'clock in the morning.  This play was only to amuse us while they were spiking up their largest cannon, and carrying off their small ones.

3[r]d, This forenoon, seeing no men about their batteries, and observing bodies of men travelling by the tops of the hills towards Fort Augustus, we made a sally with about 500 men, but found the works abandoned.  We took the rest of the cannon and mortars, and brought them into the fort; so have raised the siege gloriously, and taken, in all, 4 brass four pounders, 4 iron six pounders, 9 mortars, and their furnace; and since the commencement have only buried 6 men, and have about 24 wounded.  The roofs of the houses, and some of the rooms within, have suffered a good deal from the shells; which were so heavy, that they often went down from the roof to the ground before they broke.   It seems they had got a very pressing call elsewhere, since they did not take time to carry off their artillery, or even to hide them, which might have been easily done.

P.S. We have razed down their batteries, which were prodigiously strong, some of them being 27 foot from the front of the embrazure to the other side."

Other accounts say, that the men who sallied out on the 31st were in two parties, one commanded by Capts Foster and Maclachlan, the other by Capts Paton and Whitway; that the former attacked and took the battery at the back of the craigs; that in another attack, made upon a four gun battery at the foot of the hill, the King's troops were repulsed, with the loss of two men killed and a few wounded; that their retreat was made in good order, under cover of the guns of the fort; that they carried in two prisoners, one an Englishman, the other a Frenchman, or rather a Spaniard; that this last gave an account, that the besiegers were half starving, and beginning to run short of ammunition; that the rebels lost a considerable number of men, not only in their flight from the craigs, but in the second attack; that the Governor was wounded, but not dangerously; that the town of Maryburgh and garden walls were all levelled with the ground; that the garrison were 600 in number, all in good spirits, and were reinforced on the 1st of April by 70 of Johnson's regiment; that the roofs of the fort were exceedingly damaged, and the old pile of barracks almost quite beat down, both roof and walls; that there were not fix panes of glass remaining in the windows; and that Capt Scot had been indefatigable, both by night and day, in erecting new works.

All this while, Gen. Campbell was very busy at Inverary, in preparing to oppose the rebels in case they should move that way.  - It was said, about the beginning of March, That all the men in Argyleshire able to bear arms, were assembling at that place, and that two additional companies of the Scots fusileers who lay at Dunbarton, were likewise ordered thither; about the middle of the month, That there were then 1500 men there, and 300 more expected in a few days; and about the end of the month, That Maclean of Brolus had joined them with a company of his clan, and that the General had put the place in a good posture of defence, having ordered 12 pieces of cannon thither from Greenock.

By some accounts from Argyleshire, twenty six villages in Morven and places adjacent, possessed chiefly by the Camerons, were burnt by a party sent ashore from the sloops of war on the West coast.  - This, tho' probably no other than what is related has, as is reported, produced a kind of manifesto by Lochiel and Keppoch in which they exclaim against the Campbells, for burning houses and corn, killing horses, houghing cattle, stripping women and children, and exposing them to the severity of the weather in the open fields; threaten to make reprisals, if they can procure leave from their Prince, by entering Argyleshire, and acting there at discretion, and by putting a Campbell to death (of whom several had lately been made prisoners in Athol) for every house that should afterwards be burnt by that clan; extol the lenity and moderation of the rebels, notwithstanding the aspersions industriously spread to the contrary; and insinuate, that those who gave orders for the burning, could not answer for it to the British parliament.


As we omit no fact or circumstance concerning our present troubles that is to be found in the London Gazette, we shall, before entering on the operations for April, give the Gazette accounts of some transactions already related, which did not come to hand in time to be inserted in our March Magazine.

Besides what is said p. 139 & seqq. (March 1746 - see above) we have the following journal, and two paragraphs annexed, relating to Fort William.

"March 14.  Began to heighten the parapets of our walls on the side where we apprehended the rebels would attack us.  This work continued the whole week thro', till the two faces of the bastions were raised to seven feet high.

15.  A detachment of the garrison, with some men belonging to his Majesty's sloops of war, went in armed boats to endeavour to destroy Killmady barns, commonly called the Corpach.  The rebels there upon flocked down in great numbers.  We fired some swivels from our boats. Several small shot were exchanged.  We had a sailor killed, and three men wounded.  The tide failing, this scheme miscarried.

Tuesday 18.  The Baltimore, Capt. Richard How, went up towards Killmady barns, in order to protect the landing of our men.  He fired several shot, and threw some cohorn shells, and set one hovel on fire: but could not attempt landing; for the rebels were intrenched by a hollow road or rill, and in great numbers.  The Baltimore's guns being only four pounders, had no effect on the stone walls of these barns, which the rebels had loopholed.  We brought our people back without any damage.

19.  We heard that a man whom we fired at last Sunday with a swivel, was an engineer in chief of the rebels, and was dangerously wounded; also heard that we had killed four rebels at Corpach yesterday.  Three centinels and a drummer of Guises's made their escape from the rebels to us: they were taken at Fort Augustus.

20.  Several parties covering our sodd-diggers had skirmishes with the rebels upon the neighbouring hills: but as both sides skulked behind craigs and rocks, we received no damage, and believe we did as little.  This evening about eleven o' clock the rebels opened the siege, by discharging 17 royals or small bombs of five inches and half diameter, weighing about 16 and 18 pounds each, and loaded with 14 ounces of powder, from a battery erected on a small hill called the Sugarloaf, about 800 yards off; which, because of the distance, did no execution, the greatest part of them falling short: and there were returned from the garrison against the rebels, eight bomb-shells of 13 inches diameter, six cohorns, one 12 pounder, five 6 pounders, and two swivels.

On Friday the 21st, the rebels finding their battery was too far off, erected a new one at the foot of the Cow-hill, about 400 yards off; from which, betwixt twelve at night and four in the morning, they discharged 84 of their royals; which did little damage, save penetrating thro' the roofs of several houses, beating down a few floors, and slightly wounding two men of Ollir's company, and a young man belonging to the garrison: and there were returned against them 20 bombs, nine cohorns, three 6 pounders, and two swivels.

On the 22nd, the rebels opened their battery of cannon from Sugar-loaf hill, consisting only of three guns of 6 and 4 pounders; but discharged only seven times, and that without doing any damage.  About twelve o'clock of this day, they sent a French drum towards the fort; who, upon his approach towards the garrison, beat a parley; and being ordered to come near the walls, Capt. Scott, our commander, asked him, what he came about?  To which he answered, That Gen. Stapleton, who commanded the siege, by directions from the pretender's son, had sent him with a letter to the commanding officer of the garrison, requiring him to surrender.  Capt. Scott answered, That he would receive no letters from rebels; and that he was determined to defend the fort to the last extremity.  The drummer being returned to the rebels with this answer, a close bombarding ensued from both sides for some hours: at last we silenced them by beating down their battery.  About ten that night the rebels opened a second bomb-battery near the bottom of the said Cow-hill, about 300 yards off; from which, and their battery upon the Sugar-loaf hill, they discharged before three in the morning 194 of their royals, and six cannon against us; but without doing any other damage than penetrating thro' some few roofs.  We did not return them one shell, but kept all our men within doors, except the piquet to stand by the fire-engine, the Governor and most of the officers being upon the ramparts.

Sunday 23.  As soon as day-light appeared, we fired 23 bombs, two cohorns, six 12 pounders, seven 6 pounders, and six swivels at the rebel batteries.  Some of which must have torn up their platforms.  They in return fired several cannon upon us; but did no harm, save shooting off a leg of Donald M'Indeor of Ballinbay's company.  About three this afternoon, some vessels appeared with supplies for us; and as soon as they had dropt anchor, the garrison all at once discharged eight 12 pounders, two 6 pounders, two bombs, and several cohorns, against their battery; which were all so well levelled, that not only a great part of their battery was beaten down, but they visibly occasioned the greatest confusion amongst them.  The men from the ships saw several amongst the rebels fall.  We understand that they had given out, that they would burn this place in four hours after their last battery was erected.  All this evening the rebels were employed in erecting another work or battery under cover of their cannon, about 300 yards off, at the foot of the Cow-hill; which was spied from the topmast of one of the ships.

24.  We fired but little, and the rebels but little also. We employed the greatest part of this day in getting our provisions on shore.

25.  At day-break we sent out a party to a place about six miles off, to bring in some cattle.  The rebels fired a good deal all this morning, and we plied them a little with our mortars and guns.  About three in the afternoon, our party returned, with 29 good bullocks and cows.  This evening, we sent off another party of 40 men, for another prize of bullocks, to pass the narrows of Carron, and get off all they could from the rebels estates.

26.   We fired slowly at their batteries on the hills; and as they only fired from two guns, we concluded that we had dismounted the third.  This afternoon our boats returned with cattle and sheep from the country near Ardsheal.   They also brought in four prisoners, one of which was wounded.  The party burnt two rebel villages on Appin's estate.  This night Capt. Scot went out, and dammed up some drains near our walls, in hopes, if rainy weather, to make a small inundation; and with some pioneers raised the glacis, or rather a parapet, to 7 feet.   For want of palisadoes, we could not make a right covered way; but still this will prevent the rebels seeing the foot of our walls.

27.  At day-break the rebels opened their new battery of four embrazures; but only with three guns, six pounders; with which they fired very briskly.  We plied them well with our mortars and guns, and silenced one gun before eight in the morning.  About nine we set their battery-magazine on fire, which blew up.  Their fire was mostly laid at our buildings, which they could not reach very low.  We had this day two men a little bruised, and the Governor's horse wounded in the stable.  Thus, in eight days siege, and pretty smart firing with cannon, and 300 six inch shells thrown at us, we have lost but one man killed, seven wounded, and two bruised.  We are all in good spirits, and hope to give a very good account of ourselves."

"Fort William, April 1.   The 31st of March, Capt. Scot ordered 12 men from each company to march out to the craigs, about 100 yards from the garrison, where the rebels had a battery; which, after some dispute, and the loss of one man only, viz. Serjeant Duncan Stewart, of the Argyleshire troops, they rushed in upon, and made themselves masters of.  They brought in three brass field-pieces 4 pounders, and two of the cohorns from which the rebels threw their shells; and brought off another brass cannon, a 6 pounder; which being too heavy to drag in, they spiked, and left under the walls; whence they afterwards dismounted it by a cannon-shot.  The other large cannon, and mortars on that battery, they likewise spiked, and left there, and brought in two prisoners.  The rebels still continue, with five cannon they have mounted, to give us all the uneasiness in their power, having destroyed the roofs of most of the houses; but we do not mind that, while the men are safe."

Ellanstalker, April 4. Yesterday the rebels left their batteries, and raised the siege of Fort William.  Capt. Scot is in possession of eight cannon and seven mortars, which they have left behind them."

Editor's NotesThese accounts of the Siege of Fort William were included in the March and April 1746 issues of The Scots Magazine (March: pp. 139-141; April: pp. 181-183.)  While it may be left open for judgment whether the Edinburgh-based Scots Magazine favored the Jacobite or Hanoverian side of the conflict, we must include their official stance: "In some sort to gratify the curiosity of our readers, as well as enable them to judge for themselves, we usually gave the accounts published by the rebels, as well as those by the King's troops.  Such impartiality we supposed to be all that the most judicious of the vanquished party would expect, nor could we reasonably doubt of its being agreeable to the most generous of the victors."  Regardless of their supposed neutral stance, it is curious that The Scots Magazine only referred to the Jacobites as "rebels" (word beginning in lower-case) and Prince Charles Stuart as "the pretender."

Most of what they published concerning the Siege of Fort William was take from other contemporary publications.  The Scots Magazine adequately represented this fact, including among their sources for this series: the Edinburgh Evening Courant, the London Gazette (their primary source) and the Glasgow Journal.  Their source for the "manifesto" produced by Lochiel and Keppoch was the Edinburgh Evening Courant, a publication that had surprisingly quick access to this letter, written on March 20th.  The March issue of The Scots Magazine appears to have been published sometime after April 2nd (for they reference siege incidents from that date) which indicates that a copy of Lochiel and Keppoch's famed letter must have made its way south in post haste.  For additional material on this specific topic, also see: Letter from Donald "The Gentle Lochiel," Cameron, XIX Chief of Clan Cameron to Cluny MacPherson (regarding the Siege of Fort William and Campbell atocities)