Siege of Fort William

The siege of Fort William began on the 20th of March, 1746. The Jacobites, having just captured the more northerly Fort Augustus after a two-day siege, were eager to expand their territories. The Government leader, the Duke of Cumberland, declared Fort William to be “the only fort in the Highlands that is of any consequence”, and shortly before the siege the fort’s aging governor was replaced with a man Cumberland thought more equal to defending it. This preparation, combined with the superior strength of Fort William, meant that the siege ended up lasting for two weeks before the Jacobites abandoned it.

Fort William’s new governor, Captain Caroline Scott, belonged to Guise’s 6th. This regiment helped to make up a 400-strong garrison, which also included the Argyll Militia. Meanwhile the Jacobite side was made up of Lochiel, Appin and Keppoch’s clansmen, the French regulars and was headed by Lieutenant Colonel Stapleton. These were the same men who had laid siege to Fort Augustus not long ago.

lochiel
Donald Cameron of Lochiel

Fort William was better built than Fort Augustus to withstand a siege with its location along Loch Ness making it easier to combat attacks. The previous month, the Government troops had begun to demolish Maryburgh, a nearby town, in order to clear the line of fire towards approaching enemies. Within the fort the armament was made up of enough 12-pounder cannon, 6-pounders, coehorns, 13-inch mortars and smaller pieces that Captain Scott believed that, with a suitable amount of ammunition, withstanding a siege was achievable.

The Jacobites, on the other hand, were disadvantaged in that, though they had some munitions, they lacked enough strong horses to carry heavy guns from Inverness. This, combined with bad weather and an interception on the road, meant that the Jacobites did not have as much good quality arms as they had originally hoped for when they planned their attack.

Nevertheless on the 20th March 1746 they opened fire against Fort William. Armed with cannon and 6-inch mortars, the Jacobites fired using old nails, grapeshot, cold roundshot and scalding lengths of notched iron as missiles. The notched iron was aimed to lodge in timbers. Over the course of the siege it was noted that the Jacobites made the roof of the fort “exceedingly damaged”, but failed to have that much of an effect on its walls. From the loch the Government side was assisted by sloops travelling along Loch Linnhe and with their stores of ammunition they kept the Jacobites at bay.

As March turned into April, the attacks began to lessen. The siege had been raging for two weeks and the Jacobites were no closer to achieving their goal. On the 3rd April the siege was officially abandoned. The Jacobites headed back to join the main army with Prince Charles who was keen to have as many men as possible united and ready to fight the Duke of Cumberland who was bust training his troops in Aberdeen.

We hope you enjoyed this post. As always please like, share, comment and tweet.

All the best, The Culloden Team

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‘Gentle Lochiel’ – Chief of Clan Cameron

One of the more well known characters of the ’45 Rising was Donald Cameron of Lochiel who was the 19th clan chief of Clan Cameron.

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Donald Cameron of Lochiel

 

The Cameron clan were traditionally loyal to the Stuarts and fought in both the 1715 and 1719 Risings so, when Prince Charles Edward Stuart landed in Scotland in 1745, he quickly sent word to Lochiel in order to gain his support and his influence.

However, Lochiel, like many men at the time, had misgivings and initially sent his brother Archibald Cameron to meet with the Prince. On 19th August though Prince Charles was waiting at Glenfinnan when he saw Lochiel approaching with some 800 Cameron men forming the largest support of the Jacobite army.

Lochiel was considered a loyal and fair man and became known as ‘Gentle Lochiel’. After the Battle of Prestonpans he ordered that all the Government men should be taken care of and receive adequate medical attention. Similarly, when the Jacobite army marched through Glasgow, he ensured there were no reprisals for not supporting Prince Charles. Indeed to this day city bells are rung when the present Cameron of Lochiel enters the city.

Lochiel took part in all the major battles of the ’45 Rising. The Camerons were instrumentally in the seizing of Edinburgh and fought in the successful attack at the Battle of Prestonpans. Late in 1745 Lochiel was even made Governor of Edinburgh. It is reported that having secured Edinburgh Lochiel counselled Prince Charles to stop and strengthen his hold on Scotland. However, Prince Charles was determined to continue and Lochiel continued on the campaign down to Derby and back.

At Culloden the Camerons were positioned on the front line and struck the front line of the Government men. After the battle the Lochiel home of Achnacarry was burned to the ground and Lochiel was forced to go on the run. He eventually met up with Prince Charles in the hiding place of Clunys cave before both men managed to flee to France.

We hope you enjoyed this short insight into Lochiel. As always please like, share, tweet, comment and definitely read more about the Camerons of Lochiel who are a fascinating family.

All the best, D