July 27th 1689
The Battle of KilliecrankieThough James 7th left the country and William of Orange had already been proclaimed King, there was still a section in Scotland, particularly those in the Highlands, who remained loyal to the Stewarts. When Claverhouse of Dundee was summoned to Edinburgh to swear loyalty to William he went instead to the Highlands and there recruited a Jacobite army to fight for the Stewart cause.
The Government entrusted General Hugh Mackay to meet this threat and with an army of 3,000 foot soldiers and 1,000 cavalry, he marched north to meet Dundee. There was a good deal of marching and counter-marching and Mackay and his men actually returned to Edinburgh. But hearing that Blair Castle had been seized by Patrick Stewart, steward to the Marquis of Atholl, for the Jacobites, he marched his army north again. Blair Castle was strategically important and commanded the route to the north. Dundee for his part was anxious that it should not fall into Government hands and moved his army to occupy the Castle.
On July 27th the two armies met at the pass of Killiecrankie. Dundee had only about 2,500 men with few horsemen. He took up his position on the high ground while Mackay marched his men to an area of level ground below the Highlander’s position. For two hours the armies waited, then, as the sun went down Dundee gave the order to charge.
The battle was all over in a few minutes, the Government forces broke and were pursued across the river Garry, “The Highlanders advanced upon us like madmen,” according to a witness, “without shoes or stockings, covering themselves from our fire with their targets. At last they cast away their muskets, drew their broadswords and advanced furiously upon us, broke us, and obliged us to retreat; some fled to the water, some another way.”
It was a great victory for the Jacobite army but Dundee himself had been mortally wounded and the success of the Highland army depended very much upon his brilliant leadership.
Four weeks later in Dunkeld, the Highlanders were defeated and that particular Jacobite rebellion was at an end.