Crossing the Fallie Ford
After his defeat at the battle of Culloden Prince Charles left the battlefield with some followers and crossed the River Nairn at Fallie Ford on his way to Fort Augustus. The following versions of the retreat and listed:
Fallie Ford – Robert Chambers
When at last forced off the field, Charles fled with a large party of horse, including his chief counsellors and friends. His flight was protected by the foot, who followed closely behind. The party crossed the Nairn at the ford of Fallie, about four miles from the battlefield, and there a hurried council was held respecting further proceedings. Notwithstanding their severe defeat, there can be no doubt that the general inclination of the insurgent chiefs was for a continuance of the war. They conceived that, if they kept together within the Highland frontier, they might protect their territories from the vengeance of the royal troops, until possibly some succor’s might arrive from France, so as to enable them to act on the offensive, or at least until the government, worn out by their resistance, might grant them favourable terms. On the other hand, Charles appears to have formed a plan for his own conduct, in which the views of the Highland gentlemen were not regarded. His wish was to make his way as quickly as possible to France, in order to use personal exertions in procuring those powerful supplies which had been so much, but so vainly, wished for. He expected to find French vessels hovering on the west coast, in one of which he might obtain a quick passage to that country. He therefore had determined to proceed in this direction without loss of time.
Without announcing his intentions, he desired that the remains of the army should rendezvous at Ruthven in Badenoch, and there wait for further orders; after which he took his leave of those accompanying him, and set out upon his westerly course, attended only by those who had been his immediate counsellors and friends during the campaign—namely, Sir Thomas Sheridan, Mr. O’Sullivan, Captain O’Neal, and Mr. John Hay, with a few individuals of inferior note. The bulk of the army proceeded towards Ruthven by the Highland road, and on their way meeting Cluny and his men hastening to the field, took them back along with them to swell their numbers at the rendezvous.
Charles had been led out of the field of Culloden, and guided on his route hitherto, by one Edward Burke, a poor Highlander, who usually acted as a sedan-carrier in Edinburgh, but was now servant to Mr. Alexander Macleod of Muiravonside. By the same person the party was now guided to Tordarroch, where they got no access [the house being deserted and shut up], and from Tordarroch to Aberarder, where likewise they got no access, and from Aberarder to Faroline, and from Faroline to Gortuleg (Burke’s Narrative, Jacobite Memoirs). This last place was the seat of Mr. Thomas Fraser, chamberlain and confidential agent of Lord Lovat, and the same gentleman who had executed a somewhat remarkable mission for his lordship at an early period of the campaign (see Chapter v of the source reference). Lovat was at this time residing at Gortuleg, and the house had that day been the scene of extensive culinary operations, for the purpose of celebrating by a feast the victory which it was expected the Prince would gain over his enemies. A girl3 of ten years of age, lived in the house at the time, reported to the late Mrs. Grant of Laggan, that in the confusion arising from these proceedings she had been shut up in a little closet, to be out of the way, and there sat for some time an unwilling prisoner, contemplating a marsh in the plain below, which was supposed to be a haunt of the fairies. Suddenly the tumultuous noise that had filled the house all day was succeeded by a deep silence. She ventured out, and saw no creature in the house but Lovat, sitting in his great chair in deep thought. On venturing to the door, she found the rest of the inmates standing in a group, regarding with the keenest anxiety a party of horsemen who had entered the vale below the house. The whole circumstances impressed her with the idea that she was looking upon a band of those supernatural beings whom she understood to haunt the vale occasionally. Having heard that the fairies only remain visible at any time between one winking of the eyelids and another, she strove to keep her eyes open as long as possible, in order to prolong the vision. She was soon undeceived, for, on the troop approaching, the fatal reverse of the Prince’s cause was understood and the women, breaking into mournful cries, began to tear off their handkerchiefs to make bandages for the wounded. The viands prepared for the feast were seized and distributed without ceremony by the party, many of whom then proceeded on their course. Charles, with his immediate attendants, entered the house, and received the first personal greetings of Lord Loyal at the sad moment which informed the aged chief of the utter ruin of himself and his family. One account represents his lordship as running about the house in a state of distraction, crying out to his attendants, “Chop off my head, chop off my head.” But the report of the young person above mentioned was, declare his intention to abandon the enterprise. “Remember,” he said fiercely, “Your great ancestor Robert Bruce, who lost eleven battles and won Scotland by the twelfth.” The Prince made little answer, but, after taking some refreshment, and drinking a few glasses of wine, set out towards Fort Augustus. Lord Lovat was soon after carried off in his litter to a place of safety.
Charles and his little party were seen, at two o’clock in the morning, riding rapidly past the ruins of that fort; and about two hours before daybreak they arrived at Invergarry, the seat of Macdonell of Glengarry, which was, on the present occasion, deserted of its tenants, and in a condition very ill calculated to support the hospitable character of a Highland mansion. Destitute at once of furniture and provisions, and attended by only a single domestic, however easily a party of natives might have accommodated themselves within its walls, it was particularly unfit to entertain a prince and a stranger. This was the first day of Charles’s wanderings, and its privations but too truly omened those of the succeeding five months.
The Prince and his party were so much fatigued with their ride, which was one of little less than forty miles, that they gladly stretched themselves upon the floor in their clothes. They slept till midday, when Edward Burke having fortunately caught two salmon in the water of Garry, they had a better dinner than they expected, though the only drink they could procure was the pure element from which their meat had been taken. All the company here took leave of Charles except O’Sullivan, O’Neal, and Edward Burke, who was left to be the Prince’s guide, and whose clothes his royal highness now assumed. This small party set out at two o’clock for Loch Arkaig, where they arrived about nine at night, and lodged in the house of Donald Cameron of Glenpean. Charles was so excessively fatigued, that he fell asleep as Edward Burke was unbuttoning his splatterdashes there fell out seven guineas. They being alone together the Prince said to the guide, “Thou are a trusty friend, and shall continue to be my servant.”.
Footnotes from original sources
3 I derive the recollections of the young inmate of Gortuleg House from a letter of Mrs. Grant, MS. The particulars given by the young lady respecting the meeting of the Prince and Lord Lovat are, in my opinion, likely to be true. R. C.
history of the rebellion of 1745 by robert chambers, seventh edition printed by w & r chambers, limited, edinburgh, 1869, pages 313 to 317
jacobite memoirs of the rebellion of 1745. edited, from the manuscripts of the late right rev. robert forbes, a. m. bishop of the scottish episcopal church, robert chambers, author of “traditions of edinburgh”, etc. pages 362 to 373.
published by william and robert chambers, waterloo place, edinburgh and longman and co., london, 1834
Faillie Ford - Lord Elcho
In the flight of the Princes army most of the left wing took the road to Inverness, the right wing Cross’d the Water of Nairn and went to Ruthven of Badenoch, the rest to the number of 500 mostly Officers follow’d the Prince into Stratharick, where he had Stop’d about four miles from the field of Battle. As he had taken it into his head he had been betray’d and particularly by Lord George Murray, he Seemed very diffident of Every body Except the Irish officers, and he appeared very anxious to know whither lie had given them all higher Comissions then they had at their Arrival, on purpose that they might gett them Confirm’d to them Upon their return to France. He neither Spoke to any of the Scots officers present, or inquired after any of the Absent, (nor at any of the preceding battles he never had inquired after any of the Wounded Officers). He appeared very Uneasy as long as the Scots were about him, and in a Short time order’d them all to go to Ruthven of Badenoch, where he would Send them orders, but before they had rode a mile, he Sent Mr. Sheridan2 after them, to tell them that they might disperse and every body Shift for himself the best way he Could. Lord George Murray and Lord John Drummond repeated the Same orders to All the body of the army that had assembled at Ruthven. The Prince kept with him some of Fitzjames’s horse, and went that night to a house3 in the head of Strathyrick, where he mett Lord Lovatt, and a great many other Scots Gentlemen, who advised him not to quit the Country, but Stay and gather together again his Scatter’d forces. But he was so preposse’d against the Scots, that he was Afraid they would give him up to make their peace with the Government: for some of the Irish were at pains to relate to him in very Strong terms, whow the Scots had already Sold his Great Grand Father to the English; and as he was naturaly of a Suspicious temper it was no difficult matter to persuade him of it; and he always believed it, Untill the fidelity the Highlanders Show’d him during the long time he was hid their Country Convinced him and every body else to the Contrary. The 17 early in the morning he Sent away all Fitzjames people from him (who went and Surrendered themselves to the Duke at Inverness), and he himself, disguised1 like a Servant, and mounted before a portmanteau, and only attended by Mr OSullivan and a guide, went and lay that night at Lochargey,…..
Footnotes from original source
1 Charles exchanged clothes with his guide, Edward Burke (L. M. i, 191)
2 Cf. Maxwell’s account: ‘Sheridan at first pretended to conduct them to a place where the Prince was to assemble his army again, but having conducted them about half a mile on the road to Ruthven, he dismissed them all in the Prince’s name, letting them know it was the Prince’s pleasure they should shift for themselves.’ (M. K. 158).
3 Gortleg or Gorthlic
a short account of the affairs of scotland in the years 1744, 1745, 1746, by david, lord elcho printed from the original manuscript at gosford, with memoir and annotations by the hon. evan charteris, published by david douglas, edinburgh, mdccccvii
Fallie Ford – Walter Bigger Blaikie
April 16. After the battle of Culloden the Prince crossed the river Nairn at the ford of Falie, where he dismissed his cavalry escort (L. M. i, 190). Accompanied by Lord Elcho, Sheridan, Alexander MacLeod, O’Sullivan, Peter MacDermit (ib), O’Neil (L. M. i, 367) and guided by Edward Burke, he rode by Tordarroch, Aberarder, and Faroline to Gortleg1, where he met Lord Lovat. He rode on by Fort Augustus (L. M. i, 68)2.
April 17. Arrived in early morning at Invergarry Castle3 and rested there or at Droynachan till 3 in the afternoon. The Prince, O’Sullivan, Allan MacDonald (a priest), and Burke (L. M. i, 191, 321) rode on by Loch Arkaig to Glenpean, and there spent the night in the house of Donald Cameron (L. M. i, 191)4.
Map from the Itinerary enlarged to show the Culloden battle site and the Ford of Fallie where Prince Charles and his supporters crossed the River Nairn on his way to Fort Augustus.
Footnotes from original source
1 Now called Gorthleck or Gorthlick. The house still stands.
2 The moon was near her first quarter, and set about 2 A.M.
3 Most of the narratives represent the Prince as having spent the night at Invergarry Castle, while Glenaladale states that he spent the night at Droynachan’s house (L. M. I, 321 and L. P. 540). I believe that all the stories refer to the same event. The Prince remained in the neighbourhood from 2 A.M. till 3 P.M. Droynachan is within a mile of Invergarry, which was deserted and the part possibly visited both. Burke’s version of the story is here followed, as he was the actual companion of the Prince. The other stories are mere hearsay. Invergarry Castle was shortly afterwards burnt.
4 Until 1893 a cottage stood at Kinloch Arkaig, at the mouth of Glen Pean, in which, tradition firmly held, the Prince had found shelter. There can be no doubt that if he occupied it, it must have been on this occasion, while he was awaiting news of his army, as this is the only time that there is any record of his visiting Loch Arkaig. Unfortunately about three years ago (circa 1894), the cottage took fire and was burnt down, and with it the bed in which the Prince slept. A photograph by a lady has been preserved, of which Andrew Lang showed me a copy. It was an ordinary Highland cottage, with a heather-thatched roof.
L. M. refers to the Lyon in Mourning, volume number, page number.
L. P. refers to the Lockhart Papers, page number.
itinerary of prince charles edward stuart from his landing in scotland july 1745 to his departure in september 1746. compiled from the lyon in mourning supplemented and corrected from other contemporary sources by walter bigger blaikie. printed at the university press by t. and a. constable for the scottish history society 1897, page 46.
Fallie Ford – Edward Burke
Wednesdays afternoon, September 9th, 1747.
At the hour appointed (4 o’clock) Ned Bourk came to my room, when I went through his Journal with him at great leisure, and from his own mouth made those passages plain and intelligible that were written in confused, indistinct terms. (Bishop Forbes)
A Short but Genuine Account of Prince Charlie’s Wanderings from Culloden to his meeting with Miss MacDonald, by Edward Bourk2.
Upon the 16th of April 1746 we marched from the field of Culloden to attack the enemy in their camp at Nairn, but orders were given by a false3 general to retreat to the place from whence we had come, and to take billets in the several parts where we had quartered formerly. The men being all much fatigued, some of them were dispersed here and there in order to get some refreshment for themselves, whilst the greater part of them went to rest. But soon after, the enemy appearing behind us, about four thousand of our men were with difficulty got together and advanced, and the rest were awakened by the noise (folio 327) of the canon, which surely put them in confusion. After engaging briskly there came up between six and seven hundred Frazers commanded by Colonel Charles Frazer, younger, of Inverallachie, who were attacked before they could form in line of battle, and had the misfortune of having their Colonel wounded, who next day was murdered in cold blood, the fate of many others. Our small, hungry, and fatigued army being put into confusion and overpowered by numbers, was forced to retreat. Then it was that Edward Bourk fell in with the Prince, having no right guide and very few along with him. The enemy kept such a close fire that the Prince had his horse shot under him; who, calling for another, was immediately served with one by a groom or footman, who that moment was killed by a canon bullet. In the hurry, the Prince’s bonnet happening to fall off, he was served with a hat by one of the life-guards. Edward Bourk, being well acquainted with all them bounds, undertook to be the Prince’s guide and brought him off with Lord Elcho, Sir Thomas Sheridan, Mr. Alexander MacLeod, aid-de-camp, and Peter MacDermit, one of the Prince’s footmen. Afterwards they met with O'Sullivan, when they were but in very bad circumstances. The Prince was pleased to say to Ned, if you be a true friend, pray endeavour to lead us safe off. Which honour Ned was not a little fond of, and promised (folio 328) to do his best. Then the Prince rode off from the way of the enemy to the Water of Nairn, where, after advising, he dismist all the men that were with him, being about sixty of Fitz-James’s horse that had followed him. After which Edward Bourk said, ‘Sir, if you please, follow me. I’ll do my endeavour to make you safe.’ The Prince accordingly followed him, and with Lord Elcho, Sir Thomas Sheridan, O’Sullivan, and Mr. Alexander MacLeod, aid-de-camp, marched to Tordarroch, where they got no access, and from Tordarroch through Aberarder, where likewise they got no access; from Aberarder to Faroline, and from Faroline to Gortuleg, where they met with Lord Lovat, and drank three glasses of wine with him.
Footnotes from original source
2 This Journal as far as f. 338 is printed in the Jacobite Memoirs, pp. 362-373
3 This epithet is not to be regarded – F. See f. 667
the lyon in mourning or a collection of speeches and letters journals etc. relative to the affairs of prince charles edward stuart by the rev. robert forbes, a. m. bishop of ross and caithness 1746-1775, volume i, pages 189 & 190
Edited from his Manuscript, with a Preface by Henry Paton, M. A. Printed at the University Press, Edinburgh by T. and A. Constable for the Scottish History Society, 1895