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MacKintosh Battles

circa 1337

Fought between Clan Cameron and Clan Mackintosh, over the disputed rights of the lands at Glenlui and Loch Arkaig. After being occupied for some years without incident by the Camerons, these disputed lands were demanded by William Mackintosh, son of Angus, 6th Chief of Clan Mackintosh. Being disputed by the Camerons, Mackintosh appealed to the sword, and a great battle was fought at Drumlui. The Camerons were defeated under the leadership of Donald Alin Mhic Evin Mhic Evin. This engagement was followed by others, each clan alternately carrying the war into its opponent's country, harrying each other's lands and lifting cattle.

1370 OR 1386 DISPUTED

After the Battle of Drumlui, and the resulting war which was carried out in the years following, between Clan Cameron and Clan Mackintosh, the battle of Invernahavon (said to have taken place in either 1370 or, by some accounts sixteen years later) was where the enemy forces finally met in large numbers. The Camerons, numbering approximately 400 men, having made a raid into Badenoch, were returning home with the booty they had acquired, when they were overtaken at Invernahavon by a body of Clan Chattan led by Lachlan, Laird of Macintosh.

The Clan Chattan forces consisted of the Mackintoshes, Davidsons and Macphersons. As a result of a disagreement as to whether the Davidsons or Macphersons would occupy the right wing (the post of honor), the Macphersons withdrew in disgust from the army. Whereas the combined Clan Chattan forces outnumbered the Camerons, the loss of the Macphersons resulted in their being inferior to the number of Camerons.

The battle resulted in the total defeat of the remaining Clan Chattan members (the Macintoshes and Davidsons), with the Davidsons being almost entirely cut off. A singular Cameron, one Charles MacGilony, was said to have bravely led the clan, and to have changed the outcome with his uncanny abilities as an archer. At this point in time (it is said that this either occurred immediately after the battle, or perhaps during the early morning hours of the next day) the Macphersons, deciding to forget the "slight" which had been put upon them, returned to the battle, attacking the Camerons with such vigor that they changed the victory into defeat, and put the Camerons "to flight" towards Drumouchter, skirting the end of Loch Ericht, and then westwards in the direction of the River Treig. The Mackintosh version of the story states that the Macphersons were coaxed into fighting by Mackintosh's own bard, who, pretending to represent the Camerons, arrived at the Macpherson camp the evening immediately after the battle. The bard is said to have stated that the Macphersons were cowards. As a result, the Macphersons were stirred from their camp and are said to have attacked Clan Cameron that same night in their camp, making "a dreadful slaughter" of them, and killing Charles MacGilony (at a place called Coire Thearlaich, "Charles's Valley").


In the aftermath of the Battle of Invernahavon, the Camerons did not wait long delay to avenge themselves on their Clan Chattan enemies. These conflicts were so frequent, and at the same time so fierce and bloody, that King Robert III was made aware of them, while at Court. Sending two of his Generals to the Highlands, to settle these commotions, it was found that they could not execute their orders by force without risking the loss of their own armies. They endeavored to bring the two rival chiefs to some sort of agreement, and after many overtures an agreeable proposal was reached.
A staged battle between twelve to thirty (estimates vary) picked warriors of Clan Cameron and a like number from Clan Mackintosh would be fought before the King and Court, without any arms but their swords. The party which should happen to be defeated would then be given indemnity for all past offenses; and the victors, besides earning the lands in question, should be honored with the "Royal favor."

With the rival clans arrival at Court, the King ordered a part of the river, near the city of Perth, to be enclosed with a deep ditch, in the form of an amphitheater, with seats or benches for the spectators, his Majesty himself sitting as judge on the field. Crowds gathered, and the combatants appeared, but just as they were ready to engage, one of the Mackintoshes, who had withdrawn himself from fear, turned up missing. The King then demanded that one of the Camerons should be removed, as to equalize the number of combatants; to this proposal each and every Cameron man expressed a great unwillingness. As a result, one of the spectators presented himself before the King and offered his services, which were accepted, resulting in a fair and balanced contest.

A battle was fought between the opposing clans, so bloody and furious that the King and spectators were seized with "an inexpressible horror." Four of the Mackintoshes survived the battle, but they were all mortally wounded. Only one Cameron survived, saving himself by swimming the river Tay - the miserable victors were in no condition to prevent him. This battle, which had been orchestrated as to put an end to tensions between the two rival clans, had the effect of "suspending" actions for a number of years (in that the best and strongest men of each clan had been killed), but it did nothing to eliminate the ongoing feud in the future.


The Clan Chattan attacked the Clan Cameron when assembled in a church, to which they set fire "and nearly destroyed the whole clan." This conflict on Palm Sunday, 1429 was probably between those members of Clan Cameron and Clan Chattan which separated from the Lord of the Isles, or perhaps just a portion of the clan as a whole. Another account states that an engagement was fought on this day also, in which most of the Mackintoshes and almost the whole tribe of Camerons were "cut to pieces."

This feud between the two clans seems to date back to 1336, when the rights to the lands of Glenlui and Locharkaig, in Lochaber, were contested. Some authorities believe that these disputed lands at one time made up the official demesne of the "Old Toisech," or head of the tribe which controlled early Lochaber.


Forces led by Donald Balloch, cousin of Alexander, Lord of the Isles, rose to avenge Alexander's imprisonment by King James I. A Royalist army, led by the Earls of Mar and Caithness, which included Clan Cameron, was sent to "quell" him at Inverlochy; the Royalists were defeated. Donald Balloch then turned his attention toward Clan Cameron and Clan Chattan, ravaging their country, putting it to fire and sword. Soon King James led an army into the Highlands, and the rebel forces disintegrated. Six years later King James I was murdered, after which Alexander, Lord of the Isles was "liberated" from his imprisonment.


Clan Mackintosh, at the instigation of Alexander, Lord of the Isles, began to invade and harry the Cameron lands. A sanguinary conflict took place in this year at Craig Cailloch between Clan Cameron and the Mackintoshes, in which MacKintosh's second son, Lachlan "Badenoch" was wounded, and Gillichallum, his brother, killed. This was soon after followed by additional Mackintosh raids, in which Cameron lands were harried. It is said by Mackintosh historians that Donald Dubh once more fled to Ireland at this point, although this is not recorded in Cameron history.


Ewen Cameron, XIII Captain and Chief of Clan Cameron, along with a sizable body of Cameron men, joined Alexander of Lochalsh, Clan Ranald of Garmoran and Lochaber, and Clan Chattan, on the famous raid to the county of Ross (clashing with the Mackenzies of Kintail), which ended in the forfeiture of the Earldom of Ross and the Lordship of the Isles. Advancing from Lochaber to Badennoch, where the Mackintoshes joined them, and thence to Inverness, where they stormed the Royal Castle, Mackintosh placing a garrison in it.


Allan Cameron, XVI Captain and Chief of Clan Cameron, fought with Huntly "and his adherents" at the Battle of Glenlivet in 1594 (Allan had previously entered into an indenture with Huntly, indicating that he would assist him against all his enemies, especially the Mackintoshes and Grants). At the head of the Cameron men, Allan performed what is refered to as a "singular service" against his old enemies, the Mackintoshes, whom "he defeated, and pursued with great eagerness, and did Huntly such services as merited a different reward" from that which he afterwards received. The confederation of Argyll, Atholl, the Forbes and the Macintoshes was soundly defeated.


In 1665 Ewen Cameron, XVII Captain and Chief of Clan Cameron, and the Chief of Clan Mackintosh were ordered before the Privy Council to settle the dispute over the lands near Loch Arkaig once and for all. Both appeared, and while MacKintosh was declared to have the legal right to the lands, Ewen was declared de facto owner, and was ordered to pay MacKintosh a large sum to satisfy the claim. MacKintosh refused this settlement, setting the stage for the most significant clan face-off ever to be seen in Lochaber, during September of 1665.

The reports came in from Cameron scouts that MacKintosh, along with 1500 men of Clan Chattan (which he no longer had dual claim to as Chief, giving the chiefship of Clan Chattan to Andrew MacPherson of Cluny, in exchange for his assistance in this campaign), had invaded the disputed lands, and had taken up position to the north of the River Arkaig, in what is now known as the Caig Parks. Being adequately forewarned by his men, Ewen had raised his clan, along with some MacIans of Glencoe, and MacGregor volunteers, to a number of approximately 1,000 men. They took up a defensive stance on the Achnacarry side of the river at the Fords of Arkaig, securing the only ford on the river. Ewen's biographer states that there were 900 men armed with guns, broadswords and targes, and 300 more with bows in place of guns. Indeed, it seemed as though the battle to end all battles between these two ancient adversaries was ready to commence, and Ewen had no doubts as to who would emerge victorious.

Realizing that the ford was impassable, MacKintosh moved his men two miles further west along the side of Loch Arkaig. Having thrown up an embankment at the ford, leaving a strong force of "fifty doughty clansmen," Ewen followed with the main body of his men, taking up a position opposite of the enemy. His usual confidence was not supplied from mere ego or bravado, once again, the Chief of Clan Cameron had a plan in the works. Cameron of Erracht, along with a body of picked men, had been sent via boats to the northern side of Loch Arkaig, to fall upon MacKintosh and his assembled Clan Macintosh/Chattan forces in the rear, while Ewen and the main body of Camerons made an eighteen mile forced march around the head of Loch Arkaig, to outflank the enemy and attack from the west. Whether this usual brilliant battle plan of Ewen's would have succeeded is now a matter of mere speculation, since the Clan Campbell entered into the situation at this time. John Campbell, later the Earl of Breadalbane, appeared on the scene just after Ewen had "launched" his dual attack, with 300 men, stating that he would join in fighting against whomever initiated the impending battle. Needless to say, this gave Ewen adequate reason to recall his troops.

As a result of this new development, MacKintosh finally had to agree to selling the disputed lands. On September 20, 1665 a contract was drawn up at Clunes, which was subscribed to by both Ewen and MacKintosh. The disputed lands were sold to Ewen for the sum of 25,000 merks. That day, what is said to have been the longest and bloodiest clan feud in the history of Scotland (lasting 360 years), finally came to its true end. Agreements and contracts aside, Ewen and twenty-four of his men crossed the water of Arkaig and met face-to-face with MacKintosh and an equal number of his men. There at Clunes, the men of Clan Cameron and Clan Macintosh met face to face and shook hands for the first time in generations, exchanged swords (as a token of reconciliation), and drank to one another's health. Ewen Cameron added this worthy accomplishment to his list of accolades; indeed, he was considered a "Chief amongst Chiefs," all at a mere thirty-six years of age.


During the chiefship of Sir Ewen Cameron of Lochiel, XVII Captain and Chief of Clan Cameron, the Camerons became involved in the ancient feud between Macintoshs and the MacDonalds of Keppoch. As was the feud between the Camerons and Macintoshes, this conflict dealt with issues of land superiority. The MacDonalds of Keppoch had occupied their lands for generations, now MacIntosh decided to settle the dispute once and for all, obtaining letters of fire and sword from the Privy Council, which also sent a company of troops under Captain Mackenzie of Suddie to help out.
The Camerons and Macintoshes had at long last put their ancient feud to rest, and Sir Ewen was responsible for "keeping the peace" between his men and their former enemies. Regardless of the aforementioned "peace," while Sir Ewen was away in London the MacDonalds called upon their neighbors and friends, the Camerons, for assistance in this battle.
The combined MacDonald/Cameron force defeated the Macintoshes in what would become the last major "clan" battle in the Highlands. Unfortunately, as a result of the Cameron involvement in this battle, a warrant was issued for Sir Ewen's arrest - as had been the case in the past, this warrant proved ineffective, with Sir Ewen shortly after returning to the safety of his own clan in Lochaber.

Date - 1715
Combatants - Jacobites .v. Hanovarians
Setting - Sherrifmuir, outside Stirling, Scotland

On the 6 September 1715, the 6th Earl of Mar, John Erskine, declared himself for James Francis Edward Stewart, the Old Pretender, and left Braemar carrying the Stewart standard to head south to the Jacobites in England. By the end of the month he had taken over Inverness with twelve thousand men behind him. When November came he had brought the east of Scotland as far as Perth under Jacobite control. While this was happening, the 2nd Duke of Argyll, John Campbell, assembled four thousand pro-Hanovarians to halt Mar moving any further south than the Forth.

Two thousand of Marís army had been sent with William MacKintosh of Borlum to Edinburgh so that when Argyll was confronted at Sheriffmuir on the Ochils slopes near Dunblane in Perthshire, the numbers were ten thousand to four thousand. Argyll assembled the right flank of his army uphill, with General Whetham administrating over the left flank. The middle and right flanks of the Jacobites were commanded by MacDonald of Clanranald, MacDonnell of Glengarry and MacLean of Duart, who charged their men into Whethamís in an attack so ferocious that Ďa complete rout and prodigious slaughterí commenced immediately. Whetham fled to Stirling to tell of the total defeat of the Kingís men. While he was doing this however, Argyll had swept down into Marís right flank and battered them back into two miles of retreat and into the Allen Water. The battle ended in this situation with both sidesí left flanks defeated. Argyll withdrew to Dunblane, Mar pulled back to Perth, and both proclaimed themselves victorious.

Still with superior numbers, Marís next move had to be to finish off Argyll, but he did not. When the French and Spanish heard of Marís indecision, their faith in the Rising was lost and their support withdrawn. Argyll had won the battle in propaganda terms. The Earl of Mar, known also as ĎBobbing Johní, lost interest in the disintegrating Rising, fled to France, and betrayed many of his Jacobite collegues by revealing their identities.

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