Monday, 23 December 2013

All The King's Men

The Scots Royalist Army at Inverlochy, 2nd February 1645

During the latter months of 1644 Montrose had led his small army on a bold and daring raid through the Campbell heartlands of Argyll.  For Montrose this was an opportunity to strike at the centre of his greatest enemy's power base.  For Montrose's lieutenant, Alasdair MacDonald (MacColla), this 'Chevauchée' was even more significant as it demonstrated to the other Western Clans that the power of the Campbell's could be challenged even in their very strongholds.

As Campbell resistance to Montrose began to be organised at the beginning of 1645 Montrose had led his army out of Argyll's lands, through Lochaber, towards the North West and up the Great Glen. As so often happened, some of those clansmen who were weighed down with Campbell booty, set off for their homes diminishing the numbers in Montroses's force.  Thus Montrose found himself at Kilcumin with only 1500 men when news reached him that Earl of Seaforth was ahead of him with large force at Inverness and the Marquis of Argyll with his avenging Campbell clansmen was now behind him with another 3000 men.  At a council of war with his commanders, Montrose settled on an audacious plan to thwart the enemies of the King by attacking one of the enemy forces before they could combine. Knowing that Argyll would be likely avoid battle if Montrose simply turned about and marched back down the Great Glen toward him, instead Montrose formed a plan of marching the little known tracks through the Scottish mountain ranges to fall upon Argyll's force before the Campbells knew what was upon them.

This march is worthy of its own chapter, but for the purposes of describing Montrose's army it is sufficient to say that the Royalists appeared at Inverlochy on 2nd February achieving their surprise, and in full battle array, much to the consternation of the Marquis of Argyll!

There are no finer figures for the Irish Brigade than those from Warlord Games!
The core of Montrose's army was the Irish Brigade which was led by MacColla.  This brigade was made up of three regular foot regiments; each consisting of pike and shot.  The brigade was recruited by the Earl of Antrim in Ulster for the King's cause so would have had a large proportion of Roman Catholic Irishmen, but also Scottish Highlanders, many of whom had found employment in the armies fighting in Ulster.  This was a tough formation of hard marching, and hard fighting men.  In Montrose's campaign in Scotland they were fighting in a generally hostile country where their religion alone made them marked men, and they could expect little clemency if they were captured.  This certainly led to their "do or die" attitude.  They were a dependable, trained and experienced formation, if often short of supplies such a powder for their muskets.

The Irish Brigade had no means of receiving new recruits and so casualties in battle, desertions and the rigours of hard campaigning took their toll and gradually wore down their numbers.  The three regiments, Laghtman's, O'Cahans and McDonnell's, together numbered probably just under 1,000 men.  The rest of Montrose's force was made up of Highland Clansmen and a small troop of the only horse at the battle, led by Sir Thomas Ogilvy.

The Highlanders fighting for Montrose were not from the general raising of their clans, such as many of those in the Campbell ranks, but were instead the men selected to follow their clan chiefs and war-leaders on Montrose and MacColla's raid. So, although smaller in numbers than the Campbells, these Highlanders from the Western clans would have had a much higher proportion of the better trained and equipped Highland 'Gentlemen' than the 'rabble and arrant scum' that typically made up the back ranks of Highland war bands.

Ogilvie's troopers would most likely have been pistol armed cavalry, mounted on small but doughty highland garrons.   While perhaps not a match for larger English horses on the gentle wolds of the South, these hardy ponies were able to withstand winter conditions in the mountains, and to carry their riders safely across heath and moorland.

Commander In Chief

James Graham, the Marquis of Montrose, and the King's Lieutenant General in Scotland.

Montrose was accompanied by the Royal Standard, as the King's representative.  It would have been this banner more than any other sign that indicated to Argyll and Auchinbreck that it was the whole of Montrose's army before them at Inverlochy on the morning of 2nd February.

Right Wing

(Right wing commanded by) Major General Alasdair MacDonald (MacColla, the Devastator!)

As well as being Montrose's second in command MacColla led in the initial attack on the right wing with his Irish Brigade infantry.   MacColla was an experienced soldier and this renowned swordsmen must have been a fearsome opponent, especially when he and his followers were 'falling on' with claymore, targe and musket butt!
Major Thomas Laghtman's Regiment, commanded by Ranald Og MacDonnell - 400
One of the three regiments making up the redoubtable Irish Brigade, and holding the position of honour at the right hand of the army, MacColla no doubt expected this formation to lead his attack on Auchibreck's position.  As a regular regiment of foot they would have been equipped with matchlock muskets and pikes, probably somewhere in the region of two muskets to every pike as the recognised ideal at the time.  With their mixed backgrounds, and their hard campaigning around the Highalnds, they no doubt had a somewhat eclectic appearance and levels of equipment.

Left Wing

(Left wing commanded by) Colonel Manus O'Cahan 

Colonel Manus O'Cahan's Regiment - 300
The second of the three regiments from the Irish Brigade, O'Cahan's were stationed on the left wing of the army providing another reliable anchor for the battle line.

Main Body

Montrose's centre was divided in to three divisions

Vanguard - 250 Highlanders

(Vanguard commanded by) Patrick Graham of Inchbrakie (Montrose's close personal friend and advisor, otherwise known as Black Pate after suffering a severe powder burn on his face.)

Highlanders from the Stewarts of Appin and Atholl, the MacDonalds of Glencoe, and the Camerons of Lochaber (whose chief, Old Lochiel, was a 'captive' aboard Argyll's birlinn)

Main Division - 250 Highlanders
(Main Division commanded by) The Captain of Clanranald

Highlanders from the MacDonalds of Glengarry, and the Macleans of Duart, Coll, Lochaline, Treshnish and Ardgour


Colonel James MacDonnell's Regiment - 300
The third regiment of the Irish Brigade provided Montrose's reserve.
Sir Thomas Ogilvy's Troop of Horse - 50
Also in the reserve was the only body off horse in either army; Ogilvy's troopers on their Highland ponies.

Total Force

Around 1500 foot and 50 horse.

No comments:

Post a Comment