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Ships of the '45
|John S. Gibson
Sir James Fergusson of Kilkerran in his preface points out that this book shows the French contribution in quantities of arms and money was much larger than has previously been presented, also that five separate attempts were made by French vessels to rescue the fugitive prince, the sixth being by l'Heureux and le Prince de Conti, which removed the prince to freedom, and Coll MacDonell, Junior of Barrisdale to imprisonment in France. Barrisdale's double dealings were more feared by Prince Charles Edward than any Hanoverian commander or Highlanders in government uniforms, so the Prince's closing gesture on leaving Scotland was to put Coll of Barrisdale in irons and pop him into Morlaix prison on arrival in France; Coll can hardly have been the originator of blackmail, but he was a perfectionist in his way and developed the techniques of blackmail as a Highland art. The weight of evidence incriminating Coll in Gibson's book has to be considered against the testimony of Coll's character in Volume III of the Clan Donald authentic history of 1904.
Out of the many more honourable mentions for Clan Donald the following may be of interest:
The naval battle in Loch nan Uamh on 3rd May 1746, between the French ships le Mars and La Bellone on the one side and the British Greyhound and Baltimore constitutes the closing action of the rising, and was watched from the shore by several hundreds of the local men, newly returned from Culloden and gathered round MacDonald of Borradale's house and the newly landed French armaments and brandy. A few days later young Clanranald and some hundreds of his men put up a stout resistance to search parties from H.M.S. Furnace.
The tale of destruction covers the burning of Barrisdale's house on Loch Nevis, newly built with 18 fireplaces in its rooms; Alan MacDonald of Morar's house; also Donald MacDonald of Kinlochmoidart's, Donald himself being then a prisoner in Edinburgh Castle; Kinlochmoidart's brother and 30 men captured on Canna at the house of Laig were all shipped to Jamaica after suffering horrid indignities.
Clanranald's son was recognised by the men of the Mackenzie Militia and was made prisoner. Alexander MacDonald of Boisdale, captured previously and a prisoner on board the Baltimore during the naval battle, was later transferred to the H.M.S. Furnace and the tender attentions of Captain Fergussone, whose militiamen destroyed Clanranald's house at Nunton in Uist.
The author is to be congratulated on the production of so much new evidence from the French National Archives. The French navy and their hired privateers made many gallant sorties in support of the Rebellion, but one conclusion is inescapable, namely that British naval interference on both east and west coasts reduced so seriously the effectiveness of French help that the Jacobite army was forced to engage at Culloden rather than prolong a guerrilla war which they might have won. -R.M.G.