Clan Donald Society wanting to restore reputation of ‘Fighting Mac’
The Clan Donald Society are looking to restore the reputation of one of the Victorian era’s most celebrated soldiers, Major General Sir Hector ‘Fighting Mac’ MacDonald. In his hometown of Dingwall, the society are holding a ceremony at the weekend at the 100ft memorial tower to mark the 159th anniversary of MacDonald’s birth.
Born near Dingwall in 1853, MacDonald was the son of a crofter, and joined the army at the age of seventeen. He quickly rose through the ranks, and was noted for his bravery and strategic skill, and was widely regarded as being a brilliant soldier. A Gaelic speaker, he later in life called himself Eachann nan Cath (‘Hector of the Battles’). He spent a lot of his military career fighting in Africa, and after his heroic efforts at the 1898 Battle of Omdurman in Sudan, Hector MacDonald became a household name throughout Britain. He was soon after promoted to the rank of Colonel, and appointed as an aide-de-camp to Queen Victoria.
In 1902, not long after having been knighted, MacDonald was sent to Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) where he was the Commander-in-Chief of British troops. However, it was here that a scandal involving his private life that eventually led to his death, and being largely forgotten over the past century. There were allegations that MacDonald was homosexual, having inappropriate relations with young men, meaning that he would face a court martial. It has been suggested by his supporters that these claims were totally fabricated by the English Establishment, based on snobbery and jealousy that a Scottish crofter’s son managed to rise to positions of prominence. In Ceylon MacDonald was seen as a bit of an outsider, refusing invitations to gatherings with the British community, and instead spending time with the locals, which didn’t do his social standing any good. Unfortunately, these accusations took their toll on the celebrated solider. He was sent back to London, but decided to return to Ceylon and attend the court martial, where he planned to clear his name. However, just before MacDonald headed back to Asia, he took his own life, shooting himself in a Paris hotel room at the age of fifty. He left behind a wife and son.
And now the Clan Donald Society are wanting to re-establish Maj. Gen. Sir Hector MacDonald’s status as a national hero in the minds of the British people.