1689 – Battle Of Killiecrankie

Pass of Killiecrankie Illustration from 1802

Pass of Killiecrankie Illustration from 1802

Near Pitlochry in Perthshire is the Pass of Killiecrankie, a gorge with a six feet wide riverside track.

News came to Jacobite leader Viscount Dundee, John Graham of Claverhouse, that General Hugh MacKay would be moving his men from Stirling to Blair Castle. Dundee, known by his supporters as Bonnie Dundee and by the Covenanters as Bloody Clavers, took his twenty five hundred Highlanders over the Drumochter Pass near Blair on 26 July 1689. Meanwhile MacKay was in Dunkeld, and with four thousand foot-soldiers, two divisions of cavalry, twelve hundred supply-laden horses and three cannon, he dismissed Dundee’s pack.

Next morning, while the Jacobites moved into the Pass of Killiecrankie and up onto a high crest, sniper Farquhar MacRae kept MacKay’s progress slow. When he eventually came into the Pass, his scouts detected Dundee’s presence and MacKay ordered cover to be taken uphill, three ranks deep, below the Jacobite position. For two hours Dundee did nothing while the Williamites discharged their cannon into them.

At seven o’clock, with the sun now behind him, the Jacobites rose to their feet and came screaming down the hillside. Discharging and dropping their one-shot firearms, they tore through the Williamites swinging their broadswords. Bodies on the track blocked supplies while the remaining flanks of MacKay’s formation were taken on. Both sides took heavy losses, including Dundee, who died in the initial downhill charge.

Despite this, the day belonged to the Jacobites, and news of the victory swelled their ranks everywhere.

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