Difficulties of fighting in Scotland

Letter from Lord Argyll to Secretary Townshend. Argyll describes the problems faced fighting in this area and wants to know what action he should take if any rebels surrender. (SP 54/10 f.150)


Stirling 24th December 1715

My Lord,

I have received the honour or Lordship’s letter of the 15th, and as to the Pretenders [Charles Francis Edward Stuart] landing I only informed your Lordship of the expectations the Rebells had of his coming, and the consequences which I foresaw from it, and am most heartily glad that they are like to be mistaken. We are preparing everything to enable us to endeavour [aim] to dislodge [remove] the Rebells from Perth, but I believe everybody here agrees with me in opinion that when we are ready to move the weather may stop us. I believe my Lord Mr. Cadogan will have informed your Lordship that this attempt upon Perth will be an expedition of very great Expence, for within seven miles of that place, we shall find neither forrage provision [food found by fishing, hunting or crops to gather] nor fireing [wood for fuel]
And very little within sixteen miles of it, I will not trouble your Lordship with the other difficulties we shall have to struggle with, on account of the different measures the Rebells have to pursue. I dare say your Lordship will find we shall do so as much as can be done, and one good step towards it is that they who have the honour to serve his Majesty here perfectly agree in their opinions.

As to following the Rebells amongst the Hills I am confident his Majesty and his Ministers have been very much misinformed in relation to that matter, for I take it to be altogether impossible for an Army to follow the Highlanders amongst the Hills in winter time and very hard to do it even in the Summer, if we were my Lord so happy as to be in possession of Perth, all that can be hoped for is to destress [disturb] the Rebells by forcing them to remain in the mountains.

Tomorrow we expect the head of the Dutch Troops to arrive at Edinburgh, and the Rear [rest of the troops] the beginning of January; when the ships with the Artillery & ammunition will arrive, if they are set out, depends on the wind, which at present is very contrary [unfavourable].

My Lord it appears very plain to me by your Lordship’s last letter, that there have been very strange misrepresentations [false picture] made to his Majesty and his Ministers of the state of affairs here; time my Lord will convince his Majesty and everyone who has the honour to serve him that my Descriptions are true. There are it seems My Lord great pains taken to raise such expectations in his Majesty and his Ministers as all the Generalls & Troops in the World are not able to answer, I wish my Lord there may be no further design in that, than the giving wrong impressions of me.

My Lord the moment we are in a readiness, if the weather will permit of it, against which there is no fighting we shall use our endeavours [efforts] to dislodge the Rebells from Perth. When that attempt is made or that the Weather proves such as to prevent it for any considerable time, I beg I may have his Majesties leave to return.

Mr. Evans My Lord has been so ill of late, that if his indisposition [ill health] continues I must beg leave of his Majesty that he may go to the Bath, he struggles with it as much as he can, and indeed his absence will be a great loss to the service, for no man can distinguish himself more than he has on this occasion.

X I believe my Lord it is necessary I should know his Majesties pleasure incase any of the Rebells should surrender themselves, what I should do with them, whether I may permit them to go to London to beg his Majesties mercy, or if I may take their paroles [word of honour] and confine them to Edinburgh or Glasgow, or if I am to imprison them, or if Baill should be taken for them.

X The Gentlemen My Lord who are prisoners among the Rebells, have desired me humbly to apply to his Majesty that they might be relieved [released]; Your Lordship will be so good to let me know his Majesties pleasure likewise upon that point.

I am my Lord with the Greatest Respect
Your Lordship’s most obedient and most faithfull Humble Servant,


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