Culloden Weekend Report 16th -18th April 2010
Drumossie Moor, Twelve o’clock midnight, on cold windy night. In the darkness the vague out line of figures of the gathering crowd is the only thing to be seen. The fires which usually illuminate the area around the cairn struggled to be lit under the strength of the wind, but with stubbornness of not willing to be defeated the flames were made to take hold of the fuel.
The fires lit the service began with a welcome by Crann Tara to the gathered crowd, a brief explanation was given to why the service took place at midnight as opposed to another time.
Jim Singer gave a dedication to Lord George Murray as it is the 250th year of his death; this included various facts regarding Murray’s life from his birth to his death, where he was born, where he died and some of the campaigns he took part in. Jim also indicated that Crann Tara were holding a commemoration across in Medemblik, Holland later in the year to commemorate the 250th. John McCallum read a copy of the letter Murray had sent to Charles Edward, while at Ruthven Barracks. The copy of the letter as seen below:
Lord George Murray's Letter to Prince Charles Stuart 17th April 1746
May it please your Royal Highness, - As no person in these kingdomes ventured more frankly in the cause than myself and as I had more at stake than all the others put together, so to be sure I cannot but be very deeply affected with our late loss and present situation, but I declare that were your R.H. person in safety, the loss of the cause and the misfortunate and unhappy situation of my countrymen is the only thing that grieves me, for I thank god, I have resolution to bear my own and family ruin without a grudge.
Sir, you will I hope upon this occasion pardon me if I mention a few truths which all the Gentlemen of our army seem convinced of.
It was highly wrong to have set up the royal standard without having positive assurance from his most Christian majesty that he would assist you with all his force, and as your royal family lost the crown of these realms upon the account of France, The world did and had reason to expect that France would seize the first favourable opportunity to restore your August family.
I must also acquaint your R.H. that we were all fully convinced that Mr O' Sullivan whom your R.H. trusted with the most essential things with regard to your operations was exceedingly unfit for it and committed gross blunders on every occasion of moment: He whose business it was, did not so much as visit the ground where we were drawn up in line of Battle, and it was a fatal error yesterday to allow the enemy those walls upon their left which made it impossible for us to break them, and they with their front fire and flanking us when we went upon the attack destroyed us without any possibility of our breaking them, and our Atholl men lost a full half of their officers and men. I wish Mr O'Sullivan had never got any other charge in the Army than care of the Bagage which I have been told he has been brought up to and understood. I never saw him in time of Action neither at Gladsmuir, Falkirk nor in the last, and his orders were vastly confused.
The want of provisions was another misfortune which had the most fatal consequence. Mr Hay whom Y.R.H. trusted with the principal direction of ordering provisions of late and without whose orders a boll of meal or forthing of monie was not to be delivered, has served Y.R.H. egregiously ill, when I spoke to him, he told me, the thing is ordered, it will be got etc. but he neglected his duty to such a degree that our ruin might probably been prevented had he done his duty: in short the last three days which were critical our army starved. This was the reason our night march was rendered abortive when we possibly might have surprised and defeat the enemy at Nairn, but for want of provisions a third of the army scattered to Inverness he and the others who marched had not the spirits to make it quick as was necessary being faint for want of provisions.
The next day, which was the fatal day, if we had got plenty of provisions, we might have crossed the water of Nairn and drawn up so advantageously that we would have obliged the enemy to come to us, for they were resolved to fight at all hazards, at prodigious disadvantage, and probably we would in that case have done by them as they unhappily have done by us.
In short Mr O'Sullivan and Mr hay had rendered themselves odious to all our army and had disgusted them to such a degree that they had bred a mutiny in all ranks that had the battle (not) come on they were to have represented their grievance to Y.R.H. for a remedy. For my own part I never had any particular discussion with either of them, but I ever thought them incapable and unfit to serve in the stations they were placed in.
Y.R.H. knows I always told I had no design to continue in the army: I would of late when I came last from Atholl have resigned my commission, but all my friends told me it might be of prejudice to the cause at such a critical time. I hope your R.H. will now accept my demission. What commands you have for me in any other situation please honor me with them.
I am with great zeal, Sir, Your R.H. most dutiful and humble servant,
Ruthven 17th April 1746
The service continued with Alex Mowat giving a dedication to those who fell during the ‘45 campaign particularly those at Culloden, stating some of what happened to those captured and where they ended up.
Ted Christopher took centre stage to play Ghost of Culloden/ Freedoms Flame, at that time of night these songs are both atmospheric and make the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end.
As the service was this year in two parts, the dedication to Culloden was brought to an end with the laying of wreaths and flowers.
The second part of the service was dedicated solely to David R Ross, not only a Honorary member to Crann Tara, but a patriot, a nationalist, an author, a historian and last, but not least a personal friend to all in the group.
As with tradition of the service all those in attendance were invited to take the mike to share their thoughts and sentiments, which saw those taking the stand dedicating their words to David.
Jim Singer continued the dedication to David making all aware that David had attended the midnight service since it officially became a service almost every year apart from one, when he had to go America on business, but sent a letter indicating he was there in spirit, but not in soul.
Jim also made all aware that the last few years David’s life was made hell by a minority of people who had malicious contempt for the “big man”. This was followed by highlighting what David had done for the promotion of Scotland home and abroad and how the country as a whole would feel the loss of David’s work commitment.
As the speakers before who took the stand voluntarily spoke of what David’s life as a patriot was all about, replication of this was felt unnecessary and Ted Christopher was welcomed back to sing, ”We Are” this was one of Ted’s many songs which not only David loved, but was associated with through the words of the song.
As the Ted finished the song Kimmy and Shona took the stand in front of the cairn and spread some of David’s ashes, not before expressing what was intended for the rest of David’s ashes and a few sentiments of their own.
There was a minutes silence in respect of all those fell at Culloden as well for David R Ross.
The penultimate reading before the close of the service was read by John McCallum a poem called the “White Cockade” by Robert Ross. John followed this by reading a prayer in Latin.
The service was brought to a close by thanking everyone for attending and making sure they had a safe journey home.
Meeting at the cairn at 10.30am it was good to reflect on what we had done the night before, the day being some what calmer of wind than the previous night. The Gaelic service began at 11am promptly as usual, a service which Crann Tara always endeavour to attend and being one of the most notorious historic events in Scottish history is always well attended by others from various clans and groups. Over the years of attendance of the service it is good to see that the service itself has lost its British flavor in favour of the events surrounding the Battle of Culloden and the aftermath itself.
As the people dispersed on the close of the Gaelic service, those who wanted to go on the tour arranged by Crann Tara met at the cairn as arranged.
The tour began by visiting the Clava cairns where all were given a souvenir brochure which contained a detailed description of the places we were to visit on the tour.
The day was fairly mixed weather wise, but we managed with some luck to avoid all the rain when we left the cars. To go into detail of what was seen on the tour would make too much reading so will aim to write about them in detail in the appropriate place within the website. Places visited on the Saturday, The Old Fort Augustus, Glen Moriston, The Cairn and Grave of Rodderick McKenzie, The Cairn of Willie MacRae, Glen Garry, Loch Garry, The Well of the Seven Heads and the Cammando Monument at Spean Bridge. At Spean Bridge it was decided to call it a day and head to the hotel in Fort William to relax for a couple of hours before heading to see Ted Christopher at the Leven Hotel in North Ballachuilish. Needless to say the evening’s entertainment with Ted was second to none, but on this occasion the surrounding of the room within the hotel made the night more intimate and laid back than usual, a great night.
To end the weekend tour we retraced our step towards Spean Bridge visiting Inverlochy Castle and the Battle site of where the battle of the same name took place in 1644 just a short distance away. In the Spean Bridge area we take a winding drive along Glen Roy to a sharpening stone where Montrose’s Army and the people of Glen Roy used for sharpening their swords and other implements. The thing about Glen Roy as with other glens in Scotland, the glen now lay bare where large communities once thrived caused mainly by the acts of the 1745 and the clearances that followed.
Anyway as always all good things have to come to an end and it always sad to part with friends you have spent a little time with, but never the less it has to happen and in Glen Roy we parted ways heading back to the different parts of Scotland from that we had came.
Ted Christopher for taking time out of his busy schedule to play at the midnight service at Culloden.
To Kimberly Ross & Shona Mackinnon for sharing part of David with us all.