Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Battle for Britain Part 8.. In the North, it's complicated

Right Lads! Where are we stashing this blagged gear? The story from the North



After a short interlude of news and other stuff we are back in 1692 Britain and joining the confused commanders about to do battle for their chosen King and take control of Britain...

In the three weeks running up to the weekender I sent campaign summaries to the commanders. The idea was to get everyone in the groove and thinking about their troops, alliances and approach. Of course we are all busy and in some cases I was not even sure whether people were receiving, never mind reading the chutney I was turning out.

As it happened, after a relatively slow start the responses and suggestions started. So, here is a very brief weave (not necessarily in exact chronological order) of what was happening.

IN THE NORTH

The frontier between the armies ran very roughly along the modern Scottish Border. Above the line the Marquis de St Ruhe was overseeing the rough treatment of the populace of Lanarkshire, Ayrshire, Kirkcudbrightshire and Dumfriesshire with haughty Gallic disdain. Two regiments of dragoons had exported, in a particularly French way, the concept of Dragonnades somewhat in the way America has given us Disneyland in modern times.

St Ruhe's Enforcers at work in South West Scotland


The Calvinist inhabitants of the South and West were experiencing the burning of Kirkcudbright, internment, the massacre of civilians for failing their religious beliefs GCSE and general rough handling from St Ruhe's Toughs. This harassment was so extreme that even St Ruhe's Scot's allies found it objectionable. Despite entreaties from Dundee himself, the French commander ignored all demands to desist. French troops massed around Dumfries and were unsurprisingly signally unsuccessful in recruiting any native Scots to King Louis's colours despite offering financial inducements!


Public executions were carried out by both sides for various crimes real or imagined


Dundee had challenges of his own. The 2,000 or so clansmen under his command thought all of their Christmases had come at once. They had three months to run riot (which they did on both sides of the border). They stole more sheep, cattle and farm animals than everyone else put together (mostly, I believe, to eat). Ignoring all pleas to 'leave it alone' they conducted uncoordinated military actions poorly and were a general nuisance to friend and foe alike. Cameron of Lochiel managed to be caught with his trews down at a lady's country estate near Berwick and was thrown in the town's gaol by the Danish garrison. Legend has it that it took seven men to capture Lochiel and the sergeant in command lost his nose when the Highlander bit it off.

Two well armed French Privateers bombarded Berwick more than once



A bombardment of Berwick town by French privateers damaged the gaol but an assisted escape attempt was bungled and the lusty Lochiel languished on stale bread and water. His eventual 'escape' appears to have involved a commercial transaction although such skulduggery cannot be verified.

Where his impoverished retainers obtained a large sum of cash is uncertain. Dundee himself was approached for the £3,000 in English coin by Lochiel's officers three weeks before his release but the  commander was not able to raise such a sum. Curiously, in Glen Trool forest about ten days before Lochiel's repatriation, the Marquis de St Ruhe's treasure wagon was ambushed by persons unknown and an undisclosed but massive sum in English coin, ducats and livre stolen.



Lochiel's Laddies were very keen to see their Chieftain sprung from Berwick Gaol.


The perpetrators were not apprehended and the escorts never found. St Ruhe reported the loss of £6,000 to Louvois demanding reimbursement from Versailles. Rumour of £5,000 being taken at Glen Trool circulated rapidly through the Jacobite army. Dundee received a request for £3,000 from Lochiel's officers to spring their chief and a further tale has it that an unnamed Danish officer trousered £2,000 in order to leave a certain postern gate ajar in Berwick on the night of the breakout.

The Marquis de Ruvigny, defacto commander of the military area in which the town of Berwick lay, is said to have received a donation of £1,700 Scots from an unnamed source two days after Lochiel reappeared with his regiment in Hawick.


 Just WHO did hit St Ruhe's Pay convoy.. tantalizingly out of shot to the left.. The Perps


This story could only be pieced together by examining the brief's of St Ruhe, de Ruvigny and Dundee, something that no single player was able to do. Where the 'missing' £4,300 English went (please refer back to St Ruhe's claim to Versailles and then on to de Ruvigny's surprise windfall) is anyone's guess. Did St Ruhe pull off an insurance scam by robbing his own trayne? Did he overestimate the actual amount taken in order to fleece Louvois? Did Dundee's Highlanders actually turn over their own allies? Were said Camerons pocketing a tidy £3,000 and then trying to get it again
from their 'mark' Dundee before winning major Brownie points from their fearsome chief? Why was the Dane paid £2,000 and not £3,000? Were the Highland Laddies pulling off yet another switch? What happened to the £1,100 which went missing before the paltry cash  sum in Scots money reached De Ruvigny? Danegeld or dodgy Huguenot clerks?

Is this a lesson in accountancy, a shortcut to scamming or a wargaming campaign?

Men of this ilk found Border Law was the only show in town from June till August


In summary, the activities between June 18 and August 12 1692 along the Northern frontier were totally in keeping with Border tradition going back several centuries - robbery, blackmail, murder, extortion, rape, rustling, raiding, double dealing and rank stupidity. By August 12th the Jacobites felt strong enough to push against the military positions along the Esk river on the Solway Firth - the phoney war was over and the shooting war began.

5 comments:

  1. Hmmm, sadly it is too early in history to call in Scotland Yard to figure out the truth behind all this financial skullduggery.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Sounds like a film I watched the other week!!

    ReplyDelete
  3. It reads like an episode of Charlie Farley & Piggy Malone.

    It's goodnight from him & it's goodnight from me :) :)

    ReplyDelete
  4. My Lawyers will be in contact soon .
    Dundee (bonnie)

    ReplyDelete
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