Battle of Inverurie (1745)
For the battle of the same name during the Wars of Scottish Independence see: Battle of Inverurie (1308).
Lord Lewis Gordon had been raising Jacobite forces and had managed to create two battalions. James Moir of Stoneywood commanded one battalion and Gordon of Abbachy commanded the other. Lord Lewis Gordon had also raised a considerable sum of money, but he was thwarted by his brother; Cosmo George Gordon, 3rd Duke of Gordon, who supported the British Government.
To put an end to Lord Lewis Gordon's Jacobite recruitment, John Campbell, 4th Earl of Loudoun who was the King's commander in chief in the North, despatched the Laird MacLeod of MacLeod from Inverness with 500 men. MacLeod gained support from George Munro, 1st of Culcairn with 200 men and the Laird of Grant with 500 men.
Lord Lewis Gordon ordered his men to fall back to Aberdeen where he was joined by a number of men from Forfarshire and Kincardineshire. He was also joined by Lord Drummon's French troops who had just landed in Montrose. Later he was also joined by 300 men of the Clan Farquharson as well as his own two battalions under James Moir of Stoneywood.
The Laird of Grant fearing for his own country decided to return home and George Munro of Culcairn held post at Oldmeldrum. MacLeod however thought otherwise, he advanced and occupied the town of Inverurie, 16 miles north-west of Aberdeen. Lord Lewis Gordon on hearing of MacLeod's incautious movement was determined to attack his opponent.
Lord Lewis Gordon moved from Aberdeen on 23 December with 1,100 men and 5 pieces of cannon which had been taken off a ship in the harbour. With the main body of his army he crossed the Bridge of Don and took the route by Fintray up the left bank of the river, while he sent a detachment of 300 men, French and others, by the Tyrebagger road, the main road to Inverurie, so as to deceive the Macleods with their real intentions.
At about four o'clock in the afternoon the French party, who had marched by the right bank of the River Don, dashed into the river and waded across. They then attacked the Macleods on the south-west side of Inverurie. Lord Lewis Gordon then immediately crossed the River Ury on the east side of the town near Inverurie Parish Church, (The Auld Kirk of Inverurie) now known as St Andrew's Parish Church, Inverurie, and attacked the town from there where the Macleods were taken completely by surprise.
The MacLeods opened fire from the ditches and from behind walls, but were outnumbered, and being vigorously pressed, they gave way and retreated, and were pushed back to Elgin. The chief of the MacLeods gathered his men, and while retreating, fought by the moonlight.
An account of MacLeod's actions are given in contemporary documents the Culloden Papers which belonged to Forbes of Culloden.:
McKlaudes (MacLeods) Resolute Behavior in running to the Enemy with so few of his men about him and the stand they made with not one half of their little army against 900 till they were overpowered by numbers is much to his honour.
Ruairidh MacLeod's account
20th century historian Ruairidh MacLeod gives an account of the Battle of Inverurie in volume LIII of the Transactions of the Gaelic Society of Inverness, quoting from contemporary documents. Ruairi MacLeod states that the rebel advance was led by the French Picquets, crossing the river Urie at the ford south of Inverurie. MacLeod brought about 60 of his men to the ford to engage them and it was here that the rebels lost most of their casualties, including eleven French killed. MacLeod then brought 300 men together at the south of the town and fired three or four volleys. The rebels then crossed the river, although 100 of them deserted and ran off. The MacLeods then retired down the main street of Inverurie, leaving all their possessions behind, turning once to fire. At the north of the town they turned once more to fire and then retreated northwards. According to Ruairi MacLeod the Government troops lost seven dead; five killed in battle. The Government troops suffered fifteen wounded with the enemy, seven wounded brought back to Elgin and fifty-nine taken prisoner. The rebels concealed their number of dead but a Jacobite present at the battle admitted fourteen dead and a Government officer estimated that the rebels had lost between 30 - 40 dead.
Many of MacLeod's men were killed, and about fifty were taken prisoner, including two of his main allies who were a Gordon, the younger son of Gordon of Ardoch and Forbes of Echt. Also taken prisoner was John Chalmers, formerly Principal and Professor of King's College, Aberdeen. Most of the MacLeods including their chief retreated safely back to their own country.
Another man taken prisoner by the Jacobites was Donald Ban MacCrimmon who was said to be the greatest of all Highland Pipers, from the distinguished MacCrimmon (piping family). As a mark of respect the Jacobite Pipers refused to play until he was released. The silence of the Jacobite pipers ensured his release and Donald Ban rejoined the Government Hanoverians.
- Simpson, Peter. (1996). The Independent Highland Companies, 1603 - 1760. pp. 132. ISBN 0-85976-432-X.
- Leslie, Charles Joseph. (1869). Historical records of the family of Leslie from 1067 to 1868-9, collected from public records and authentic private sources. Volume III. pp. 178 - 181. Published by Edmonston and Douglas, Edinburgh.
- MacLeod, Ruairidh. H. F.S.A. Scot.(1984). Transactions of the Gaelic Society of Inverness. Volume LIII. pp. 318 - 320.