A major success for the Royalist rebels, but their time was almost up.
THE SCOTS AND IRISH IN THE ENGLISH CIVIL WAR THE BATTLE OF INVERLOCHY 1645
Though ‘ a long way to Loch Awe’ the journey had been made. It was not just a few rebels who had broken through the hills, as Argyll had been carefully duped into expecting, but the entire Royalist army, and hordes of Highland warriors with scores to settle. The Campbells were thrown into total panic. They scrambled to battle positions for a fight they had never dreamt possible. They were too late.
Montrose’s approach had been spotted at the last minute. His plan for a total surprise attack was dashed by a series of minor skirmishes that at least told the enemy whom they were up against.
The mild winter of the raids on Inverary was no more. It was so bitterly cold that even the sea-loch was frozen close to the coastlines, a rare sight anywhere in Britain to this day. Montrose approached the ancient castle of Inverlochy from the hills, with his men positioned in a commanding high position.
Sir Duncan Campbell of Auchinbreck had been left in charge of the defence. He knew that he was in trouble. On arriving from Ireland, many of his Catholic Irish troops had deserted and joined MacColla and his Irish divisions. Now he faced men who had once followed his own orders.
Worse, his musketeers were badly positioned on firm ground directly in front of the castle, with little room to move, retreat or reposition themselves in the event of precisely the kind of attack that they now faced.
This, of all battles so far, was the one closest to MacColla’s ambitions. The finest of the Campbell clan’s fighting men were here and this was to the Highlanders a clan feudal war, not a battle for the King Of England (and Scotland) against his Parliament or the Covenanters at all. MacColla made sure that the Bard of Kepoch was positioned well to record the event for song and ballad. The Scots knew that they were making history. Many tales and legends would come of the events in fact, though few would even acknowledge the presence of Montrose. For the Macdonalds and Campbells, this was a personal battle. The plan had been MacColla’s from the outset, and from English historians, too much of the credit for this has been given to Montrose, (who often glorified his own successes at the expense of giving so much as a mention to his colleagues in letters to King Charles).