A second daring raid on the Scottish Covenenter forces.
THE SCOTS AND IRISH PART IN THE ENGLISH CIVIL WAR AND THE MARCH ON INVERLOCHY
As with their first march and battle strategy, the plan for the march was not Montrose’s though he raised no objection to this expedition as he had with the first. He had been pleasantly surprised to see how successful the Inverary raids had been. His men had all found reason to despise the Campbells, and their leader, Argyll. This was payback time.
The second epic march was shorter than the first, but the mountains were much taller and far more dangerous, even as a natural geographical barrier. The battle to follow would also be far greater in scale than anything yet encountered. Montrose must have wondered if they would have any energy left for fighting.
They set off, from Loch Ness, on the first steps of a mammoth march on January 31st 1645. It would take two days of continuous movement, covering sixty-six miles, with the minimum of rest. The journey involved a climb over Glen Tarriff, going nearly 2000 feet above sea level, over gorges, fast flowing streams and rivers, through howling gale and blanket snow with a handful of oats and a little water to drink. Two men were lost, falling and plunging into fast flowing mountain streams and getting swept away, but the majority made the march without incident. They moved through the poetically named Culachy, Meall a’ Chlolmain, Glen Buck, and to the Turrett River. Now they poured through Glenroy and Keppoch. The mighty ‘Ben’ himself, Ben Nevis, overlooked Inverlochy and it was the foothills of the great mountain that Montrose’s forces finally prepared for battle. On the way, there had been occasional encounters with Argyll’s patrolling guards, who Montrose was careful to approach with small bands of his own men rather than as a complete fighting force. He wanted Argyll to think that their numbers were small and that they were split up for separate operations. He did not want the fortress they targeted to realize what was really coming. This strategy worked extraordinarily well.
The men were hungry, tired, and cold, but those who got within sight of Inverlochy first got their first true rest, as the stragglers and rear-guard would not arrive for about another three hours. Now the enemy was in sight. It was late at night on February 1st 1645. At dawn the next morning, battle would commence.