A Simple History of the Appin Regiment and the Jacobite Rebellion of 1745-46
We welcome you to Ronvor’s Company of the Appin Regiment of “Bonnie” Prince Charles Edward Stuart in the year 1745. As a foreigner, recently arrived from Flanders and the War of the Austrian Succession, you are not familiar with our history or customs. Permit me, then, to acquaint you with the true record of our struggle to reinstate our rightful king to the throne of Scotland and England, and an account of our customs so that you will not be a stranger among us.
Our Enemies call us Jacobites, after Jacobus, which is Latin for James, our King. King James VIII is the direct descendent of Kenneth mac Alpin, the first King of the Scots, and is the great grandson of James VI of Scotland, the first Stuart king of England (James I of England).
Our current difficulties began almost 60 years ago when James VII succeeded his brother, Charles II, in 1685. A devout Catholic, James VII inherited an Anglican England, a Calvinist Scottish lowlands, and a Catholic highlands. The devious English, exploiting the religious tension to usurp the throne, invited William of Orange to take the crown. William was the Protestant Lutheran husband of Mary, James VII’s eldest daughter! When William and Mary landed in 1688, James VII was forced to flee with his beautiful Queen and their infant son, our present King James VIII, to the protection of his cousin, King Louis XIV of France–thus ratifying the Grand Auld Alliance between Catholic France and Scotland. The English throne passed from William III to his sister-in-law Anne I, but when she also died without issue, the English Parliament chose George of Hanover to be their king. We are now fighting his son, George II.
Stuart is the French spelling of Stewart. The French spelling was first adopted by the grandfather of James VI, the 4th Earl of Lennox, who took French nationality in 1537 and changed his name from Matthew Stewart to Matthew Stuart.
You will note from the above sketch that the English have chosen every other living relative of James VIII in order to deny him the throne! I cannot here recount all the acts the perfidious English have prosecuted against us over the last half century. Suffice it to say that in my memory the highland clans have risen three times–1715, 1719, and now in 1745–to throw off the yoke of English persecution and return our Rightful and most Catholic King, James Stuart VIII, to the throne of England and Scotland.
As soon as we got word that our Prince had raised the royal standard on the 19th of August at Glenfinnan, our captain, John Stewart of Ronvor raised our company of 12 men and marched to Invergarry, where we met the rest of His Royal Highness’ Army on the 26th of August.
We are Stewarts of Appin, descended from a cadet branch of the royal family who were the Lords of Lorn. Appin lies in north Argyll, close upon Loch Linnhe, and is bordered on the south by Loch Creran and the treacherous Campbells, to the east by the thieving Macdonalds, and to the north by Loch Leven and the Camerons. Though we are a small clan of 2,800 souls, we can field 400 fighting men.
Ronvor’s Company is one of eight companies attached to The Appin Regiment with over 360 men–mostly Appin Stewarts, but a goodly number of McColls and McLarens are turned out with us–commanded by Charles Stewart of Ardshiel in stead of our clan chief, Dougal Stewart of Appin, who is too young to take the field.
In four months of campaigning, we have routed the English General Cope at Prestonpans in September, and marched to Derby, a mere 123 miles from London! But we were forced to turned back to defend our homes from General Wade’s army, rumored to be poised on our border, and to curtail the deprivations of Lord Loudon’s Argyll Militia against our defenseless families.
You may find our highland garb a bit odd and strange to your eyes, as you are coming from the capitals of the Continent, but it suits our land and weather. The main article of clothing is the belted plaid, which is six yards of wool cloth pleated and wrapped around the body in a most convenient fashion. It serves as a lower garment, coat, cloak, and as a blanket at night. The lower leg is likewise covered by hose of a tartan check. Some gentlemen wear a tartan trouser which they call trews for greater convenience in riding a horse.
Some strangers believe they can identify a highlander by the sett of his tartan, but this is an ignorant assumption. While there are regional setts known by the individual weaver, a gentleman wears whatever tartan pleases him most, and a poor man wears the tartan he can procure at least expense.
The linen shirt is no doubt known to you as it is of a pattern common outside of Scotland. The gentlemen who can afford cotton and lace, in the current fashion, do so. The blue bonnet is common to most highlanders. The white cockade is added to declare the wearer in support of the Stuart succession. And some add a sprig of oak leaves to their bonnets to identify themselves as Stewarts.
Our success against the English has improved the footwear of the men. At the start of the campaign many came down from their glens barefoot or wearing the curran or pampootie, a simple covering of leather bound about the foot with thong. Most are now wearing the firm shoe of the English.
You will no doubt be surprised, as a veteran of other wars, at the arms we bear most effectively against our enemies. We have a few muskets supplied by the French, or most generously supplied by our fallen foes. But most of the men have no use for these, being more familiar with the weapons of their fathers–the sword, the shield, and the ax.
Do not be surprised by the women about the camp. The better dressed women are invariably from the town and are here to satisfy their curiosity. The common woman is a wife to the soldier for the duration of this campaign. The highland women are further distinguished by the tartan, called an arisaid, which is three to five yards of wool cloth worn over the shoulder in a fashion similar to the men but open in front to show the dress.
Now, with this brief introduction at an end, come warm yourself by our fire
*Failte means “welcome” in gaelic.