During the period spent in interrogating the suspected party, the indefatigable More, in his eager course, had reached Dundee, but had only time to make expressive gesticulations and utter breathless warnings to the inhabitants. By this means, however, he conveyed information as to the imminent danger with which they were threatened, and before Claverhouse arrived, a strong body of resolute men had mustered for defence of the town, determined to give him a warm reception. Enraged at this second disappointment, Claverhouse commanded his vassals to set fire to the Rottenrow (now called the Hilltown), which, being kindled in different places, spread itself with such irresistible fury, that all the houses were reduced to ashes in a short time. The owners, without being able to do anything for the safely of their property, stood silent spectators of their own ruin, while the men of Dundee could lend them no assistance, the town itself being then in danger. The fact of this assault was communicated the same night by expresses to the committee of the estates of parliament by one of the magistrates (Bailie Duncan of Lundie), who was elected at the poll election, on the 18th April preceding, and the next day, the committee of the estates ordered six “firekings” (firkins) of powder to be sent from Bo’ness to Dundee, and also commanded Hastings’ regiment of infantry and Birkely’s regiment of horse to proceed from Berwick to the same place.
A battle fought beyond the pass of Killicrankie on the 17th July, 1689, put a period to the warlike career of Viscount Dundee. It took place between a party of the prince of Orange’s army, commanded by general Mackay, and a body of raw Irish recruits, combined with a handful of fierce Highlanders, headed by the undaunted Claverhouse, which terminated fatally to the cause of James, although victory remained on the side of the Irish and Scotch Highlanders. On this morning Mackay put his troops in motion, and setting forward with his vanguard from Dunkeld for the opening into the pass of Killicrankie, arrived on the spot about mid-day where he gave orders to halt. Here he rested two hours, after which he commenced his march through the pass. Having entered the confines of the awful solitude, where impending precipices seem to threaten instant annihilation, the soldiers advanced with soft and cautions steps lest the sound of their feet should give notice of their approach to the enemy, who, apprized of the of the progress of Mackay’s forces, lay on his arms on the side of a mountain within view of the north and of the pass. While thus recumbent the rebels undismayed beheld the royal army form in order of battle on the plain beneath them. Impressed with the solemnity of the surrounding objects that compose the sublimity of this scene, where mountains tower aloft, on whose ample bosom huge fragments of rock cross each other in every direction, and where all is hushed into silence, save when the birds of prey on high scream the death-notes which, wildly mingling with the hollow murmurs of the foaming Garry as it hurries through fragments that have tumbled from the impending precipices which seem to close in wooded loom and bury it from the view, strike terror to the soul;-while impatient of their fate the royal forces led on by their skilful leader paused as they looked around them. In this awful suspense both armies remained in sight of each other till towards sunset, when it was resolved in a council of war among the rebel chiefs to give battle at night-fall; for the Highlanders, trusting to their valour and the success of their mode of attack, never doubted on whose side victory would remain. The event justified their hopes: Dundee detached his clans in order, and formed them into compact wedges, so as to break the enemies’ line and hand to hand decide the fate of the combat. With this bold determination the rebel general rushed down at the head of a brave handful of his followers on the firm battalions of his opponent. The onset was impetuous and bloody, the line was in an instant broken, and a terrible carnage ensued. The rout was complete, and the rebels were victorious.
Death of Viscount Dundee
Dundee perceiving a detachment of the enemy, making with all possible speed and good order, their retreat through the pass, leaped on horseback and spurred on vigorously for the mouth of the defile; and deeming victory incomplete unless all chance of escape was rendered hopeless, he was in the act of accomplishing his bold purpose when a musket shot entered beneath his armpit. Finding himself mortally wounded, he turned aside to meet with heroic firmness his fate; and his dying request was to conceal his mischance from his comrades. Then raising his languid eyes he fixed them on the field of battle, and being told that “all was well,” he said “I am well then-I die contented,” and instantly expired. 2000 of King William’s army were left dead on the spot, and 500 taken prisoners. The loss on the side of James was but inconsiderable; yet in the fall of so undaunted a hero as Dundee the cause of that exiled monarch received its death wound.