Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Bonnie Prince Charlie

I just finished reading Winifred Duke's In The Steps of Bonnie Prince Charlie, and I was struck again by the remarkable loyalty of the Scots, so richly wasted on the Stuarts. Even with a price of £ 30,000 on his head, by their self-sacrificing assistance Charles was able to elude capture by a manhunt that at one point placed a cordon of the Duke of Cumberland's camps at half-mile spacings and his sentries in sight of one another.

After the disaster at Culloden in April 1746, Charles lived in constant exposure and near starvation for five months. His survival, coupled with the Scots' often self-destructive aid to him, suggest to me the difficulty that our forces have experienced trying to locate and capture Osama bin Ladin in the mountains of Afghanistan and Pakistan. It also suggests a measure of pessimism that we may ever catch up with him, being in a worse cultural situation even than the English troops of the "Hanoverian" Cumberland faced among the Scots, and our inability to erect the kind of human fence that Cumberland did.

For what it's worth, I have no idea where our ancestors stood in "the '45". MacLeods figured prominently both in support of the Young Pretender and if not in opposition, at least in careful avoidance of collaborating with him.

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