Editorís note: The following story was found on microfilm by John McIntyre in Australia. It was originally published in Chamberís Edinburgh Journal, January, 1844.
Red Coat and Yellow
A True Tale of Culloden
By Dugald MacIntyre
I had the tale from my father, who had it from his grandfather, who in turn, had it directly from one of his two uncles, the brother Alan and Dugald Macintyre, who had both fought at Culloden, on opposing sides.
Alan, the elder brother, was hereditary hunter to Glengarry. He killed deer and vermin to the order of his Chief, and fought at his command also. There was no mistaking what his duty was in the '45, for his Chief was all for Prince Charles. When war broke out, he took his natural position to be that of a sort of Sergeant, and the clansmen followed him cheerfully, in hunting deer, or in stalking the enemy.
Dugald, the younger brother, had wandered south and enlisted in King George's army and had been for some years a redcoat when Prince Charles's landing at Moidart set the brothers to fighting on opposing sides.
Alan was soon to be known widely in the Jacobite army as a deadly sniper and as a reliable scout. He did not wear the tartan. His coat was homemade, and it was crotal-dyed a rather bright shade of yellow. He wore a kilt, of course, but not the elaborate many plaited kilt of later days. What he called his 'blood-poke', a sort of double plaid, where he used to carry the spoils of the chase, went with him during his soldering, and the plaid was useful as a sleeping-bag, as well as for carrying plunder.
Alan fought at all the battles of the '45. He took part in the daring march on London, and he became dreaded by the foe for his marksmanship. Easily recognizable because of his yellow coat, he was followed about by the bullets of the enemy, and he tried in vain to get rid of the coat in exchange for another of a quieter colouring. He was at the Battle of Falkirk, on the retreat towards Culloden Moor, and he finally managed to exchange the yellow coat for a less conspicuous one on the eve of Culloden.
On the morning of the Battle of Culloden, Dugald, the redcoat, was in Cumberland's ranks. Many times during the day he heard the distinctive report made by his brother's long flint-lock, a relic of the Spanish contingent in the '15-and more particularly when following the disorganized Jacobite army into Inverness. Soldier after soldier of his own company fell by his side to the bullets of his brother, who, as a covering soldier at each cover.
Duglad was afraid that his sharpshooter brother might at last have been captured and shot with the others in the cold-blooded butchery of the clans which followed on the battle. He found an opportunity to search in the mound of slain Highlanders for the corpse of his brother, which, he thought, in its familiar crotal-dyed coat, ought to be easily recognizable. His heart sank as he saw a slain soldier in the familiar garb lying face downward. To ensure recognition, he turned the body over, and to his astonishment found that the features were not those of his brother.
Dugald searched further among the corpses for his brother's but with no result, and finally he said to himself: 'Death changes the features. That may be Alan in the yellow coat, which certainly is his coat. I will go back to the body and search the pockets.' Returning to the body, he found that his earlier action of turning it over had restored consciousness, and the man, although in extremis, managed to relate how on the eve of the battle he had changed coats with Alan Macintyre for luck, and how he had seen Alan escape from the redcoats at the time he himself was captured.
The dying man was a native of Lochaber, married and with a baby boy. He had a little money, and a good pistol concealed on his person and he gave both to Dugald, imploring him to seek out his widow and give her his last message of love, and his final gifts. Duglad, however, was under military rule, and he found no opportunity just at the time to seek out the Lochaber soldier's widow. Subsequently, on his return from some years' foreign service, he made occasion to return to his boyhood's home, to find his brother Alan, the famous sharpshooter of the '45, alive and well, and back at his old job of Highland fox-hunter and venison purveyor. The brothers exchanged recollections of Culloden at their reunion, and Alan, the rebel, told Dugald, the redcoat, that he actually recognized him in the enemy ranks, but had refrained from shooting him purely out of fraternal considerations.
The "Spanish gun," as we always named it, came into the hands of my great-grandfather Alan at last. He made good use of it in exterminating the foxes of Kintyre, and it is that same gun which is sung about in Duncan Ban Macintyre's songs. As the story goes, it killed seven redcoats in the retreat to Inverness from Culloden alone.
I myself used the old gun as a long-range duck gun when I was a boy, and it certainly was capable of killing a single pair of ducks at a rage impossible for a modern shotgun of the ordinary twelve-bore type. I was taught how to handle and load the ponderous weapon by my father, as also how to shape new flints for it. For the final shot, preceding to the wild broadsword charge of the clans, the 'Spanish gun' carried a two-bullet load. A bullet which fitted the bore was first rammed home, and there was a half-size bullet, known as 'the Wanderer,' placed on top of the large one, and kept in position by a wad of any handy material.
©Clan MacIntyre Society