First Skirmishes in Scotland

2 & 3 June 1685

The first skirmishes took place in Scotland, after Argyll had established himself on the Isle of Bute and was planning his next moves. At the Army council of war, the Earl had pushed for a rapid advance on Inveraray, but others pressed for an assault on Ayrshire. Therefore, it was proposed that two raids to gather intelligence and supplies.

Battle of Glendaruel, 2 June 1685

The first was sent onto the Cowal Peninsular under his son Charles Campbell, the second was to sail up the Clyde to Greenock and would be commanded by Sir John Cochrane.

The clash at Glendaruel between Campbell & McKenzie.

The young Campbell’s party landed under Eilean Dearg Castle and advanced up the valley to the Village of Glendaruel. While the Whigs force of about 100 soldiers gathered recruits and provisions, word reached the Government forces at Inveraray of their activity. The commander, Atholl ordered a detachment of 300 under Captain Mackenzie to investigate and engage the Whigs. Around midday on June 2, Campbell’s pickets spotted the Government forces advancing down the valley and withdrew from the village. However, Mackenzie’s 100 horse quickly caught up with the Whigs, forcing Campbell to deploy his soldiers in a defensive position along the road to Eilean Dearg Castle. The ensuing firefight lasted until the Whigs started to run out of ammunition, forcing Campbell to withdraw back to their boats at the Eilean Dearg Castle. Seeing his opportunity, Mackenzie’s horse quickly followed-up, killing two or three Whigs and capturing four more before the boats set off. After leaving a garrison at the castle, Campbell returned to his father on the Isle of Bute. Meanwhile Mackenzie retired back to Inveraray with his prisoners.

After his son returned with the news that Atholl’s men were close at hand, and the information that Carrick Castle had been destroyed, Argyll needed to retaliate. Later that day, he resolved to take the war to Atholl and the Government. His first act was to remove the furniture from Rothesay Castle, and then set fire to the castle itself. Then he returned to the fleet and sailed across to Castle Toward and waited for the return of Cochrane’s expedition.  

Battle of Greenock, 3 June 1685

Late on the evening of June 2 the second Whig detachment of 100 men under Cochrane sailed up the Clyde towards the small port of Greenock. The following morning, as they approached the beach, they could see a strong party of Militia cavalry coming towards them. Cochrane sent a dozen musketeers, under Major Fullerton, ashore to hold the landing ground. One of the small Whig warships provided covering fire to Fullerton while his soldiers took cover in a little yard. The Major had sent the boats back for more men, when a dozen Militia appeared under a flag of truce. To buy time, Fullerton agreed to talk, but these became heated and quickly broke down. As the Militia withdrew, they shot their pistols at Fullerton, and his men returned fire, wounding one of the Government troopers. It was now that the rest of the Militia appeared to engage in a brisk firefight.

Whig forces land at Greenock

As more boat’s arrived and re-enforcements joined Fullerton, and the more ships guns opened fire on the Government soldiers they broke and fled away from Greenock. With the beach head secured, Cochrane landed the rest of his men and they entered Greenock. After sending messengers south and taking some stores, the small fleet made its way back to Bute. The first blood of the Monmouth Rebellion had been spilt.

Argyll’s next move was to move his headquarters to a stronger location while he waited for news from Monmouth. After reconnoitring the coast, he selected the Cowal Peninsula, with Eilean Dearg Castle at one end and the Castle at Ardkinglas at the other. Argyll moved his Army camp to Glendaruel and turned Eilean Dearg into a fortified arsenal by building a new battery facing out to sea.

Castle of Eilean Dearg

By 7 June, his base of operation was secure, and his attention returned to Inveraray, sending Colonel Rumbold north to Ardkinglas with a Regiment of Foot and two troops of Horse. As Rumbold reached Ardkinglas, three Royal Navy frigates and two yachts blockaded the entrance of Loch Riddon in sight of Eilean Dearg.

Cowal Peninsular, early June 1685

On 11 June, Atholl reacted to the Whig move north and ordered Mackenzie to block the road from Ardkinglas to Inveraray.

The Next Move in Scotland >>

This account is based on a more detail description of the Earl of Argyll’s campaign in Scotland, available from Helion & Company in my Book Fighting For Liberty.