In 1886, on this day Robert Louis Stevenson published his now-famous work "Kidnapped: A Tale of the '45". The story of the gallant and courageous Alan Breck Stewart and his hapless victim, Lord President Duncan Forbes of Culloden captured the visual imagination of the reading public all around the British Isles. Alan Breck, a former soldier in the pay of King George II who deserted to the Jacobite cause in the aftermath of the Battle of Prestonpans, would become a legendary figure in the eyes of his Jacobite comrades and the most famous (or infamous, depending upon one's own personal loyalties) member of the Stewart clan. Lord President Forbes's adventures as the unwilling companion of the younger Alan Breck, on the other hand, would cement his status and legacy as one of the more humorously tragic figures of the '45 Rebellion.
An alternate "Tale of the '45" by Jared MyersThe whole affair began in the aftermath of the Jacobite invasion of England, when Lord President Forbes took it upon himself to gain the ear of various Highland chieftains throughout the North of Scotlandand, in effect, bribe them with government monies to either remain neutral in the current conflict or to raise companies in support of George II to fight against the Jacobite rebels. His first move, albeit belated, was to ensure the loyalty of the Campbells of Argyll to the Government, which would then have gained the loyalty of every Campbell sect throughout the Highlands. Through shrewd diplomacy and more than a few guineas, he achieved this objective, and the Campbells to a man put aside their previous neutrality and declared for King George II with the Duke of Argyll at their head. It seemed that no sooner had the disheartened Jacobites retreated to Scotland with the Duke of Cumberland hot pursuit than word came that they had a Campbell army of nearly a thousand men preparing to hold the Highlands for the Hanoverians.
Lord President Forbes had intended the Campbell army to be the death-knell of the rebellion, believing that the Jacobite forces would be too discouraged to face a new threat in front of them with the English at their back (as a precaution, he continued to attempt to bribe any clan that had not taken up arms for the Jacobites, most notably the Grants and the MacLeods). As fate would have it, nothing could have been further from the truth. With many of the clans in service to Prince Charlie being mortal enemies of Clan Campbell, the thought of engaging their hated enemy brought new zeal and vigor into their hearts and breathed new life into the Stuart cause. Lord George Murray, with the full consent and approval of the Bonnie Prince, ordered the rebels north to retake the Highlands, anticipating (and as it turned out, rightly so) that Cumberland would break off his pursuit of the Jacobites to retake Edinburgh and Glasgow.
It was around this time that the now-celebrated plot became the brainchild of the brave Alan Breck Stewart. Gaining an audience with Prince Charles and Lord George, he convinced both commanders that Forbes and his bribery money was a greater threat to the Stuart cause than the entire Campbell army, and offered himself as the remedy. "Turn me loose, and I'll tak' oot the bluidy churl", was his now-famous line. Given leave to do just that, Alan Breck chose 8 companions from among his Appin clansmen (earning for themselves the nickname "9 Men of Appin") to accompany him on his quest. Learning that Forbes was on his way to Skye to meet with (and bribe) the MacLeods into allying with the Campbells, Breck and his comrades force-marched their way to the outskirts of Fort William (whose garrison had been recalled to Dundee at the onset of the '45), where they lay in wait for their target and intercepted his carriage 16 hours later as it proceeded on its way to Skye. So it was that instead of being an emissary for King George II to the MacLeods of Skye, Forbes found himself the kidnapped guest of Alan Breck Stewart - and thus was born the future title of Robert Louis Stevenson's immortal novel.
The news of Forbes's capture spread like wildfire around the countryside of Fort William, which was built upon the ancient lands of Clan Cameron. By his bold action, Alan Breck not only captured a great enemy of the Jacobite cause, but also won more Cameron recruits to the Stuart cause. He sent the new recruits southward to join the main rebel army and take the news of his success to Lord George, but instead of taking Forbes back to the Jacobite army himself (as was the original plan), Breck came up with a new plan that was simultaneously bold, daring, and not a least bit dangerous - he continued with his Appin comrades (and an unwilling Forbes and his government monies) to Skye, in order to gain an audience with the MacLeods. It was to Forbes's shock (and the Appin men's humor) that he looked on as Alan Breck bribed the MacLeod chieftains (with great success) with government money to take up arms - for the Stuart cause! Oh, what poetic justice it was for Forbes to watch King George's money bring Clan MacLeod to field for King James!
Thus did Robert Louis Stevenson write about the adventures of Alan Breck and the "kidnapped" Duncan Forbes, as they roved the Highlands of Scotland together in service of the Jacobite cause - one man (Breck) willingly so, the other (Forbes) most unwilling and with no choice in the matter as a prisoner of the aforementioned man. Duncan Forbes was forced to watch (and often ridiculed) as clans that he originally intended to turn against Bonnie Prince Charlie now joined the Jacobites and swore allegiance to the Stuart monarchy, and were paid for it with Hanoverian pounds that had been meant for the opposite purpose. Forbes had set out to prevent a general rising of the clans for Prince Charlie - now, as the prisoner and forced companion of Alan Breck, he was watching that very thing happen before his eyes. Together they were entertained by the Arthurs, the Buchans, the Calders, the Craigs, the Davidsons, the Drummonds, the Fletchers, the Gayres, the Grants, the Gunns, the Hendersons, the Hunters, the Keiths, the Kincaids, the Lamonts, the Mathesons, the Menzies, the Moncreiffes, the Morrisons, the Munros, the Ogilvies, the Oliphants, the Rattrays, the Spaldings, the Sutherlands, and any clan with half-a-dozen fighting men that had not already declared for King James and Prince Charlie. Where appealing to old allegiances weren't enough, Hanoverian guineas changed hands, and the white cockade began appearing all over the Highlands while hundreds, then thousands, of clansmen marched in support of the Stuart cause, as did Alan Breck, his men of Appin, the remainder of King George's money, and his kidnapped captive.
So it was that after the rejuvenated Jacobite army, now consisting of virtually every Highland clan not named Campbell, crushed Clan Campbell in open battle, sacked Inverarary, and burned Inverarary Castleto the ground, that Alan Breck Stewart freed his long-suffering captive and kindly bid him a good day and farewell while shaking his hand. So it was Duncan Forbes accepted the proffered hand of his admittedly-friendly captor and admitted that his Highland captor "had grown favorably upon him, despite everything", and returned to his home in Inverness (minus several thousand pounds formerly belonging to a certain Hanoverian monarch, the remainder of which was now in the care and custody of a Jacobite prince). So it was that Robert Louis Stevenson became a renowned author throughout Europe in the year of 1886 after the publishing of "Kidnapped: A Tale of the '45". And so it was that the Duke of Cumberland, expecting to face a ragged, worn, starving, miniscule Jacobite army, instead looked on in confused horror as 19,000 Highlanders charged his lines at Drummossie Moor on the fateful day of April 16th, 1746.