A Smell of Battle in the Air

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Posted by Corporal Malcolm A. MacWilliam on October 10, 2000 at 15:32:41:

10th October, 1758
Camp at Loyalhanna (Fort Ligonier)

Journal Entry:

Captain Croy has been dashing us around, out on patrol, beating through the forests, here and there, as we are watchful for the enemy. Back at our Camp now, I can look up at the stockade. It is well protected with hundreds of troops, provincials, 60th Royals, and our own 77th Highlanders, all of our own back together ready to defend this small hillock.

We received a message from a few lads of the 60th yesterday. They had been frightened by, as they reported, two Highlanders, one who stayed hidden in the brush tending a large army of sheep, and the other who named himself as John MacKay. These lads had heard of our Uncle Angus, tales that we have told round the fires at night, and seeing, what they had believed was faery tales, were quite astonished and taken aback.

The message they delivered to us from Wee John states that he and Uncle Angus are near and they have sighted 500 or so French and a 100 or so savages. We have had reports from other sightings that there are that many more French and savages converging on this Fort from other directions. The men are quiet, thoughtful, knowing that battle will soon come. We see shadows in the forests and cries are heard at night.

Captain Croy has again spoken with brother Gunn and I concerning Wee John. Wee John's comrade Pvt. Morrison is especially concerned that Wee John will be court martialed if he comes back into our fold. But the Captain states that he will decide that after John MacKay "proves himself". Knowing that the smell of battle is in the air, there may be many instances for MacKay to do just that.

1st Sgt. Campbell calls me. I must go to my watch. We Grenadiers are to be the grass guards for the next few days, standing in the first line several hundred yards from the fort, to protect the outermost defences. I see Flags, Tales, and Seamus approaching. They are to join us. We will be together the next several days as we take the watch. It will give all of us, the 77th Grenadiers and our three cousins, time to talk and reminisce of the last several months, talk of our times apart and times together, times of comradeship since we left Fort Frederick back in April, which seems nigh to years ago.

I feel weary and sad for some reason. I must not show this in front of the men, but must set my jaw, take on my usual hard look and then crack a joke when my Highland companions least expect it. Spirits must stay high as we think of blood and death! Who knows, this may be my last journal entry, if the battle comes and does not go in my favor. I have requested both Brother Gunn and William JohnsTon to deliver this journal to my beloved Magdalena, if I do not survive the expected onslaught of the enemy. If I should die, at least one of them should survive.

God Save the King!

Corporal Malcolm A. MacWilliam

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