A Comrade Dies....Will My Others Follow?

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Posted by Cpl. Malcolm MacWilliam on October 16, 2000 at 09:21:26:

16th October, 1758
Camp at the Loyalhanna

Journal Entry:

Private John MacKay has died. Early this morning he drew his last breath. The lad's life slowly ebbed and as of last evening, we knew that he would soon be meeting St. Andrew face to face. Captain Croy had come by last evening and ordered that Wee John be dressed in a 77th regimental. Then, we who were able of the company, saluted the lad and Captain Croy spoke to Private MacKay saying, "Private John MacKay of the 77th Grenadiers, we salute you for your bravery and heroism as you battled the Savages on the past day of the 12th of October, year of our Lord 1758 here at this fort along the Loyalhanna Creek in the colony of Pennsylvania, North America. We welcome you back as a soldier and comrade. Three cheers for Private MacKay." And the Huzzahs began! Wee John's eyes opened for a few seconds and a fleeting smile trailed across his lips. He spoke faintly in Gaelic, "Mhath', Aye" and drifted back into unconsciousness.

By last evening, Uncle Angus had retired further back into the forest with all his flock except for the Mother Ewe, who still lay with her body curled around Private MacKay. We could barely make out the sheeps' white forms through the trees and Uncle Angus sitting among them, head down. At times, we could hear rumblings of Gaelic from Uncle Angus's lips and then the sheep would bleat sadly. At the moment that MacKay died this morning, the Mother Ewe slowly arose and nuzzled his body, she rose up on her hind legs and baaaed plaintively, wherewith all the sheep with Uncle Angus in the forest baaed back. We could see Uncle Angus rise and turn away, all the sheep following, Mother Ewe trotting across the Loyalhanna to join them, and they disappeared silently into the forest.

Wee John, Private MacKay, is dead. All that my cousin Many Flags wrote in this journal after the battle had ended on the 12th, is true and correct. Those comrades who are able, sit by Private MacKay's empty body, talking and reminscing quietly, at times reaching out to adjust the collar of the 77th Regimental which Private MacKay now wears.

I gaze at my brother and my cousins. Davey Gunn and Three Tales roused themselves from the pain and suffering of their wounds enough this morning to witness the death of MacKay. Then they fell back, tears appearing on their cheeks. Seamus and Many Flags lie under canvas to keep the light drizzle off them which started soon after MacKay died. The surgeon and Calsious Shattoe have had heated discussion concerning the removing of the ball in Seamus's skull, and his father, my Uncle Quasi, has pressed a bottle of amber liquid to Seamus's lips at times, then shakes his head sadly when their is no response. We fear the worst for dear Seamus and also the worst for cousin Flags. His poor body is ashen and waxy from the loss of blood and he lies with nary a breath coming from his body.

Wee John is dead. Espcially affected has been his close friend, Private Morrison who weeps softly, yet unabashedly, by his side. I have just watched as a Grenadier cap was placed on MacKay's head and Morrison is now reciting words over him. As I write, Morrison has approached Brother Gunn and whispered to him, the two are like father and son....and my brother, with every bit of strength he can muster, has now called for a quill and parchment. I believe a remembrance is being planned and this, (St. Andrew, do not let it be!), may be my own brother Davey's last act before he draws a last breath.

I continue to gain strength. I will live! But my heart is heavy with sadness. I must close for JohnsTon and MacGregor approach with some broth to sustain me. God help us!

Cpl. MacWm.

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