San Diego Scottish Highland Games

2024 Highland Games June 22-23

2024 Highland Games June 22-23

The Legend of Ticonderoga

In ancient times, Duncan Campbell, the laird of Inverawe, sat in his castle in the western isles of Scotland. One dark night, there was a loud pounding at the gate, and when Campbell opened it, he saw a stranger who begged him for asylum. The man was disheveled and his clothes were torn and smeared with blood. He explained that he had been in a fight and killed a man, and he was being pursued by his victim’s companions.

In accordance with time-honored custom, Campbell offered the stranger shelter and protection. “Swear on your dirk,” begged the man, and Campbell swore, then lead the stranger inside to a secure and comfortable room.

Only minutes later, there was again a loud pounding at the gate, and this time when Campbell opened it, he saw two men who were known to him as kin. The men informed Campbell that his cousin Donald had been murdered. “We are searching for his killer,” said the men. “Did he come this way?” Campbell paused. But remembering his solemn oath, he said that he had seen no one else that night, and the two clansmen left.

Greatly troubled, Campbell tried to sleep, finally falling into an exhausted slumber after several hours. But in the night, he was awakened by a terrible apparition. It was the bloody ghost of his cousin Donald who called him by name and said, “Inverawe! Inverawe! Blood has been shed. Shield not the murderer!”

The next morning, haunted by the words of his cousin, but determined to stand by his oath, Campbell relayed what had happened and told the stranger he had harbored that he could no longer stay at the castle. But he assured the man that he could find shelter in a nearby mountain cave, and he further vowed that he would not be betrayed.

However, the next night, Campbell was again visited by his murdered cousin, who called repeated, “Inverawe! Inverawe! Blood has been shed. Shield not the murderer!” In the morning, he went to the cave but found that the stranger was gone.

That night, the ghost appeared a third time, although his message had altered. Now he said, “Farewell, Inverawe!. Farewell, till we meet at Ticonderoga!”

Campbell awoke perplexed. What could that mean? What or who was Ticonderoga?

Years passed. Duncan Campbell joined the Forty-second Regiment, the Black Watch, and in time became the major of the regiment. Years later, the Black Watch was sent to America to fight, and Campbell was horrified to learn that they were being sent to battle near a place known as Fort Ticonderoga. Here, at last, was the name he had remembered from his dream. Filled with foreboding, Campbell told his fellow soldiers that he was sure that he would meet his death at Ticonderoga — to pay for shielding his cousin’s murderer so many years before. His compatriots reassured him that all would be well and that the regiment was favored to triumph in the battle.

As they marched to meet the enemy, Campbell saw a fort ahead. “This is Ticonderoga,” he cried, “And I am a dead man.” Fellow soldiers assured him that the fort was not Ticonderoga, but rather Fort George. Campbell clung to that hope, but the morning of the battle, he came to them in despair. “I have seen him! You have deceived me! He came to my tent last night! This is Ticonderoga! I shall die today.”

The battle began. The fighting was fierce, with casualties on both sides. Campbell was shot in the arm. Bleeding profusely, he was taken not to Fort Ticonderoga, but to nearby Fort Edward. His arm was shattered and had to be amputated, but after several days, Duncan Campbell was dead.

The stone marking his grave bears this inscription:

“Here lyes the Body of Duncan Campbell of Inverawe, Esquire, Major to the old Highland Regiment, aged 55 Years, who died the 17th July, 1758, of the Wounds he received in the Attack of the Retrenchment of Ticonderoga or Carrillon, on the 8th July, 1758.”

Contributed by Marilyn McPhie

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