Sir Ewiin Cameron Of Lochiel's Salute
The above spelling of Sir Ewen Cameron's name is unusual. In the Gaelic he is referred to as Eoghan Dubh, most often translated as Ewen in English.
It seems that the tune was inspired by a memorable event in Sir Ewen's life in the year 1654. Here is the story as told in A History of Clan Cameron.
General Monk was appointed Governor of Scotland by Cromwell, and as part of his policy for the Highlands he planned to erect forts at various strategic points. The fort which concerned the Cameron's was to be sited at Inverlochy, with the express intention of controlling the Lochaber clans. The Cameron's were taken by surprise by Monk's action, but Lochiel, hurrying back to Lochaber, determined to make the occupation of the fort as costly as possible. When Lochiel saw how far the work on the fort had progressed he realized that an attack in force was out of the question. He therefore dismissed his clansmen and sent them home. He and 32 of his bravest young men as a bodyguard, took up quarters near Achdalieu and awaited their chance. He had spies working in the fort, and they kept him informed of the movements of the garrison.
One day a working party was sent out by Colonel Brayne (or Bryan), a commander of the fort. Lochiel decided to attack the party which numbered 138. A lively battle followed. The Englishmen, having fired their muskets too soon, were unable to reload before the Cameron's were among them. Their clumsy muskets were no match for the broadsword and targe, and the Cameron's, although so desperately outnumbered, were, after a stiff fight, able to put the soldiers to flight.
Lochiel got separated from his men and found himself faced by an English officer who, ashamed of his men's defeat, was determined to kill him. Balhaldie describes the tussle thus:
“The combat was long and doubtful; both fought for their lives; and as they were both animated by the same fury and courage, so they seemed to manage their swords with the same dexterity. The English gentleman had by far the advantage in strength and size, but Lochiel exceeding him in nimbleness and agility, in the end tript the sword out of his hand. But he was not allowed to make use of this advantage; for his antagonist flying upon him with incredible quickness, they inclosed and wrestled till both fell to the ground in each other's arms. In this posture they struggled, and tumbled up and down till they fixed in the channel of a brook, between two straight banks, which then, by the drought of the summer, chanced to be dry. Here Lochiel was in a most dismal and desperate situation; for being undermost, he was not only crushed under the weight of his antagonist (who was an exceedingly big man), but likewise sore hurt, and bruised by the many sharp stones that were below him.
Their strength was so far spent, that neither of them could stir a limb; but the English gentleman, by the advantage of being uppermost, at last recovered the use of his right hand. With it he seized a dagger that hung at his belt, and made several attempts to stab his adversary, who all the while held him fast; but the narrowness of the place where they were confined, and the posture they were in, rendering the execution very difficult, and almost impracticable, while he was so straitly embraced, he made a most violent effort to disengage himself; and in that action, raising his head and stretching his neck, Lochiel, who by this had his hands at liberty, with his left suddenly seized him by the right, and with the other by the collar, and jumping at his extended throat, which he used to say God put in his mouth he bit it quite through, and kept such a hold of his grip, that he brought away a mouthful! This, he said, was the sweetest bite ever he had in his lifetime!”
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