History - 1882 Battle of the Braes - stopping the Clearances

Gerrard Winstanley news at tlio.org.uk
Wed May 7 14:27:12 BST 2008

The Battle of the Braes. Heroic Crofters fight back against the
privatisation of Scottish land in 1882 and bring an end to the
Highland Clearances

by Alexander MacKenzie
Introduction by John Prebble, 1979


The tenants of Skinidin claim two islands, opposite their crofts, in
Loch Dunvegan. Apart from this, they complain that they do not get the
quantity of seaweed to which they were entitled This may appear to
some a small matter, but to the cultivator of a croft it is a matter
of great importance, for seaware is the only manure which he can
conveniently get, excepting, of course, the manure produced by his
cows. The quantity of ware promised to the Skinidin crofters was one
ton each, but the one-half of it, they say, was taken from them some
time ago, and given to the "wealthy men" and favourites of the place.
The result is that they have to cross to the opposite side of Loch
Dun-vegan and buy sea-ware there at 31s. 6d. per ton. This is not only
an outlay of money, which the poor crofters can ill afford to incur,
but it also entails great labour, which is attended with no
inconsiderable danger to life. The crofters accordingly demand the
quantity of ware to which, they say, they are entitled.

The Colbost tenants, to the number of twenty-five, also sent in a
petition, in which they complained of high rents, and stated that
owing to incessant tilling the land is becom-ing exhausted, and
ceasing to yield that crop which they might fairly expect. In 1848,
they say they got Colbost with its old rights at its old rent with the
sanction of the proprietor. The local factor, Norman Macraild,
subse-quently deprived them of these privileges, while the rents were
being constantly increased They accordingly demand that their old
privileges should be restored, and the rents reduced to the old
standard, otherwise they will not be able to meet their engagements.

We shall next take the petition of the Harmaravirein crofters. The
place is occupied by John Campbell, who pays £9 15s. 4d.; John
Maclean, £5 3s. 4d.; John Mackay, £6 2s. 8d.; and Donald Nicolson, £4
12s. The petition, which was in the following terms, deserves record:-

We, the crofters of Harmaravirein, do humbly show by this peti-tion
that we agree with our fellow-petitioners in Glendale as to their
requests. We do, by the same petition, respectfully ask redress for
grievances laid upon US by a despotic factor, Donald Macdonald,
Tor-more, who thirteen years ago for the first time took from us part
of our land, against our will, and gave it to others, whom he drove
from ano-ther quarter of the estate of Glendale, to extend his own
boundaries, and acted similarly two years ago, when he dispersed the
Ramasaig tenantry. We, your humble petitioners, believe that none of
the griev-ances mentioned were known to our late J:tood and famous
proprietor, being an absentee, in whom we might place our confidence
had he been present to hear and grant our request. As an instance of
his goodwill to his subjects, the benefits he bestowed on the people
of St. Kilda are manifest to the kingdom of Great Britain. We, your
petitioners, pray our new proprietors to consider our case, and grant
that the tenantry be reinstated in the places which have been cleared
of their inhabitants by him in Tormore

The petition of the Upper and Lower Milivaig and Borro-dale crofters
set forth that, notwithstanding their going north and south all over
the country to earn their bread, they are still declining into
poverty. The crofts too are getting ex-hausted through constant
tilling. Before 1845 they say there were only 16 families in the two
Milivaigs and one in Borro-dale. There are now 5 in Borrodale, 19 in
Upper Milivaig, and 20 in Lower Milivaig, averaging six souls in each
family. The rent before 1845 for the two Milivaigs was £40. At the
date mentioned, Macleod of Macleod, who was then proprietor, divided
each of the two Milivaigs into 16 crofts.

They prayed that they might get the lands of Waterstein now tenanted
by Dr. Martin. The petition concluded :-

..Further, we would beg, along with our fellow-petitioners in
Glen-dale, that the tenantry who have been turned out of Lowerkell,
Rama-saig, and Hamara by our ill-ruling factor be reinstated.

The tenants of Holmesdale and Liepbein, 29 in number, stated in their
petition, that 48 years ago the place was let to ten tenants at about
£60, and afterwards re-let to 25 tenants at about £85, besides a sum
of £3 2S. 6d. for providing peats for the proprietor. The rents, they
say, have nearly doubled since then, and the inhabitants in-creased,
the present number being nearly 200, occupying 33 dwellings. There was
much overcrowding, there being as many as 15 persons upon crofts of
four acres. The petition contained the following estimate of factors
:-" Unless poor crofters are to be protected by the proprietor of the
estate, we need not expect anything better than suppression from
factors who are constantly watching and causing the down-fall of their
fellow-beings, in order to turn their small portion of the soil into
sheep-walks." These tenants prayed that the evicted townships of
Lowerkell, Ramasaig, and Hamara, should be restored to the tenants,
and thus to afford relief to the overcrowded townships. The crofters
of Glasvein said they had no hill pasture for sheep, and no peat moss
to get their fuel from. When some of the present crofters, they say,
came into possession of their crofts, the town-ship of Glasvein was
allotted to seven tenants, each paying an average rent of £5, whereas
now the township is in the possession of 12 crofters, paying each an
average rent of £4 or so. They accordingly sought to have this matter

It may be stated that most of the tenants of Glendale appear to be all
hard-working, industrious men, and their houses are better, on the
whole, than any crofter district that that we have yet visited in
Skye. The soil is more fertile, well drained, and comparatively well
cultivated. The men seem to be thoroughly intelligent, and some of
them not only read newspapers, but have very decided opinions in
regard to some of them. One of these, the Scotsman, we heard them
designating as "The United Liar". But newspaper reading-that is
Liberal newspaper reading-is not encouraged in Glendale. One man whom
we met informed us that a crofter in Glendale was accused of reading
too many newspapers, a circumstance which the factor strongly
suspected accounted for the heinous crime of the crofter being a
Liberal. At one time there were some small shops in Glendale, but
these would appear to have practically vanished Some years ago the
factor set up a meal store himself, and the crofters, we are informed,
were given to understand that shopkeepers would have to pay a rent of
£2 each for these so-called shops, in addition to their rents. No one,
however, appears to have ever been asked to pay this, but the shops
ceased to exist!

Perhaps the most indefensible custom of all was to compel the incoming
tenant to pay up the arrears, however large a sum, of his predecessor.
This appeared so incredible that no one present felt justified in
publishing it; but on our consulting the factor personally, he not
only admitted but actually defended the practice as a kind of fair
enough premium or "good will" for the concern, and said it was quite a
common practice in the Isle of Skye. We would describe it in very
different terms, but that is unnecessary. It only wants to be stated
to be condemned by all honest men as an outrage on public morality.

As we left the district the crofters were in great glee at the
prospect of a visit from the trustees to arrange matters with them.
They are hopeful that important concessions may be made to them, and
if these hopes should not be realised, they appear to be animated with
an unflinching determination to stand by one another, and, shoulder to
shoulder, agitate for the redress of what they firmly maintain to be
great and serious grievances.


We have left ourselves but little space to speak of the condition of
affairs on the estate of Dr. Martin. This estate is one which is of
great interest to Highlanders. Borreraig, one of the townships in
revolt, was anciently held rent free by the MacCrimmons, the
hereditary pipers of Macleod of Dunvegan. The principal grievance
com-plained of by the crofters may be briefly stated. The crofters are
required to sell to the laird all the fish they catch at a uniform
rate of sixpence for ling and fourpence for cod, and we have actually
been informed of a case where some one was accused at a semi-public
meeting of interfering in a sort of clandestine way with the doctor's
privileges by buying the fish at higher prices. The crofters were also
required to sell their cattle to the doctor's bailiff at his own
price. A man spoke of his having some time ago sold a stirk to a
foreign drover, and was after all re-quired to break his bargain with
the outsider and hand over the animal to the bailiff: This bailiff
was, however, dis-missed last Whitsunday, a fact stated in defence by
Dr. Martin's friends. Tenants are also required to give eight days'
free labour each year to the laird, failing which to pay a penalty of
2s. 6d. per day; and while thus working, we were informed that if
anyone by accident broke any of the tools he used, he was required to
pay for the damage. The breaking of a shearing-hook subjected the man
who did it to pay 2s. 6d for it. We are aware that the friends of the
laird maintain that the labour thus contributed by the people is in
reality not for labour, but an equivalent for a portion of the rent.
This is a very plausible excuse, but it will not bear examination. If
it is regarded as a part of the rent, rates should be paid upon it,
and the cc annual value" or rent returned to the county valuator each
year should be the amount actually paid in money plus the value of the
eight days' labour. Thus, either the labour is free, or there is an
unjust and inequitable burden thrown on the other crofters in the
parish who do not perform such labour, as, of course, the labour given
by Dr. Martin's tenants is not rated. The tenants have now struck
against performing this work, and Dr. Martin's work was done this year
on ordinary day labour.

The people also complain that the hill land was taken from the tenants
of Galtrigill, and the hill grounds of Borreraig, the neighbouring
township, thrown open to them. This was a very material curtailment of
the subjects let, but further, sums of from 10s. to 30s. were added to
the rent of each holding. No crofter on the estate has a sheep or a
horse, and they are obliged to buy wool for their clothing from a
distance, as Dr. Martin, they say, will not sell them any. The tenants
paid their rents at Martinmas last, but they have given notice that
unless their demands are con-ceded they will not pay the rent due at
Martinmas next. The leading points of their petition are that the
rents be reduced, the old land-marks restored, and the hill grounds as
of old given to them. This petition the tenants sent to Dr. Martin
some time ago, but he has not made any reply. The tenants do not
appear to be very hopeful that he will make any concession, but they
are evidently deter-mined to walk in the same paths as their
neighbours on the estate of Sir John Macpherson Macleod, and they are
in great hopes that the friends of the Gael in the large towns of the
south will manfully aid them in their battle against landlordism. This
statement will enable the reader to form his own opinion on the
question which has produced such a feeling of insecurity and terror in
the minds of both crofter and proprietor for the last two years in the
Isle of Skye, indeed throughout the whole Highlands.


We shall next give a short account of what followed upon the refusal
of these proprietors to give favourable considera-tion to the claims
of their crofting tenantry. A correspon-dent of the Free Press, early
in April last, described what had occurred-after the tenants had
refused to pay any rent until their grievances were considered-in the
following terms :-

The quarrel between Lord Macdonald and his tenants of Balmeanach,
Peinichorrain, and Gedintaillear, in the Braes of Portree, is
developing into portentous importance. His lordship, it appears, has
made up his mind to put the law in force against them, and not on any
account to yield to their demands; and on Friday a sheriff-officer and
assistant, accompanied by his lordship's ground-officer from Portree,
proceeded to serve summonses of removing, and small debt summonses for
rent upon about a score of the refractory ones. The tenants, however,
for some time past, since they took up their present attitude, have
been posting regular sentinels on watch to give warning of any
stranger's approach, and when the officer and his party were at the
Bealach near the schoolhouse, two youngsters who were on duty
there-about gave the signal, and, immediately, it was transmitted far
and near with the result of bringing together from all quarters from
their spring work a gathering of about 150 or 200 men, women, and
children, who rushed to meet the officer before he had got near the
intended scene of his operation, viz., the townships of Peinichorrain,
Balmeanach, and Gedintaillear, and, surrounding him, demanded his
business. Upon understanding it, and being shown the summonses, the
documents were immediately taken from him and burnt before his eyes,
and thereupon he was coolly requested to go to his master for more of
them. The officer, who is well known among them, with good tact,
humoured them, and so escaped with a sound skin, so that no violence
was used; but it appears the temper of the people was such that had he
been less conciliatory, or had he attempted to resist the people, the
consequence would have been inevi-tably very serious for him. When
they were gathering from the sea-shore, where many of them were
cutting sea-ware with reaping-hooks, their leaders judiciously shouted
out to leave their hooks behind, which was done, so that the risk of
using such ugly arms in the event of a melee was avoided. The officer
spoke lightly before proceeding to the place of the resistance he was
likely to meet, and thought there would really be none, as he knew the
people so well and they knew him, many of them being his relations,
but his impressions now of the real state of the people's minds is
said to be very different, and he believes there would be no use
attempting any legal steps again by the employment of the officers of
civil law. The same paper in a later issue says :-

We have received the following narrative of the manner in which the
summonses were burned on Friday last :- The people met the officer on
the road, about a mile from the scene of his intended labours. They
were clamorous and angry, of course. He told them his mission, and
that he would give them the summonses on the spot if they liked They
said, "Thoir dhuinn iad," (Give them to us) and he did so. The officer
was then asked to light a fire. He did so; and a fish liver being
placed upon it, that oily material was soon in a blaze. The officer
was then peremptorily ordered to consign the summonses to the flames,
which he did! The summonses were of course straightway consumed to
ashes. The interchange of compliments between the officers of the law
and the people were, as might be ex-pected, of a fiery character. The
chief officer was graciously and considerately informed that his
conduct - as he had only acted in the performance of a public official
duty - was excusable; but with his assistant, or concurrent, it was
different. He was there for pay, and he would not go home without it.
Certain domestic utensils, fully charged, were suddenly brought on the
scene, and their contents were showered on the unlucky assistant, who
immediately disappeared, followed by a howling crowd of boys.


The summonses were never served, and the County Au-thorities after
full consideration determined to arrest and punish the ringleaders for
deforcing the officers of the law. Sheriff Ivory obtained a body of
police from Glasgow, and with these, twelve from the mainland of the
County of In-verness, and the Skye portion of the force, he, with the
leading county officials invaded the Isle of Skye during the night of
the 17th of April. After consulting with the local authorities in
Portree, an early start was made for the Braes to surprise and arrest
the ringleaders. The secret was well kept, but two newspaper
correspondents were fortunate enough to get an inkling of the
proceedings, namely, Mr. Mackinnon Ramsay, of the Citizen, who
followed the in-vading force from Glasgow, and Mr. Alexander Gow, a
special correspondent of the Dundee Advertiser, who had gone to
Portree a few days before the Battle of the Braes. These gentlemen
accompanied the county officials, saw the whole proceedings, and sent
a full description of the desper-ate and humiliating scrimmage to
their respective papers. We give below Mr. Gow's graphic account,
every particular of which we found corroborated by the leading county
officials on our arrival in Portree the. same evening. After
describing the state of feeling, and the acts on the part of the
crofters which led up to direct contact with the criminal authorities,
Mr. Gow proceeds :-

Here we were, then - two Sheriffs, two Fiscals, a Captain of police,
forty-seven members of the Glasgow police force, and a number of the
county constabulary, as well as a couple of newspaper representatives
from Dundee and Glasgow, and a gentleman representing a well-known
Glasgow drapery house-fairly started on an eight-mile tramp to the
Land League camp at Braes, in weather that for sheer brutal ferocity
had not been experienced in Skye for a very long time. In the cold
grey dawn the procession wore a sombre aspect. It looked for all the
world like a Highland funeral. It was quite on the cards, indeed, that
the return journey might partake of the nature of a funeral
procession. There could be no doubt that every one was fully impressed
with the gravity of the mission on which we were proceeding. It is
literal truth to say that no member of the company expected to return
without receiving knocks, if not some-thing more serious. We were
perfectly aware that the crofters had made preparations for giving us
a warm recep-tion. In front, some distance ahead of the main body,
walked the sheriff-officer, a policeman, and another person occupying
for the time being some official position. Then came the police
detachment, and the Sheriffs and the Fiscals brought up the rear-the
three unofficial persons already mentioned forming what may be termed
the rearguard. In this manner we proceeded without incident for four
miles, when the Sheriff and his friends left the vehicle and sent it
back. About half-past six o'clock we reached the boundary of the
disaffected district nearest Portree. Hitherto scarcely a single soul
was observed along the route, and some surprise was expressed by those
in charge. At the schoolhouse, however, it was expected that a portion
of the colony would be encountered, but the place was untenanted. On
another mile, and signs of life appeared among the hillocks.
Pre-sently our ears were saluted with whistling and cheering, and this
was interpreted as a sign that it was time to close the ranks.
Gedentailler township was passed without any demonstrations of
hostility. At the south end of this town-ship there is an ugly looking
pass, which seemed to cause some anxiety to the officers in charge. No
wonder, as there could not be a finer position for an attack on a
hostile body of men. On the west, a steep rocky brae rises sheer from
the road to the height of about 400 or 500 feet. On the other side, a
terrific precipice descends to the sea. We passed through it in
safety, however, but Inspector Cameron, of the Skye police, had reason
to believe that the return passage would be disputed.

Arrived at the boundary of Balmeanach, we found a collec-tion of men,
women, and children, numbering well on to 100. They cheered as we
mounted the knoll, and the women saluted the policemen with volleys of
sarcasms about their voyage from Glasgow. A halt was then called, and
a parley ensued between the local inspector and what ap-peared to be
the leader of the townships. What is passing between the two it is
difficult for an outsider to understand, and while the conversation is
in progress it is worth while to look about. At the base of the steep
cliff on which we stood, and extending to the seashore, lay the hamlet
of Balmeanach. There might be about a score of houses dotted over this
plain. From each of these the owners were running hillward with all
speed. It was evident they bad been taken by surprise. Men, women, and
children rushed forward, in all stages of attire, most of the females
with their hair down and streaming loosely in the breeze. Every soul
carried a weapon of some kind or another, but in most cases these were
laid down when the detachment was approached While we were watching
the crowds scrambling up the declivity, scores of persons had gathered
from other districts, and they now completely surrounded the
procession. The confusion that prevailed baffles description. The
women, with infuriated looks and bedraggled dress-for it was still
raining heavily-were shouting at the pitch of their voices, uttering
the most fearful imprecations, hurling forth the most terrible vows of
vengeance against the' enemy. Martin was of course the object of
greatest abuse. He was cursed in his own person and in that of his
children, if he should have any, one female shrieking curses with
especial vehemence. The authorities proceeded at once to perform their
disagreeable task, and in the course of twenty minutes the five
suspected persons were apprehended. A scene utterly indescribable
followed The women, with the most violent gestures and imprecations,
declared that the police should be attacked. Stones began to be
thrown, and so serious an aspect did matters assume that the police
drew their batons and charged This was the signal for a general
attack. Huge boulders darkened the horizon as they sped from the hands
of infuriated men and women. Large sticks and flails were brandished
and brought down with crushing force upon the police-the poor
prisoners coming in for their share of the blows. One difficult point
had to be captured, and as the expedition approached this dangerous
position, it was seen to be strongly occupied with men and women,
armed with stones and boulders. A halt was called and the situation
discussed. Finally it was agreed to attempt to force a way through a
narrow gully. By this time a crowd had gathered in the rear of the,
party. A rush was made for the pass, and from the heights a fearful
fusilade of stones descended. The advance was checked The party could
neither ad-vance nor recede. For two minutes the expedition stood
exposed to the merciless shower of missiles. Many were struck, and a
number more or less injured. The situation was highly dangerous.
Raising a yell that might have been heard at a distance of two miles,
the crofters, maddened by the apprehension of some of the oldest men
in the township, rushed on the police, each person armed with huge
stones, which, on approaching near enough, they discharged with a
vigour that nothing could resist. The women were by far the most
troublesome assailants. Thinking apparently that the constables would
offer them no resistance, they approached to within a few yards'
distance, and poured a fearful volley into the compact mass. The
police charged, but the crowd gave way scarcely a yard Returning
again, Captain Donald gave orders to drive back the howling mob, at
the same time advising the Sheriffs and the constables in charge of
the prisoners to move rapidly forward. This second charge was more
effective, as the attacking force was driven back about a hundred
yards. The isolated con-stables now, however, found their position
very dangerous.

The crofters rallied and hemmed them in, and a rush had to be made to
catch up the main body in safety. At this point several members of the
constabulary received serious buffetings, and had they not regained
their comrades, some of their number would in all probability have
been mortally wounded Meanwhile the crowd increased in strength.

The time within which summonses of ejectment could be legally served
having expired, the crofters had for a day or two relaxed their
vigilance, and not expecting the constables so early in the morning,
they had no time to gather their full strength. But the "Fiery Cross"
had in five minutes passed through the whole township from every
point. Hundreds of determined looking persons could be observed
converging on the procession, and matters began to assume a serious
aspect. With great oaths, the men demanded where were the
Peinichorrain men. This township was the most distant, and the men had
not yet had time to come up. But they were coming. Cheers and yells
were raised. "The rock! the rock!" suddenly shouted some one. "The
rock! the rock!" was taken up, and roared out from a hundred throats.
The strength of the position was realised by the crofters; so also it
was by the constables. The latter were ordered to run at the double.
The people saw the move, and the screaming and yelling became fiercer
than ever. The detachment reached the opening of the gulley. Would
they manage to run through? Yes! No! On went the blue coats, but their
progress was soon checked. It was simply insane to attempt the
passage. Stones were coming down like hail, while huge boulders where
hurled down before which nothing could stand These bounded over 'the
road and descended the precipice with a noise like thunder. An order
was given to dislodge a number of the most deter-mined assailants, but
the attempt proved futile. They could not be dislodged. Here and there
a constable might be seen actually bending under the pressure of a
well directed rounder, losing his footing, and rolling down the hill,
followed by scores of missiles. This state of matters could not
continue. The chief officials were securing their share of attention.
Captain Donald is hit in the knee with a stone as large as a matured
turnip. A rush must be made for the pass, or there seems a possibility
that Sheriff Ivory himself will be deforced. Once more the order was
given to double. On, on, the procession went - Sheriffs and Fiscals
forgetting their dignity, and taking to their heels. The scene was the
most exciting that either the spectators or those who passed through
the fire ever experienced, or are likely ever to see again. By keeping
up the rush, the party got through the defile, and emerged
triumphantly on the Portree side, not however, without severe
injuries. If the south end township had turned out, the pass would, I
believe, never have been forced, and some would in all probability
have lost their lives.

The crofters seemed to have become more infuriated by the loss of
their position, and rushing along the shoulder of the hill prepared to
attack once more. This was the final struggle. In other attacks the
police used truncheons freely. But at this point they retaliated with
both truncheons and stones. The consequences were very serious indeed.
Scores of bloody faces could be seen on the slope of the hill. One
woman, named Mary Nicolson, was fearfully cut in the head, and fainted
on the road. When she was fo~nd, blood was pouring down her neck and
ears. Another woman, Mrs. Finlayson, was badly gashed on the cheek
with some missile. Mrs. Nicolson, whose husband, James Nicolson, was
one of the prisoners, had her head badly laid open, but whether with a
truncheon or stone is not known. Another woman, well advanced in
years, was hustled in the scrimmage on the hill, and, losing her
balance, rolled down a consider-able distance, her example being
followed by a stout police-man, the two ultimately coming into violent
collision. The poor old person was badly bruised, and turned sick and
faint. Of the men a considerable number sustained severe bruises, but
so far as I could ascertain none of them were disabled. About a dozen
of the police were injured more or less seriously. One of the Glasgow
men had his nose almost cut through with a stone, and was terribly
gashed about the brow. Captain Donald, as already stated, was struck
on the knee, and his leg swelled up badly after the return to Portree.
Neither the Sheriffs nor the Fiscals were injured, but it is
understood that they all received hits in the encounter on the hill.

After the serious scrimmage at Gedintailler, no further
de-monstrations of hostility were made, and the procession went on,
without further adventure, to Portree. Rain fell without intermission
during the entire journey out and home, and all arrived at their
destination completely exhausted. On arrival in town the police were
loudly hooted and hissed as they passed through the square to the
jail, and subse-quently when they marched from the Court-house to the
Royal Hotel. The prisoners were lodged in the prison. There names
are:- Alexander Finlayson, aged between 60 and 70 years; Malcolm
Finlayson, a son of the above, and living in the same house (the
latter is married); Peter Macdonald has a wife and eight of a family;
Donald Nicol-son, 66 years of age, and is married; and James Nicolson,
whose wife was one of the women seriously injured.

Unless appearances are totally misleading, the work which they were
obliged to accomplish was most repugnant to Sheriff Ivory, Sheriff
Spiers, Mr. James Anderson, Procurator-Fiscal for the County, and Mr.
MacLennan, and the hope may be expressed that they will never again be
called upon to undertake similar duties.

The "Battle of the Braes" has been capitally hit off in the following
parody, published in the Daily Mail of the 26th of April last :-


Half a league, half a league !
Four a-breast-onward !
All in the valley of Braes
Marched the half-hundred.
"Forward, Police Brigade!
In front of me," bold Ivory said;
Into the valley of Braes
Charged the half-hundred.

Forward, Police Brigade !
Charge each auld wife and maid ! "
E'en though the Bobbies knew
Some one had blundered !
Their's not to make reply;
Their's not to reason why;
Their's but to do or die;
Into the valley of Braes
Charged the half-hundred.

"Chuckies" to right ofthem, ..
"Divots" to left of them,
Women in front of them,
Volleyed and thundered!
Stormed at with stone and shell,
Boldly they charged, they tell,
Down on the Island Host!
Into the mouth of-well !
Charged the half-hundred.

Flourished their batons bare,
Not in the empty air-
Clubbing the lasses there,
Charging the Cailleachs, while
All Scotland wondered!

Plunged in the mist and smoke,
Right thro' the line they broke ;-
Cailleach and maiden
Reeled from the baton stroke,
Shattered and sundered;

Then they marched back-intact-
All the half-hundred.
Missiles to right of them,
Brickbats to left of them,
Old wives behind them
Volleyed and floundered.

Stormed at with stone and shell
-Whilst only Ivory fell-
They that had fought so well
Broke thro' the Island Host,
Back from the mouth of-well!
All that was left of them-
All the half-hundred !

When can their glory fade?
0, the wild charge they made!
All Scotland wondered!
Honour the charge they made!
Honour the Skye Brigade!
Donald's half-hundred!


see also    The Crofters Struggle - The Glendale Uprising. Following
the clearances in the second half of the nineteenth century, the tide
of fortunes at last began to turn for crofters. Inspired by the land
struggle in Ireland and the writings of political dissidents such as
John Murdoch, crofters at last began to organise and assert
themselves; those on the Isle of Skye playing a key role in the events
that followed.

and    Battle of the Braes: last stand against the Clearances - By
BRENDAN O'BRIEN. Clan chiefs began to clear crofters from their lands
to concentrate on more profitable sheep farming Skye crofters rebelled
against Lord MacDonald, who sought help from the law 100 men, women
and children armed with sticks and stones against 50 Glasgow policemen
near Portree. FOLLOWING the Jacobite's devastating defeat at Culloden
in 1746, the Highland way of life came under increasing scrutiny. The
threat was at first political, as the government imposed restrictions
on their cultural customs and language. However, the gravest threat
was economic, and one that eventually changed the Highland landscape.

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