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A Scottish Ghost Story of Yore


A Legend of the West Highlands

This is the tale of the man

Who heard a word in the night

In the land of the heathery hills,

In the days of the feud and the fight.

By the sides of the rainy sea,

Where never a stranger came,

On the awful lips of the dead,

He heard the outlandish name.

It sang in his sleeping ears

It hummed in his waking head:

The name ~ Ticonderoga,

the utterance of the dead.

Original Inverawe House Late 1800s

Original Inverawe House Late 1800s

The Legend of Inverawe

The ancient castle of Inverawe stands by the banks of the Awe, in the midst of the wild and picturesque scenery of the Western Highlands.  Late one evening, before the middle of the last century, (18th)  as the laird, Duncan Campbell, sat alone in the old hall, there was a loud knocking at the gate, and, opening it, he saw a stranger, with torn clothing and kilt besmeared with blood, who in a breathless voice begged for asylum.  He went on to say that he had killed a man in a fray, and that the pursuers were at his heels.  Campbell promised to shelter him.  “Swear on your dirk!” said the stranger, and Campbell swore.  He then led him to a secret recess in the depths of the castle.  Scarcely was he hidden again there was a loud knocking at the gate, and two armed men appeared.  “Your cousin, Donald, has been murdered, and we are looking for the murderer.”  Campbell, remembering his oath, professed to have no knowledge of the fugitive, and the men went on their way.  The laird, in great agitation, lay down to rest in a large, dark room, where, at length he fell asleep.  Waking suddenly in bewilderment and terror, he saw the ghost of the murdered Donald standing by his bedside and heard a hollow voice pronounce the words, “Inverawe! Inverawe!  blood has been shed.  Shield not the murderer.”  In the morning, Campbell went to the hiding  place of the guilty man and told him that he could harbor him no longer.  “You have sworn on your dirk!” he replied; and the laird of Inverawe, greatly perplexed and troubled, made a compromise between conflicting duties, promised not to betray his guest, led him to the neighboring mountain (Ben Croatian) and hid him in a cave.


Black Watch Memorial Library

“Thrice have you seen me, brother,

But now shall see me no more,

Till you meet your angry fathers

Upon the farther shore.

Thrice have I spoken, and now,

Before the cock be heard,

I take my leave forever

With the naming of a word.

It shall sing in your sleeping ears,

It shall hum in your waking head,

The name ~~ Ticonderoga,

And the warning of the dead.”

In the next night, as he lay tossing in feverish slumbers, the same stern voice awoke him, the ghost of his cousin Donald stood again at his bedside, and again he heard the same appalling words, “Inverawe! Inverawe! blood has been shed.  Shield not the murderer!”  At break of day he hastened, in strange agitation, to the cave, but it was empty; the stranger had gone.  At night, as he strove in vain to sleep, the vision appeared once more, ghastly pale, but less stern of aspect than before. “Farewell, Inverawe!” it said.  “Farewell till we meet at Ticonderoga!”

“Far have I been and much have I seen,

Both as a man and boy,

But never have I set forth a foot

On so perilous an employ.”

It fell in  the dusk of the night

When unco things betide,

That he was aware of a captain-man

Drew near to the waterside.

He was aware of his coming

Down in the gloaming alone;

And he looked in the face of the man

And lo! the face was his own.


The strange name dwelt in Campbell’s memory.  He had joined the Black Watch, or Forty-second Regiment, then employed in keeping order in the turbulent Highlands.  In time he became its major; and, a year or two after the war broke out, he went with it to America.  Here, to his horror, he learned that it was ordered to the attack of Ticonderoga.  His story was well known among his brother officers.  They combined among themselves to disarm his fears; and when they reached the fatal spot they told him on the eve of the battle, “This is not Ticonderoga; we are not there yet; this is Fort George.”  But in the morning he came to them with haggard looks.  “I have seen him! You have deceived me.  He came to my tent last night.  This is Ticonderoga.  I shall die to-day.”  And his prediction was fulfilled.”

“This is my weird, he said,

“And now I ken the worst;

For many shall fall the morn,

But I shall fall with the first.

O, you of the outland tongue,

You of the painted face,

This is the place of my death;

Can you tell me the name of the place?”

“Since the Frenchmen have been here

They have called it (Carillon);

But that is a name for priests,

And not for you and me.

It went by another word,”

Quoth he of the shaven head:

“It was called Ticonderoga

In the days of the great dead.”

And it fell on the morrow’s morning,

In the fiercest of the fight,

That the (Campbell) bit the dust

As he foretold at night;

And far from the hills of heather,

Far from the isles of the sea,

He sleeps in the place of the name

As it was doomed to be.

* Excerpts and edited from Robert Louis Stevenson’s – “Ticonderoga ~ A Legend of the West Highlands.”  It was first printed in Scribner’s Magazine of  December, 1887.


Scottish Memorial Cairn ~ Fort Ticonderoga

Historical Footnotes:

As a matter of fact, Campbell did not die that day, but in that terrible battle of July 8, 1758, when the incompetent Abercrombie, in his safe retreat at the sawmill, a mile to the rear, sacrificed two thousand of his troops in the vain attempt to capture the French breastworks.  Here Major Campbell was wounded and died nine days later at Fort Edward.  It would seem, in the light of modern surgery, as if his wound was not necessary fatal.  Abercrombie reports to Pitt from Lake George, August 19, 1758, “Major Duncan Campbell, of the 42nd, who was wounded in the arm at the battle on the 8th, was obliged to have it cut off and died soon thereafter.”

The fatal termination of a combatively slight wound might be explained, however, by the following, translated from Garneau’s “‘Histoire du Canada”  “Scarcely any of the wounded Highlanders ever recovered, and even those sent home as invalids.  Their sores cankered, owing to the broken glass, ragged bits of metal, etc., used by the Canadians instead of shot.” 

This same Frenchman was so impressed with the valor of the Black Watch that he writes:  “The Highlanders covered themselves with glory; they formed the head of the troops confronting the Canadians; their light and picturesque costumes distinguished them from all the other soldiers amid the flame and smoke.  This corps lost half of its men and twenty-five of its officers were killed or severely wounded.” It was indeed a sad day for the old Black Watch,” ~~~ and few regiments of modern history can equal their casualty in that battle  — 647 killed and wounded out of the thousand engaged.

Today, it is hard for one to imagine this great British army, led by General Abercrombie, advancing through the wilderness from Albany in  1758 — six thousand three hundred and twenty-seven regulars – made up by the 27th (the Innis killing), the 42nd (the Highland Regiment), the 44th, the 46th, the 55th (“Lord Howe’s, two battalions of the 60th (the Royal Americans), and the 80th (Light Armed)  Regiment of Foot; also of course, the Royal Artillery, and with these were nine thousand and thirty-four provincials, which regiments went by the names of their Colonels – colonel Delaney’s New York, colonel Babcock’s Rhode Island, Colonel Fitche’s Connecticut, Colonel Worcester’s Connecticut, colonel Bagley’s Massachusetts, Colonel Partridge’s Massachusetts, colonel “Preble’s Massachusetts, Colonel Johnston’s New Jersey, and  (Maj)  Rogers with his Rangers.

Print - Robert Rogers

Print – Robert Rogers

It took Abercrombie nearly a month to move his army from the landing place on the Hudson River at Fort Edward to Lake George, where early in the morning of July 5th they embarked for the attack on Ticonderoga. There were nine hundred bateaus, a hundred and thirty-five whaleboats and a large number of heavy flatboats carrying the artillery.

Parkman writes:  “The spectacle was superb; the brightness of the summer day; the romantic beauty of the scenery; the sheen and sparkle of those crystal waters; the sheen and sparkle of those crystal waters; the countless islets, tufted with pine, birch and fir; the bordering mountains, with their green summits and sunny crags; the flash of oars and glitter of weapons; the banners, the varied uniforms, and the notes of bugle, trumpet, bagpipe and drum, answered and prolonged by a hundred woodland echoes.  “I never beheld so delightful a prospect, wrote a wounded officer at Albany a fortnight after.”

Three days later, this proud army, the largest which had assembled up to that time in America, came flying back, crushed and beaten by Montcalm and his little army of hardly a quarter its size.  It is a sad story, but the next year practically the same army, under General Amherst, pushed the French up into Canada, and but a short time after the dominion of France in North America was gone forever.

With great ceremony on Memorial Day, 1920 ~ under the auspices of the New York Historical Association and the St. Andrew’s Society of Scots, Glens Falls, NY ~  Duncan Campbell’s remains were re-interred in the Jane McCrea burial plot – her third and final resting place – that is located in Union Cemetery, Fort Edward.  (In preparation for this ceremony, his remains and tombstone had been disinterred/removed  several days in advance from his original burial place at the State Street Cemetery, Fort Edward.)

Hancock House - Pen & Ink Drawing

Pen & Ink Drawing

Ticonderoga Historical Society

– Our Vision – makes area history an integral part of our community life by connecting our region’s past and present in order to shape our future. 

We thank everyone for their support throughout the years and hope that we can count on your support as the society advances  into the future.

10/20/16 wgd

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