For Immediate Release
Contact: Duncan Crary, 518-274-2723
TROY, N.Y. (7/21/14) — The Scottish spirits will haunt and flow in Brown’s Malt Room this Thursday night.
On July 24, at 6 p.m., Troy storyteller Duncan Crary will spin a candle-lit account of the legend of Major Duncan Campbell of the Black Watch, a Scottish highlander who met his eerie fate during the failed British attack on Fort Carillon (Ticonderoga) in upstate New York, July 1758.
According to legend, a ghost foretold of the major’s death many years prior at his home in Inverawe, Scotland.
“Robert Louis Stevenson made the story of Major Duncan Campbell world famous in his 1887 poem, ‘Ticonderoga,'” said Crary. “But it was already well-known in these parts, and in the west of Scotland, for more than a century before that.”
The evening will also feature:
Scotch Egg – $8
Roast Cornish Hen with Scottish Black Pudding – $14
Venison Pasties – $10
Traditional Scottish Gladloch Sausage – $12
Smoked Scottish King Salmon – $13
Bread & Cheese: Scratch made bread with a selection of Windsor Red, Cahill Irish Porter, Cypress Grove Midnight Moon cheeses – $13
(Sorry, no haggis).
Admission and Scotch samples are free. The Malt Room opens at 5 p.m. Music will begin at 6 p.m. Crary will tell the story shortly after, when the crowd is ready.
The Malt Room is located at 425 River Street in downtown Troy (in the basement of Revolution Hall). The entrance is in the rear, immediately north of the Brown’s Brewing Co. taproom deck.
A WEE BIT OF HISTORY
From the West Highlands to the Adirondacks
Major Duncan Campbell was a real figure in both Scottish and North American history. Laird of the Scottish House of Inverawe, he served as an officer in the 42nd (Highland) Regiment — a famously fierce military unit in Scotland, known as the dreaded “Black Watch.”
In 1756, the Black Watch was dispatched to North America, by the British crown, to fight in the French and Indian War. In the spring of 1758, Major Duncan Campbell and the Black Watch marched north from Albany to attack the French-controlled Fort Carillon (later named Fort Ticonderoga) on Lake Champlain.
There, the battle that ensued on July 8 was the bloodiest and most dramatic of the war, with more than 3,000 total casualties estimated by historians. The Black Watch suffered the heaviest of all military units on either side, but the mounting deaths of their comrades only fueled their fury on the front lines.
About half of the 1,000 Black Watch soldiers in action that day were killed, and many more were wounded — including Major Duncan Campbell who died 9 days later. He was buried in a relative’s plot at Fort Edward. Later, Campbell’s remains were moved to Union Cemetery between Hudson Falls and Fort Edward, where they are now located in the Jane McCrea lot.
One year after the battle, the British finally captured Fort Carillon and renamed it “Ticonderoga,” an anglicized Iroquois word meaning “it is at the junction of two waterways.”
NOW, A WEE BIT OF LEGEND
Warning: Spoilers Ahead!
“No ghost story is more widely known or better authenticated than that of Duncan Campbell of Inverawe,” writes Frederick B. Richards in his circa 1910 publication, “The Black Watch at Ticonderoga and Major Duncan Campbell of Inverawe.”
The widely circulated legend of Major Duncan Campbell says a desperate man came knocking wildly on the doors of the house of Inverawe one night. He had blood on his hands and kilt, and begged for sanctuary — a sacred oath of protection granted in the Highlands of Scotland.
Duncan vowed to shelter the man and swore on his dirk, a traditional and ceremonial dagger worn by Highland Scots.
Soon after, a group of men arrived at Inverawe to inform Duncan Campbell that a highwayman had murdered his cousin, Donald Campbell. The men had last seen the murderer heading that way. But Duncan had already given his word that he would shelter the very same bandit, and so he concealed him from the gang.
Twice, the ghost of Donald Campbell visited Duncan Campbell, and twice demanded that his death be avenged by his kin. But Duncan kept his oath, and on the third visit the apparition warned him: “Farewell Inverawe. Farewell till we meet again at TICONDEROGA.”
At the time, neither Duncan nor any highland Scots he consulted had ever heard the strange word. From that day forth, it haunted and perplexed him — “Ticonderoga” — until many years later on the march north from Albany, New York to the French-controlled Fort Carillon. The British were joined during that campaign by their Iroquois — or Haudenosaunee — allies, whose name for that place was tekontaró:ken, which sounded very much like “Ticonderoga.”
Sure enough, on the eve of battle the ghost of Donald Campbell visited the tent of a terrified Major Duncan Campbell to give one last word that Duncan would soon pay for his betrayal.
The following day, as the battle raged in North America and the brave Black Watch soldiers were cut down by the French, it is said in Scotland that the clouds over the House of Inverawe took the form of the soldiers and re-enacted the futile assault … until the blow was delivered that would end the life of Major Duncan Campbell.
“An old sailor friend of mine in Glasgow, Scotland once told me to ‘Never let the facts get in the way of a good story,'” Crary said. “I’ll give a proper history of the old Major and the Black Watch, but I won’t be letting those pesky facts get in the way of this ripping good yarn, either.”
STEVENSON: THE LEGEND GROWS
The renowned Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson contracted tuberculosis in the late 19th century and headed to the Adirondacks of New York State to take the cure at the famous Trudeau Institute in Saranac Lake. It’s there he first heard the tale of Major Duncan Campbell from the locals who knew it well. In December of 1887, Stevenson published the tale in Scribner’s Magazine as the poem: “Ticonderoga a Legend of the West Highlands.” It was an instant and global success.
“Stevenson made a few mistakes in his account — most notably, he named his character ‘Duncan Cameron,'” said Crary. “Sure, there were Camerons on the battle pitch that day, but this ghostly tale belongs to none other than Duncan Campbell of Inverawe, Major of the Black Watch.”
This Thursday night, Crary will spin his own version of the tale, building upon Stevenson’s poem, historical accounts and his own family’s contributions. One element Crary will give more prominence to is the role of the Mohawk allies of the British and their special relationship to the Scots Highlanders they fought alongside.
Crary’s full name is Duncan Campbell Crary. And while Duncan Campbell is one of the most common Scottish names, his parents named him after Major Duncan Campbell in particular. The family’s Scottish ancestors, both Crary and Campbell, settled upstate New York during the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries.
“What is a Scotsman without his word? Aye, but what is a Highlander without his kin and clan to count on?” Crary asked. “This is the predicament our hero found himself in, with no way out.”
To download high-resolution publicity images, including an event poster, a recent photograph of Major Duncan Campbell’s grave and an image from Stevenson’s 1887 poem in Scribner’s magazine, visit:
ABOUT THE MALT ROOM
Brown’s basement Malt Room bar is a refined space offering 3 cask conditioned ales from its copper top bar as well as nearly 40 single malt scotches, 20 small batch bourbons and a variety of well crafted proper cocktails. A menu of light tapas changes weekly. Located beneath Brown’s Revolution Hall, the Malt Room is open Wednesday through Saturday from 5 pm until close.
For information, visit: https://www.facebook.com/brownsmaltroom
ABOUT DUNCAN CRARY
Duncan Crary is an author, storyteller, podcaster and events organizer in Troy, New York. He wandered the empty nesses of Scotland, alone, when his worldview was still forming. His website is: http://DuncanCrary.com