Gradually Cameron gied up tryin tae travel wi as few numbers as possible. The way things wur goin folk tellt him that mibbe thur wis safety in numbers.
Aifter a sermon at Kypewater near Lesmahagow he hud as mony as twentythree horse riders an mair than forty on foot followin him. Mair than sixty on the move is hard tae hide but his supporters insisted this wis the best way furrit. They seemd tae believe a confrontation wi the government wis comin an the mair ready tae defend the man the better. Thur’s mair aboot it in ma second book ‘Dark Times.’
Mair information on his movements came in, mair chasin taen place but still he remained free. Aboot noo he wis joined wi ane o his strongest supporters, Hackston o Rathillet. He’d been a fierce fighter at Bothwell as weel as ane o the nine wi murdered Archbishop Sharpe on Magus muir on 3 May 1679. Sharpe hud a terrible death but in truth he wis also a man mair than askin fur it aifter the way he’d tortured as mony he believed wur Covenanters. It wis definitely if ye’re nae wi me ye’re agin me. Hackston is important ye’ll se why the morn. Ye’ll also see hoo mibbe Karma dis exist.
When he left Kypewatter he headed for Sorn in Ayrshire an lodged at Meadowhead Farm north o Sorn wi a strong supporter William Mitchell an his family.
Meanwhile his supporters wur exercisin, gettin ready fur the confrontation they thocht wis aboot tae tak place.
When Cameron got up on the mornin o the 22nd July he seemed tae ken it wud be an eventfu day. An so it wis.
His supporters wur jittery fur they’d heard somebody hud gied awa thur location. Because o that they’d spent the nicht on the moor an in the mornin checked aw roond tae see if thur wis ony movement. Aw wis clear.
As Cameron left Meadowhead farm the daughter o the hoose brocht him water tae wash his face an hands. When he wis feenished he luked at his haunds an is reported as sayin, “I hae need tae mak them clean fur there are mony tae see them.”
Oot on the moor aw seemed quiet an the 60 or so men set oot towards Muirkirk. Naethin went wrang an they made guid progress, arrivin at a spot kent as Airds Moss in the aifternoon. They stopped there fur a bit tae eat an a rest when a local shepherd appeared wi the warnin, “Troopers ken whaur ye are an are comin.”
An so they wur. Within meenits a mounted force cud be seen in the distance.
A few men wantit tae scatter but Cameron wis hain nane o it an his strong supporter Hackston began organisin a defence.
He picked the edge o a mossy marsh an lined them up tae face the enemy. Ye’ll mibbe mind a marsh helped the Covenanters at Drumclog.
Thur wis a quick prayer endin wi, “Spare the green an tak the ripe.” This is a favaorite quote frae Cameron.The government leader wis Andrew Bruce o Earshall. Years before he’d been a neighbour o the Cameron family an kent them weel so he’d nae difficulty in kennin which ane o the rebels wis Richard Cameron.
Twenty dragoons attacked the flank o Cameron’s party. Hackston saw this an sent some men tae meet them while the rest advanced on the main government force.
A few shots wur fired an then baith sides got entangled in the marsh. The riders wur forced tae dismount. It wis haund tae haund and fierce. Later Bruce wud describe the rebels as, “‘Fightin lik mad men.”
This went on fur aboot hauf an hoor afore Bruce’s better equipped men got the upper haund, killed Cameron an his brither Michael an the heart went oot o the rebels.
9 Covenanters an 28 troopers wur deid … So the rebels a gied guid accoont o thursels.
The rest o the rebels scarpered across the moor leavin the deid an 4 captives. An important ane wis Hackston. He’d mair than git his come uppance, endin hanged, drawn, an quartered in the Edinburgh Grassmarket. Mibbe auld Archbishop Sharpe hud the last laugh on his murder … Or mibbe it wis Karma.
Cameron’s heid an haunds wur cut aff, bagged an cairried awa as the proof necessary fur the reward o 5,000 merks. His heid an haunds eventually landed on top o the Netherbow in Edinburgh as a warnin tae ony ithers plannin rebellion. So he wis richt … Mony did see his face an haunds. Hackston’s heid an haunds sat alangside. A sorry sicht indeed.
Ye’ll read mair aboot this episode in book twa ‘Dark Times.’
Aifter this the only ither field preacher on the loose wis Donald Cargill … He got captured an then hanged an the Covenanters wur left withoot ony leader. At least they wur till anither came on the scene.
Ye see thur’s aye anither yin.
He wis James Renwick, jist as determined as Cameron. But his story is fur anither day. He appears in book three ‘End o Times.’
So that’s that … The Lion o the Covenant’s deid but nivver forgotten, still remembered, talked aboot, argued aboot, written aboot. Whit he did wisna jist pairt o oor heritage it still maitters the day.
Airds Moss memorial. This lets ye see hoo desolate a spot it really is.