Edward Stuart Charles crosses the Forth
As early as the 7th of September, Charles had received
notice of Cope's intention to embark at Aberdeen; and, that he might not be anticipated by
Cope in his design of seizing the capital, he began to make arrangements for leaving Perth
for the south. Before the 11th his force was considerably augmented by tributary
accessions from the uplands of Perthshire, and, as his coffers had been pretty well
replenished, he resolved to take his departure that day. With this view, Lord George
Murray sent an express to his brother, the Marquis of Tullibardine, on the 7th, requesting
him to march with such forces as he had collected, on the morning of Tuesday the 10th, so
as to reach Crieff next day, that he might be able to form a junction with the main army
at Dunblane or Dounce the following day.
Charles, accordingly, left Perth on Wednesday the 11th of September on his route to the
south. The van of the army, or rather a few of each of the clans, reached Dunblane that
night, in the neighbourhood of which they encamped. The greater part of the men lagged
behind, and did not get up till next day, when they appeared to be greatly fatigued. as
this result was imputed to the good quarters they had enjoyed for the last eight days at
Perth, and the want of exercise, it was resolved that henceforth the army should encamp in
the open air, and be kept constantly in motion. On his march to Dunblane, the prince was joined by
Macdonald of Glencoe, with 60 of his men, and by James Drummond or Macgregor of Glengyle
at the head of 255 Macgregors, the retainers of Macgregor of Glencairnaig.
Having been obliged to halt a whole day for the remainder of his army, Charles remained in
his camp till the 13th, on which day he crossed the Forth at the fords of Frew, almost in
the face of Gardiner's dragoons, who retired towards Stirling on the approach of the
Highland army, without attempting to dispute its passage. While passing by Doune, Charles
received particular marks of attention from some of the ladies of Menteith, who had
assembled in the house of Mr Edmondstone of Cambuswallace, in the neighbourhood of Doune
to see him as he passed. A collation had been provided for him, in the expectation that he
would have entered the house; but he courteously excused himself, and stopping before the
house, without alighting from his horse, drank a glass of wine to the health's of his fair
observers. The daughters of Mr Edmondstone, who served the prince on this occasion,
respectfully solicited the honour of kissing his hand - a favour which he readily granted;
but he was asked to grant a higher favour by Miss Robina Edmondstone, cousin to the
daughters of the host. The favour sought was the liberty "to pree his royal
highness;s mou". Charles not being sufficiently acquainted with broad Scots, was at a
loss to comprehend the nature of the request; but on its being explained to him, he
instantly caught her in his arms, and instead of allowing her to perform the operation, he
himself kissed her from ear to ear, to the great amusement of the spectators, and the envy
of the bold recipient's cousins.
The passage of the Forth had always been considered one of the most daring and decisive
steps which a Highland army could take. In their own country the Highlanders possessed
many natural advantages over an invading foe, which gave them almost an absolute assurance
of success in any contest even with forces greatly superior in numbers; and, in the
adjoining Lowlands, they could, if worsted, easily retreat to their fastnesses; but their
situation was very different on the south of the Forth, where they were more particularly
exposed to be attacked by cavalry, - a species of force which they greatly dreaded, and
from which they could, if routed, scarcely expect to escape. It is said, but not upon
sufficient authority, that some of Charle's officers at first demurred to the propriety of
exposing the army to the dangers of a Lowland campaign in the south, but that he would
listen to no arguments against the grand design he had formed of seizing the capital. To
cheer his men in the hazardous enterprise, the dangers of which now, for the first time,
began to develop themselves, the price is reported, on arriving on the bank of the river,
to have brandished his sword in the air, and pointing to the other side, to have rushed
into the water and darting across, to have taken his station on the opposite bank, on
which he stood till all the detachments had crossed, and congratulated each successive
detachment as it arrived. In crossing the Forth, the prince may be said to have passed the
Rubicon: he had not only committed himself in a struggle with a powerful government, but
he had, with intrepid daring, and with a handful of men, entered a country whence retreat
was almost impossible.
After passing the Forth, Charles, accompanied by a party of his officers, proceeded to
Leckie House, the seat of Mr Moir, a Jacobite gentleman, where he dined; but the
proprietor was absent, having been seized by a party of dragoons, and carried off to
Stirling castle the preceding night, in consequence of information having been received at
the castle that he was preparing to receive and entertain the prince at his house. The
army passed the night on the moor of Suchie, a few miles south from the ford. The prince
himself slept in Bannockburn House, belonging to Sir Hugh Paterson, a zealous Jacobite.
During the day's march great abuses were committed by the men in taking and shooting
sheep, which the Duke of Perth and others did every thing in their power to prevent.
Lochiel was so enraged at the conduct of his men, that he is said to have shot one of them
himself, as an example to deter the rest.
Next day Charles put his army in motion towards Falkirk. In passing by Stirling, a few shots were fired at them
from the castle, but without damage. Lord George Murray sent a message to the magistrates
of the town, requiring a supply of provisions; on receiving which they immediately opened
the gates, and having given notice of the demand to the inhabitants, the dealers in
provisions went out and met the Highland army near Bannockburn, and sold a considerable
quantity of commodities to the men. The army, after receiving this supply, resumed its
march, and finally halted on a field a little to the eastward of Falkirk. Charles took up
his abode in Callendar
House, where he was entertained with the greatest hospitality by the Earl of
Kilmarnock, who gave him assurances of devoted attachment to his cause. By the earl,
Charles was informed that Hardiner's dragoons, who, on his approach to Falkirk, had
retired in the direction of Linlithgow were resolved to dispute the passage of Linlithgow bridge with him, and that they had encamped that night in its neighbourhood.
On receiving this intelligence, Charles immediately held a council of war, at which it was
resolved to attack the dragoons during the night. For this purpose a detachment of 1,000
well-armed men was despatched at one o'clock in the morning under the command of Lord
George Murray. They marched with the utmost order, regularity, and quietness; but they
were disappointed in their object, as the dragoons had retired during the night to
Kirkliston, eight miles west from Edinburgh. The detachment entered Linlithgow before
break of day, where they were joined by the prince and the rest of the army about ten
o'clock that morning. The day was Sunday; but the prince does not appear to have gratified
the burghers by going to church as he had done the citizens of Perth the preceding Sunday.
He, however, partook of a repast which some of the Jacobite inhabitants had prepared for
him. The provost preserved a neutrality by absenting himself from the town; but his wife
and daughters are said to have paid their respects to the prince by waiting upon him at
the cross, attired in tartan gowns, and wearing white cockades, and doing themselves the
honour of kissing his hand.
Advancing from Linlithgow about four o'clock in the afternoon, the Highland army encamped
on a rising ground, nearly four miles east of Linlithgow, near the twelfth milestone from
Edinburgh, where they passed the night. The prince slept in a house in the neighbourhood.
Next morning, Monday the 16th, Charles renewed his march eastwards, and reached Corstorphine, the dragoons all the while retiring
before him as he approached.
Charles was now within three miles of Edinburgh, and could not proceed farther in a direct
line, without exposing his army to the fire of the castle guns. To avoid them, he led it
off in a southerly direction, towards Slateford, - a small village about the distance of a
mile from Corstorphine. The prince fixed his head quarters at Gray's mills, between two
and three miles from the city, and his troops bivouacked during the night of the 16th, in
an adjoining field called Gray's Park.
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