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Prince Charles 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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