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Prince Charles Edward Stuart
Council held at Crieff


The Highland army was quartered that night at Dounce, Dunblane, and adjacent villages, and continued to retire next day, the 2d of February, in a very disorderly manner. The prince halted at Crieff, where he reviewed his army, and, according to the statement of one of his officers, his army was found not to have lost above 1,000 men by desertion. Charles, who had consented to a retreat on the supposition that his army had lost a third of its numbers from this cause, is said to have been deeply affected on this occasion. Lord George Murray's enemies did not let slip the opportunity of reproaching him, and, indeed, all the chiefs who had signed the representation, with deception; but the author above referred to observes, that their mistake, if there really was a mistake, can be easily accounted for, if people will divest themselves of prejudice, and examine the circumstances impartially. He observes, that, from the battle of Falkirk up to the time of the Duke of Cumberland's march from Edinburgh, the country being absolutely secure, the Highlanders had indulged their restless disposition by roaming about all the villages in the neighbourhood of their quarters, and that numbers of them were absent several days from their colours - that their principal officers knowing for certain that some had gone home, imagined that such was also the case with all who were not found in their respective quarters, but that all the stragglers had got to Crieff and appeared at the review. Without questioning such a respectable authority as Mr Maxwell, who may be right in the main fact, as to the number of the army at Crieff, it seems more likely that the army had recruited its ranks on the retreat to Crieff, by overtaking the deserters on their homeward route, than that 2,000 or 3,000 men should have been absent on a sojourn in the neighbourhood of their camp.

After the review, the prince held a council of war, to deliberate upon the course to be pursued. At no former meeting did heats and party animosities break out to such an extent as at this council. Lord Greorge Murray complained greatly of the flight, and requested to know the names of the persons who had advised it; but the prince took the whole blame on himself. After a great deal of wrangling and altercation, it was determined that the army should march north to Inverness in two divisions, - that the horse and low country regiments should proceed along the coast road, and that the prince, at the head of the clans, should take the Highland road. Lord George, after other officers had refused, agreed to take the command of the coast division, which arrived at Perth late that night. The prince remained at Crieff, and passed the night at Fairnton, a seat of Lord John Drummond, in the neighbourhood. Next day, being the 4th, Charles marched from Crieff to Dunkeld, and thence to Blaire Athole, where he remained several days, till he heard of the arrival of the other division at Aberdeen.

It would have been quite impossible, under almost any circumstances, for the Duke of Cumberland's army to have overtaken the Highlanders; but slow as the movements of such an army necessarily were, it met with an obstruction which retarded its progress nearly three days. This was the impassable state of Stirling bridge, one arch broken down by General Blakeney to embarrass the intercourse between the Highland army when in the south, and its auxiliaries in the north. It was not till the morning of the 4th of February that the bridge was repaired, on which day the English army passed over. The advanced guard, consisting of the Argyleshire Highlanders and the dragoons, went on to Crieff, and the foot was quartered in and about Dunblane, where the duke passed the night. Next day he proceeded to Crieff, and on the 6th arrived at Perth, of which his advanced guard had taken possession the previous day.

Lord George Murray marched from Perth for Aberdeen with his division on the 4th. He left behind thirteen pieces of cannon, which were spiked and thrown into the Tay, a great quantity of cannon balls, and fourteen swivel guns, that formerly belonged to the Hazard sloop-of-war, which had been surprised and taken at Montrose by the Highlanders. These pieces were taken out of the river next day by the royal troops.

Having learned at Perth the different routes taken by the Highland army, and that it had gained two or three day's march in advance, the Duke of Cumberland resolved to halt a few days to refresh his men. From Perth parties were sent out to perambulate the neighbouring country, who plundered the lands and carried off the effects of the prince's adherents. The Duchess Dowager of Perth and the Vicountess of Strathallan were apprehended, carried to Edinburgh, and committed to the castle.

Shortly after his arrival at Perth, the Duke of Cumberland received an express announcing the arrival in the Frith of Forth of a force of about 5,000 Hessians, under the command of the Prince of Hesse, son-in-law of George II. These auxiliaries had been brought over from the continent to supply the place of the Dutch troops, who had been recalled by the states-general in consequence of the interference of the French government, which considered the treaty entered into between the King of Great Britain and Holland, by which the latter agreed to furnish these troops to suppress the rebellion, as a violation of the capitulation's of Tournay and Dendermonde.

The fleet which conveyed the Hessian troops anchored in Leith roads on the 8th of February, having been only four days from Williamstadt. The troops were disembarked at Leith on the 9th and the following day, and were cantoned in and about Edinburgh. On the 15th of February the Duke of Cumberland paid a visit to the Prince of Hesse, his brother-in-law, at Edinburgh. On that evening they held a council of war in Milton-house, the residence of the lord-justice-clerk. In consequence of the sudden and disorderly retreat of the Highlanders, an opinion had begun to prevail among the friends of the government at Edinburgh, that it was the intention of the insurgents to disperse themselves, and that Charles would follow the example set by his father in 1716, by leaving the kingdom. Impressed with this idea, the generals who attended the council gave it as the unanimous opinion that the war was at an end, and that the duke had nothing now to do but to give orders to his officers to march into the Highlands, as soon as the season would permit, and ferret the insurgents out of their strongholds, as it appeared evident to them that they would never risk a battle with an army commanded by the Duke of Cumberland. After the officers had delivered their sentiments, the duke requested Lord Milton to give his opinion, as he knew the Highlands and Highlanders better than any person present. His lordship at first declined doing so, as he was not a military man, but being pressed by the duke, he began by expressing a hope that he might be mistaken in the opinion he was about to give, but he felt himself bound to declare, from all he knew of the Highlands and Highlanders, that the war was not an an end, and that as the king's troops could not follow the Highlanders among their fastness in the winter season, they would, though now divided and scattered, unite again, and venture another battle before giving up the war. Acquiescing in the views of Lord Milton, whose opinion turned out correct, the duke returned to Perth next day to put his army in motion towards the north.


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