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Prince Charles Edward Stuart
Characteristic bravery of the Highlanders and the aftermath


From the characteristic bravery of the Highlanders, and their contempt of death, it is not improbable that some of those who perished, as well on the field after the battle as in the flight, did not yield their lives without a desperate struggle; but history has preserved one case of individual prowess in the person of Golice Macbane, which deserves to be recorded in every history relating to the Highlanders. This man, who is represented to have been of the gigantic stature of six feet four inches and a quarter, was beset by a party of dragoons. When assailed, he placed his back against a wall, and though covered with wounds, he defended himself with his target and claymore against the onset of the dragoons, who crowded upon him. Some officers, who observed the unequal conflict, were so struck with the desperate bravery of Macbane, that they gave orders to save him; but the dragoons, exasperated by his resistance, and the dreadful havoc he had made among their companions, thirteen of whom lay dead at his feet, would not desist till they had succeeded in cutting him down.

According to the official accounts published by the government, the royal army had only 50 men killed, and 259 wounded, including 18 officers, of whom 4 were killed. Lord Robert Kerr, second son of the Marquis of Lothian, and a captain of grenadiers in Barrel's regiment, was the only person of distinction killed; he fell covered with wounds, at the head of his company, when the Highlanders attacked Barrel's regiment. The loss on the side of the Highlanders was never ascertained with any degree of precision. The number of the slain is stated, in some publications of the period, to have amounted to upwards of 2,000 men, but these accounts are exaggerated. The loss could not, however, be much short of 1,200 men. The Athole brigade alone lost more than the half of its officers and men, and some of the centre battalions came off with scarcely a third of their men. The Mackintoshes, who were the first to attack, suffered most. With the exception of three only, all the officers of this brave regiment, including Macgillivray of Drumnaglass, its colonel, the lieutenant-colonel, and major, were killed in the attack. All the other centre regiments also lost several officers. Maclauchlan, colonel of the united regiment of Maclauchlan and Maclean, was killed by a cannon ball in the beginning of the action, and Maclean of Drimmin, who, as lieutenant-colonel, succeeded to the command, met a similar fate from a random shot. He had three sons in the regiment, one of whom fell in the attack, and, when leading off the shattered remains of his forces, he missed the other two, and, in returning to look after them, received the fatal bullet.

Charles Fraser, younger of Inverallachie, the lieutenant-colonel of the Fraser regiment, and who, in the absence of the Master of Lovat, commanded it on this occasion, was also killed. When riding over the field after the battle, the Duke of Cumberland observed this brave youth lying wounded. Raising himself upon his elbow, he looked at the duke, who, offended at him, thus addressed one of his officers: "Wolfe, shoot me that Highland scoundrel who thus dares to look on us with so insolent a stare." Wolfe, horrified at the inhuman order, replied that his commission was at his royals highness's disposal, but that he would never consent to become an executioner. Other officers refusing to commit this act of butchery, a private soldier, at the command of the duke, shot the hapless youth before his eyes. The Appin regiment had 17 officers and gentlemen slain, and 10 wounded; and the Athole brigade, which lost fully half its men, had 19 officers killed, and 4 wounded. The fate of the heroic Keppoch has been already mentioned. Among the wounded, the principal was Lochiel, who was shot in both ancles with some grape-shot, at the head of his regiment, after discharging his pistol, and while in the act of drawing his sword. On falling, his two brothers, between whom he was advancing, raised him up, and carried him off the field in their arms. To add to his misfortunes, Charles also lost a considerable number of gentlemen, his most devoted adherents, who had charged on foot in the first rank.

Lord Strathallan was the only person of distinction that fell among the low country regiments. Lord Kilmarnock and sir John Wedderburn were taken prisoners. The former, in the confusion of the battle, mistook, amidst the smoke, a party of English dragoons for Fitz-James's horse, and was taken. Having lost his hat, he was led bare-headed to the front line of the English infantry. His son, Lord Boyd, who held a commission in the English army, unable to restrain his feelings, left the ranks, and going up to his unfortunate parent, took off his own hat, placed it on his father's head, and returned to his place without uttering a word.

At other times, and under different circumstances, a battle like that of Culloden would have been regarded as an ordinary occurrence, of which, when all matters were duly considered, the victors could have little to boast. The Highland army did not exceed 5,000 fighting men; and when it is considered that the men had been two days without sleep, were exhausted by the march of the preceding night, and had scarcely tasted food for forty-eight hours, the wonder is that they fought so well as they did, against an army almost double in point of numbers, and which laboured under none of the disadvantages to which, in a more especial manner, the overthrow of the Highlanders is to be ascribed. Nevertheless, as the spirits of the great majority of the nation had been sunk to the lowest state of despondency by the reverses of the royal arms at Preston and Falkirk, this unlooked-for event was hailed as one of the greatest military achievements of ancient or modern times; and the Duke of Cumberland, who had, in consequence, an addition of 25,000 per annum made to his income by parliament, was regarded as the greatest hero of ancient or modern times. In its consequencs, as entirely and for ever destructive of the claims of the unfortunate house of Stuart, the battle was perhaps one of the most important ever fought. Though vanquished the Highlanders retired from the field with honour, and free from that foul reproach which has fixed an indelible stain upon the memories of the victors.

After the carnage of the day had ceased, the brutal soldiery, who, from the fiendish delight which they took in sprinkling one another with the blood of the slain, "looked," as stated by one of themselves, "like so many butchers rather than an army of Christian soldiers," dined upon the field of battle. After his men had finished their repast, the Duke of Cumberland marched forward to take possession of Inverness, and on his way received a letter, which had been addressed to General Bland, signed by six of the French officers in the insurgent army, offering in behalf of themselves and their men to surrender unconditionally to his royal highness. As he was about to enter the town he was met by a drummer, who brought him a message from General Stapleton, offering to surrender and asking quarter. On receiving this communication, the duke ordered Sir Josepth Yorke, one of his officers, to alight from his horse, who with his pencil wrote a note to General Stapleton, assuring him of fair quarter an honourable treatment. The town was then taken possession of by Captain Campbell, of Sempill's regiment, with his company of grenadiers.

After securing his prisoners in the town, the Duke of Cumberland released the soldiers who had been confined in the church of Inverness by the insurgents, and who, if the government accounts be correct had suffered great hardships. They had indeed, about a week before the battle of Culloden, been almost stripped of their clothes by an officer of the Highland army, to clothe a new corps he had raised; but a complaint having been brought to Lord George Murray on the subject, he obtained an order from the prince, in consequence of which the clothes were restored. The duke on the present occasion presented each of these men with a guinea, and gave orders that they should be taken care of.

Besides the military prisoners, several gentlemen supposed to be disaffected to the government were apprehended by the duke's orders, shutup with the common prisoners, and were for some time denied the use of bedding. Nor did the softer sex, whose Jacobite predilections had pointed them out as objects of displeasure, escape his resentment. Several ladies, among whom were Ladies Ogilvy, Knloch, and Gordon, were seized and kept in durance in the common guard, and were limited along with the other prisoners of the miserable pittance of half-a pound of meal per day, with scarcely as much water as was necessary to prepare it for use. As the wounded prisoners were utterly neglected, many who would have recovered, if properly treated, died of their wounds; and so much were the rites of Christian sepulture disregarded by the royal officers, that the bodies of these unfortunate victims were carried naked through the streets by beggars, who were employed to inter them in the churchyard.

Knowing that there were several deserters from the royal army among the insurgents, the duke ordered a strict inspection to be made of the prisoners in order to find them out. No less than thirty-six were recognised, and being brought to a summary trial, were convicted, and suffered the death of traitors. Among these was one Dunbar, who had been a sergeant in Sowle's regiment. He had taken a suit of laced clothes from Major Lockhart at the battle of Falkirk, which being found in his possession, he was dressed in them, and hanged, and his body exposed for forty-eight hours on the gibbet. A young gentleman of the name of Forbes, a relative of Lord Forbes, is also said to have perished on this occasion. He had served as a cadet in an english regiment, but, being from principle attached to the Jacobite interest, had joined the standard of the prince.

An incident occurred after the execution of this unfortunate gentleman, which assumed an alarming appearance, and might have led to serious consequences had the war been continued. Before Forbes was cut down from the gibbet, an English officer, with a morbidness of feeling which seems to have seized the officers as well as the common soldiers of the army, plunged his sword into the body of Forbes, exclaiming, at the same time, that "all his countrymen were traitors and rebels like himself." This exclamation being heard by a Scottish officer who was standing hard by, the offended Scotchman immediately drew his sword, and demanded satisfaction for the insult offered to his country. The englishman instantly accepted the challenge, and in a short time the combat became general among the officers who happened to be on the spot. The soldiers, seeing their officers engaged, beat to arms of their own accord, and drew up along the streets, the Scotch on one side and the English on the other, and commenced a warm combat with fixed bayonets. Information of this affray having been brought to the Duke of Cumberland, he hastened to the scene of action, and by his persuasions put an end to the combat. He found the Scotch greatly excited by the affront offered them; but he soothed their wounded feelings by complimenting them for their fidelity, their courage, and exemplary conduct.


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