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The Battle of Culloden

The Highland Army Draws Up for Battle


The Highland army was drawn up in three lines. The first, or front line, consisted of the Athole brigade, which had the right, the Camerons, Stewarts of Appin, Frasers, Macintoshes, Maclauchlans, Macleans, John Roy Stewart's regiment, and Farquharsons, united into one regiment; the Macleods, Chisholms, Macdonalds of Clanranald, Keppoch, and Glengarry. The three Macdonald regiments formed the left. Lord George Murray commanded on the right, Lord John Drummond in the centre, and the duke of Perth on the left, of the first line. There had been, a day or two before, a violent contention among the chiefs about precedency of rank. The Macdonalds claimed the right as their due, in support of which claim they stated, that as a reward for the fidelity of Angus Macdonald, Lord of the Isles, in protecting Robert the Bruce for upwards of nine months in his dominions, that prince, at the battle of Bannockburn, conferred the post of honour, the right, upon the Macdonalds, - that this post had ever since been enjoyed by them, unless when yielded from courtesy upon particular occasions, as was done to the chief of the Macleans at the battle of Harlaw. Lord George Murray, however, maintained that, under the Marquis of Montrose, the right had been assigned to the Athole men, and he insisted that that post should be now conferred upon them, in the contest with the Duke of Cumberland's army. In this unseasonable demand, Lord George is said to have been supported by Lochiel and his friends. Charles refused to decide a question with the merits of which he was imperfectly acquainted; but, as it was necessary to adjust the difference immediately, he prevailed upon the commanders of the Macdonald regiments to waive their pretensions in the present instance.

The Macdonalds in general were far from being satisfied with the complaisance of their commanders, and, as they had occupied the post of honour at Gladsmuir and Falkirk, they considered their deprivation of it on the present occasion as ominous. The Duke of Perth, while he stood at the head of the Glengarry regiment, hearing the murmurs of the Macdonalds, said,that if they behaved with their usual valour they would make a right of the left, and that he would change his name to Macdonald; but these proud clansmen leant a deaf ear to him.

The second line of the Highland army consisted of the Gordons under Lord Lewis Gordon, formed in column on the right, the French Royal Scots, the Irish piquets or brigade, Lord Kilmarnock's foot guards,5 Lord John Drummond's regiment, and Glenbucket's regiment in column on the left, flanked on the right by Fitz-James's dragoons, and Lord Elcho's horse-guards, and on the left by the Perth squadron, under Lord Strathallan and Pitsligo, and the prince's body-guards under Lord Balmerino. General Stapleton had the command of this line. The third line, or reserve, consisted of the Duke of Perth's and Lord Ogilvy's regiments, under the last-mentioned nobleman. The prince himself, surrounded by a troop of Fitz-James's horse, took his station on a very small eminence behind the centre of the first line, from which he had a complete view of the whole field of battle. The extremities of the front line and the centre were each protected by four pieces of cannon.


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