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The Battle of Culloden

The Battle Starts


In expectation of a battle the previous day, Charles had animated his troops by an appeal to their feelings, and on the present occasion he rode from rank to rank encouraging his men, and exhorting them to act as they had done at Prestonpans and at Falkirk.

The advance of Lord Bury, who went forward within a hundred yards of the insurgents to reconnoitre, appears to have been considered by the Highlanders as the proper occasion for beginning the battle. Taking off their bonnets, the Highlanders set up a loud shout, which being answered ny the royal troops with a huzza, the Highlanders about one o'clock commenced a cannonade on the right, which was followed by the cannon on the left; but the fire from the latter, owing to the want of cannoneers, was after the first round discontinued. The first volley from the right seemed to create some confusion on the left of the royal army, but so badly were the cannon served and pointed, that though the cannonade was continued upwards of half an hour, only one man in Bligh's regiment, who had a leg carried off by a cannon-ball, received any injury. After the Highlanders had continued firing for a short time, Colonel Belford, who directed the cannon of the duke's army, opened a fire from the cannon in the front line, which was at first chiefly aimed at the horse, probably either because they, from their conspicuous situation, were a better mark than the infantry, or because it was supposed that Charles was among them. Such was the accuracy of the aim taken by the royal artillery, that several balls entered the ground among the horses' legs, and bespattered the prince with the mud which they raised; and one of them struck the horse on which he rode two inches above the knee. The animal became so unmanageable, that Charles was obliged to change him for another. One of his servants, who stood behind with a led horse in his hand, was killed on the spot. Observing that the wall on the right flank of the Highland army prevented him from attacking it on that point, the duke ordered Colonel Belford to continue the cannonade, with the view of provoking the Highlanders and inducing them to advance to the attack. These, on the other hand, endeavoured to draw the royal army forward by sending down several parties by way of defiance. Some of these approached three several times within a hundred yards of the right of the royal army, firing their pistols and brandishing their swords; but with the exception of the small squadron of horse on the right, which advanced a little, the line remained immoveable.


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