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The Battle of Culloden

Characteristic Bravery of the Highlanders


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.


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