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Battle of Falkirk

HAWLEY’S ARMY ARRIVES IN FALKIRK


Conceiving himself in a sufficiently strong condition to give battle to the Highlanders, General Hawley began to put the troops he had assembled at Edinburgh in motion towards the west. His force amounted to upwards of 9,000 men, of whom, 1,300 were cavalry, and he might in a few days have increased it considerably by the addition of some regiments which were on their march to join him. He had also reason to expect the immediate arrival in the Firth of Forth of a body of 6,000 Hessians who had embarked at Williamstadt on the 1st of January, by which accession his army would have been almost doubled. Impatient, however, to acquire a renown which had ben denied to Cope, his predecessor, of whose capacity he had been heard to speak very contemptuously, Hawley resolved not to wait for his expected reinforcements, but to seize the laurels which were in imagination already within his grasp.

Accordingly, on the morning of the 13th of January, the first division of the royal army, consisting of five regiments of foot, together with the Glasgow regiment of militia, and Hamilton's and Ligonier's dragoons, all under the command of Mayor-general Huske, left Edinburgh and marched westward to Linlithgow. Hearing that preparations had been made at Linlithgow for the reception of these troops, and that provisions and forage had been collected in that town for the use of Hawley's army, Lord George Murray left Falkirk at four o'clock the same morning for Linlithgow, with five battalions of the clans for the purpose of capturing these stores. He was joined on the road by Lord Elcho's and Lord Pitsligo's troops of life-guards, whom he had ordered to meet him.

Before sunrise he had completely surrounded the town, and as Lord George and been informed that Huske's division was to enter the town at night, he called his officers together before marching into town, and having told them the object for which they had come, he desired that they would continue ready to assemble in the street on a moment's warning, in order to march wherever they might be directed. After taking possession of the town, and apprehending a few militia, Lord George sent forward some patrols on the road to Edinburgh, to reconnoitre while the Highlanders were engaged in seizing the articles prepared for the royal forces; but they had scarcely been an hour in town when these advanced parties discovered a body of dragoons advancing in their direction. Two of the patrols came back at full speed, and having given Lord George notice of their approach, he marched with his men out of the town.

The dragoons retired as the Highlanders advanced. Their horse, with 200 of the best foot, followed them about two miles; but the main body returned to Linlithgow, where they dined. With the exception of a few small reconnoitring parties, the advanced body also returned to the town; but in less than an hour one of these parties came in with information that the dragoons were again returning with a large body of horse and foot. Lord George resolved to attack them when the half of them should pass the bridge, half a mile west from the town, and after waiting with his men on the streets till Huske had reached the east end of the town, he retired in the expectation that the royalist general would follow him; but Huske, who marched above the town, though he followed the Highlanders to the bridge, did not pass it. Lord George returned to Falkirk, and by orders of the prince marched next day to Bannockburn.

On the 14th other three regiments marched from Edinburgh towards Borrowstownness, to support the division under Huske, and these were followed next day by three additional regiments. With these forces Huske marched on the 16th to Falkirk, and encamped to the north-west of the town with his front towards Stirling. In the evening he was joined by the remainder of the army, and the artillery, consisting of ten pieces of cannon. General Hawley himself arrived at Callander House the same evening.

Next morning the army was joined by Cobham's dragoons, who had just arrived from England, and by about 1,000 Argyleshire men, chiefly Campbells, under the command of Lieutenant- colonel Campbell, afterwards Duke of Argyle. Besides this corps, this whig clan furnished another of 1,000 men, which was posted about Inverary, under Major-general Campbell, the colonel's father, to guard the passes. Along with the army was a company called the Yorkshire Blues, raised, maintained, and commanded, by a gentleman of the name Thornton. Several volunteers, among whom were several clergymen, also accompanied the army on this occasion.


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