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Prince Charles Edward Stuart
Alarm at Edinburgh, arrival of the English army

The inhabitants of Edinburgh, relieved from the presence of the Highland army, had lived for five weeks in a state of comparative security. Public worship had been resumed in several of the city churches on the 3rd of November, and in all of them on the 10th. The state officers who had retired to Berwick, did not, however, return till the 13th, when they entered the city with an air of triumph, which accorded ill with their recent conduct as fugitives. On the following day, Lieutenant-general Handasyde arrived, as before stated, at Edinburgh with Price's and Ligonier's regiments of foot, and Hamilton's and Ligonier's (lately Gardiner's), dragoons; and, on the 7th December, these troops were sent west to Stirling, where, in conjunction with the Glasgow and Paisley militia, amounting to nearly 700 men, commanded by the Earl of Home, they guarded the passes of the Forth.

In the mean time, exertions were made to re-embody the Edinburgh regiment; but these do not appear to have been attended with success. With the exception of some young men who formed themselves into a volunteer company, few of the inhabitants were disposed to take up arms, as they were fully sensible, that without a sufficient force of regular troops, no effectual resistance could be opposed to the Highlanders, should they return to the city.

In this situation of matters, the news of the Highlanders having crossed the Esk in their retreat from England, reached Edinburgh, and threw the civil and military authorities into a state of consternation. Ignorant of the route the Highlanders meant to follow, they were extremely perplexed how to act. They naturally apprehended another visit, and their fears seemed to be confirmed by the return to Edinburgh of the regular troops from the west, on the 23rd of December, and by the arrival of the Glasgow regiment the next day, all of whom had retreated to Edinburgh on the approach of the Highlanders. A resolution was adopted by the public authorities to put the city in a proper state of defence, and, on the 29th, a paper was read in the city churches, acquainting the inhabitants, that it had been resolved in a council of war to defend the city. Next day a considerable number of men from the parishes in the neighbourhood, who had been provided with arms from the castle, entered the city, and were drawn up in the High Street. The men of each parish marched by themselves, and were attended in most instances by their respective ministers. These were joined by other small corps, one of the most remarkable of which was a body of Seceders, belonging to the associated congregations of Edinburgh and Dalkeith, carrying a standard with the inscription, "For Religion, Covenants, King, and Kingdoms."

Had the Highlanders chosen to march upon Edinburgh, the resolution to defend it would not have been carried into effect, as it was the intention of regular troops to have retired to Berwick on their approach; but, fortunately for the reputation of the new defenders of the capital, and army under Lieutenant-general Hawley was now on its march into Scotland. This gentleman, who had just been appointed commander-in-chief in Scotland, though described by the Duke of Newcastle as " an officer of great ability and experience," was in fact a man of very ordinary military attainments, and in no way fitted for the important duty which had been assigned him. His whole genius lay, as Mr. John Forbes of Culloden observed to his father, the president, in the management of a squadron, or in prosecuting with vigour any mortal to the gallows. He had a very sorry opinion of the prowess of the Highlanders, whom he was confident of beating, if his troops were in good condition, without regard to the numbers of their opponents; but he was destined soon to find out his mistake.

To expedite the march of the English army, the gentlemen and farmers of Tevoitdale, the Merse, and the Lothians furnished horses, by means of which the first division of the royal army, consisting of a battalion of the Scots Royals and Battereau's foot, reached Edinburgh as early as the 2d of January, where they were shortly joined by Fleming's and Blakeney's regiments, that of Major-general Huske, by Hawley himself, by the regiments of Wolfe (not, as has been supposed, the immortal general of that name) and Cholmondeley, Howard's (the old Buffs) and Monro's, and by Barrel's and Pulteney's. At Dunbar, Aberlady, and other places, these troops were entertained by the proprietors in East Lothian, who allowed each soldier a pound of beef, a pound of Bread, a glass of spirits, and a bottle of ale. They were also feasted at Edinburgh at the expense of the city, where they were courteously received by the terrified inhabitants, who furnished them with blankets, and evinced great anxiety to make them comfortable.

The citizens also illuminated their houses; and such as declined had their windows broken by the mob, who also demolished with an unsparing hand all the windows of such houses as were uninhabited. On his arrival in the city, the commander-in-chief justified Mr. Forbes's opinion by causing one gallows to be erected in the Grassmarket, and another between Leith and Edinburgh, on which it is supposed he meant to hang such unfortunate victims as might fall into his hands.

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