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Prince Charles Edward Stuart
Various opinions held by the Prince's council

Although Marshal Wade must have been duly apprised of the arrival of the Highland army in England, yet it was not until he had received intelligence of their march to Brampton, and of their probable advance upon Newcastle, that he began to move. He set out from Newcastle on the 16th of November, the day after the surrender of Carlisle; but a deep snow, which had just fallen, so retarded his march, that his army did not reach Ovington till eight o'clock that night. Next day he advanced to Hexham, where the first column of his army arrived about four o'clock in the afternoon; but the rear did not get up till near midnight. The army, unable to proceed farther on account of the snow, encamped on a moor near the town, and the men were provided with a sufficient quantity of straw to repose upon by the inhabitants, who kindled large fires all over the ground to protect the troops from the cold, which was unusually severe. At Hexham, Wade was informed of the decision of Carlisle. He remained there three days in the expectation of a thaw; but the road to Carlisle continuing impassable, he returned to Newcastle, which he reached on the 22d of November. The conduct of Marshal Wade, in delaying his march from Newcastle, had been justly censured, for there can be no doubt that had he made a movement in advance upon Carlisle about the time the insurgents marched to Brampton, that town would have been saved.

The sudden and unexpected success which had attended Charles's arms in England, spread a general alarm through all the northern and western parts of that kingdom, an extended even to the capital itself. Such was the alteration of hope and feat in the minds of the people of all classes, that whilst the most trifling article of good news led them to indulge in the most exaggerated manifestations of joy, the smallest reverse of fortune plunged them into the abject despair. Sir Andrew Mitchell, alluding to this circumstance in a letter to President Forbes, says, that if he had not lived long enough in England to know the natural bravery of the people, he should have formed a very false opinion of them from their demeanour at the period in question.

As soon as the news of the surrender of Carlisle was know in London,the government resolved to assemble an army of 10,000 men in Staffordshire, under Sir John Ligonier, and officer of considerable military experience. For this purpose, Sir John left London on the 21st of November, taking with him nine old battalions, two regiments of dragoons, and part of his own regiment of horse. In addition to this and the other army under Wade, a third army, to be placed under the immediate command of his majesty, was ordered to be raised, and encamped in the vicinity of London for its protection. The city and castle of Chester were put in a proper state of defence, and the town of Liverpool raised a regiment of 700 men, who were clothed and maintained at the expense of the inhabitants.

When mustered at Carlisle, the prince's army amounted only to about 4,500 men. The idea of marching to London and overturning the government with such a force, in the face of three armies and a numerous militia, amounting in all to upwards of 60,000 men, could scarcely have been entertained by any adventurer, however sanguine his hopes may have been; but Charles was so full of his object, that he shut his eyes to the great difficulties of the enterprise, which he imagined would be surmounted by the tried valour of his troops, and the junction of a considerable party in England devoted to his cause.

To determine upon the course to be next pursued, Charles called a council of war, in which different opinions were maintained. As there was no appearance of either an invasion from France, or an insurrection in England, some of the members proposed returning to Scotland, where a defensive war could be carried on till such time as the prince should be in a condition to resume offensive operations. Others were for remaining at Carlisle, and quartering the army in the neighbourhood till they saw whether there should be any indications of a rising in England. A third party proposed that they should march to Newcastle and engage Wade's army. A fourth, that the army should continue its route to London by the west or Lancashire road, in support of which opinion they urged, that being now in possession of Carlisle, they had, at the worst, a safe retreat. This last proposal being quite in accordance with the prince's own sentiments, he declared that his opinion of marching directly to London, in terms of the resolution entered into at Edinburgh, was in no respect altered since he entered England. Lord George Murray, who had hitherto remained silent, was the desired by the prince to give his opinion. His lordship entered at some length into the question; stated the advantages and disadvantages of each of the different opinions; and concluded, by observing, that for himself he could not venture to advise his royal highness to march far into England, without receiving more encouragement from the country than he had hitherto got; but he was persuaded, that if his royal highness was resolved to make a trial of what could be expected, and would march south, his army, though small, would follow him. After Lord George had done speaking, Charles immediately said he would venture the trial. In giving his opinion, Lord George says he spoke with the more caution, in consequence of the recent circumstances which had led to his resignation.

As a considerable number of men had been collected at Perth since the prince's departure from Scotland, and more were on their way thither from the north, Charles, before leaving Carlisle for the south, sent Maclauchlan of Maclauchlan to Scotland with an order to Lord Strathallan, to march with all the forces under his command, and join the army in England; but this order was disregarded.

Whilst encamped at Duddingston, the Highlanders preferred sleeping in the open air, and had with difficulty been prevailed upon to use the tents which had been captured at Preston and those provided at Edinburgh. These tents were packed up for the campaign in England: but the party, to whose care they were intrusted, most unaccountably left the whole of them at Lockerby along with other baggage. The whole, consisting of thirty cart-loads, were captured by a party of country people, who carried them to Dumfries. After the surrender of Carlisle, Lochiel went with a party to reclaim the baggage, failing which, he was ordered to exact 2,000 from the town; but before he reached Dumfries he was recalled. The army, therefore, being now without tents, and the season very severe, it was resolved so to arrange the order of march as to get the men accommodated in the towns. For this purpose, it was determined that one part of the army should precede the other by a day's march, the second division always occupying the quarters vacated by the first; but that, where the country would admit of it, there should be only half a day's march betwixt them.

In accordance with this plan, the first division, commanded by Lord George Murray, left Carlisle on the 20th of November. It consisted, with the exception of the Duke of Perth's regiment, which being appointed to guard the thirteen cannon and ammunition, was not included in either division, of the whole of the low country regiments, six in number, with the life-guards under Lord Elcho, who marched at the head of the division. Each of these regiments led the van in its turn. This division reached Penrith the same day, having performed a march of eighteen miles. The second division, consisting of the clan regiments and the remainder of the cavalry, headed by the prince in person, left Carlisle next day, and arrived at Penrith that night, and entered the quarters occupied by the first division, which marched the same day to Shap, where it passed the night. In the march of the prince's division the cavalry always marched at its head, and each of the clan regiments led the van by turns, agreeably to the plan observed by the division under Lord George Murray. A garrison of about 200 men was left in Carlisle under the command of one Hamilton, who had been made deputy-governor under the Duke of Perth, on whom the governorship had been conferred.

On reaching Penrith, Charles, for the first time, heard of the march of Wade from Newcastle, and of his arrival at Hexham. Resolved to return to Carlisle and give battle to Wade, should he advance upon that city, Charles remained all the next day at Penrith, waiting for further intelligence of the marshal's movements; but receiving information from Lord Kilmarnock, who still remained with his horse at Brampton, that the English general was on his way back to Newcastle, Charles marched to Kendal  on the 23d. The van of the army, which had arrived in Kendal on the previous day, marched on the 23d to Lancaster, where it halted for the night. The prince resumed his march on the 25th, and reached Lancaster, on which day the first division went to Garstang. On the 26th the whole army reached Preston, where it halted till the 27th. Recollecting the fate of the Highland army at Preston in 1715, the Highlanders had become possessed of the idea that they would never get beyond that town; but Lord George Murray, on being informed of it, dispelled this superstitious dread by crossing the bridge over the Ribble, and quartering a considerable number of his men on the other side of that river.

During his progress to Preston, Charles received no marks of attachments from the inhabitants of the towns and country through which he passed; but at Preston his arrival was hailed with acclamations and the ringing of bells. With the exception, however, of Mr Townley, a Catholic gentleman who had been in the French service, and two or three other gentlemen, no person of any note joined him. By dint of entreaty a few recruits were indeed raised; but it was not with such levies that Charles could expect to strengthen his army. At Preston Charles held a council of war, at which he repeated the assurances he alleged he had received from his English partisans, and have fresh hopes of being joined by them on their arrival at Manchester. The Highland chiefs were prevailed upon to continue their march. Lord George Murray proposed to march with his column to Liverpool, and to join the other division at Macclesfield; but this proposal was overruled.

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