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Prince Charles Edward Stuart
The Highland army crosses the Esk

After remaining a short remaining a short time at Clifton after the skirmish, Lord George went to Penrith, where he found the prince ready to mount for Carlisle. His royal highness was very well pleased with the result of the action. The men who had been engaged halted at Penrith a short time to refresh themselves; and the prince, after sending Clanranald's and Keppoch's regiments as far back as Clifton bridge, to induce the inhabitants to believe that he meant to fight the Duke of Cumberland, left Penrith for Carlisle with the main body. Next morning the whole army reached Carlisle, where the prince found letters, though rather of an old date, from Lord John Drummond and Lord Strathallan. Lord John gave him great encouragement from the court of France, and informed his royal highness that it was the desire of the King of France that the prince should proceed with great caution, and if possible avoid a decisive action till he received the succours the king intended to send him, which would be such as to out his success beyond all doubt, and that, in the mean time, he (Lord John) had brought over some troops and a train of artillery, sufficient to reduce all the fortresses in Scotland. Lord Strathallan gave a very favourable account of the state of the army assembled at Perth, which he represented as better than that which the prince had with him. As nothing positive, however, was known at Carlisle of the operation of the Jacobite forces in the north, Charles resolved to continue the retreat into Scotland. Contrary to the opinion of Lord George Murray, who advised him to evacuate Carlisle, Charles resolved to leave a garrison there to facilitate his return to England, of which as the time he had strong hopes when joined by the forces under Lords Strathallan and Drummond. As Carlisle was not tenable, and as the Highland army could easily have re-entered England independent of any obstruction from any garrison which could be put into it, the conduct of Charles in leaving a portion of his army behind has been justly reprehended; but there is certainly no room for the accusation which has been made against him, of having wilfully sacrifices the unfortunate garrison. It was not without difficulty that Charles could make up a garrison. The Duke of Perth was unwilling to allow any of his men to remain; and appearing to complain in the presence of the prince that a certain number of the Athole men had not been draughted for that service, Lord George Murray told him, also in the prince's presence, that if his royal highness would order him, he would stay with the Athole brigade, though he knew what his fate would be. The number of men left in garrison amounted to about 400. Mr Hamilton was continued in the command of the castle, and Mr Townley was made commandant of the town.

The Highland army halted the whole of the 19th in Carlisle, and departed next day for Scotland. The Esk, which form part of the boundary between England and Scotland on the west, was, from an incessant rain of several days, rendered impassable by the nearest road from Carlisle; but at the distance of about eight miles from Carlisle it was still fordable. The army reached the place, where they intended to cross, about two o'clock in the afternoon. Before crossing the water, the following route was fixed upon by the advice of Lord George Murray, whose opinion had been asked by Charles in presence of some of his officers, viz, that Lord George, with six battalions, should march that night to Ecclefechan, next day to Moffat, and there halt a day; and after making a feint towards Edinburgh road, as if he intended to march upon the capital, to turn off to Douglas, then to Hamilton and Glasgow, - that the prince should go with the clans and most of the horse that night to Annan, next day to Dumfries, where they should rest a day; then to Drumlanrig, Leadhills, Douglas and Hamilton, so as to be at Glasgow the day after the arrival in that city of Lord George's division.

Though the river was usually shallow at the place fixed upon for passing, it was now swollen, by continued rains, to the depth of four feet. The passage was not without its dangers; but as the river might be rendered impassable by a continuation of the rain during the night, and as it was possible that the Duke of Cumberland might reach the Esk next morning, it was resolved to cross it immediately. After trying the water to ascertain that the ford was good, a body of cavalry formed in the river, a few paces above the ford, to break the force of the stream, and another body was likewise stationed in the river below the ford to pick up such of the infantry as might be carried away by the violence of the current. This arrangement being completed, the infantry entered the river a hundred men abreast, each holding one another by the neck of the coat, by which plan they supported one another against the rapidity of the river, leaving sufficient intervals between their ranks for the passage of the water. Lord George Murray, who was among the first to enter the water in his philibeg, says, that when nearly across, there were about 2,000 men in the water at once. The appearance of the river, in the interval between the cavalry, presented an extraordinary spectacle. As the heads of the Highlanders were generally all that was seen above the water, the space of water occupied in the passage looked like a paved street. Not one man was lost in the transit; but a few girls who had followed their lovers in their adventurous campaign, were swept away by the current. After the army had passed, the pipes began to play; and the Highlanders, happy on setting their feet again on Scottish ground, forgot for a time the disappointment they had suffered at Derby, and testified their joy by dancing reels upon the northern bank of the Esk.

The expedition into England, though not signalised by any great military achievement, will always hold a distinguished place in the annals of bold and adventurous enterprise. It was planned and carried through in all its details with great judgement; and if circumstances had not delayed its execution, it might have terminated in success. From the consternation into which the English people were thrown by the invasion of the Highland army, it seems certain, that without the aid of a regular army their militia would scarcely have ventured to oppose the march of the Highlanders to the Metropolis; but after the return of the British forces from Flanders, the arrival of the Dutch auxiliaries, and the assembling of the armies under Wade and Ligonier, the attempt appeared to be hopeless. It was not, however, until the retreat from Derby that the government was relieved from its anxiety for the safety of the monarchy.

The Duke of Cumberland halted at Penrith on the 20th of December and marched next day to Carlisle, which he invested the same day. As he was under the necessity of sending to Whitehaven for heavy cannon, the fire from his batteries did not commence till the morning of the 28th. During the blockade the garrison fired repeatedly upon the besiegers, but with little effect. A fire was kept up by the besiegers from a battery of six eighteen-pounders, during the 28th and 29th. Another battery of three thirteen-pounders was completed on the 30th; but on the first fire from the old battery that day, the besieged hung out a white flag, and offered hostages for a capitulation. The Duke of Cumberland, on observing this signal, sent one of his aides-de-camp with a note, desiring to know its meaning; to which Governor Hamilton answered, that the object was to obtain a cessation for a capitulation, and desiring to know what terms his royal highness would grant to the garrison. The only condition the duke would grant was, that the garrison should not be put to the sword, but be reserved for the king's pleasure; and Hamilton, seeing the impossibility of holding out, surrendered the same day. The garrison, including officers, consisted of 114 men of the Manchester regiment; of 274 men, also including officers, chiefly of the Scotch low country regiments, and a few Frenchmen and Irishmen. The number of cannon in the castle was sixteen, then of which had been left by the Highland army on its return to Scotland. Among the prisoners were found twelve deserters from the royal forces, who were immediately hanged. The officers were kept prisoners in the castle, but the privates were confined in the cathedral and town-jail. The whole were afterwards dispersed in several jails through England. The Duke of Cumberland, after putting Bligh's regiment in garrison at Carlisle, returned to London, in consequence of an order from court.

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