Search just our sites by using our customised search engine

Unique Cottages | Electric Scotland's Classified Directory

Click here to get a Printer Friendly PageSmiley

Prince Charles Edward Stuart
Preperations for the Battle of Culloden

The Duke of Cumberland had been informed of the night march towards Nairn by some Highland spies whom he had in his pay, and who had mixed with the insurgents as they marched; but the spies were ignorant of the intended surprise, which was kept a profound secret from the Highland army. Judging from the intelligence brought by the last parson that arrived in his camp, that the Highlanders were coming directly in his front, the duke considered himself free from surprise, as the Argyleshire men lay on the plain to the west of his camp, while a party of dragoons patrolled all night between Nairn and the sea. He therefore ordered his men to take some rest, but to keep their arms in readiness. He appears not to have anticipated an attack during the night, but to have imagined that Charles merely meant to take ground during the night, and to attack him early next morning. In expectation of a battle, the duke had formed his army by break of day, and, having ascertained that the Highland army had retreated, he began his march towards Inverness about five o'clock. The English army had, as anticipated, celebrated the birth-day of their commander; but although they were amply supplied with bread, cheese, and brandy, at the duke's expense, the men had not exceeded the bounds of moderation.

Before commencing the march, written instructions, which had been communicated to the commanders of the different regiments, were read at the head of every company in the line. These instructions were, that if the persons to whom the charge of the train or baggage horses was entrusted should abscond or leave them, they should be punished with immediate death; and that if any officer or soldier misconducted himself during the engagement, he should be sentenced. The infantry marched in three parallel divisions or columns, of five regiments each, headed by General Huske on the left, Lord Sempill on the right, and General Mordaunt in the centre. The artillery and baggage followed the first column on the right, and the dragoons and horse, led by Generals Hawley and Bland, were on the left, forming a fourth column. Forty of Kingston's horse and Argyleshire men formed the van.

The charge of forming the Highland army in line of battle on this important occasion was intrusted to O'Sullivan, who acted in the double capacity of adjutant and Quarter-master general. This officer, in the opinion of Lord George Murray, a high authority certainly, was exceedingly unfit for such a task, and committed gross blunders on every occasion of moment. In the present instance, he did not even visit the ground where the army was to be drawn up, and he committed a "fatal error" by omitting to throw down some park walls upon the left of the English army, which were afterwards taken possession of by the Duke of Cumberland, it being found afterwards impossible to break the English lines, from the destructive flank-fire which was opened from these walls upon the right of the Highland army, as it advanced to the attack. While the Duke of Cumberland was forming his line of battle, Lord George Murray was very desirous to advance and throw down these walls; but as such s movement would have broken the line, the officers about him considered that the attempt would be dangerous, and he therefore did not make it.

The Highland army was drawn up in three lines. The first, or front line, consisted of the Athole brigade, which had the right, the Camerons, Stewarts of Appin, Frasers, Macintoshes, Maclauchlans, Macleans, John Roy Stewart's regiment, and Farquharsons, united into one regiment; the Macleods, Chisholms, Macdonalds of Clanranald, Keppoch, and Glengarry. The three Macdonald regiments formed the left. Lord George Murray commanded on the right, Lord John Drummond in the centre, and the duke of Perth on the left, of the first line. There had been, a day or two before, a violent contention among the chiefs about precedency of rank. The Macdonalds claimed the right as their due, in support of which claim they stated, that as a reward for the fidelity of Angus Macdonald, Lord of the Isles, in protecting Robert the Bruce for upwards of nine months in his dominions, that prince, at the battle of Bannockburn, conferred the post of honour, the right, upon the Macdonalds, - that this post had ever since been enjoyed by them, unless when yielded from courtesy upon particular occasions, as was done to the chief of the Macleans at the battle of Harlaw. Lord George Murray, however, maintained that, under the Marquis of Montrose, the right had been assigned to the Athole men, and he insisted that that post should be now conferred upon them, in the contest with the Duke of Cumberland's army. In this unseasonable demand, Lord George is said to have been supported by Lochiel and his friends. Charles refused to decide a question with the merits of which he was imperfectly acquainted; but, as it was necessary to adjust the difference immediately, he prevailed upon the commanders of the Macdonald regiments to waive their pretensions in the present instance.

The Macdonalds in general were far from being satisfied with the complaisance of their commanders, and, as they had occupied the post of honour at Gladsmuir and Falkirk, they considered their deprivation of it on the present occasion as ominous. The Duke of Perth, while he stood at the head of the Glengarry regiment, hearing the murmurs of the Macdonalds, said, that if they behaved with their usual valour they would make a right of the left, and that he would change his name to Macdonald; but these proud clansmen leant a deaf ear to him.

The second line of the Highland army consisted of the Gordons under Lord Lewis Gordon, formed in column on the right, the French Royal Scots, the Irish piquets or brigade, Lord Kilmarnock's foot guards, Lord John Drummond's regiment, and Glenbucket's regiment in column on the left, flanked on the right by Fitz-James's dragoons, and Lord Elcho's horse-guards, and on the left by the Perth squadron, under Lord Strathallan and Pitsligo, and the prince's body-guards under Lord Balmerino. General Stapleton had the command of this line. The third line, or reserve, consisted of the Duke of Perth's and Lord Ogilvy's regiments, under the last-mentioned nobleman. The prince himself, surrounded by a troop of Fitz-James's horse, took his station on a very small eminence behind the centre of the first line, from which he had a complete view of the whole field of battle. The extremities of the front line and the centre were each protected by four pieces of cannon.

Next | Index | Previous


This comment system requires you to be logged in through either a Disqus account or an account you already have with Google, Twitter, Facebook or Yahoo. In the event you don't have an account with any of these companies then you can create an account with Disqus. All comments are moderated so they won't display until the moderator has approved your comment.

comments powered by Disqus