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Prince Charles Edward Stuart
Cope on his route to Edinburgh

Desirous of engaging the Highland army before the arrival of its expected reinforcements, General Cope left Dunbar on the 19th of September, in the direction of Edinburgh. The cavalry, infantry, cannon, and baggagecarts, which extended several miles along the road, gave a formidable appearance to this little army, and attracted the notice of the country people, who, having been long unaccustomed to war and arms, flocked from all quarters to see an army on the eve of battle; and with infinite concern and anxiety for the result beheld the uncommon spectacle. The army halted on a field to the west of the town of Haddington, sixteen miles east of Edinburgh. As it was supposed that the Highlanders might march in the night time, and by their rapid movements surprise the army, a proposal was made in the evening, to the general, to employ some of the young men who followed the camp, to ride betwixt Haddington and Duddingston, during the night, so as to prevent surprise. This proposal was approved by Cope, and sixteen young men, most of whom had been volunteers at Edinburgh, offered their services. These were divided into two parties of eight men each; one of which, subdivided into four men each, set out an nine o'clock at night, by four different roads that led to the camp at midnight, and made a report to the officer commanding the piquet, that they had not met with any appearance of the enemy. The other party then went off, subdivided as before, by the different, and rode about till day-break, when six of them returned and made a similar report, but the remaining two who had taken the coast road to Musselburgh, did not make their appearance at the camp, having been made prisoners by an attorney's apprentice, who conducted them to the rebel camp at Duddingston! The extraordinary capture of these doughty patrols, one of whom was Francis Garden, afterwards better known as a lord of session, by the title of Lord Gardenstone, and the other Mr Robert Cunningham, known afterwards as General Cunningham, is thus humorously detailed by a writer in the Quarterly Review:-

"The general sent two of the volunteers who chanced to be mounted, and knew the country, to observe the coast road, especially towards Musselburgh. They rode on their exploratory expedition, and coming to that village, which is about six miles from Edinburgh, avoided the bridge to escape detection, and crossed the Esk, it being then low water, at a place nigh its junction with the sea. Unluckily there was at the opposite side a snug thatched tavern, kept by a cleanly old woman called Luckie F---, who was eminent for the excellence of her oysters and sherry. The patrols were both Bon-vivants; one of them whom we remember in the situation of a senator, as it is called, of the college of justice, was unusually so, and a gay witty agreeable companion besides. Luckie's sign and the heap of shells deposited near her door, proved as great a temptation to this vigilant forlorn-hope, as the wine-house to the abbess of Andonillet's muleteer. They had scarcely got settled at some right Pandores, with a bottle of sherry as an accompaniment, when, as some Jacobite devil would have it, an unlucky north-country lad, a writer's (i.e. attorney's) apprentice, who had given his indentures the slip, and taken the white-cockade, chanced to pass by on his errand to join Prince Charles. He saw the two volunteers through the window, knew them, and guessed their business; he saw the tide would make it impossible for them to return along the sands as they had come. He therefore placed himself in ambush upon the steep, narrow, impracticable bridge, which was then, and for many years afterwards, the only place of crossing the Esk, 'and how he contrived it', our narrator used to proceed, 'I never could learn, but the courage and assurance of the province from which he came are proverbial. In short, the Norland whipper-snapper surrounded and made prisoners of my two poor friends, before they could draw a trigger'".

Cope resumed his march on the morning of the 20th of September, following the course of the post road to Edinburgh, till he came near Haddington, when he led off his army along another road, nearer the coast, by St. Germains and Seaton. His object in leaving the post road was to avoid some defiles and inclosures which would have hindered, in case of attack, the operations of his cavalry. In its march the army was followed by a number of spectators, all anxious to witness the expected combat; but they were assured by the officers that as the army was now rendered complete by the junction of the horse and foot, the Highlanders would not venture to engage. As some persons who ventured to express a different opinion were looked upon with jealousy, it is not improbable that the officers who thus expressed themselves did not speak their real sentiments.

On leaving the post road the general sent forward the Earl of Loudon his adjutant-general, with Lord Home and the quarter-master-general, to select ground near Musselburgh, on which to encamp the army during the night; but this party had not proceeded far when they observed some straggling parties of Highlanders advancing. The Earl of Loudon immediately rode back at a good pace, and have Sir John the information just as the van of the royal army was entering the plain betwixt Seaton and Preston, know by the name of Gladsmuir. Judging the ground before him a very eligible spot for meeting the Highlanders, the general continued his march along the high road to Preston, and halted his army on the moor, where he formed his troops in order of battle, with his front to the west. His right extended towards the sea in the direction of Port Seaton, and his left towards the village of Preston. These dispositions had scarcely been made when the whole of the Highland army appeared.

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