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Battle of Falkirk


So great was the disorder that existed in the Highland army, occasioned by the rash and impetuous conduct of the Macdonalds, in leaving their ranks, and by the check received from the three regiments, that it was about four hours after the close of the battle, which lasted scarcely twenty minutes, before the greater part of the army had any information of the result. The Highlanders were dispersed in every direction over the hill, and the different clans were mingled together pell-mell. The confusion was greatly increased by the obscurity of the night, and for several hours they wandered over the moor, uncertain whether they were to meet friends or foes.

Early in the evening, many of the Highlanders had retired from the field of battle, either thinking it lost, or intending to seek shelter from the weather. During this disorder, the fate of the prince himself was equally unknown. Early in the action, he had sent one of his aides-de-camp with an order; but, on returning with an answer, the prince was no more to be seen. The officer, in searching for him, fell in with the prince's own life-guards, drawn up in order of battle, near a cottage on the edge of the hill, with their commander, Lord Elcho, at their head; but his lordship could give him no information respecting chiefs of the clans, ignorant even of the fate of their own regiments, met together at the seat of Mr. Primrose, at Dunipace, where they were joined by other officers all equally ignorant of the result of the battle. At length, about eight o'clock in the evening, all doubt was removed from the minds of this party, by the arrival of Macdonald of Lochgarry, who announced that the Highland Army had obtained a complete victory, - that the English were flying in disorder towards Edinburgh, - and that the prince was in possession of Falkirk, and in the quarters which had been occupied by General Hawley. He added, that he had been sent to Dunipace, by the prince, with orders to the rest of the army to repair to Falkirk next morning by break of day.

Partly from the darkness of the evening, and partly from the impossibility of collecting a sufficiently numerous body of the Highlanders together, the prince was unable to continue the pursuit. About 1,500 of them had entered the town, but so intent were they upon securing the spoils of the English camp, that it was with difficulty that sufficient guards could be got for the town, and the prince's person, during the night. Besides, the Highlanders had been upon their legs for twelve hours, without receiving ant refreshment, and were completely drenched to the skin, so that even had pursuit been otherwise practicable, they must have speedily desisted from excessive fatigue, and might probably have suffered from the dragoons which covered the rear of Hawley's foot.

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