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Historical Geography of the Clans of Scotland
By T. B. Johnston, F.R.G.S. and Colonel James A. Robertson
The Highland Campaigns
The Forty-Five - Before Culloden

Bonnie Prince Charlie

A quarter of a century elapsed before the sword was again drawn, for the last time, in the cause of the Stuarts. No event in Scottish history has been the subject of deeper or more enduring interest than the rising of 1745. It is full of incidents of personal daring and romantic adventure, and it has all the pathetic interest which attaches to the last struggle of a lost cause. In more ways than one it was, like the Union, the “end of an auld sang.” Prince Charlie’s departure for France ended the history of old Scotland – the tumultuous and impoverished Scotland of the Middle Ages – “loitering in the rear of civilsation,” to use Mr. Froude’s phrase. Then began the history of modern Scotland, the prosperous agricultural, manufacturing, and commercial Scotland in which we live. So vast has been the change that it is not easy to realize that the period which has elapsed between the battle of Culloden and our own day does not exceed the span of two long lives. [For example, in July 1897 there died in Dundee William Robertson, aged ninety-seven, who was in early life a servant to Colonel Alexander Macdonnell of Glengarry. While in that situation he frequently met and conversed with Owen Macdonnell, who had fought at Prestonpans, Falkirk, and Culloden. Owen was then nearing a hundred years old, and was full of stories of the campaign. – Edinburgh Evening Dispatch, July 12, 1897.]

After the failure of the Spanish expedition of 1719, James Stuart, as we have seen, returned to Italy. His marriage with Princess Clementina Sobieska, which has already been celebrated by proxy, took place at Montefiascone in Setember 1719. Two sons were the issue of the marriage, Charles Edward Louis Philip Casimir, born in 1720, and Henry Benedict Maria Thomas, born in 1725. The former was the Prince Charlie of the ’45.

Early in life the heir of the lost cause showed that he had inherited not only the personal charm of the Stuarts, but no small share of the valour and capacity of John Sobieski. As a lad of fourteen he gave proof of his courage at the siege of Gaeta. John Walton, the agent of the English Government at Rome, speaks with frank admiration of his bravery and talents. “Everybody,” he writes, “says that he will be in time a far more dangerous enemy to the present establishment of the Government of England than ever his father was.” [State Paper, Tuscany, Aug. 7, 1734. Walton’s letters are full of information about the Prince’s youth. See the extremely interesting early chapters of Mr. A. C. Ewald’s Life and Times of Prince Charles Stuart.]

During the years between 1720 and 1740 the history of Jacobitism is that of a succession of fruitless intrigues. Jacobite agents hung about every Court in Europe, and the little exiled Stuart Court at Rome and Albano was full of busy plotters, hatching projects which came to nothing. In Scotland Lockhart organized a body of “Trustees” to take charge of James’s interests. This body was regarded with much jealousy by those who surrounded James in his exile, and appears never to have received his formal authorisation. “They had an opportunity,” says Burton, “for quarrelling with the Jacobite clergy, and seem only to have been saved from deeper quarrels with the Court of Albano because neither body could find anything to do or to quarrel about.”

In the meantime the Government was taking such measures as seemed best calculated to reduce the Highlands to order and submission. No serious steps were taken to punish those who had taken part in the affair of 1719; it was evidently desired that the whole thing should be allowed to blow over. Two disarming Acts were passed, but were very imperfectly carried into effect. Naturally, they were but obeyed by the clans which were in the interest of the Government. The disaffected clans gave up large quantities of worthless arms – it was said that some were imported from abroad for the purpose – but, as afterwards appeared, they retained an ample supply of efficient weapons. The chief result of the Acts was to deprive the Government of such assistance as they might have received on emergency from the Campbells and other Whig clans. 

At the same time was begun the enterprise of opening up the Highlands by the great system of roads which is associated with the name of General Wade. The main roads actually constructed by Wade himself were (I) the great Highland Road, which goes by Dunkeld and Blair Atholl to Inverness, familiar to all travelers by the Highland Railway; (2) a road running from Stirling to Crieff, through Glen Almond, past Loch Tay, and so north to join the Highland road at Dalnacardoch; and (3) a road from Inverness to Fort William, along what is now the line of the Caledonian Canal. This last road was connected with the Highland Road by a branch passing over Corryarrack. As we shall see, this branch was, for military purposes, or more use to the Jacobites that it ever was to the Government.

Since the beginning of the eighteenth century a number of independent Highland companies had been maintained as a kind of police force in the service of the Government. It was Duncan Forbes of Culloden, Lord President of the Court of Session, one of the wisest and most patriotic of Scottish statesmen, who first suggested the idea of utilising the dangerous warlike spirit of the clans by raising Highland regiments for foreign service. The Forty-third Regiment, afterwards the Forty-second, was embodied in Strathtay in May of 1740. It inherited from the old independent companies their name of the Black Watch, which it has since made illustrious throughout the world.

In 1739, much against his will, Walpole declared war against Spain. It seemed to the Scottish Jacobites that war with France was inevitable, and that their opportunity was come at last. In the beginning of 1740 some of their leaders met at Edinburgh and framed an “Association” engaging themselves to take arms and venture their lives and fortunes to restore the family of Stuart, provided that the King of France would send over a body of troops to their assistance. This document was signed by Lord Lovat, James Drummond, titular Duke of Perth, Lord Traquair, Sir James Cambell of Auchinbreck, Cameron of Lochiel, John Stewart, brother of Lord Traquair, and Lord John Drummond, and was entrusted to Drummond of Balhaldy to be carried to Rome. The French Court was approached, and was lavish in its promises of aid. Cardinal Tencin, who, on the death of Cardinal Fleury in January 1743, became Prime Minister to Louis XV., was actively friendly to the Stuart cause. John Murray of Broughton, who had now been constituted James’s Secretary for Scottish affairs, was sent to Paris to arrange the details of an invasion of Great Britain. It was ultimately arranged that 3000 French troops should be sent to Scotland under the Earl Marischal, while 12,000 under Marshal Saxe were to be landed in England and to march to London. Murray then proceeded to Scotland to prepare the Jacobite clans to support the projected invasion. The troops were assembled at Dunkirk; a fleet was prepared at Brest and Rochefort; and Prince Charles, with his father’s permission, came to France to accompany the expedition. “I go, Sire,” said he at parting with James, “ in search of three crowns, which I doubt not but to have the honour and happiness of laying at your Majesty’s feet. If I fail in the attempt your next sight of me shall be in my coffin.” “Heaven forbid,” answered James, bursting into tears, “that all the crowns of the world should rob me of my son. Be careful of yourself, my dear Prince, for my sake, and I hope for the sake of millions.”

Charles reached Paris on January 20, 1744, and the expedition was at once put into motion. The British Government were greatly alarmed, as the greater part of their troops were in Flanders, the fleet was in the Mediterranean, and there were only six ships of the line ready at Spithead. However, the expedition was attended with the usual ill-luck of all Jacobite enterprises. Its fate is thus described by Home in his History of the Rebellion: “Orders were immediately given to fit out and man all the ships of war in the different ports of the Channel; never were orders better obeyed, for the French fleet having been driven down the Channel by a strong gale of easterly wind, before they could get up again Sir John Norris with twenty-one ships of the line and a good many frigates arrived in the Downs, where he lay watching the motions of the transports at Dunkirk from the 16th to the 23rd of February. That day an English frigate came into the Downs with the signal for seeing an enemy’s fleet flying at her masthead. The English ships unmoored and, having the tide with them, beat down the Channel against a fresh gale of westerly wind; at four in the afternoon the English fleet caught sight of the French ships lying at anchor near Dungeness, but as the tide was spent they also were obliged to come to anchor. While the two fleets were in this position, Marshal Saxe, who with the young Pretender had come to Dunkirk that very day, was embarking his troops as fast as possible. In the evening the wind changed to the east and blew a storm. The French ships, sensible of their inferiority, as soon as it was dark cut their cables and ran down the Channel. During the night all the ships of the English fleet, two excepted, parted their cables and drove. Both the fleets were far enough from Dunkirk, and if the weather had been moderate Marshal Saxe might have reached England before Sir John Norris could have returned to the Downs; but when the storm rose it stopped embarkation, several transports were wrecked, a good many soldiers and seamen perished, and a great quantity of war-like stores was lost; the English fleet returned to the Downs and the French troops were withdrawn from the coast.”

This attempt to invade Britain was followed by the formal declaration of war with France. Charles, deeply mortified by the failure of the enterprise, retired to Gravelines, where he lived incognito during the summer of 1744 awaiting events. In the beginning of the following winter he went to Paris, but found the French Government not disposed to renew the attempt at invasion.

The defeat of the British army at Fontenoy in May 1745 at last decided Charles to carry out a project which had long been forming in his mind, namely, to wait no longer for foreign aid, but to come to Scotland himself, to throw himself upon the loyalty of his own people, and with their help to make an attempt to recover the crown of his fathers. Charles’s project was not communicated by him to the French Government; whether they knew of it or not they gave it no overt support, but they threw no obstacle in his way. There were then in Paris two merchants of Irish descent, named Ruttledge and Walsh, sons of refugees who had followed the fortunes of James II. They had obtained from the French Government an old man-of-war of 60 guns called the Elizabeth, and had also purchased a 16 gun brig, the Doutelle, which vessels they had equipped for privateering purposes. These vessels were placed at the disposal of the Prince. He borrowed 180,000 livres from his bankers, pawned his jewels, and procured what arms he could – 1500 muskets, 1800 broad-swords, 20 field guns, and ammunition. These were placed on board the Elizabeth

Charles did not communicate his wild project to his father until he was on the eve of sailing, and it was too late to prevent it. “Let what will happen,” he wrote, “the stroke is struck, and I have taken a firm resolution to conquer or to die, and stand my ground as long as I shall have a man remaining with me.”

On June 22, 1745, he went on board the Doutelle at Nantes, accompanied by the Marquis of Tullibardine, Sir John Macdonald, Ǽneas Macdonald, Colonel Strickland, Sir Thomas Sheridan, Captain O’Sulivan, George Kelly, Mr Buchanan, and Anthony Walsh, the owner of the ship. On July 4 the Doutelle was joined at Belleisle by the Elizabeth, and on the 5th the expedition finally set sail for Scotland. Four days after leaving Belleisle the ships were encountered by an English man-of-war, the Lion, under Captain Brett, who engaged the Elizabeth. After six hours of sever fighting both vessels drew off; the Elizabeth being so much damaged that she had to run back into Bret, carrying with her the bulk of the money, arms, and stores which had been provided for the expedition. Charles repeatedly urged Walsh, who was in command of the Doutelle, to bear down to the aid of the Elizabeth, but Walsh absolutely refused to risk the person of the Prince, kept at a distance from the fight, and after it was over made sail for Scotland. On July 23 the Prince landed on the island of Eriska in the Hebrides.

On the day after the Prince’s landing, Alexander Macdonald of Boisdale, brother of Macdonald of Clanranald, came to meet him. When he found upon what errand the Prince and his companions were come to Scotland, “he did all he could,” says Ǽneas Macdonald, “to prevail upon them to return to France without making any attempt to proceed.” [Narrative, Lyon in Mourning.] He pointed out to the Prince the madness of attempting to attack the Government without foreign support, and implored him to abandon his enterprise. Charles was resolute. “If I can only get a hundred good, stout, honest-hearted fellows to join me,” he said, “I’ll make a trail of what I can do.” The result was that Boisdale prevented all Clanranald’s men that lived in South Uist and the other islands, to the number of 400 or 500, from joining the insurrection. The Prince, in the meantime, sent a messenger to Sir Andrew Macdonald of Sleat. Ǽneas Macdonald crossed to the mainland to summon his brother, Macdonald of Kinlochmoidart.

On the 25th Charles himself crossed to Lochnanuagh and landed at Borradale in Arisaig. On the following day young Clanranald, Glenaladale, and a number of other chiefs came in, and messengers were sent out to summon others. The opinion of the chiefs was unanimous that the enterprise was hopeless, and that Charles ought to return, but the Prince’s courage and resolution overcame all objections. There was no more zealous Jacobite in Scotland than Cameron of Lochiel, but even he thought that there was not the least prospect of success. He determined not to take arms, but came to Borradale for the purpose of waiting on the Prince. On his way he called at the house of his brother, John Cameron of Fassefern. Home, who had the incident from Fassefern himself, narrates what passed between the brothers. Fassefern asked Lochiel what was the matter that had brought him there at so early an hour? Lochiel told him that the Prince was landed at Borradale and had sent for him. Fassefern asked what troops the Prince had brought with him, what money, what arms. Lochiel answered that he believed the Prince had bought with him neither troops, nor money, nor arms, and, therefore, he was resolved not to be concerned in the affair, and would do his utmost to prevent Charles from making a rash attempt. Fassefern approved his brother’s sentiments, and applauded his resolution; advising him at the same time not to go any further on the way to Borradale, but to come into the house and impart his mind to the Prince by letter. “No,” said Lochiel, “I ought at least to wait upon him and give my reasons for declining to join him, which admit of no reply.” “Brother,” said Fassefern, “I know you better than you know yourself. If this Prince once sets his eyes upon you he will make you do whatever he pleases.” Fassefern was right. When Lochiel arrived at Borradale he implored Charles to abandon his enterprise and return. When Charles absolutely refused Lochiel then begged him to remain hid where he was till some of his friends should meet together and consult what was best to be done. Charles answered that he was determined to put all to the hazard. “In a few days,” said he, “with the few friends I have, I will erect the royal standard, and proclaim to the people of Britain that Charles Stuart has come over to claim the crown of his ancestors, to win it, or to perish in the attempt. Lochiel, who my father has often told me was our firmest friend, may stay at home and learn from the newspapers the fate of his Prince.” Lochiel yielded. “No,” said he, “I will share the fate of my Prince, and so shall every man over whom nature or fortune hath given me any power.

On Lochiel’s decision depended the fate of the insurrection. It seems clear that had he persisted in his refusal to join the Prince very few other chiefs would have done so. As it was, his example was followed by all the Jacobite clans.

It was determined to raise the standard of insurrection on August 19. The Doutelle, having discharged her stores, put to sea on the 4th. On the 11th the Prince went by sea to Kinlochmoidart; there he remained to the 17th. In the meantime the first blow had been struck. An English officer named Captain Switenham, when on his way to take command at Fort-William, was taken prisoner on the 14th; and two days later two companies of the Royal Scots, who were on the march from Perth to Fort-William, were attacked on the shores of Loch Lochy by a force under Macdonald of Tiendrish and made prisoners. On the 19th the Prince went from Kinlochmoidart to Glenfinnan, and there the standard of King James VIII. was unfurled by the Marquis of Tullibardine. In the course of the day the standard was joined by Lochiel at the head of seven or eight hundred men, and by Macdonald of Keppoch with about 300. The Prince remained till the 22nd at Kinlochiel, thence he marched by Fassefern, Moy, and Letterfinlay to Invergarry Castle, which he reached on the 26th. There he was joined by Ardshiel with 260 men of the Stewarts of Appin. Murray of Broughton, the Judas of the cause, had joined the Prince on the 18th at Kinlochmoidart. On the 25th he was appointed secretary. On the 26th, at Invergarry, a document was drawn up and signed by all the chiefs present, pledging themselves not to lay down their arms or make peace separately without consent of the whole.

In the meantime the authorities were not idle. To the Government Charles’s landing had come as a bolt from the blue. The first rumour of it which had reached them was contained in a letter written by Lord President Forbes to Henry Pelham, the Prime Minister, on August 2.

Sir John Cope, then commanding the troops in Scotland, is described by Home as “one of those ordinary men who are fitter for anything than the chief command in war, especially when opposed, as he was, to a new and uncommon enemy.” His incapacity to deal with the terrible emergency with which he was confronted has earned for him an immortality of ridicule, perhaps not altogether deserved. The troops which were at his disposal at the outbreak of the insurrection were thus described by himself at the inquiry into his conduct which subsequently took place. “As much as I can remember on the 2nd of July the troops in Scotland were quartered thus: -

“Gardener’s Dragoons at Stirling, Linlithgow, Musselburgh, Kelso, and Coldstream.
“Hamilton’s ditto at Haddington, Dunse, and the adjacent Places.
            “N. B. – Both Regiment at grass.
“Guise’s Regiment of Foot at Aberdeen and the Coast-Quarters.
“Five Companies of Lee’s at Dumfries, Stranraer, Glasgow, and Stirling.
“Murray’s in the Highland Barracks.
“Lascells’s at Edenburgh and Leith.
“Two additional Companies of the Royal at Perth.
“Two ditto of the Scotch Fuziliers at Glasgow.
“Two ditto of Lord Semple’s at Cupar in Fife.
“Three ditto of Lord John Murray’s Highland Regiment at Crieff.
“Lord Loudon’s Regiment was beginning to be raised; and, besides these, there were the
            Standing garrisons of invalids in the Castles.  

“N. B. – As to the additional Companies of the Royal, Scotch Fuziliers, and Semple’s, by reason of the draughts made from them, and the difficulty the officers met with in getting men, I believe, I may safely say, that upon an average they did not exceed 25 Men per Company, and those all new-raised Men. The three additional Companies of Lord John Murray’s, I believe, might be pretty near complete; of these three last I soon after sent one to Inverary, and the other two, which I took with me, mouldered away by desertion upon the March northward.”

Map to illustrate the Rising of 1745
Map to illustrate the Rising of 1745

The first intimation of the Prince’s landing reached Cope on August 8. He at once ordered as many troops as could be spared from the garrisons to concentrate at Stirling in readiness for a march into the Highlands. On the 19th he himself left Edinburgh to take command of this force, leaving General Guest at Edinburgh Castle in command of the whole of the troops in the Lowlands. In the meantime the Lord President had gone north to raise the loyal clans for the Government.

Cope left Stirling on the 20th with five companies of Lee’s, Murray’s Regiment, and two companies of Lord Murray’s Highland Regiment. He halted over the 21st at Crieff to wait for provisions, and there was joined by eight companies of Lascelles’s. On the 22nd he resumed his march to Amulree, encountering the utmost difficulties as to transport. Tay Bridge, now Aberfeldy, was reached on the 23rd, Trinifuir on the 24th, Dalnacardoch on the 25th, and Dalwhinnie on the 26th.

At Dalnacardoch he was met by Captain Switenham, who had been released by the insurgents. Switenham informed him that the Prince’s force was now some 3000 strong, and that it was his purpose to march over Corryarrack and descend into the Lowlands.

Cope’s intention had been to march to Fort Augustus by the Corryarrack road, and his first idea now was to attempt to force the pass, but he was soon satisfied that to attempt to do so in face of a determined enemy would be to court certain destruction. On the morning of the 27th he held a council of war, consisting of all the field-officers and commanders of corps in his army, to consider what ought to be done. The council were unanimously of opinion that an attack upon the pass was out of the question; that to return to Stirling would spread the insurrection by encouraging the disaffected in the north, and would in itself be a dangerous movement; and that to remain where they were would not prevent the enemy from reaching the low county. In these circumstances, it was determined to continue the march northwards to Inverness. This was done, and Inverness was reached on August 29.

The Prince’s way to the Lowlands was thus left clear. On the 28th he marched over Corryarrack to Garvemore. It was at first proposed to pursue Cope, but it was considered that he had too long a start, and, accordingly, it was decided to continue the march to the south by Dalwhinnie and Dalnacardoch. Blair Castle was reached on August 31, Dunkeld on September 3, and on the evening of the 4th the Prince entered Perth, and there proclaimed King James VIII. At Perth he was joined by many leading Jacobites, including the titular Duke of Perth, Lord George Murray, Lord Ogilvie, Oliphant of Gask, and the Chevalier Johnstone, well known as one of the historians of the insurrection. Many recruits came in, including 200 of Robertsons of Struan, and many others from Atholl and the surrounding districts. Something was done to organize the army and to make commissariat arrangements. A sum of £500 was exacted from the city of Perth [The money was much needed. It was said that when he reached Perth the Prince had only a guinea in his pocket.] Various staff appointments were made. Lord George Murray and the Duke of Perth were appointed lieutenant-generals. The former was not only a devoted Jacobite, but a man of great capacity and of considerable military experience. To him was due no small measure of the success which afterwards attended the Prince’s arms.

At Perth information was received that Cope was collecting shipping at Aberdeen in order to convey his troop once more to the south. It was according determined to press on southwards, and, if possible, to anticipate his return by seizing Edinburgh. On the 11th the Prince marched out of Perth, and on the same night reached Dunblane. Next day he marched to Doune, and on the following day crossed the Forth at the Fords of Frew. Linlithgow was reached at six in the morning of Sunday, September 15.

When it became known that Cope had refused battle to the Jacobite army, and that Prince Charles was actually advancing on the Lowlands, the greatest alarm and confusion prevailed in Edinburgh. The Jacobites were almost openly triumphant, while the friends of Government were thrown into the utmost consternation. Edinburgh was almost defenceless, though it was still nominally a fortified city. In those days, it must be remembered, the appearance of the city was very different from that which it now presents. Neither the new Town nor the southern suburbs were then in existence. The city was bounded and defended on the north side by the Nor’ Loch, a swampy lake which covered the ground now occupied by Princes Street Gardens; on the west, south, and east is was surrounded by the old Flodden wall, which ran from the West port out by the Vennel to Heriot’s Hospital, thence round by Potterrow to the east end of the Cowgate, then up the hill to the Netherbow Port, which crossed the High Street a little below the Tron Church, and so down to the Nor’ Loch, separating the old town of Edinburgh proper from the Canongate, which was then a separate burgh. This wall, which was just a strong park dyke, varying from ten to twenty feet in height, was of little use as a defence in modern warfare. No guns were mounted upon it, indeed there were no platforms upon which guns could be mounted. The wall had no re-entering angles or flanking bastions; in many places houses were built up against it. In some cases these houses were commanded by higher houses opposite to them, and outside the city; a continuous row of such houses ran from the Cowgate to the Netherbow Port. “The condition of the men who might be called upon to defend them,” says Home, “was pretty similar to that of the walls.” There was a body of civic troops called the Trained Bands, which nominally amounted to sixteen companies of from 80 to 100 each, but these warriors were not likely to prove very formidable in the field. Sir Walter Scott says of them that for many years their officers “had practiced no other martial discipline than was implied in a particular mode of flourishing their wine glasses on festive occasions, and it was well understood that if these militia were called on, a number of them were likely enough to declare for Prince Charles, and a much larger proportion would be unwilling to put their persons and properties in danger for either the one or the other side of the cause.” Besides these, the only troops available for defence were the men of the Town Guard, the old “Town’s Rats,” 126 in number, Gardiner’s dragoons, who had been left at Stirling, and had retreated before the advancing Jacobites, and Hamilton’s dragoons, who were encamped on Leith Links.

Notwithstanding these disadvantages, it was resolved to make some effort to defend the city. A meeting was held, at which it was decided to strengthen the walls as well as time would permit, and to raise a regiment of volunteers. The friends of Government were much encouraged by the arrival of Captain Rogers, aide-de-camp to Cope, who arrived from the north with the news that Cope was going to march his troops from Inverness down to Aberdeen, and bring them south by sea, in time, if possible, to save Edinburgh. Their object, therefore, was to defend the city until his arrival.

On September 6 a petition was presented to the Town Council by about 100 citizens praying that they might be authorized to associate as volunteers for the defence of the city. The number of volunteers rapidly increased, and on September 11, six captains, nominated by the Provost, were appointed to the regiment. On the following day the volunteers assembled in the College yards and were told off into companies, and had arms and accoutrements served out to them. In the meantime, fortifications were added to the walls under the direction of Colin Maclaurin, Professor of Mathematics in the University. The volunteers were instructed with all possible speed in the rudiments of drill, and guns were obtained from the ships at Leith and mounted on the walls.

On Sunday, September 15, it was rumoured that the van of the insurgents had reached Kirkliston. It was now proposed that Hamilton’s dragoons should march up from Leith to join Gardiner’s at Corstorphine, and that this force, supported by the city volunteers, should give battle to the Highlanders in the open. Lord Provost Stewart offered the services of 90 of the City Guard. Accordingly, orders were issued by General Guest to Hamilton’s dragoons to march up to Edinburgh.

What happened on that Sunday morning is graphically described by Scott: “The fire – bell, an ominous and ill – chosen signal, tolled for assembling the volunteers, and so alarming a sound, during the time of Divine service, dispersed those assembled for worship, and brought out a large crowd of the inhabitants to the street. The dragoon regiment appeared equipped for battle. They huzza’d and clashed their swords at sight of the volunteers, their companions in peril, of which neither party were destined that day to see much. But other sounds expelled these warlike greetings from the ears of the civic soldiers. The relatives of the volunteers crowded around them, weeping, protesting, and conjuring them not to expose lives so invaluable to their families to the broadswords of the savage Highlanders. There is nothing of which men in general are more easily persuaded, than of the extreme value of their own lives; nor are they apt to estimate them more lightly when they see they are highly prized by others. A sudden change of opinion took place among the body. In some companies the men said that their officers would not lead them on; in others, the officers said that the privates would not follow them. An attempt to march the corps towards the West Port, which was their destined route for the field of battle, failed. The regiment moved, indeed, but the files grew gradually thinner and thinner as they marched down the Bow and through the Grassmarket, and not above forty-five reached the West Port. A hundred more were collected with some difficulty, but is seems to have been under a tacit condition that the march to Corstorphine should be abandoned, for out of the city not one of them issued. The volunteers were led back to their alarm post and dismissed for the evening, when a few of the most zealous left the town, the defence of which began no longer to be expected, and sought other fields in which to exercise their valour.”

“We remember,” says Scott, “an instance of a stout Whig and a very worthy man, a writing-master by occupation, who had esconced his bosom beneath a professional cuirass, consisting of two quires of long foolscap writing-paper; and, doubtful that even this defence might be unable to protect his valiant heart from the claymores, amongst which his impulses might carry him, had written on the outside, in his best flourish “This is the body of J--- M---, pray give it Christian burial.’ Even this hero, prepared as one practiced how to die, could not find it in his heart to accompany the devoted battalion further than the door of his own house, which stood conveniently open about the head of the lawmarket.”

It is all very well for Sir Walter to make fun of these worthy citizens, but probably they acted in the most judicious possible manner. They were not soldiers in any sense; they were entirely unaccustomed to discipline and to the use of arms; had they gone forth to encounter Lochiel’s fierce swordsmen they would have been cut to pieces in ten minutes, and their sacrifice would not have averted the capture of the city, or even delayed it by a single day.

On the forenoon of the following day, Monday the 16th, a message was brought from the Jacobite camp by a Writer to the Signet names Alves, who said that he had been taken prisoner by the Jacobites, that he had seen the Duke of Perth, and had received from him a message to the inhabitants of Edinburgh to the effect that it they would admit the prince peaceably into the city they should be civilly dealt with; if not, they must lay their account with military execution. This increased the alarm of the townsfolk, who now petitioned the Provost to call a meeting to consider what should be done. This the Porvost refused to do, as he considered that with the aid of the two regiments of dragoons the defence of the city might still be prolonged. On Tuesday morning the Jacobites advanced to Corstorphine. The dragoons had been drawn up by Colonel Gardiner at Coltbridge to dispute their passage. When the two forces came in sight of each other some “young people well mounted,” belonging to the Prince’s force, were ordered to ride out and reconnoiter the dragoons. These “young people” rode close up to the dragoons and fired their pistols at them. Then ensued the “Canter of Coltbrig.” The dragoons were seized with a general panic, their officers in vain tried to rally them. The men turned their horses’ heads and fled in the utmost confusion. Between three and four o’clock in the afternoon they galloped through the fields by the Lang Dykes, where the New Town now stands, in full view of the citizens. They never stopped till they reached Leith; there they only made a short halt. They continued their flight by Musselburgh, and prepared to bivouac for the night in a field near Preston Grange, but a cry was raised that the Highlanders were coming, and these cowardly troopers again fled, and only stopped when they reached Dunbar. Nobody had made any attempt to pursue them.

The city being thus left defenceless, the townsfolk were driven to desperation. A meeting of the Town Council has hastily convened. The Provost sent to request the attendance of the Lord Justice Clerk, the Lord Advocate, and the Solicitor-General, in order that they might assist the Council with their advice; but these functionaries had discreetly left the city when the danger became imminent. Many of the citizens crowded into the Goldsmith’ Hall, where the Town Council were assembled, clamouring for surrender. The meeting was adjourned to the New Church aisle. While the discussion was proceeding there, a letter addressed to the Lord Provost, Magistrates, and Town Council was handed in at the door. On being opened it was found to be subscribed “CHARLES, P. R.” After some discussion the letter was read. It contained a summons to surrender the city; protection was promised to the liberties of the city and to private property; “but,” it was continued, “if any opposition be made to us we cannot answer for the consequences, being firmly resolved at any rate to enter the city, and in that case if any of the inhabitants are found in arms against us, they must not expect to be treated as prisoners of war.”

When this letter had been read the cry for surrender became louder than ever. It was agreed that a deputation should be sent to wait on the Prince at Gray’s Mill, about two miles from Edinburgh, where he was, to request that hostilities should be suspended, in order to give the citizens an opportunity of considering the letter.

The deputation was not long gone when news arrived which entirely altered the aspect of affairs. This was that Cope’s transports had arrived from Aberdeen and were lying off Dunbar, where he proposed to disembark his troops and to march immediately to the relief of Edinburgh. Messengers were at once dispatched to recall the deputation, but they were unable to overtake it. Many of the more zealous citizens wished to continue the defence, so as to give Cope time to come up. However, this idea was abandoned, as it was remembered that several magistrates and town councilors were in the power of the Highlanders, who were regarded as mere ruthless savages, and who, it was considered, would, in the event of hostilities being commenced, probably hang them all. About ten o’clock at night the deputies returned with a peremptory answer. “His Royal Highness the Prince Regent,” wrote Secretary Murray, “thinks his manifesto and the King his father’s declaration, already published, a sufficient capitulation for all His Majesty’s subjects to accept of with joy. His present demands are to be received into the city as the son and representative of the King his father, and obeyed as such when there   .   .   . He expects a positive answer before two o’clock in the morning, otherwise he will think himself obliged to take measures conform.” The unlucky bailies could think of nothing better than “to send out deputies once more to beg a suspension of hostilities till nine o’clock in the morning, that the magistrates might have an opportunity of conversing with the citizens, most of whom had gone to bed.” A second deputation accordingly started for Gray’s Mill about two in the morning in a hackney-coach. The Prince refused to see them or to grant any further delay, and they were briefly ordered to “get them gone.”

While these negotiations were going on, the Jacobites, well knowing the value of time, were quietly making preparations to take the city by a coup de main. About midnight Cameron of Lochiel ordered his men to get under arms, and very early in the morning a detachment, about 500 strong, started by moonlight from the Borough Muir, guided by Murray of Broughton. They marched round by Hope Park to the Netherbow Port, preserving the strictest silence and keeping well out of sight of the Castle. When they reached the Netherbow, Lochiel placed twenty Camerons on each side of the gate, and hid the rest of his men in St. Mary’s Wynd and the adjoining streets. He then sent forward a man in a riding-coat and hunting-cap, who represented himself as the servant of an English officer of dragoons, and asked to be admitted. The guard, however, refused to open the gat, and ordered the man to withdraw, threatening to fire upon him.

Day was now breaking, and Murray proposed that the detachment should retire to St. Leonard’s Hill, and there await further orders; but, just as they were about to leave, a piece of good fortune enabled them to effect their purpose. It will be remembered that the second deputation sent out to treat with the prince went in a hackney-coach. They returned to Edinburgh in the same coach, and were set down in the High Street. The driver had his stables in the Canongate, so, after bringing back the deputation, he had to pass through the Netherbow Port in order to get home. He was known to the man on guard, and accordingly, after some discussion, the gate was opened to let him pass. Lochiel’s men instantly rushed in and overpowered, disarmed, and made prisoners of the guard. Parties were at once detached to seize the other gates and the town guard-house. This was quickly and easily done, without bloodshed; “as quietly as one guard relieves another,” says Home. This took place about five in the morning, and the citizens were presently awakened by the sound of the pibrock, to find that the Highlanders were masters of Edinburgh. [Lord Provost Archibald Stewart was brought to trial in 1747 for neglect of duty and misbehaviour in the execution of his office in allowing the city so easily to fall into the hands of the insurgents. The evidence at his trial is a valuable source of information as to what took place.]

About ten o’clock the main body of the insurgents, having marched round the south side of Edinburgh, entered the King’s Park and halted in the Hunter’s Bog. Shortly afterwards Charles himself appeared. A great crowd of people was assembled in the park, one of the spectators being John Home, the historian. He gives a graphic picture of Charles’s appearance at the time. “The figure and presence of Charles Stuart were not ill-suited to his lofty pretensions. He was in the prime of youth, tall and handsome, of a fair complexion; he had a light-coloured periwig, with his own hair combed over the front; he wore the Highland dress – that is, a tartan short-coat without the plaid, a blue bonnet on his head, and on his breast the Star of the Order of St. Andrew.” After standing for some time in the park to show himself to the people, Charles mounted his horse and rode to the door of Holyrood. He was ushered into the palace of his fathers by James Hepburn of Keith, one of the most devoted of Jacobites and the model of a high-minded and patriotic Scottish gentleman of the old school.

At mid-day King James VIII. was solemnly proclaimed at the Cross, and the Commission of Regency was read, with the declaration issued at Rome in 1743, and a manifesto in the name of Charles as Prince Regent, dated at Paris, May 16, 1745.

The next two days were spent in Edinburgh. In the meantime Cope had reached Dunbar. The two regiments of dragoons which had fled from Edinburgh had come there on the morning of the 17th, “in a condition not very respectable.” The disembarkation of the troops, artillery, and stores was completed on the 18th, and Cope found himself at the head of a force of some 2000 men.

Home had made his way to Dunbar, and by him Cope was furnished with detailed information as to the strength and condition of the Highland army. “He was persuaded,” he said, “that the whole number of Highlanders whom he saw within and without the town did not amount to 2000 men; but he was told that several bodies of men from the north were on their way, and expected very soon to join them at Edinburgh   .   .   .  Most of them seemed to be strong, active, and hardy men; many of them were of very ordinary size, and if clothed like our countrymen would, in his opinion, appear inferior to the King’s troops. But the Highland garb favoured them much, as it showed their naked limbs, which were strong and muscular: their stern countenances and bushy, uncombed hair gave them a fierce, barbarous, and imposing aspect. As to their arms,” he said, “that they had no cannon or artillery of any sort but one small iron gun, which he had seen without a carriage, lying upon a cart drawn by a little Highland horse. That about 1400 of them were armed with firelocks and broadswords; that their firelocks were not similar or uniform, but of all sorts and sized – muskets, fusees, and fowling-pieces; that some of the rest had firelocks without swords, and some of them swords without firelocks; that many of their swords were not highland broadswords, but French; that a company or two (about 100 men) had each of them in his hand a shaft or a pitchfork with the blade of a scythe fastened to it, somewhat like the weapon called the Lochaber axe, which the Town Guard soldiers carry. But all of them,” he added, “would be soon provided with firelocks, as the arms belonging to the Trained Bands of Edinburgh had faller into their hands.”

On the 19th of September, Cope left Dunbar, and marched towards Edinburgh. “The people of the county,” says Home, “long unaccustomed to war and arms flocked from all quarters to see an army going to fight a battle in East Lothian.” That night Cope encamped in a field to the west of Haddington.

The Jacobite leaders were unanimously resolved to march out and give battle to Cope in the open. On the morning of September 20, the Jacobite camp at Duddingston was struck, and the army commenced its march eastwards. On the same morning Cope resumed his march towards Edinburgh by the high road from Haddington. At Huntington he left the high road, and followed the road passing through St. Germains and Seton until he reached the open ground between Seton and Preston, close to the sea.

From Duddingston the Prince marched to Musselburgh, and there crossed the Esk by the ancient bridge. Lord George Murray, having received intelligence of Cope’s whereabouts, considered that it was all-important to attack him if possible from higher ground, and, accordingly, the line of march was inclined to the right. The height near Falside was occupied. The route was then directed downhill towards Tranent, and the army took up its position to the east of that village. The enemies were now within sight of each other, about half a mile apart. Cope had expected to be attacked from the west, but as soon as he saw the enemy appear on his left he changed his front from west to south. On his right were the village of Preston and the wall of Erskine of Grange’s park, on his left the village of Seton, in his rear Cockenzie and the sea, in his front the enemy and the town of Tranent. The armies were separated by a piece of impassable boggy ground, which rendered a direct attack possible.

Battle of Prestonpans
Battle of Prestonpans

The Jacobite leaders wished to attack Cope at once, and Lord George Murray sent down an officer to reconnoiter the marsh. He reported that it was impossible to cross it and attack the enemy in front without serious loss. The Jacobites then moved to their left, and took up a position opposite Preston Tower, whereupon Cope resumed his first position, facing Preston, with his right to the sea. Afterwards the Highlanders returned to their former position, and Cope did the same.

Both armies lay on their arms all night. Charles and his officers held a council of war, and resolved to attack at daybreak, across the east end of the marsh.

There was in the Jacobite army a Mr Robert Anderson, son of Anderson of Whitburgh in East Lothian, who knew the ground well, as he had often shot over it. After the council of war had broken up, Anderson came to Hepburn of Keith, and told him that he could undertake to point out the place at which the marsh could be safely crossed by troops, without their being exposed to the enemy’s fire. Hepburn sent Anderson to Lord George Murray. Lord George at once saw the importance of the information, and wakened the Prince. It was decided that Anderson’s proposal should be adopted. Orders were sent to recall Lord Nairn, who had been detached with 500 men towards Preston, to head off Cope from the Edinburgh road. Before daybreak on the 21st the troops were quietly got under arms, and marched off in column, three deep, under Anderson’s guidance. They passed to the east of Ringanhead Farm, across the marsh, and then marched directly north towards the sea until the rear of the column was on firm ground. There they halted, and formed into two lines to the left.

The first line consisted of the Clanranald, Glengarry, and Keppoch Macdonalds, under the Duke of Perth, on the right, and the Macgregors, the Appin Stewarts, and Lochiel’s men, under Lord George Murray, on the left. The second line was commanded by Lord Nairn, and consisted of the Antholl men, the Struan Robertsons, the Glencoe Macdonalds, and the Maclachlans. Charles took his place between the lines.

Cope was taken entirely by surprise. As the Highlanders were crossing the marsh they were seen by some of his cavalry pickets, who at once galloped in to give the alarm. When he discovered that he was about to be attacked from the east, he hastily changed his front. His line of battle, as originally arranged, had been as follows:  Five companies of Lee’s regiment on the right, Murray’s regiment on the left, eight companies of Lascelles’s regiment and two of Guise’s in the centre, two squadrons of Gardiner’s dragoons on the right, and two on the left. Apparently there was considerable confusion in taking up the new ground. “The disposition was the same,” says Home, “and each regiment in its former place in the line, but the outguards of the foot, not having time to find out the regiments to which they belonged, placed themselves on the right of Lee’s five companies, and did not leave sufficient room for the two squadrons of dragoons to form; so that the squadron which Colonel Gardiner commanded was drawn up behind the other squadron commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Whitney. The artillery with its guard, which had been on the left and very near the line, was now on the right, a little farther from the line, and in the front of Lieutenant-Colonel Whitney’s squadron.” [It is very difficult to arrive at any accurate estimate of the number of troops engaged at Prestonpans. Cope’s returns were lost, and the figures given by himself at his trial were given from memory. The evidence as to the number of the forces on both sides is very contradictory. It will be found reviewed in the Notes to the Chevalier.]

The harvest had just been got in, and the ground between the armies was a wide, level stubble field, without a bush or tree upon it. As the line of the clansmen began to move forward to the sound of the pipes, the field was still covered with a thick mist, but presently the sun rose, the mist lifted, and the opposing forces became clearly visible to each other. “The King’s army,” says Home, who was an eye-witness, “made a most gallant appearance, both horse and foot, with the sun shining upon their arms.” But once again the spectacle was seen of a regular army swept away in a moment by the terrible charge of the claymores.  The battle was a mere rout; it did not last five minutes. Home thus describes the scene:  “As the left wing of the rebel army had moved before the right, their line was somewhat oblique, and the Camerons, who were nearest the King’s army, came up directly opposite to the cannon, firing at the guard as they advanced. The people employed to work the cannon, who were not gunners or artillerymen, fled instantly. [“When Sir John Cope marched with his army to the north, there were no gunners or matrosses to be had in Scotland but one old man who had belonged to the Scots train of artillery before the Union. This gunner and three old soldiers belonging to the company of invalids in the garrison at the Castle of Edinburgh, Sir John Cope carried along with him to Inverness. When the troops came to Dunbar, the King’s ship that escorted the transports furnished Sir John Cope with some sailors to work the cannon; but when the Highlanders came on, firing as they advanced, the sailors, the gunner, and the three old invalids ran away, taking the powder flasks with them, so that Colonel Whiteford, who fired five of the field pieces, could not fire the sixth for want of priming. Sir John Cope had only four field-pieces when he came to Inverness, but he ordered two field-pieces to be taken from the Castle there and added to his train.” – Home, p. 113, note. At Prestonpans there were only from ten to fifteen rounds of ammunition per gun. Evidence of Robert Jack, Cope’s Trial.] Colonel Whiteford fired five of the six field-pieces with his own hand, which killed one private man and wounded an officer in Lochiel’s regiment. The line seemed to shake, but the men kept going on at a great pace; Colonel Whitney was ordered to advance with his squadron and attack the rebels before they came up to the cannon:  the dragoons moved on, and were very near the cannon when they received some fire which killed several men and wounded Lieutenant-Colonel Whitney. The squadron immediately wheeled about, rode over the artillery guard, and fled. The men of the artillery guard, who had given one fire, and that a very indifferent one, dispersed, the Highlanders going on without stopping to make prisoners. Colonel Gardiner was ordered to advance with his squadron and attack them, disordered as they seemed to be with running over the cannon and the artillery guard. The Colonel advanced at the head of his men, encouraging them to charge; the dragoons followed him a little way; but as soon as the fire of the Highlanders reached them they reeled, fell into confusion, and went off as the other squadron had done. When the dragoons on the right of the King’s army gave way, the Highlanders, most of whom had their pieces still loaded, advanced against the foot, firing as they went on. The soldiers, confounded and terrified to see the cannon taken and the dragoons put to flight, gave their fire, it is said, without orders; the companies of the outgruard being nearest the enemy, were the first that fired, and the fire went down the line as far as Murray’s regiment. The Highlanders threw down their muskets, drew their swords and ran on; the line of foot broke as the fire had been given from right to left; Hamilton’s dragoons, seeing what had happened on the right, and receiving some fire at a good distance from the Highlanders advancing to attack them, they immediately wheeled about and fled, leaving the flank of the foot unguarded. The regiment which was next them (Murray’s) gave their fire and followed the dragoons. In a very few minutes after the first cannon was fired, the whole army, both horse and foot, were put to flight; none of the soldiers attempted to load their pieces again, and not one bayonet was stained with blood. In this manner the battle of Preston was fought and won by the rebels; the victory was complete, for all the infantry of the King’s army were either killed or taken prisoners, except about 170, who escaped by extraordinary swiftness, or early flight.”


Johnstone’s Memoirs (Ed. 1822), p. 29 et seq. The following are the figures as given by Mr Blaikie (Itinerary, pp. 90 and 91), probably as accurate an estimate as can be reached:



                                                                                    Rank and File.
Three Squadrons Gardiner’s Dragoons (13th H.)   .   .   .   .
Three      “          Hamilton’s        “         (14th H.)   .   .   .   .   1567
Five Companies Lee’s Regiment  (44th)    .   .   .   .   .   .   .      291
Murray’s Regiment   (46th)    .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .    580
Eight Companies Lascelles’s Regiment   (47th)    .   .   .   .
Two       “          Guise’s              “            (6th)  .   .   .   .   .   1570
Five Weak Companies of Highlanders of Lord John
Murray’s Regiment (42nd), and Lord Loudon’s Regiment           183
Drummond’s (Edinburgh) Volunteers  .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .         16
Add same proportion of officers, sergeants, drums,
            etc., as recorded at Culloden (16 per cent.)  .   .   .       353
                                                                            TOTAL     2560
Six guns and some cohorns (mortars).
They had no gunners; Lt. Colonel Whiteford (Marines) served the guns with his own hands, and Mr Griffith (Commissary) the cohorns.


Clanranald     .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .    200
Lochiel      .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .    700  
Keppoch   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .     300
Stewart of Appin  .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .       260
Glengarry      .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .     400
Glencoe     .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .    120
Robertson of Struan  .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .      200  
Duke of Perth    .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .     150
Maclochlans   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .    150
Lord Nairn     .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .     150
Grants of Glenmoriston .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .      100
Cavalry   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .         50
Less dismissed by Liochiel, August 30   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .      150
Allowance for desertion by Keppoch’s men (Aug 27), and a further allowance for leakage owing to desertion, illness, guards, etc., less a few men recruited in Edinburgh  150

                                                                              TOTAL        2580

Colonel Gardiner, who, though severely wounded, had in vain attempted to rally his men, was killed by the stroke of a Lochaber axe. “The panic terror of the English surpasses all imagination,” says the Chevalier Johnstone, “they threw down their arms that they might run with more speed, thus depriving themselves by their fears of the only means of arresting the vengeance of the Highlanders. Of so many men in a condition from their numbers to preserve order from the retreat, no one thought of defending himself. Terror had taken entire possession of their minds. I saw a young Highlander about fourteen years of age, scarcely formed, who was presented to the Prince as a prodigy, having killed, it was said, fourteen of the enemy. The Prince asked him if this was true. ‘I do not know if I killed them, but I brought fourteen soldiers to the ground with my sword.’ Another Highlander brought ten soldiers to the prince, whom he had made prisoners, driving them before him like a flock of sheep. This Highlander, from a rashness without example, having pursued a party to some distance from the field of battle along the road between the two enclosures, struck down the hindermost with a blow of his sword, calling at the time ‘Down with your arms.’ The soldiers, terror-struck, threw down their arms without looking behind them, and the Highlander, with a pistol in one hand and a sword in the other, made them do exactly as he pleased. The rage and despair of these men on seeing themselves made prisoners by a single individual may easily be imagined. These were, however, the same English soldiers who had distinguished themselves at Dettingen and Fontenoy, and who might justly be ranked among the bravest troops of Europe.”

The field of battle presented a hideous spectacle, as the killed and wounded had almost all fallen by the edge of the sword. According to Home, the royal troops lost 5 officers and 200 men killed, [This is probably under-estimated. Johnstone says 1300, which is out of the question. The real number was probably some 400 or 500.] and 80 officers taken prisoners. The Jacobite loss was 4 officers and 30 men killed, 6 officers and 70 men wounded. Cope’s cannon, tents, baggage, and military chest, containing some £2500, were captured. The unlucky general himself, with his principal officers and such of the cavalry as had kept together, fled by Lauder and Coldstream, the next day reached Berwick, where he was received by old Lord Mark Kerr with the famous remark:  “Good God! I have seen some battles, heard of many, but never of the first news of defeat being brought by the general officers before.”

The night Prince Charles slept at Pinkie House; next day he re-entered Edinburgh in triumph.

After the victory the Highlanders treated their conquered enemies with great forbearance. To the wounded of the royal army they showed a humanity which might well have been imitated by the regulars on a subsequent occasion. They were, however, very active in despoiling the dead. They appropriated wigs, watches, clothes, saddlery, and whatever else they could lay hands on. Their ignorance of civilized life sometimes led them into absurd mistakes, about which some good stories are told. One of the best known of these is that of the Highlander who helped himself to an English officer’s watch. Not knowing the nature of a watch, he omitted to wind up his new possession, which, accordingly, stopped during the night. Next day he sold it for a trifle, saying that he was glad to be rid of it, “because she had dee’d in ta nicht-time.”

On Monday, September 23, the day after his return to Edinburgh, Prince Charles issued several proclamations. He promised protection to the citizens; he forbade all public rejoicings for his victory, which had been purchased with the shedding of so much British blood and attended with calamity to so many innocent people. He further directed that public worship should be conducted as usual in the city churches. A deputation of the city ministers waited on him to ask whether they would be allowed to offer the usual prayers for King George. The Prince replied that he could not expressly grant them their request without giving the lie to his own pretensions; but, at the same time, he promised that no minister should be called to account for any indiscreet language he might use in the pulpit. Mr M’Vicar, the minister of the West Kirk, managed to compromise matters in his prayers by offering the following petition:  “Bless the King! Thou knows what King I mean. May the crown sit long upon his head. And for the man that is come among us to seek an earthly crown, we beseech Thee in mercy to take him to Thyself and give him a crown of glory.”

The victory of the Prestonpans entirely altered the aspect of Charles’s affairs. At first his enterprise had been looked upon, even by his warmest friends, as a piece of Quixotic folly which had no reasonable prospect of success. Now he had beaten the King’s troops in a pitched battle, and was master of all Scotland except the Castles of Edinburgh and Stirling and the Highland forts. Now he had to make up his mind what he was going to do next. There were two courses open to him, either to invade England at once, or to stay in Edinburgh for a while to recruit his army and to collect stores, arms, and ammunition. Every day was strengthening the hands of the Government; troops were being recalled from Flanders; 6000 auxiliaries were being sent over by the States of Holland and, as soon appeared, preparations were being made to send a strong force to the north under Marshal Wade. On the other hand, it was considered with justice that the news of Prestonpans would soon bring abundance of recruits from the Highlands. It was decided to remain for a few weeks in Edinburgh.

The greatest efforts were made to collect munitions of war. Requisitions were made of stores and public money. A sum of £5000 was levied from the city of Glasgow, and parties were sent out in all directions to beat up recruits. The weeks which followed Prestonpans were the halcyon time of Jacobitism. Prince Charles’s followers were flushed with victory and confident of success. The Prince himself kept a royal court at Holyrood, as if he were already at St. James’s. He spent his days in the camp and the council chamber; [“The Prince formed a Council which met regularly every morning in his drawing-room. The gentlemen whom he called to it were the Duke of Perth, Lord Lewis Gordon, Lord George Murray, Lord Elcho, Lord Ogilvie, Lord Pitsligo, Lord Nairne, Lochiel, Keppoch, Clanranald, Glencoe, Lochgarry, Ardshiel, Sir Thomas Sheridan, Colonel O’Sullivan, Glenbucket, and Secretary Murray. The Prince, in this Council, used always first to declare what he himself was for, and then he asked everybody’s opinion in their turn. There was one-third of the Council whose principles were that kings and princes can never either act or think wrong, so, in consequence, they always confirmed whatever the Prince said. The other two-thirds, who thought that kings and princes thought sometimes like other men, and were not altogether infallible, and that this Prince was no more so than others, and, therefore, begged leave to differ from him when they could give sufficient reasons for their difference of opinion. This very often was no hard matter to do, for as the Prince and his old governor, Sir Thomas Sheridan, were altogether ignorant of the ways and customs of Great Britain, and both much for the doctrine of absolute monarchy, they would very often, had they not been prevented, have fallen into blunders which might have hurt the cause. The Prince could not bear to hear anybody differ in sentiment from him, and took a dislike to everybody that did; for he had a notion of commanding this army as any general does a body of mercenaries, and so let them know only what he pleased, and expected them to obey without enquiring further about the matter. This might have done better had his favourites been people of the country, but, as they were Irish, and had nothing to risk, the people of fashion that had their all at stake, and consequently ought to be supposed capable to give the best advice of which they were capable, thought they had a title to know and be consulted in what was for the good of the cause in which they had so much concern; and if it had not been for their insisting strongly upon it, the Prince, when he found that his sentiments were not always approved of, would have abolished this Council long ere he did.” – Lord Elcho’s account, citied by Scott, Tales of a Grandfather, chap. lxix.] in the evenings, says Home, “he received the ladies who came to his drawing-room; he then supped in public, and generally there was music at supper, and a ball afterwards.” His own personal popularity was unbounded. If he had some of the Stuart vices he certainly had a very ample share of the Stuart charm. With his youth, his good looks, his kindness and his courage, he won the goodwill of everyone who saw him. Of course the women were wild about him; not a few of them mounted the White Cockade and gave their jewels and treasured heirlooms to raise a little money for his service. There was a certain Miss Isabella Lumnisden, who plainly told her lover, a young artist named Robert Strange, that he need think no more of her unless he joined Prince Charlie. Strange, who afterwards became Sir Robert Strange, the most famous line engraver of his time, joined the Prince’s Guards and suffered exile for the cause. He fought at Culloden, and only escaped his pursuers by hiding under his sweetheart’s ample hood. We are indebted to him for a picturesque and detailed account of the battle and the night march which proceeded it. [See p. 153. It is pleasant to note that Strange had his reward; he married Miss Lumisden in 1747.

In the meantime, the good folk of Edinburgh were not without a taste of the miseries of war. There was still a small garrison of royal troops in the castle. Shortly after the battle the castle was blockaded by the Highlanders. General Guest, the commandment, demanded that the blockade should be raised forthwith, and informed the Lord Provost that unless communication between the castle and the city were renewed he would open fire upon the city. A night’s respite was granted, and the General’s communication was laid before Prince Charles. The Prince expostulated upon the unreasonableness of punishing the citizens for what after all was no fault of theirs. The commandant consented to postpone the bombardment till he should receive orders from London. However, on October 1 the Highlanders fired upon a party who were going up the Castle Hill with provisions. Next day the Castle fired upon the houses that covered the Highland guard. The Prince replied by strengthening the blockade, whereupon the cannonade of the city was actually commenced. Throughout the afternoon of October 4 and on the following day fire was maintained from the Half-Moon battery upon the city. Several houses were destroyed, and the citizens were frightened out of their wits. Yielding to their earnest entreaties, the prince consented to raise the blockade. A very vivid picture of the stated of affairs in Edinburgh during the Prince’s occupation, and of the conditions under which business was carried on, is given in the diary of Mr. John Campbell, then principal cashier of the Royal Bank of Scotland, which was recently printed by the Scottish History Society (Miscellany, vol. i., pp. 537-559 et seq.).

By the end of October the Prince’s army had increased to nearly 6000 men. Many recruits had come from the north under Lord Ogilvie, Gordon of Glenbucket, Lord Pitsligo, Lord Lewis Gordon, Cluny MacPherson, the Marquis of Tullibardine, and other. He had also been joined by the Earls of Kilmarnock and Nithsdale and Lord Kenmure. Two troops of Life Guards, under Lord Elcho and Lord Balmerino, had been organized, and a train of artillery had been formed. By this time Wade was at Newcastle at the head of a powerful force. [As to the strength and composition of Wade’s force, see Mr Blaikie’s Itinerary, p. 95. It was estimated at the time at 14,000 foot and 4000 horse, probably an exaggeration.] Charles was eager to fight him without delay, and urged an immediate march into England. His advisers counseled further delay; ultimately a middle course was adopted; it was decided to cross the Border at Carlisle, so as to avoid immediate collision with Wade’s army. This would afford an opportunity to the English supporters of the cause to rise, and at the same time would impose upon Wade the necessity of a fatiguing march before he could bring the invaders to an action. On the 31st of October the Prince marched out of Edinburgh, and his army rendezvoused at Dalkeith. It was decided that the march into England should be made in two columns. One, under the Duke of Perth, was to march to Carlisle by the western road, by Peebles and Moffat; the other, commanded by the Prince himself, took the road by Lauder and Kelso. Lord George Murray accompanied the Prince.

The Prince’s column reached Lauder on November 3, Kelso on the 4th, and Jedburgh on the 6th. On the 8th he crossed the Esk into England, and on the following day was joined by the western column; the whole army encamped for the night in the villages to the west of Carlisle. On the 10th Carlisle was summoned to surrender. Pattison, the deputy mayor, refused, and preparations were being made for a siege when news arrived that Wade was about to march from Newcastle to relieve Carlisle. The troops were accordingly withdrawn from the trenches, and were marched to Brampton, where they encamped on the 12th. It turned out, however, that Wade was not moving, accordingly the siege of Carlisle was resumed, and on the 15th the town and Castle both surrendered on terms. On the 17th the Prince entered Carlisle, with a hundred pipers playing before him.

A few days after the surrender of Carlisle, a council of war was held to consider the next step. The effective force of the army had been greatly reduced to desertion on the march from Edinburgh, and did not now exceed 4500. There were four possible courses of action: to march to the east and attack Wade; to return to Scotland; to continue the march towards London; or to sit still at Carlisle and see if the English Jacobites would rise, which as yet they showed no sign of doing. The general opinion of the chiefs was that the Prince should return to Edinburgh and carry on a defensive war in Scotland till such time as he was in a condition to attempt invasion. The Prince, however, insisted on continuing the march to the south, and at length the chiefs assented.

The cavalry left Carlisle on November 20, and marched that day to Penrith. On the following day the Prince followed with the infantry; a garrison of two or three hundred men was left in Carlisle Castle. On the 23rd the Prince marched to Kendal, on the 25th to Lancaster, and on the 26th to Preston, a place of sinister memory to a Jacobiter. Here, if anywhere, he might have expected to be joined by many adherents, but a mere handful came, and none of real importance. All along the line of march the invaders had a friendly reception from the gentry, but there were very few indeed who had sufficient belief in Charles’s chances of success to peril their lives and fortunes on the result of his enterprise. The common people at first regarded the Highlanders with abject terror, as cannibal savages who ate children, but as they found they had nothing to fear, they came to regard the march as an entertaining show.

Wigan was reached on the 28th, and Manchester on the 29th. Here at last the invaders found active friendship, and obtained both money and recruits. The Chevalier Johnstone, who was attached to the artillery of the Prince’s army, gives an amusing account of the capture of Manchester, illustrating at once the adventurous spirit of some of the invaders and the difference of the inhabitants.

“One of my sergeants, named Dickson, whom I had enlisted from among the prisoners of war at Gladsmuir, a young Scotsman, as brave and intrepid as a lion, and very much attached to my interest, informed me on the 27th, at Preston, that he had been beating up for recruits all day without getting one; and that he was the more chagrined at this time, as the other sergeants had had better success. He therefore came to ask my permission to get a day’s march ahead of the army, by setting out immediately for Manchester, a very considerable town of England, containing 40,000 inhabitants, in order to make sure of some recruits before the arrival of the army. I reproved him sharply for entertaining so wild and extravagant a project, which exposed him to the danger of being taken and hanged, and I ordered him back to his company. Having much confidence in him, I had given him a horse and entrusted him with my portmanteau, that I might always have it with me. On entering my quarters in the evening, my landlady informed me that my servant had called and taken away my portmanteau and blunderbuss. I immediately bethought myself of his extravagant project, and his situation gave me much uneasiness. But on our arrival at Manchester on the evening of the following day, the 29th, Dickson brought me about 180 recruits, whom he had enlisted for my company.

“He had quitted Preston in the evening with his mistress and my drummer; and having marched all night, he arrived next morning at Manchester, which is about twenty miles distant from Preston, and immediately began to beat up for recruits for ‘the yellow-haired laddie.’ The populace at first did not interrupt him, conceiving our army to be near town; but as soon as they knew that it would not arrive till the evening, they surrounded him in a tumultuous manner, with the intention of taking him prisoner, alive or dead. Dickson presented his blunderbuss, which was charged with slugs, threatening to blow out the brains of those who first dared to lay hands on himself or the two who accompanied him; and by turning round continually, facing in all directions, and behaving like a lion, he soon enlarged the circle which a crowd of people had formed round them. Having continued for some time to manoeuvre in this way, those of the inhabitants of Manchester who were attached to the House of Stuart took arms and flew to the assistance of Dickson, to rescue him from the fury of the mob, so that he soon had five or six hundred men to aid him, who dispersed the crowd in a very short time. Dickson now triumphed in his turn; and putting himself at the head of his followers, he proudly paraded, undisturbed, the whole day with his drummer, enlisting for my company all who offered themselves.

“On presenting me with a list of 180 recruits, I was agreeably surprised to find that the whole amount of his expenses did not exceed three guineas. This adventure of Dickson gave rise to many a joke at the expense of the town of Manchester, from the singular circumstance of its having been taken by a sergeant, a drummer, and a girl. The circumstances may serve to show the enthusiastic courage of our army, and the alarm and terror with which the English were seized.” [Johnstone’s Memoirs, p. 48.]

On December 1 the march was resumed, and on the evening of the 4th the Prince entered Derby.

The invaders were now within 130 miles of London, but it was clear that their position was in the highest degree critical. Wade’s army was in the north between them and Scotland; 10,000 men under the Duke of Cumberland were close to them in Staffordshire, and a third army, some 30,000 strong, commanded by George II. in person, had been organised for the defence of the capital. There had not been the faintest appearance of a movement among the English Jacobites. It was evident that within a few days Charles would have to fight a desperate battle against tremendous odds, a battle in which defeat was almost certain, and in which defeat meant destruction.

The 5th of December was spent in making preparations to fight Cumberland on the following day. In the midst of these preparations a courier arrived from the north with dispatches from Lord John Drummond, brother of the Duke of Perth, announcing that he had landed at Montrose with a thousand French Troops, who were the forerunners of further reinforcements from France; and that these had been joined by a large number of Highlanders. On the forenoon of the 5th, a council of war was held and the situation was considered. The Prince was obstinately set on fighting Cumberland, and attempting to cut a way through to London. But the chiefs were unanimously of opinion that the only feasible course was to retreat into Scotland, effect a junction with Lord John Drummond, and await the arrival of succours from France. The Prince reluctantly gave way, and early in the morning of the 6th of December the retreat was commenced. Retracing its steps, the army reached Manchester on the 9th, Preston on the 11th, and Lancaster on the 14th, pursued by Cumberland. Penrith was reached on the 18th. On the evening of that day the rear-guard of the Prince’s army, under Lord George Murray, was attacked by a strong body of Cumberland’s cavalry close to the village of Clifton. After a sharp skirmish in the moonlight, the pursuers were repulsed. Carlisle was re-entered on the 19th. A garrison of some four hundred men was left to hold the castle; ten days later they surrendered unconditionally to Cumberland.


On the 20th the army recrossed the Border. The march was continued by Dumfries, Douglas, and Hamilton, and in the afternoon of the 26th of December the prince entered Glasgow.

Besides the force which had marched into England, a considerable body of men was now in arms for the Prince of Scotland. In Aberdeenshire Lord Lewis Gordon had been raising men and money for the cause; he had been joined by part of the force which had landed at Montrose with Lord John Drummond. Lord Strathallan was at Perth at the head of another considerable Highland force, and the remainder of Lord John’s men joined him there. A number of MacIntoshes, Mackenzies, and Macgregors had also risen, and more recruits had come from Glengarry and Lochiel’s country.

In the beginning of December Lord Loudon marched through Stratherrick to relieve Fort Augustus, which was threatened by the Frasers under the Master of Lovat. He captured that old scoundrel, Lord Lovat, who had been playing fast and loose with both sides, and took him as a prisoner to Inverness, whereupon the clan marched under the Master to join the Prince. Lovat shortly afterwards escaped. A force of Macleods and Munroes, under Macleod of Macleod and Munro of Culcairn, was dispatched by Loudon into Aberdeenshire to attack Lord Lewis Gordon. Lord Lewis marched to meet them, encountered them at Inverurie on December 23, and put them to fight. He then marched southward to join the Jacobite force at Perth. This brought up the number of men assembled there to over 4000. The fact that this force included a body of French regular troops was of additional advantage to the Jacobites, as the forces of the States of Holland were, by the capitulations of Tournay and Dendermonde, precluded from serving against the King of France or his allies, and the Dutch troops, recently landed in England, were thus prevented from taking part in the campaign.

The Prince remained in Glasgow for a week, and procured from the city a much-needed supply of clothing and other necessaries for his men. It was decided to effect a junction at Stirling with the troops that lay at Perth, and instructions to this effect were sent to Lord John Drummond, who now commanded them. On the 3rd of January, 1746, the Prince’s army left Glasgow in two columns; one, under Charles himself, marching by Kilsyth, the other, under Lord George Murray, by Cumbernauld. Bannockburn was reached on the 4th, and the Prince tool up his quarters at Bannockburn House, the residence of his devoted adherent, Sir Hugh Paterson. There he remained till the 16th. On the 8th the town of Stirling capitulated and General Blakeney retired to the Castle.

About a fortnight after the evacuation of Edinburgh by the Jacobites, the Government officials had returned to the city. On the 14th of November the city was occupied by Hamilton’s and Gardiner’s dragoons and Price’s and Ligonier’s foot. Part of Wade’s army had been sent north to strengthen the garrison. The command of this force had been entrusted to General Henry Hawley, a man of savage temper, whose personal courage was greater than his military capacity. He had served as a subaltern at Sheriffmuir, and had a most profound contempt for the Highlanders. He boasted that two regiments of dragoons were sufficient to ride over the whole Highland army, and just before marching from Edinburgh he wrote to Lord President Forbes, “if we were in a condition but to march, we should not mind their number.”

On January 13, Hawley’s advance guard, under Major-General Huske, marched from Edinburgh to Linlithgow. The main body followed on the 15th, and Hawley himself on the 16th. The whole force amounted to nearly 8000 men. On the night of the 16th, they encamped to the north-west of Falkirk; there they were joined by a thousand men from Argyllshire under Colonel John Campbell, afterwards fifth Duke of Argyll.

On the 10th, Prince Charles had commenced the siege of Stirling Castle. On hearing of Hawley’s approach, he resolved to meet him half-way, and on the 16th of January encamped on Plean Muir, two miles from Stirling. On the morning of the 17th, he ordered a review of all troops. It was no sooner over than the troops were formed in column and marched from the field, their destination being kept a profound secret. A small body of horse, under Lord John Drummond, was sent to make a feint along the high road towards Falkirk, through the Torwood, which then extended on both sides of the high road. The rest of the Prince’s army went round the south side of the Torwood, and forded the Carron near Dunipace House. They then made for the rising ground to the south-west of Falkirk. 

Battle of Falkirk

About one-o’clock, two officers of the Royal army discovered, by means of a telescope, the advanced guard of the Highland army as it emerged from behind the Torwood. General Hawley had accepted the invitation of the Countess of Kilmarnock, whose husband was with the Prince, to visit Callander House. The Countess appears to have exercised all her powers of fascination in order to make him neglect his duty, with no small success. When the approach of the enemy was perceived, Lieutenant-Colonel Howard, the second in command, was immediately informed of it, and at once went off to Callander House to inform the General. He, however, treated the information very lightly, and said “that the men might put on their accountrements, but there was not necessity for their being under arms.”

The Highland army, marching in two columns, ascended the rising ground to the south of Falkirk, until they looked right down on the King’s army. The Macdonalds were at the head of the first column. When the column reached the top of the hill, it halted and formed into line to the left. Patullo, the Prince’s muster-master, estimated the strength of the army at Falkirk at 8000 men, besides about 1000 left to continue the blockade of Stirling Castle. The first line consisted of the three Macdonald regiments – Keppoch, Clanranald, and Glengarry; on their left were the Farquharsons, Mackenzies, Macintoshes, Macphersons, Frasers, Camerons of Lochiel, and on the extreme left the Appin Stewarts. The second line was composed of the three Atholl regiments on the right, the Ogilvies, the Gordons, the Maclauchlans, and the men under Lord John Drummond, who had taken up his position on the left.

The reserve, where Prince Charles took up his position, was composed of the Irish piquets and a small body of horse under Lord Elcho. The first line was commanded by Lord George Murray, the second by Lord John Drummond. The right flank was protected by a morass.

In the absence of General Hawley, the commanding officers formed their regiments in front of their encampment; and another messenger was dispatched to Callander House, from which the General was at last seen galloping in breathless haste without his hat. The army was at once formed in two lines, with a body of reserve. The first line, under General Huske, consisted of a battalion of the Royal Scots, and the regiments of Wolfe, Cholmondeley, Pulteney, Price, and Ligonier. The second line consisted of Barrel’s, Blakeney’s, Munro’s, Battereau’s, and Fleming’s. Howard’s regiment, drawn up behind the right of the second line, formed the reserve, and on their left the Edinburgh Volunteers and the Glasgow militia were stationed; the Argyllshire Highlanders were left to guard the camp. The three regiments of dragoons, Cobham’s, Ligonier’s, and Hamilton’s, commanded by Ligonier, were advanced in extended squadrons in front of the infantry towards the left.

General Hawley at once ordered his cavalry forward to secure the crest of the hill before the Highlanders could reach it, the infantry to follow as rapidly as possible. Just as this advance was ordered the day became overcast, and a storm of wind and rain beat directly in the faces of the soldiers, who were marching up hill with fixed bayonets. The race for the top was gained by the Highlanders, who were formed and ready to receive the dragoons on their arrival, with a great advantage of having the storm of wind and rain from behind, in place of in their faces; the darkness becoming so great that it was impossible to see to any distance. A deep ravine, extending from the top of the hill, ran due north into the plain, getting deeper and wider in its progress. This ravine separated the left of the Highland army from the right of the Hanoverians.

The dragoons were formed so much to the left and so far in advance, that Lord George Murray, who commanded the Highland army, believed that they were not supported by infantry, and immediately ordered an attack to be made on them, at the very time that General Hawley had ordered Colonel Ligonier, who commanded the cavalry, to advance against the Highlanders. Such was Hawley’s contempt for his opponents that this order was given before his infantry had time to form on the crest of the hill. Lord George, with his sword drawn and his target on his arm, advanced at the head of the Macdonalds of Keppoch till within a few paces of the dragoons, when he gave the orders to fire; this discharge emptied twenty-four saddles, but still the dragoons rushed forward, breaking the Highlanders’ line and riding down many of his men. The Highlanders, as usual, threw away their muskets, and fought with their swords, and for a time the conflict consisted of a series of single combats. The Highlanders who had been thrown down in the struggle plunged their dirks into the bellies of the horses. Others seized the riders by their clothes and pulled them to the ground, dispatching them with their pistols or dirks, as there was no room to use their swords.

But this fierce struggle did not last long; the dragoons were vanquished, and retreated in great disorder upon their own infantry, spreading terror through their ranks, which broke and fled down the hill, pursued by the Highlanders. In the midst of the retreating mass, General Hawley rode with it towards Falkirk.

All the English army, however, did not retreat. Barrel’s regiment stood fast, and was soon joined by parts of two regiments of the first line (Price’s and Ligonier’s). This body of resolute men moved to their left till they came directly opposite to the Camerons and Stuarts, and began to fire upon them across the ravine. The Highlanders kept their ground and returned the fire; but in this mode of warfare they had no chance with disciplined troops, and after a number had fallen the Highlanders began to retire, still keeping the high ground on their side of the ravine. This success of the Royal troops put a stop to the pursuit, for the Highlanders, hearing so much firing behind them, returned to their former position, expecting to find their second line, but it was not to be found. Some of the men composing it had joined in the pursuit.

Some men, on the other hand, believing that the Hanoverians were getting the best of it, had begun to retreat towards the west, whilst the great mass of the English army was retreating towards the east.

Farquharson of Monaltry, who had commanded the Prince’s artillery, had not been able to keep up with the rapid march of the army. He was still a mile distant when he heard the firing, and was shortly afterwards met by some two or three hundred of the Highlanders retreating from the field. He compelled them to return with him, leaving his guns behind. Before he arrived, however, Prince Charles and the reserve had advanced to support the Highlanders, and Barrel’s regiment, Cobhan’s dragoons, and the others who had stood with them, were in full retreat towards the camp. General Hawley, before leaving Falkirk with the remains of his army, ordered his camp to be set on fire, and then retreated towards Linlithgow, leaving an immense quantity of baggage, provisions, and ammunition, besides seven guns which had stuck fast half-way up the hill and had never been brought into action. The battle was all over in twenty minutes. By this time darkness had come on, which was greatly increased by the storm with still raged. The confusion was dreadful, no one seemed to know for some time the result of the action, or where to find either regiments or officers. Lord Kilmarnock was the first to discover the retreat of the Royal army, but the darkness and disorder were so great that it was impossible to take advantage of the victory, or collect a sufficient number of troops to complete it; so the English army, although harassed by as many Highlanders as could be gathered together, made good its retreat to Linlithgow, where it remained the night. The retreat was continued next day to Edinburgh, where the remains of the army arrived about four o’clock in the afternoon. Prince Charles, with his army, remained at Falkirk all night, and returned next day to his former quarters at Bannockburn.

Home gives the loss of the Royal army at 300 to 400 men; of officers the loss was severe – Colonel Sir Robert Munro; three Lieutenant-Colonels, Biggar of Monro’s regiment, Powell of Chomondely’s, and Whitney of Gardiner’s; five captains of Wolfe’s and one lieutenant; four captains of Blakeney’s and two lieutenants, besides many wounded. Johnstone gives the loss of the Royal army at 600 men killed and 700 prisoners. The loss of the Highlanders is stated at 32 officers and men killed, and 120 wounded.

Throughout the whole of the day which succeeded the battle the weather remained so tempestuous that it was impossible for the victors to pursue their defeated enemies. On the 19th the weather cleared, and an advance on Edinburgh was thought of. It was, however, decided to return to Bannockburn and to proceed with the siege of Stirling Castle. More than a week was spent in siege operations. These were under the charge of a French engineer named Mirabelle de Gordon, who seems to have been a person of singular incapacity. Fire was opened on the castle on January 30, but the besiegers’ battery was entirely commanded by the castle guns, and was silenced in less than half-an-hour. In the meantime, the fugitives of Hawley’s army had had time to draw together again at Edinburgh, where it was further reinforced by detachments from the army of Marshal Wade.   “The army of the enemy,” says the Chevalier Johnstone, “in eight or ten days was stronger that it had been before the battle of Falkirk.”

Hawley’s defeat caused consternation in London. The command of the army in Scotland was transferred to the Duke of Cumberland, who had returned to London after the surrender of Carlisle. He left London on January 25th, and reached Edinburgh on the 30th.

Prince Charles as usual was eager for battle; it was his desire to advance against Edinburgh at once, and a plan of the expected battle had actually been prepared. But on January 29 a paper signed by Lord George Murray and some of the most influential of the chiefs was laid before him, in which a retreat to the north was advised. This document set forth concisely the position of Charles’s military affairs at this time. It was in the following terms: -

                                                                                    “FALKIRK, 29th January, 1746.

“We think it our duty, in this critical juncture, to lay our opinions in the most respectful manner before your Royal Highness.

“We are certain that a vast number of the soldiers of your Royal Highness’s army are gone home since the battle of Falkirk; and notwithstanding all the endeavours of the commanders of the different corps, they find that this evil is increasing hourly, and not in their power to prevent: and as we are afraid Stirling Castle cannot be taken so soon as was expected, if the enemy should march before it fall into your Royal Highness’s hands we can foresee nothing but utter destruction to the few that will remain, considering the inequality of our numbers to that of the enemy. For these reasons, we are humbly of opinion, that there is no way to extricate your Royal Highness and those who remain with you out of the most imminent danger but by retiring immediately to the Highlands, where we can be usefully employed the remainder of the winter by taking and mastering the forts of the north; and we are morally sure we can keep as many men together as will answer that end, and hinder the enemy from following us in the mountains at this season of the year; and in spring we doubt not but an army of 10,000 effective Highlanders can be brought together, and follow your Royal Highness wherever you think proper. This will certainly disconcert your enemies, and cannot but be approved of by your Royal Highness’s friends both at home an abroad. If a landing should happen in the meantime, the highlanders would immediately rise, either to join them or to make a powerful diversion elsewhere.

“The hard marches which your army has undergone, the winter season, and now the inclemency of the weather, cannot fail of making this measure approved of by your Royal Highness’s allies abroad, as well as your faithful adherents at home. The greatest difficulty that occurs to us is the saving of the artillery, particularly the heavy cannon; but better some of these were thrown into the river Forth as that your Royal Highness, besides the danger of your own person, should risk the flower of your army, which we apprehend must inevitably be the case if this retreat be not agreed to, and gone about without the loss of one moment; and we think that it would be the greatest imprudence to risk the whole on so unequal a chance, when there are such hopes of succour from abroad, besides the resources your Royal Highness will have from your faithful and dutiful followers at home. It is but just now we are apprised of the numbers of our own people that are gone off, besides the many sick that are in no condition to fight. And we offer this opinion with the more freedom that we are persuaded that your Royal Highness can never doubt of the uprightness of our intentions. Nobody is privy to this address to your Royal Highness except your subscribers; and we beg leave to assure your Royal Highness that it is with great concern and reluctance we find ourselves obliged to declare our sentiments in so dangerous a situation, which nothing could have prevailed with us to have done but the unhappy going off of so many men.” [Home, Appendix No. 39, p. 352.]

This paper was signed by Lord George Murray, Lochial, Keppoch, Clanranald, Ardshiel, Lochgary, Scothouse, and Simon Fraser, Master of Lovat.

Charles was deeply mortified by the advice of the chiefs. According to John Hay, who acted occasionally as his secretary, “when the Prince read the paper he struck his head against the wall until he staggered, and exclaimed most violently against Lord George Murray; his words were, ‘Good God! Have I lived to see this.’“  Retreat, however, was determined on, and on January 31 it was begun, and the army crossed the Fords of Frew. [There is some conflict of evidence as to these dates; those in the text are taken from the Chevalier Johnstone’s narrative.]  They camped that night at Crieff. On February I they left Crieff in two columns, which were to meet at Inverness. One, under Lord George Murray, took the coast road by Perth, Dundee, Montrose, and Aberdeen; the other, under the Prince, went straight through the mountains by Blair Atholl. On the 16th the Prince reached Moy Hall, the seat of the chief of the MacIntoshes. Lord Loudon, who was at Inverness, formed a plan of surprising and capturing him there. He posted sentries all round the town, with orders that no person was to be allowed to leave it, and in the evening he set out with a force of 1500 men to surprise the castle. Johnstone describes what followed.

“Whilst some English officers were drinking in the house of Mrs Bailly, an innkeeper in Inverness, and passing the time till the hour of their departure, her daughter, a girl of thirteen or fourteen years of age, who happened to wait on them, paid great attention to their conversation, and, from certain expressions dropped by them, she discovered their designs. As soon as this generous girl was certain as to their intentions, she immediately left the house, escaped from the town, notwithstanding the vigilance of the sentinels, and immediately took the road to Moy, running as fast as she was able, without shoes or stockings, which, to accelerate her progress, she had taken off, in order to inform the Prince of the danger that menaced him. She reached Moy, quite out of breath, before Lord Loudon; and the Prince, with difficulty, escaped in his robe-de-chambre, night-cap, and slippers to the neighbouring mountains, where he passed the night in concealment. This dear girl, to whom the Prince owed his life, was in great danger of losing her own, from her excessive fatigue on this occasion; but the care and attentions she experienced restored her to life, and her health was at length re-established. The Prince, having no suspicion of such a daring attempt, had very few people with him in the Castle of Moy.

“As soon as the girl had spread the alarm, the blacksmith of the village of Moy presented himself to the Prince, and assured His Royal Highness that he had no occasion to leave the castle, as he would answer for it, with his head, that Lord Loudon and his troops would be obliged to return faster than they came. The Prince had not sufficient confidence in his assurances to neglect seeking his safety by flight to the neighbouring mountains. However, the blacksmith, for his own satisfaction, put his project in execution. He instantly assembled a dozen of his companions on each side of the highway, to wait the arrival of the detachment of Lord Loudon, enjoining them not to fire till he should tell them, and then not to fire together, but one after another. When the head of the detachment of Lord Loudon was opposite the twelve men, about eleven o’clock in the evening, the blacksmith called out with a loud voice, ‘Here come the villains, who intend carrying off our Prince; fire, my lads; do not spare them; give no quarter!’ In an instant muskets were discharged from each side of the road, and the detachment, seeing their project had taken wind, began to fly in the greatest disorder, imagining that our whole army was lying in wait for them. Such was their terror and consternation that they did not stop till they reached Inverness. In this manner did a common blacksmith, with twelve of his companions, put Lord Loudon and fifteen hundred regular troops to flight. The fifer of his lordship who happened to be at the head of the detachment, was killed by the first discharge, and the detachment did not wait for a second.”

On February 18 the Prince’s men entered Inverness. On his approach Loudon evacuated the town and crossed to the Black Isle. Two days later the garrison, which had been left in the castle, surrendered. On the 19th the Prince, who had taken up his quarters at Culloden House, was joined by Lord George Murray.

Inverness remained the headquarters of the Jacobite army till the end, which now less than two months distant.

In March a force under Brigadier Stapleton was detached to attack Fort Augustus and Fort William. Fort Augustus surrendered on the 5th, but the garrison at Fort William made good their resistance, and the siege was abandoned on April 4. Loudon’s force was pursued into Sutherland and dispersed by the Duke of Perth. Loudon himself, with Lord President Forbes, retired to Skye. Lord George Murray raided the Atholl country, and on March 17 surprised and captured the houses occupied by Government troops. He laid siege to his own brother’s house, Blair Castle, which was occupied by a force under Sir Andrew Agnew. The siege was abandoned on April 2 on the approach of a relieving force.

About the middle of March the Prince visited Elgin and Gordon Castle.

In the meantime the enemy was approaching from the south. Cumberland, as we have seen, arrived in Edinburgh on the 30th of January, and at once commenced his march to the north. He reached Perth on February 6. On the 8th a force of Hessians, amounting to 5000 infantry and 500 Hussars, under the Prince of Hesse Cassel, landed at Leith. These were ordered to occupy Perth, Stirling, and Bannockburn. On the 20th Cumberland resumed his march northward; he entered Aberdeen on the 27th. On March 12 the first movement towards Inverness was made. General Bland was sent to occupy Inverurie an Old Meldrum; he reached Strathbogie, and three battalions and four guns at Old Meldrum. Cumberland himself left Aberdeen on April 8, marching by Old Meldrum and Banff, concentrated his forces at Cullen on the 11th, and crossed the Spey on the 12th; he reached Nairn on the 14th. [The army advanced from Aberdeen to Cullen in four divisions, by different roads. The routes of the marching columns and the cantonment lists of the troops quartered in Aberdeen are printed in Allardyce’s Historical Papers, vol. i. pp. 299-303.]

We have now reached the opening of the last act of the tragic drama. On the day on which Cumberland reached Nairn, the Prince took up his quarters at Culloden House.  The men bivouacked on the heath; the Prince himself stayed up all night. In the morning the army was drawn up on Culloden Moor in order of battle, but no enemy appeared. Lord Elcho was sent to reconnoiter Cumberland’s camp. He returned with the report that it was the Duke’s birthday, and that the English troops were engaged in celebrating the occasion. The Prince called a council of war, and it was decided that an attempt should be made to surprise Cumberland by a night march, and to attack his camp at early dawn.

The Field at the Battle of Culloden

Reference has already been made to the presence of Sir Robert Strange as a volunteer with the Prince’s army. He took part in the night march and the battle which followed, and has left a concise and graphic account of what he saw. He had been occupied in engraving notes for the Jacobite exchequer when news reached Inverness that Cumberland had passed the Spey. “The town was in a general alarm and even confusion,” says Strange; “nothing was heard but the noise of the bagpipes, beating of drums, and clash of arms. The field of Culloden was on the following day to be the general rendezvous, and every individual betook himself to his corps.

“The next morning I went betimes to the secretary’s office and delivered over the whole of my charge, together with the notes I had been entrusted with .   .   .  My companions were, in general, glad to see me, and, joking, asked me when they were to have any of my money. I replied that, if they gave a good account of the Duke, I hoped his treasury-chest would supply us.

“The army was now mustering upon the field, it being the 14th; but, unfortunately, we had not been joined by a considerable number of our men, who were actually upon their march from different parts of the country, and would have been up in the course of a few days. The whole of the Macphersons, a considerable body of the Frasers, some few of the Macintoshes, in general all the Mackenzies, and several other bodies of men who had been raised in the more northern counties, had all received repeated expresses, and were hastening to join the army. In this situation, divested as it were of part of our numbers, we hourly expected the Duke. He had come on to Nairn on the 14th, and was there halting. There was even no appearance of his moving, the 15th being his birthday. In the afternoon of that day the Prince had summoned a council of war to be held upon the field, and had proposed a plan of a march under cloud of night to attack the Duke’s army by surprise, and to force his camp. This plan was worthy even of any of the greatest heroes of antiquity, and met with general approbation, particularly amongst the clans. The council remained long in deliberating in what manner it was to be conducted. Two essential things, secrecy and expedition, were the great objects to be observed. There was only one road to Nairn, which was the high road, and this being covered in many places with villages, it was essential to avoid it, to prevent any information being carried to the Duke’s army. The next alternative, and indeed the only one, was to attempt a way along the foot of a ridge of mountains which fronted the sea, but had scarcely been ever trode by human foot, and was known by the name of the Moor Road. It would have brought us in upon that part of the enemy’s camp from which they could apprehend no danger. It lengthened indeed the road, which, in the sequel, and from the shortness of the night, proved our misfortune.

“Before the council broke up, every regiment as it were had his place assigned him in the order of the march. The van was commanded by Lord George Murray, who, with about one-third of the army, was to have passed the water of Nairn about two miles distant from the town, and who, unexpected by the enemy, was to have invested the Duke’s quarters and to have made him prisoner. The remaining two-thirds, commanded by the Duke of Perth and Lord John Drummond, were to have attacked them from the plain, which, in all probability, would have been carried sword in hand. It is to be remarked that the same army had been already surprised at Falkirk.

“Night coming on – and not sooner could the army begin its march, to prevent the county people from being alarmed, or any intelligence being carried to the enemy – part of our numbers, weak as we were, was under a necessity of being left on the field, in order to save appearances and light up fires, as had been done the preceding evening, and to prevent stragglers, if any there were, forming unnecessary conjectures. The night was favourable to our wishes, but, alas! Such a road was never traveled; the men in general were frequently up to the ankles, and the horses in many places extricated themselves with difficulty. In this manner were we retarded almost the whole of the night; notwithstanding of which, an uncommon spirit supported itself throughout the army.

“It was now the 16th of April, when day began to break about four in the morning. It was indeed a dreadful knell to us, being as yet above four long miles from Nairn; nor did we know what sort of road we had yet to encounter. Appearances became serious, each was whispering to his neighbour, and, so far as countenances could be descried, disappointment was evidently marked. During this critical moment of suspense, what was to be done? A halt took place; a council was called as soon as the general officers could be got together. The morning was fine, and the day was ushering in apace; it required but little time to deliberate, and, finding it impossible to attack the Duke by surprise, it was judged expedient, for the safety of the army, to give up the enterprise and return to the field of Culloden. Thus were our hopes disappointed. We saw, as it were before us the glorious prize, but we durst not encounter it, for there is almost a moral certainty that we should have been cut off to a man. The enemy was early in motion, must have seen us at a considerable distance, and received us upon the points of their bayonets.

“We now turned about to the left, and as soon as we conveniently could, got into the high road. The Prince, attended by his followers and a few of his body-guards, went on towards Culloden. Thus did the shortness of the night, attended with a most harassing march, prevent a plan from being carried into execution which was as morally certain of success as it would have been glorious to the youth who projected it. For it is a known truth that the enemy had no idea of the intended attack, and that the first information they received was after their army had begun to move; and it was even communicated to them from their own vanguard, who had learnt it upon their march. We had got but a few miles upon the road when a number of the guards, finding themselves overpowered with fatigue, and ready every instant to drop from our saddles, came to a resolution of stopping; we were shown into an open barn, where we threw ourselves down upon some straw, tying our horses to our ankles, and the people assuring us that in case of any danger they should awake us. They were, indeed, as good as their promise, for we had slumbered here but a short time before a woman gave us the alarm that the Duke’s horse were in sight. We that instant mounted, and as soon as we got upon the high road the vanguard, as yet at some distance, were approaching. We now made the best of our way; but, before ascending to the field, we found the Prince had been there some time, and was actually at that moment engaged in holding a council of war, deliberating whether we should give battle to the Duke, or, circumstanced as the army was, retire and wait the arrival of our reinforcements. The former was determined on.”

The Highlanders had reached their camping ground on Culloden Moor about five o’clock in the morning of the 16th, dead beat with hunger and fatigue. Most of the men lay down to sleep; not a few made their way into Inverness to look for food. The Prince returned to Culloden House; some bread and whiskey were, with difficulty, procured for him, and he lay down to sleep. He had not slept more than two hours when he was awakened by the news that Cumberland was on the march from Nairn.

It was not about eight o’clock in the morning. Orders were hurriedly sent to recall the men who had gone to Inverness, and the army was paraded to await Cumberland’s attack. According to Patullo’s statement, [Home, Appendix No. 30, p. 332.] the number on the roll of the Prince’s army at this time was about 8000. Several parties, however, had been detached upon different expeditions, and were not come back; and a very large number of men were so exhausted by fatigue, hunger, and want of sleep that it was not possible to bring 5000 to the field. Proposals were made to retire across the river Nairn, and avoid fighting at so great a disadvantage. But Sir Thomas Sheridan and others of the prince’s advisers, “hoping no doubt for a miracle,” says Patullo, insisted upon fighting Cumberland at once, and the army was accordingly drawn up in the order of battle. The Prince’s army was drawn up in two lines; the Atholl brigade was on the right of the first line, on their left stood Lochiel’s Camerons, the Appin Stewarts, the Frasers, the MacIntoshes, the Maclauchlans and Macleans, John Roy Stewart’s regiment, the Farquharsons, and on the left of all, the three Macdonald regiments – Clanranald, Keppoch, and Glengarry. The Macphersons were absent; when the battle was fought they were on the march from Badenoch. Lord George Murray commanded on the right, and Lord John Drummond on the left. [The authorities differ in some details as to the disposition of the troops on both sides; Home’s account is followed in the text.] The second line, which was commanded by General Stapleton, consisted of the regiments under Lord Ogilvie, Lord Lewis Gordon, Glenbucket, the Duke of Perth, and Lord John Drummond; on the left were the Irish piquets. On the right of the first line was a troop of Horse-Guards, on the left of the second line a troop of Fitzjames’s Horse. The reserve, which was commanded by Lord Kilmarnock, consisted of his regiment of foot-guards, with the remains of Lord Pitsligo’s and Lord Strathallan’s Horse. Charles himself, escorted by Lord Balmerino’s troop of Horse-Guards and Colonel Shea’s troop of Fitzjames’s Horse, remained on a small eminence in rear of the right of the second line. The right of the position was protected by the walls of a large enclosure.

About twelve o’clock, Cumberland’s approaching army appeared at a distance of about two miles and a half. When the Duke perceived that the Prince’s army was prepared to give him battle, he halted and deployed his troops for action.

The Duke’s force amounted to about 8800 men. His first line consisted of six regiments of infantry; on the right were the Royal Scots (St. Clair’s), on their left Cholmondeley’s, Price’s, the Scots Fusiliers (Campell’s), Munro’s, and Barrel’s. The second line consisted of Howard’s, Flemings, Ligonier’s, Bligh’s, Sempill’s, and Wolfe’s. In the reserve were Blankeney’s, Battereau’s, and Pulteney’s. The Duke of Kingston’s Light Horse and a squadron of Cobham’s dragoons were placed on the right of the first line; Lord Mark Kerr’s regiment of dragoons and two squadrons of Cobham’s on the left. In this order the army advanced to within six hundred paces of the enemy. Two six-pounders were placed between each regiment of the front line, six more guns were with the second line. The ground was so soft in some places that during the advance some of the artillery horses stuck, but the guns were extricated by means of drag-ropes. As soon as firm ground was reached, artillery fire was opened. It was now about one o’clock. The fire was returned by the artillery of the Jacobites, who had a few guns posted on their flanks and in their centre. The Royal artillery, which was commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Belford, was well served, and did terrible execution. The guns of the Jacobites, on the other hand, served as they were by untrained gunners, had little effect; they were laid high, and their shot passed harmlessly over the heads of the Royal troops.

The artillery duel lasted nearly an hour. While it continued, Cumberland made some changes in the disposition of his army. Wolfe’s regiment, which stood on the left of the second line, was moved up to the left of the first line and then wheeled to the right (en potence, as it was called), so as to flank the Jacobite attack. At the same time, Pulteney’s regiment was brought up from the reserve to the right of the first line, and Battereau’s to the right of the second. The Duke then placed himself between the first and second lines, in front of Howard’s regiment. Charles, with the group of officers who surrounded him, at length attracted the notice of Cumberland’s artillery, and became a mark for its fire. One of his servants was killed; he himself had a narrow escape.

The Highlanders, waiting impatiently for the order to charge, were now beginning to get out of hand. Charles sent an order to Lord George Murray to advance, but the order was never received, as the officer who carried it was killed on his way by a cannon ball. Lochiel spoke to Lord George, and represented to him the necessity of attacking immediately. As they were speaking, the MacIntoshes broke out of the centre of the line, and advanced against the regiment opposite to them. A general advance was then ordered. The clansmen rushed forward with a shout through a storm of grape and musketry. As they passed Wolfe’s regiment, it poured its fire into their right flank, but they rushed on undaunted and attacked Barrel’s and Munro’s. Both battalions broke; two guns were captured; it looked for a moment as if Prestonpans were to be repeated. But the second line stood firm. Sempill’s regiment, which received the brunt of the attack, was drawn up as to receive cavalry – three deep, the front rank kneeling, the second bending forward, the third standing upright. The Highland attack, now broken and disordered, was received with a tremendous fire; the assailants fell in heaps in front of the bayonets; at last the survivors retreated in confusion. Bligh’s regiment was equally successful in repelling the attack of the centre. On the left the attack of the Jacobites was comparatively feeble. There is a well-known story to the effect that the Macdonalds  refused to take part in the fight, because they felt their honour insulted by being placed on the left of the line. [As to this story, see Johnstone’s Memoirs, p. 144, note.] It is said that the Duke of Perth entreated them in vain to advance, and told them that if they behaved with their usual valour they would make a right of the left, and he would call himself Macdonald; and that Keppoch rushed forward calling on them to follow him, and exclaiming, “My God! Have the children of my tribe forsaken me?” Be this as it may, they never crossed swords with the enemy, and, when the right and centre of the Prince’s army retreated, they joined in the flight.

The whole affair was over in twenty-five minutes. When the first line of the Highlanders gave way, the Royal army did not pursue immediately. The infantry were ordered to remain in position and dress their ranks. The pursuit was begun by the cavalry on Cumberland’s right flank, who were gallantly checked by the Irish. At last a general advance was ordered; the Jacobite army broke up into groups, and their retreat became a flight. The greater part fled towards Badenoch and the hills, the remainder towards Inverness. The Royal cavalry pursued the fugitives for miles, and did great execution. [The print here reproduced represents various successive phases of the battle as if occurring simultaneously; thus in the centre the Highlanders are shown charging, while on the flanks the Royal cavalry are advancing for the pursuit. On the left of the picture Kerr’s and Cobham’s dragoons are forcing their way through the enclosure on the Jacobite’s right, the walls of which had previously been broken down to admit their passage. The descriptive letterpress appended to the picture differs in some details from Home.] 

The Battle of Culloden

It is said that while the left of the Jacobite line was yet unbroken, Lord Elcho begged the Prince to head a charge in person and retrieve the fortune of the day. Had he done so, the result would merely have been to add to the slaughter. Cumberland’s victory was complete. The insurgents lost about 1000 killed and wounded, and the whole of their cannon and baggage. The loss of the victors was reckoned at 310, including four officers killed and fourteen wounded.

Charles fled along the side of Loch Ness, and in the evening reached Gortleg, [Now called Gorthlick.] where he met Lord Lovat. Such of the fugitives as had kept together reached Ruthven on the 18th; there they received a message from the Prince to seek their own safety, and dispersed as best they could.

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