Culloden is such a key part of Scottish, British and indeed world history that you find reference to it cropping up in lots of places. For example, the laird of Brodie Castle had government troops camps on his land before the battle and Fort George at Ardersier was built after the battle to house all the government troops stationed in the Highlands to police the Jacobites.
For this post though we are looking at the story of Hugh Miller’s grandfather that can be found at Hugh Millers Birthplace Museum in Cromarty.
Hugh Miller’s grandfather witnessed the Battle of Culloden from the Hill of Cromarty when he was a boy of fourteen. His grandfather told of the day being drizzly and thick, and when he climbed the hill he found many townsfolk already assembled. A little after midday a round white cloud rose from Culloden Moor, and then a second beside it. He recalled hearing the rattle of smaller fire-arms mingled with the roar of artillery. Then after what felt like an exceedingly short space of time the clouds dissipated, and the rattle and roar was replaced with the sharp patter of musketry.
In his recount of these events Miller also talks of another story told to him by a woman who on the day of the battle was tending sheep. She sat listening to the boom of the cannon in terror but was still more scared by the howling of her dog, who sat upright on his haunches the whole time the firing continued, reportedly “looking as if he saw a spirit”.
During his life Miller also spoke with at least two soldiers who fought at Culloden, one on the government side, the other the Jacobite. The first, a forester, accompanied the Government Army to Fort Augustus and spoke of the atrocities he saw, some of which still made his blood boil seventy years later. He talked of scores of cottages in flames, and droves of cattle brought in from Highlanders’ lands. At one point he mentions there must have been about twenty thousand cattle, and groups of drovers from Yorkshire and the south of Scotland used to come in every day to share in the spoil and buy the cattle at greatly reduced prices.
This unique personal account is an amazing recollection that helps bring the story of Culloden to life and we love to hear these special insights that help connect us to the feelings of the people at the time of the battle and share so much more of the story than just facts and figures.
We hope you enjoyed hearing this story and do be sure to check out the excellent Hugh Millers Birthplace in Cromarty if you would like to learn more about this remarkable man. (And yes it is National Trust for Scotland, you can’t blame us for being biased!)
As always like, tweet, follow, share and tell stories of your own because one day they may become fascinating glimpses into history for later generations to enjoy. All the best K & D.