On the 11th February 1746 Ruthven Barracks surrendered to Jacobite forces, therefore we thought it was time to shed a little light on the barracks.
Ruthven Barracks was one of four infantry barracks built across the Highlands by George II’s government following the failed 1715 Jacobite Rising. The others were at Kiliwhimen (now Fort Augustus), Bernera, Glenelg and Inversnaid. Their purpose was to house regular troops outposted from the main garrisons at Fort William, Fort George, Edinburgh Castle and Stirling Castle.
Ruthven Barracks were built between 1719 and 1721, on a prominent mound that had once been the site of a medieval castle. A separate stables block was added in 1734, on Major General Wade’s orders, for use by dragoons protecting troops marching along the adjacent military road.
In 1745 it withstood its first major attack by the Jacobites. On the 29th August some 200 Jacobites led by Irishman John William O’Sullivan tried to capture the barracks but were fought back by 12 redcoats commanded by Sergeant Terrence Malloy. The Jacobites had no cannon so their plan was to fill a wooden barrel with explosives, place it by the back entrance and set it on fire. While everyone was dealing with the explosives the Jacobites could then climb over the walls at the other end of the courtyard and catch the guards by surprise.
Unfortunately, the Jacobites struggled to place their explosive barrel in the right place and one of their men died. Meanwhile, the men with the ladder struggled to carry it up the steep slope beside the barracks. The 12 redcoats kept up a steady attack of musket fire and the Jacobites ended up abandoning their attack before it ever really began and retreated with two dead and three wounded. One redcoat was killed, shot through the head by ‘foolishly holding his head too high over the parapet.’
The following year the Jacobites returned led by Gordon of Glenbucket with increased numbers and more suitably equipped artillery to take on the barracks. On 11th February the stronger artillery forces managed to force the garrison to surrender. The Jacobites allowed the men to march free with the promise of safe passage to Perth.
Following the Jacobite defeat at Culloden those men who were lucky enought to escape the field reconvened at Ruthven where they awaited word from the Prince. It is estimated some 2-3,000 men were at Ruthven Barracks when a note was received from Prince Charles Edward Stewart stating “Let every man seek his own safety in the best way he can.” The Jacobites dispersed and the Jacobite cause was all but abandoned. The departing men torched the barracks and they have remained a ruin ever since.
We hope you enjoyed this little insight into Ruthven Barracks. As always please like, comment, tweet, share, follow and be sure to visit the remains of the barracks near Kingussie if you can.
All the best, K & D