Culloden – a global war

The Battle of Culloden is largely seen as a British, and Scottish affair, with the fall of the Jacobites accelerating the demise of the Highlands, but Culloden can be viewed on a much larger scale and it is fascinating to see how the ’45 Rising and the Battle of Culloden affected events across the world.

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Culloden Memorial Cairn

In the build up to the ’45, the Battle of Fontenoy can be considered a part of its history. Here an army of British, Dutch, Hanoverian and Austrian regiments were defeated by the French. The commander of the allied army was none other than the Duke of Cumberland and his failure at Fontenoy could well have contributed to Prince Charles’ timing with his decision to sail to Scotland in 1745. Not only that, but with an embarrassing defeat behind him, it has to be questioned whether this spurred the Duke of Cumberland on to defeat the Jacobites so he could then return to the Continent and stop the French after Fontenoy denied this.

In the month before Prince Charles Edward Stuart arrived in Scotland to begin the ’45 Rising, Royal Navy ships were across the Atlantic seizing the French fortress of Louisbourg which protected the Gulf of St Lawrence. This defeat left the French at a crucial decision. Should they send reinforcements to try and retake Louisbourg or should they support the Jacobites in their attempt to take Britain? Initially they supported Charles, but following his apparent failure to secure Scotland and his retreat at Derby, France soon turned their attention back west and by spring 1746 there were 11,000 troops being sent, not to Scotland, but across the Atlantic as they fought to hold the French empire together.

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After Culloden those that were fortunate to survive then faced uncertain prospects and Highland regiments were soon used in the French-Indian Seven Years War, as well as the American Revolution. In 1756 Simon Fraser of Lovat, the son of the executed Lord Lovat, raised a Highland regiment that served with distinction in Canada and slowly the men who had been brought up and fought with the Jacobites found new lives.

During the American Revolution Jacobites, including those raised by Simon Fraser, the Macphersons of Cluny and the Mackenzies of Cromartie fought with Britian in its unsuccessful attempt to keep hold of North America. After the British were defeated many soldiers fled north seeking refuge in Canada. One group of Scots formed the Glengarry settlement, in what is now Ontario, and this attracted immigrants from the Highlands for years. Indeed by 1832 it is said roughly 8,500 people were living in the settlement.

Finally, we cannot forget about the many prisoners who were transported overseas. Between 1718 and 1776 it is estimate that some 50,000 men and women were sent across to Virginia and Maryland in America. With the end of the American War of Independence Britain then turned to Australia and began sending its convicts there. Between 1787 and 1868 some 150,000 convicts were sent to Australia. Some of these prisoners/convicts could well have been Jacobites or at least affected by the events of the Jacobite Risings. These convicts were joined by many people seeking a new life away from the Highland Clearances and turmoil of Scotland. In fact three of the first six governors of New South Wales were Scots, including Lachlan Macquarie, sometimes called the ‘father of Australia’.

The Jacobite history and its aftermath has led to Scottish ancestry being taken across the world. Not all of the stories and events surrounding the Jacobites may be happy or pleasant but, what is wonderful now, is that we get to welcome visitors from across the globe to come to Culloden and discover more about their ancestors from Scotland, of the events that shaped Britain and of the men who took part in history across the world.

This is just a brief look at some of the ways Culloden acted as so much more than just one battle and there are many more stories that begin in Scotland and travel far and wide. We hope you enjoyed these and as always please like, tweet, share, comment and share your own stories with us.

All the best, K & D

Clifton Moor – last battle on English soil?

On 18th December 1745 the Jacobites and the Hanoverians met at Clifton Moor. The Jacobites had begun their retreat from Derby with the British forces following closely behind. At Clifton the Jacobites chose to make a stand and face the men chasing them. They once again proved the effectiveness of the Highland Charge and were able to defeat the Hanoverians and continue on their trek north.

However, the big question for today is, was this the last battle on English soil? It sounds a fairly simple question but the answer is not so straightforward.

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The main problem here is, how do you class something as a battle? Culloden we are happy to call a battle but Clifton Moor is not so easy and is considered by many to be a skirmish. The difficulty lies in definitions generally a battle is larger than a skirmish and is usually a pitched event with large numbers and the main body of the army coming together to support their cause. A skirmish on the other hand is considered to be smaller without the main body of the army and with limited combat.

Since Clifton Moor involved mainly just the rear guard of the Jacobites with roughly 1,000 men it is typically given the title of skirmish. So, if we discount Clifton Moor we have to look back to the next closest contender with would be the Battle of Preston in 1715, another Jacobite action. Here Jacobites barricaded the main streets of Preston as six regiments of Government men arrived to stop the Jacobite advance. The main battle lasted from 12th November to the 14th November when a surrender was finally agreed and almost 1,500 Jacobites were taken prisoner.

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But again, was this a battle? Here the debate is that Preston was actually a siege. A siege is considered to occur when an assault is made on a place that has been blocked and sealed by forces within. Thus the town,city etc. is surrounded, supplies are cut off and the hope is that the forces inside ultimately surrender and/or are captured.  This sounds like it matches the description of the Battle of Preston so once again some choose to discount this battle and look even further back.

Finally we come to 1685 and the Battle of Sedgemoor. Fought on 6th July 1685 this battle was the last battle of the Monmouth Rebellion. The rebellion was fought between the duke of Monmouth and King James II & VII. James had taken the throne following the death of his brother Charles II but the Duke of Monmouth believed he should be king as Charles II’s illegitimate son. the battle saw 4,000 of Monmouth’s men face 3,000 royalist troops. The superior training of the royalists quickly outflanked Monmouth’s men and the battle was a decisive win for James II.

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Battle of Sedgemoor Memorial

 

The Battle of Sedgemoor seems to meet all the criteria for a battle. It saw the main force of Monmouth’s army all coming together to fight for one cause and saw a pivotal moment in the rebellion as it effectively ended Monmouth’s attempt on the throne. It was certainly not a siege and the men and gravity of the fighting make it too large for a skirmish. Therefore, most people at least agree that this was a battle so this could be classed as the last battle on English soil.

Before we finish also worth a mention is the Battle of Graveney March. This took place on 27th September 1940. Here a German plane was forced to crash land and when the British forces arrived the German crew had armed themselves with weapons. After a heated exchange of gunfire the German crew were eventually captured. The action allowed the British to take hold of the German aircraft and gain useful information and intelligence from the craft. Once again though the classification of a battle is debated and with the German crew consisting of just four men many class the action as a skirmish.

So, when was the last battle on English soil? To be honest we still don’t know for sure. It all depends on how you feel these actions should be classified. but, then again, should the classifications really matter. Each of the battles/skirmished/sieges above are important in their own right and each show acts of bravery, pain, success and losses. who can say which is the most important? Regardless of which one was ‘the last battle’ they are all important and all deserve to be remembered.

We hope you enjoyed this post. As always please like, comment, follow, tweet and be sure to give us your views on battles and sieges and skirmishes and conflicts and any other actions that are important.

All the best, K & D

FAQ’s

We get many questions asked here at Culloden so to help clear a few things up here are our most common queries.

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Culloden Memorial Cairn

 

 Where does the name Jacobite come from?

We talk about the Jacobites a lot but don’t mention the origin of the name that much. The term actually comes from the Latin for the name James which is Jacobus. James VII & II was deposed as King and it was after this that the first Risings began. So the Jacobites were essentially the followers of King James VII & II and subsequently his son and grandson.

 So, the English won?

No! We get a lot of visitors who believe that the battle of Culloden was Scotland vs. England but this just is not true. There were Scots on both sides and English on both sides. The Jacobites had a whole regiment raised in Manchester and the Government army had Scottish clans fighting with them. And, this doesn’t even consider the number of French, Irish and Dutch fighting. Culloden was a civil war which pitched members of the same family against each other so was not a simple matter. For more check out our other blog ‘It’s not Scotland vs England’

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Jacobite flag on Culloden Battlefield

 

Why did they fight at Culloden? 

This question is for the Jacobites. They were famous for their tactic of the highlands charge and yet at Culloden they were lined up on a boggy field which served to slow them down. The answer is debated to this day. After a long march the night before the Jacobites were scattered as they searched for food or tried to sleep but the Government were soon upon them. Some argued they should position themselves nearer the river Nairn where they could use their charge with more effect. Some felt the boggy moor would hinder the government horse and artillery. Ultimately on the day of the battle no council of war was held to decide the best spot. This may have been because Prince Charles feared his men would argue for a tactical retreat. Thus, on the day of battle it was Prince Charles who ordered his men to form a line across Drummossie Moor to meet the Government men.

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One of the gravestone on the battlefield

 

How many men fought on each side and how many died?

Again a little tricky as there is some debate about the exact numbers in each army. The Jacobites had roughly 5,500 men whilst the Government had around 7,500. As to those who died, the Jacobites lost approximately 1,500 men in the short battle. Official Government records give their losses at just 50 men although the accuracy of this number is questioned. Certainly hundreds would have been injured and many would have later died from their wounds. The figure of 50 may also have been lowered to make their victory seem greater.

These are probably the most popular questions we get here at the battlefield, apart from ‘Where are the toilets?’ and hopefully you enjoyed discovering the answers. As always please like, share, tweet, and let us know if you have any questions you’d like us to try and answer.

All the best, K & D

No Quarter Given

The phrase ‘no quarter given’ is well known to us here at Culloden and the story that lies behind it is an important one to tell.

To give ‘no quarter’ meant that no prisoners would be taken. Any men on the battlefield would have no mercy shown to them and surrender would not be accepted.

On the eve of the Battle of Culloden the Duke of Cumberland was determined to end the Jacobite Rising and prevent the Jacobites from ever being capable of challenging the throne again. After losing to the Jacobites at every turn, up to this point, he would not let them win again. To motivate his men he informed them that Lord George Murray had ordered ‘no quarter’ to be given to the Government men on the field. This meant the men would be shown no mercy by the Jacobites . However, this claim was not true. No such order had been given.

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Duke of Cumberland

 

From copies of Lord Murray’s orders there was no mention of ‘no quarter’ anywhere. But, in Cumberland’s papers there was a copy in which the words ‘and to give no quarters to the electors troops on any account whatsoever’ had been inserted. Whilst Cumberland may not have been responsible for doctoring the order he certainly did not shy away from the words written and retaliated in kind.

After the battle Cumberland ordered his men to search out any surviving rebels who were to be treated as traitors, outside the conventions of international combat. Those with the Royal Ecossais or the Irish Piquet’s would be regarded as prisoners of war but everyone else was to be considered traitors. Whilst some men in the government army refused to kill, and tried to turn a blind eye, there were some who committed terrible acts. As well as wounded soldiers, civilians, women and children were all killed in the horrible aftermath of Culloden.

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Lord George Murray

 

The act of no quarter at Culloden was undoubtedly a terrible occasion but the fact that it was built upon a lie makes it even worse. The period that followed Culloden, with Cumberland’s pacification of the highlands, was an awful time and led to Cumberland being called ‘the Butcher’ in later life.

As always we hope you enjoyed this post and please like, comment, tweet, share and keep coming back to learn more.

All the best, K&D

Battle of Aughrim

On 12th July 1691 the Battle of Aughrim commenced and was one of the decisive battles of the Williamite War in Ireland. It effectively ended Jacobitisim in Ireland, leaving subsequent Jacobite Risings to be fought just in England and Scotland.

The Williamite War ran from 1689 to 1691 and was fought over who would be king of England, Scotland and Ireland. Jacobites supported King James VII & II who had been removed from the throne, whilst Williamites fought unsurprisingly for King William.

In 1689 William landed a party of English, Scottish, Dutch, Danish and other troops in a bid to tackle the growing Jacobite resistance. The well known Battle of the Boyne was fought in 1690 which saw a Williamite victory and left the Jacobites demoralised. William took Dublin while the Jacobites retreated to Limerick. After the battle some believed that the war was over but William’s apparently over-harsh peace terms encouraged the Jacobite army to keep fighting.

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William III of Orange

 

Finally, in July 1691, events came to a head with the Jacobite army holding a defensive position around Limerick. They were waiting for aid from France to help them re-take Ireland which the Williamites were determined to stop. As the Williamites began their march to Limerick they found their way blocked at Aughrim. Here both armies, roughly 20,000 strong a piece, lined up for battle.

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The Battle of Aughrim by John Mulvany

The Jacobites held a strong position with infantry lining the ridge of Kilcommadon Hill and stone walls and hedgerows marking local farmers fields helping provide defences for their men. In addition to this to the left of the army was a bog with only one causeway limiting any access to their left flank. These defences helped the Jacobites hold off numerous advances by the Williamite men. They pushed the assault back and drove the Williamites into the bog where many were killed or drowned.

 

Eventually the Williamites decided their only option was to try and flank the Jacobites along the narrow causeway through the bog. The worry was this was a bottleneck and the Jacobites would protect it fiercely. Luckily for the Williamites the Jacobites were running low on ammunition and their reserve ammunition would not fit in their French supplied muskets. The Williamites managed to breach the causeway and held a perfect flanking position.

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James VII & II

 

Meanwhile the Jacobite commander, Marquis de Saint-Ruhe, was still confident the battle could be won. However, as he tried to rally the cavalry he was struck by a cannonball which decapitated him. Without his leadership the Jacobite position very quickly collapsed. The cavalry fled leaving the Jacobite flank wide open as the Williamites surrounded them. Those who tried to flee were killed as they ran, chased down by the Williamite cavalry.

The battle of Aughrim was one of the more bloody battles in Ireland with an estimated 5-7,000 men killed and became referred to by some as ‘the Flodden of Ireland’. Many of those killed were Jacobites with some claiming as many as 4,000 men were killed with a further 4,000 taken prisoner after the battle. Not only this but the Jacobites lost much of their equipment and supplies as the Williamites ransacked their camp. Although the city of Limerick held out until the autumn of 1691 the battle of Aughrim is considered by many the final act in the end of Irish Jacobitism.

We hope you enjoyed this little insight into the Battle of Aughrim and the Jacobite rising in Ireland. As always please share, comment, like, re-blog and keep coming back to learn more about Jacobite history.

All the best, K & D

 

The Battle of Sheriffmuir

This week saw the 300th anniversary of the Battle of Sheriffmuir which took place on 13th November 1715. As such we decided to look a little more at this key battle of the 1715 Jacobite Uprising.

First, a little bit of background just to set the scene.  In 1714, George I succeeded Queen Anne to the throne as the first ruler of the Hanoverian line. Tensions were already high in some areas following the 1707 Union which was not fully supported across the country. Following his ascension George I, a German from Hanover who could not speak English, managed to alienate more people including a range of former supporters of Anne and now there were more people willing to try to return a Stuart to the throne.

The Earl of Mar had initially been an enthusiastic supporter of George I,  but after being publicly snubbed by the new king, Mar decided to back a different horse, and on 1 September 1715 raised a standard for King James VIII at Braemar. Mar began to raise forces to march south to join with English Jacobites, in an attempt to return a Stuart to the throne. To counter the uprising the government dispatched a combination of Scottish and English regiments under the command of the Duke of Argyll. During October there were various manoeuvres between the two armies. Then on the 10th November the Jacobite army marched south from Perth, reaching Kinbuick, just north east of Dunblane on the 12th November. The Duke of Argyll had marched north and was already at Dunblane, intending to intercept the Jacobite force.

On the 13th November the Jacobites drew up in battle formation on Kinbuick Muir, presumably in order to gain control of the road north to Dunblane, but they had to move more than two kilometers south east from here to Sheriffmuir, to the east of Dunblane, to engage the government force.

Argyll led one squadron of volunteer cavalry, 10 squadrons of dragoons and eight battalions of foot (1,000 cavalrymen and 3,500 infantrymen). The elite of the government army was Portmore’s Dragoons, later to be renowned as the Scots Greys.

Mar led seven squadrons of cavalry (1,000 troopers) and 18 battalions of foot (7,000 infantrymen). Most of Mar’s men were Highlanders fighting with basket-hilted broadswords. Both armies had cannons, but neither side used them although Mar may well have lacked the gunpowder and ammunition to do so. In total there were roughly 6,000 Government forces against 12,000 Jacobite men.

Argyll was seriously outnumbered by the Jacobite army and his left wing, commanded by General Whetham, was far shorter than the Jacobites’ opposing right. However, Mar was inexperienced at commanding such a sizable army (the largest Jacobite army ever raised in Scotland) whilst Argyll was much more proficient in deploying his well trained troops. Argyll’s right wing managed to drive the Jacobites back but then his left wing was overpowered by the overwhelming Jacobite numbers. Over the course of the day the battle see-sawed between the two armies.

By evening, both armies were seriously reduced, and although Mar had a great advantage in numbers, he refused to press home his advantage and risk the entirety of his army and both armies withdrew.The battle was inconclusive with both sides claiming victory although in strategic terms Argyll had halted the Jacobite advance preventing them meeting with the Jacobites in England. The Jacobite army was demoralised by the loss and though the rising continued for another two and a half months it seemed to never truly recover from the loss at Sheriffmuir.

Hopefully you enjoyed this little insight into the Battle of Sheriffmuir. As always please like, follow, share, tweet, comment and if you have any suggestions for topics you’d like to know more about please let us know.

All the best, K & D

 

The Battle of Prestonpans

On 21st September 1745 the Battle of Prestonpans took place between the Jacobite and Government armies. This battle is one of the most well know of the battles of the ’45 Uprising and yet it is estimated to have lasted less than ten minutes. So, how did this battle come to be and why was all the action over in ten minutes?

We begin on 17th September 1745 when the Jacobite army captured Edinburgh. The city gate at Netherbow Port was opened to let a coach through and seizing the opportunity Jacobites rushed the sentries and gained control of the city. The next day Prince Charles’ father was proclaimed King James VIII at the Mercat Cross and Charles entered the Palace of Holyroodhouse. Whilst at Edinburgh Prince Charles encouraged the city’s churches to remain open on Sundays and for normal Presbyterian services to continue as a show of the religious tolerance he had promised. His pleas however fell on deaf ears and all but a handful of churches remained closed throughout the Jacobite occupation of Edinburgh.

With the Jacobites in the city the Government army began its advance determined to take back Edinburgh. The long column with its train of artillery and baggage wagons extended for several miles and attracted many country people to the unusual spectacle. On the 19th September they camped at Haddington where they went in search of a meal, but, before they sat down the drums beat to arms and the men hurried back to their regiments ready to face the enemy. However, this was soon discovered to be a false alarm which, it was alleged, had followed the coach of Hon. Francis Charteris and his newly-wedded wife to their home. This rumour may have been true as the bride was a daughter of the Duchess of Gordon who had Jacobite sympathies; the husbands elder brother, Lord Elcho, was with the Prince and indeed the husband himself had subscribed to the cause.

The nexy day the Government army were surprised to learn the Jacobite army were heading out of the city to meet them. General Sir John Cope commander of the Government forces decided to wait for them at Preston where the flat unobstructed ground would hopefully suit his troops, in particular the dragoons and the Forth estuary at their back prevented any flanking manoevers by the Jacobites. That night the Jacobites moved forward under the cover of the dark and mist.

Finally on the 21st September 1745 the two armies met.  Lord George Murray commanded the left wing of the Jacobites making a significant contribution to the victory by suggesting the army make use of a little known path through the marshland to surprise the Government army by coming up on their left flank. The men set out at about 4am and silently moved through the marshlands to the east of the Government men.  As dawn broke the Jacobites 2,000 men charged. The Government army wheeled around to face them but the men only manage to fire one shot before the Jacobties were upon them. As the Jacobties charged the Government fled overwhelmed by the attack.

General Cope tried to rally his men but they turned and fled without ever putting up a strong resistance. Cope then fled to Berwick leaving 500 men dead and over 1,000 men as prisoners. Meanwhile the Jacobites had less than a hundred men dead or wounded. When Cope reached Berwick he was supposedly ridiculed for being the only General who had ever brought first news of his own defeat.

After the battle Prince Charles would not allow any bonfires to be lit or church bells to be rung to mark the victory. Nobody was to be seen exalting in the suffering of those who had died or been wounded at the battle. Indeed Prince Charles delayed his leave of the battlefield to visit the injured and instructed that the dead received a proper burial. On the Government side, Lt General Henry Hawley replaced Cope as Commander in Chief of Scotland and it is said that Cope made a large amount of money by betting £10,000 Hawley would be defeated by the clans just as he had been.

The Battle of Prestonpans was the first major conflict of the 1745 Uprising and was an important victory for the Jacobties, giving them a boost in morale as they turned their thoughts to the South.

We hope you enjoyed this little foray into the Battle of PRestonpans. As always please like, share, follow, comment and tell all your friends about us.

All the best, K & D