271 Years

Today, marks the 271st anniversary of the Battle of Culloden, which took place on 16th April 1746.

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Wreaths laid at the Memorial Cairn

 

This weekend we have been thrilled to see so many people coming to the battlefield to join us in our commemorations of this event and remember the events of 1746.

The Battle of Culloden is an important part of Scottish, British and indeed world history. In the space of less than an hour the final battle of the Jacobite Rising of ’45 was concluded with 1,500 Jacobite men and 50 Government men killed. Soon after the battle the Rising was over and Prince Charles Edward Stuart had fled, never to return to Scotland again. The impact of the day has had far reaching and long lasting effects that are still recognised to this day.

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The Procession out to the Memorial Cairn

 

The story of the Battle of Culloden resonates with so many different people from across the world and it is wonderful to see all these people coming together at this time of year to remember the past and the history that shaped so many lives. We are grateful that visitors from all corners of the world come to Culloden to trace their ancestry and visit Culloden to try and help gain a sense of life in Scotland in the 18th Century.

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Flags Flying for the Procession

 

This site is so special for all of us who work here and despite the weather being less than ideal this year (we like to say atmospheric) it was lovely to see so many coming along to attend the annual Commemoration Service with the Gaelic Society of Inverness. The sight of so many people forming a procession out to the memorial cairn is one of the highlights of the year, with flags waving, colourful tartan displayed and pipes playing, it is a wonderful way to remember the battle.

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Wreaths Laid to Remember the Battle

 

We wanted to thank everyone who attended, and also those who held their own ceremonies across the world, for being part of Culloden’s journey and helping us keep this incredible story alive.

The 16th April 1746 is a date that hopefully will not ever be forgotten and it is our privilege to share its story with visitors from around the globe. We hope you enjoy listening to the story and take this time to remember Culloden in your own special way.

All the best, K & D

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Who was General Wolfe?

Major General James Wolfe is quite well known for his time in Canada when he led British forces to victory over the French in Quebec. This victory then contributed to the end of French rule in North America.

However, before his time in Canada, Wolfe played a part in the Jacobite Risings and indeed fought in the Battle of Culloden. Many visitors are surprised to his name amongst the information on display in our exhibition and indeed ask whether he is the same man who ended up in Canada. Therefore, he seems an appropriate figure to explore a little bit further.

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James Wolfe

 

James Wolfe was born in England, in Kent, in 1727 to Edward Wolfe, a soldier, and Henrietta Thompson. By most accounts his upbringing was fairly humble but from a young age his destiny was always the army. At age thirteen he joined his fathers regiment as a volunteer and the following year he was given his first commission as a second lieutenant in the 1st Marines regiment. He moved through the ranks in the British Army, being promoted to Lieutenant and took part in the Battle of Dettingen in 1743 as part of the War of Austrian succession.

Wolfes actions at Dettingen caught the attention of the Duke of Cumberland and in 1745 Wolfe and his regiment were called home to help Cumberland to help cope with the Jacobite threat. At the beginning of 1746 Wolfe was present at the Battle of Falkirk and, although this was a Government loss,  shortly after he was made aide-de-camp to Lieutenant-General Hawley. Later, at the Battle of Culloden in April 1746, he fought again on the Government lines and there is a famous tale that Wolfe refused to shoot a wounded Jacobite soldier. Some say it was Cumberland who ordered Wolfe to shoot, whilst others believe it may have been Hawley. Either way Wolfe apparently refused stating he would rather resign his post than take the shot.

For a while after Culloden Wolfe returned to the continent but came back to Britain in 1748 where he was posted in Scotland. For many years he worked hard to become a better leader and soldier and also found time to study Latin and Mathematics. By 1754 Britain and France’s relationship had fallen apart and fighting soon broke out in North America. In 1758 he joined an expedition to Louisburg as one of three brigade commanders. Here he distinguished himself as a capable soldier and was ultimately put in charge of an expedition to take Quebec.

On 13th September 1759 Wolfe launched his long awaited plan to take Quebec. He used boats to transport his men along the St Lawrence River to attack the city from the south-west. Here he and his men surprised the French drawing them out of the city itself and into a waiting battle. Wolfe was victorious but he paid for his victory dearly. Fatally wounded early in the battle Wolfe lived just long enough to hear his plan was a success.

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The Death of General Wolfe by Benjamin West

When news of his death reach Britain it seized the publics imagination. Wolfe was a young leader who had been an inspirational leader. His image was celebrated in paintings, prints and he became one of the greatest military heroes of the eighteenth century. Today he is remembered mostly for his triumph over the French in Quebec but it is interesting to know his past and how it seemed he was always destined to be the great leader that he is considered today.

 

We hope you enjoyed this little insight into Wolfe’s life. We couldn’t possibly cover everything about him in this short space so there is plenty more to discover if you wish. As always please like, comment, tweet, share and if you want to learn more you can always visit Quebec House , Wolfe’s childhood home, which is now run by our counterparts the National Trust.

All he best, K & D

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