Saratoga’s Scotsmen Fought for King George (Guest Blog by Saratoga National Historical Park, NY) BBC Civilisations Festival



For the BBC Civilisations Festival we have some special guest posts. This one is written by Eric Schnitzer from Saratoga National Historical Park, Stillwater, NY.

A correspondent…with the officers of the Highland regiments at present serving in America, informs us, that nothing displeases the common men of that corps so much as to hear the provincials called Rebels. On a former occasion [the 1745 Jacobite Rising] many of themselves were dignified with that appellation. They then fought bravely, in what they thought was a just cause. The Americans will scarce fight at all, though they pretend their cause is equally just. The Highlanders, therefore, conceive themselves highly affronted, when the designation of Rebel is applied to an American. They think it involves in it a tacit reflection against themselves, as if they were cowards as well as the rebels. Of this they can by no means admit, and consequently will allow the Americans no other title than that of cowardly rascals.

 Caledonian Mercury, Edinburgh, 1 January 1777

Considering the Jacobite Rising of 1745, Scottish support at home and abroad for the Georgian monarchy against the rebellion in North America may seem counterintuitive. Although Scottish emigration to North America throughout the 18th century constituted perhaps as many as 70,000 people, Scottish support for the American Revolution was not fueled by Jacobean animus for the House of Hanover. In fact, Scottish immigrants and their descendants were more likely to side with government on this matter than against it. This is exemplified in the 1777 Battles of Saratoga, fought in upstate New York during the American War for Independence.

Many Scottish Americans supported the revolution, and many served it in key leadership roles. But the American revolutionaries who fought at Saratoga under the command of General Horatio Gates (an Englishman) were, categorically, from New England and New York’s Hudson Valley, neither of which were known for being heavily settled by Scotsmen. At Saratoga, the highest percentage of revolutionary Scotsmen served in a corps of 400 elite riflemen led by Colonel Daniel Morgan, the son of Welsh immigrants. This unit’s personnel were drawn from men who hailed from Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Maryland, places more widely settled by Scottish immigrants. This was the most elite battalion that Gates had at his disposal.

house saratoga
Main house on the country estate of Philip Schuyler at Saratoga NP

But it was General John Burgoyne’s British Army at Saratoga which benefited more from the services of Scotsmen. Hundreds of the soldiers in his redcoat ranks were from Scotland, and Scottish officers in Burgoyne’s army held important leadership positions, such as the Earl Balcarres, who commanded the elite British light infantry battalion, and John Anstruther of Balcaskie, who commanded the 62nd Regiment of Foot. One of the regiments in Burgoyne’s army was the fusilier regiment representing Scotland, the 21st or Royal North British Fusiliers, whose officers and men were, predominantly, Scottish. But Scottish support for Georgian Britain didn’t end there, as substantial numbers of men loyal to the crown resided in upstate New York’s Lake Champlain and Hoosic River Valleys. The entire region was pocketed with lands granted to veterans whose battalions were downsized or disbanded after the Seven Years’ War. A high percentage of these men were from Scotland—in fact, the property owned by the author is surrounded by plots given to veteran Scottish officers named Grant, Campbell, Gregor, Bain, Gordon, and Monro. Most of these former British soldiers and their families flocked to the British banner and joined Samuel MacKay’s “Loyal Volunteers,” Daniel McAlpin’s “American Volunteers,” or Allan Maclean’s “Royal Highland Emigrants,” amongst others. Nowhere in the Army of the United States was Scottish patriotism likewise manifested.

Reflecting upon the Caledonian Mercury article above, overwhelming support for the crown as expressed by Scottish people becomes understandable. Supporters of the Jacobite Risings of 1715 and 1745 believed they were restoring the British Constitution, not destroying it. But as the 18th century wore on, and the Glorious Revolution and 1706/07 Acts of Union surpassed living memory, Jacobean sentiments were generally subsumed by British nationalism and loyalty to the Georgian monarchy. This generational shift is exemplified by the Frasers. Simon Fraser, 11th Lord Lovat, was executed in 1747 for his support of the 1745 Jacobite Rising. However, his son, General Simon Fraser of Lovat, raised a highland regiment which was deployed to America to combat the “cowardly rascals” in 1776. A cousin, General Simon Fraser of Balnain, commanded Burgoyne’s most elite troops and was mortally wounded in the 2nd Battle of Saratoga (7 October) whilst fighting to restore British governance in America. As to that, no one knows which American rifleman fired the shot, but stories point to Timothy Murphy (an Irishman), William Critchlow (an Englishman), or one Thomas Scott—a Scotsman.

By Eric Schnitzer, Saratoga National Historical Park


War Atrocities and other Bedtime Stories: learning programmes at Culloden

Over the past few years our learning team have spoken at conferences about the realities of teaching at Culloden. Our talks are normally titled War Atrocities and other Bedtime Stories: Learning at Culloden.

Our learning team has seen over 80 000 people through their programming and events so far: 4,500 of those individuals were here on school trips.

Schools have visited us from all across the British Isles and even Europe and North America. We have had a great year and thought we would share some of the brilliant programming the learning team develops.

The Big Picture (upper primary)

This is our most popular programme with primary schools! Its a great day where the pupils find out about five people who were alive at the time of the Jacobite Rising.

The kids find out about five people and their experiences in the Jacobite Rising through sessions involving a team quiz and exploring objects. They also have the opportunity to head out on to the battlefield and look at the amazing items in the exhibition.

The feedback we get from pupils is great! Here some feedback we received from some P6 visitors:

It was very funny when I dressed up as Francis Townley an English man… I was in the middle and not poor and I was a Jacobite!”

I liked when we did the quiz. The best bit outside was when we all lined up and shoot BANG! next line BANG! next line BANG!!”

I really enjoyed the battlefield I learnt a lot. It was fun learning about the battle and prince Charlie and the sneck attack at night. unfortunate they lost each because it was dark, thy probably got about 4 or 5 hours sleep before the battle started at Culloden. Some girls watched the battle with a picnic! !


Bring on Burns (upper primary)

The kids arrive at 10:00 and spend a full school day exploring the battlefield and playing with Scots words until in the afternoon they create their very own poem.

Pupils in the workshop bringing their poem to life!

Then the feicht began and the beautiful landscape became a stramash!

The guns were shot and the cannon was fired.

The brithers were lost to the grund.”

“About ta fecht, in a gruesome war,

Yin gaun taw steading for yin time more,

I’m laithe taw fecht but I know I must”

Interpreting Culloden (lower secondary school)

This is a great programme which let students get hands on with objects and start thinking about the bigger questions at the site.

Pupils get hands on with the objects thinking about what they are, why they would be on the battlefield and who might have used/owned them. They then head out onto the battlefield to think why objects are found on specific locations on the battlefield and the considerations of managing a site that is also the location of mass graves.

The idea of speaking to a group of teenagers and young people about mass graves, child soldiering and other consequences of conflict  sounds challenging and slightly scary – however this session is incredibly rewarding and can provoke interesting debate and conversations which continue back in the classroom.

Some of the objects used in Interpreting Culloden (S1-3 workshop)


If you would like more information on our schools programme check out our website or email

All the best, The Culloden Team

Preview of the new learning resources!

For the past 10 months our learning team has been working on a new resource for school teachers.

In this blog post we thought we would share some of the resource with you and show you what our learning team get up to!

It all started when our Head Education Guide, Catriona, was tasked with a re-vamp of our teacher resource pack, what started out as a refresh ended up as a brand new Gaelic/English resource.

One of the bits some pupils, and sometimes the teachers, find the toughest is getting to grips with the family tree!  For Catriona it was one of the most important parts of the resource. The family tree can look off-putting and confusing so we have made a simple, not too fussy version of it. It goes from Mary, Queen of Scots all the way through to George III; Catriona would have loved to go all the way through to Queen Victoria or even the current monarchy, sadly it wouldn’t all fit on an A4 double page spread!

Family Tree
This is a section of the family tree taken from the new teacher resource

One of the other aspects of the resource is biographies of Prince Charles Edward Stuart and William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland. There is a lot of information out there on the two Princes and the learning team wanting to bring the key information into one place which was accessible for teachers.


The final section of the resource should be one of the most useful – over time the words we use to talk about the conflict have changed.


A wee explanation covers what the Act of Settlement(1701) actually is, what does Divine Right of Kings mean and other key phrases.

One of the most interesting things that the team discovered while writing this related to the word Red Coat. The term redcoat came widely into use after Culloden and starts to be used during the American Revolution/Wars of Independence (depends on which side you fall) in the 1760s. Dearganach is a Gaelic word and it describes men in red coats; some believe it was used during the Jacobite era to describe government soldiers.

Hopefully it will help teachers who maybe don’t know too much about the ’45 to feel inspired and encourage them to teach it in their classes!

With much valued input and advice from 18th century historians and Jacobite specialists:  Prof. Murray Pittock, Prof. Christopher Duffy, Prof. Allan MacInnes and Dr Domhnall Uilleam Stiubhart this resource will be available from later October 2017.

All the best, K&D (and our lovely learning team!)