The Battle of Culloden

The Battle of Culloden
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On the 16th of April 1746, the final confrontation of the Jacobite rising took place on the fields of Culloden. After many battles, fronted and encouraged by Charles Edward Stewart, Culloden brought the Jacobite rising to a head. The battle was one of a religious and civil matter between the Jacobites and the Hanoverians, where the Jacobites had made popular attempts to reinstate a Stuart monarch on the throne of Britain. Charles Edward Stewart, also known as Bonnie Prince Charlie or the young pretender, led the Jacobite cause.

The word 'Jacobite' comes from the Latin for 'James' which was a popular name among Stuart Kings.

In the events leading up to Culloden...

Bonnie Prince Charlie arrived in Scotland in 1745 to incite a rebellion of Stuart supporters against the House of Hanover. Successfully raising forces, which mainly consisted if Highland Clans, they slipped past the Hanoverian stationed in Scotland and defeated a militia at the Battle of Prestonpans.

Although the city of Edinburgh was occupied, the castle held out and most of the Scottish population remained hostile to the Jacobite rebels. Others, although sympathetic, were extremely reluctant to lend support as they were unsure of the chances of success for the Jacobite cause.

The British recalled forces from their war in France, in Flanders, to deal with the uprising. This gave Bonnie Prince Charlie the fuel he needed to convince the Jacobites that France were planning to launch an invasion of England as well. With an army of around 5,000 the Jacobite troupes invaded England on 08 November 1745. From advancing through Carlisle, Manchester and eventually to Derby, the Jacobites looked, for the first time, as somewhat of a threat.

After little support from English Jacobites, and only a token resistance, the armies of Field Marshal George Wade and William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland approached. The French invasion fleet was still being assembled and in addition, London was defended by nearly 6,000 infantry, 700 horses and 33 artillery pieces. The Jacobites received fictitious reports that a third army was closing in on them so the general, Lord George Murray, and the council of war insisted that the Jacobite Troupes return to Scotland to unite with their growing force. On the 6th December 1745 they withdrew, with Charles Edward Stuart leaving command to Murray.

As they trekked the long road back to Scotland, the highland army wore out their boots. Stopping in Dumfries, they were given new shoes from all the townsmen and met with hospitality. By the 25th December, they had reached Glasgow and were re-provisioned. Joined by a few extra thousand men, they went on to defeat the forces of General Henry Hawley at the battle of Falkirk Muir.

On the 30th January 1746, the Duke of Cummberland arrived in Edinburgh to take over command of the government army from General Hawley. He then marched north along the coastline, his army supplied to him from the sea. From here they traveled to Aberdeen, where the troupes spent the next six weeks training for battle.

As the King's forces continued to put pressure on Charles, he retired north, losing men and failing to take Stirling Castle or Fort William. He invested Fort Augustus and Fort George, however, in early April. He then resumed command once more and insisted on continuing the Jacobite war with defensive action.

The day of the battle...

On the rainy morning of the 16th April 1746, a well-rested government army set off at 5am towards the marshy flatlands of Culloden. The first sighting of the army from Jacobite pickets came at around 8am, when the advancing army came within 4 miles of Drummossie. Cummberland's army alerted him that the Jacobite army was forming around one mile from Culloden House - on Culloden Moor. At around 11am the two armies were in sight of one another, with about 2 miles of open moorland between them. As the government forces made a steady advance towards the Jacobite army, a cold driving wind filled with rain and sleet blew in a north-east direction, right into the faces of the exhausted Jacobite army.

As the Jacobites braced themselves for battle, they organised themselves into sections and formations that they had earlier agreed on. The plan was that they would array between the corners of Culloden from left to right. Murry, who commanded the right wing, became aware of a wall, that would become an obstacle in the event of a Jacobite advance and, without consultation, moved his troupes down the moor to form three columns. The belief is that Murry was attempting to shift the axis of the Jacobite advance to a more northerly direction, taking advantage of the downward slope of the moor to the north.

Unfortunately the Duke of Perth misinterpreted Murray's actions as an advance and the MacDonalds on the left ignored him. With such miscommunication, the front line of the Jacobite army became skewed and as a consequence large gaps appeared in the already overstretched Jacobite lines. In shock, Sullivan repositioned the second line to try and fill the gaps. With the confusion and re-positioning that took place, Cummberland seized his chance at an approach and led his troupes to tackle the Jacobites positioned in the right wing.

Over the next 20 minutes, Cummberland's artillery battered the Jacobite lines in the right wing. Charles Edward Stuart moved for safety out of sight of his own forces, waiting for the government forces to move. Leaving them for 30 minutes under fire from government forces, the Jacobite morale began to wane. Several Clan leaders in the other wings grew angry at the lack of action or order from Charles, pressuring him to charge.

Despite having to veer a straight path when charging, due to the boggy marshland, many Jacobites reached the government lines, and a direct clash between charging highlanders and red coats with muskets and bayonets ensued.

There was an estimated 1,500-2,000 Jacobite wounded or killed to the government forces 50 killed and 259 wounded.

What happened after...

After the Battle of Culloden, the British Government enacted laws to incorporate Scotland - and particularly the Scottish Highlands - into the rest of Britain. Such rules included the required oaths of allegiance from members of the Episcopal clergy to the reigning Hanoverian Dynasty.

The Abolition of Heritable Jurisdictions Act of 1747 meant that Clan Chiefs had no judiciary or military power over their followers, and could not dictate how their estates and surrounding lands were governed. For those clans who had supported the Hanoverians, great compensation was given for being stripped of these rights. The Clan Chiefs who had supported the Jacobite cause had their estates and lands stripped from them and sold. The profits of the sales were put towards further trade and agriculture in Scotland.

In an Act of Parliament in 1746, an Anti-clothing measure was put in place against highland-dress. The wearing of tartan was banned, with the exception of officers, who could wear it as uniform in the British Army.

What happened to Prince Charlie after the battle...

After clamping down on the rebellious Scottish clans to ensure there would be no more trouble, the British authorities also made it their mission to catch Charles Edward Stuart. He had slipped away from the battle, amid the fighting, and, after causing such an uprising with the Scottish Clans, they were determined to find him. A reward of 30,000 GBP was offered to anyone who would be willing to betray him.

Fleeing the mainland, Charles headed to the Hebrides. With the islands teaming with government troupes, a plan was hatched to smuggle Charles out of the Hebrides, right under the Hanoverians noses. A local, Edinburgh-educated woman, named Flora MacDonald was persuaded to help, by providing a decoy. Dressing the prince in a blue and white dress, the prince pretended to be Betty Burke, Flora's Irish serving maid.

After making it across the sea to Skye, Charles said his goodbyes to Flora and made his way to the island of Raasay. Making his way back to the mainland, Charles lived rough and in bothies as the summer passed and the authorities gradually realised they had been outwitted and scaled down their hunt for him.

The French had sent various rescue missions to try and find Charles and get him out of Scotland. Finally on the 19th September, they were successful. This marked the end of his adventure and an end to the threat to the English throne.

Clans who fought for the Jacobites...

Boyd, Cameron, Chilsom, Davidson, Drummond, Farquharson, Fraser, Hay, Livingstone, MacBean, MacColl, MacDonald of Glencoe, MacDonald of GlenGarry, MacDonald of Keppoch, MacDonald Clan Ranald, MacDuff, MacFie, MacGillibray, MacGregor, MacInnes, MacKinnon, MacKintosh, MacIntyre, Maclver, MacLachlan, MacLaren, MacLean, MacLea, MacNeil of Barra, MacNaughten, MacPherson, Menzie, Morrison, Oglivy, Oliphant, Robertson, Stewart of Appin.

Clans who supported the Duke of Cumberland...

Clan Campbell, Clan Cathcart, Clan Colville, Clan Cunningham, Clan Grant of Freuchie, Clan Gunn, Clan Kerr, Clan MacKay, Clan Munro, Clan Ross, Clan Semphill, Clan Sinclair, Clan Sutherland