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Scotland and the Scots, 1707-2007

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Christian Auer

II. Jacobitism

9. The Battle of Culloden, 16 April 1746

Texte intégral

1On April 16th 1746 the Jacobite army and the King’s army met at Culloden Moor, known then as Drummossie Muir. This is how John Daniel, a Jacobite soldier, described the battle.

  • 12 Walter Biggar Blaikie (1847-1928), a civil engineer and publisher, was one of the founders of the (...)

2W. B. Blaikie12 (ed.), Origins of the ‘Forty-Five’, Scottish History Society, 1916, p. 213-216.

  • 13 See introduction to text 8.
  • 14 In the final stages of the campaign, the Jacobites had been joined by the Royal Ecossois, a regime (...)

I shall now proceed to give account in what manner we were ranged in battle-array. The brave McDonalds, who till then had behaved at all times with great courage and bravery, were now displaced, and made to give way, at the pleasure of Lord George Murray13, to the Athol men, whom he commanded. The rest of the front line was composed of Highlanders: the second, of Lowlanders and French14, with four pieces of cannon at each wing: and in the rear was the Prince attended by all the horse, and some foot. In this manner were we drawn up–four thousand men to fight eleven thousand. The enemy being by this time in full view, we began to huzza and bravado them in their march upon us, who were extended from right to left in battle-array, it being upon a common. But, notwithstanding all our repeated shouts, we could not induce them to return one: on the contrary, they continued proceeding, like a deep sullen river; while the Prince’s army might be compared to a streamlet running among stones, whose noise sufficiently shewed its shallowness. The Prince, the Duke of Perth, the Earl of Kilmarnock, Lord Ogilvy, and several other Highland and Lowland Chiefs, rode from rank to rank, animating and encouraging the soldiers by well-adapted harangues.

The battle being now begun, the whole fury of the enemy’s Artillery seemed to be directed against us in the rear; as if they had noticed where the Prince was. By the first cannon shot his servant, scarcely thirty yards behind him, was killed; which made some about the Prince desire, that he would be pleased to retire a little off: but this he refused to do, till seeing the imminent danger from the number of balls that fell about him, he was by the earnest entreaties of his friends forced to retire a little, attended only by Lord Balmerino’s corps. Frequent looks and turns the Prince made, to see how his men behaved: but alas! Our hopes were very slender, from the continual fire of musketry that was kept up upon them from right to left. We had not proceeded far, when I was ordered back, lest the sight of my standard going off, might induce others to follow.

In returning, various thoughts passed my soul, and filled by turns my breast with grief for quitting my dear Prince, now hopes of victory, then fear of losing–the miserable situation the poor loyalists would again be reduced to–and what we had to expect if we left the field alive: these thoughts, I say, strangely wrought upon me, till, coming to the place I was on before, and seeing it covered with the dead bodies of many of the Hussars who at the time of our leaving had occupied it, I pressed on, resolving to kill or be killed. Some few accompanied my standard, but soon left it. At this time, many of ours from right to left were giving way and soon the battle appeared to be irretrievably lost. The enemy, after we had almost passed the two ranks, flanking and galling us with their continual fire, forced us at last back, broke our first line, and attacked the second, where the French troops were stationed. I happened then to be there, and after receiving a slight grazing ball on my left arm, met with Lord John Drummond, who, seeing me, desired I would come off with him, telling me all was over and shewing me his regiment, just by him, surrounded. Being quickly joined by about forty more horse, we left the field of battle in a body, though pursued and fired upon for some time.

  • 15 John Daniel was from Lancashire and did not understand Gaelic.
  • 16 Ruthven Barracks, Ruthven in Badenoch on the east side of the Spey, near Kingussie.
  • 17 Arthur Elphinstone, 6th Lord Balmerino, (1688-1746), a Scottish nobleman and an officer in the Jac (...)

When we arrived at the foot of the hills, some of us took one way, and some another: I, however, with about six more, continued with Lord John Drummond; and it was with some difficulty we passed the rapid torrents and frozen roads, till one o’Clock that night, when we came to a little village at the foot of a great mountain, which we had just crossed. Here we alighted, and some went to one house and some to another. None of these cottages having the conveniences to take in our horses, who wanted refreshment as well as we, many of them perished at the doors. I happened to be in one of the most miserable huts I had ever met with during my whole life; the people were starving to death with hunger. However, having laid myself down on the floor to rest myself after having been almost thirty hours on horse-back; the people came crying about me and speaking a language I did not understand15, which made my case still more unpleasant. But by good luck, a soldier soon after came in, who could speak both to them and me, and brought with him some meal, which was very acceptable, as I was almost starving with hunger. Of this meal we made at that time a very agreeable dish, by mixing it very thick with cold water, for we could get no warm: and so betwixt eating and drinking we refreshed ourselves, till four o’Clock in the morning; when Lord John Drummond and the rest of us began our march, we knew not whither, through places it would be in vain to describe; for we saw neither house, barn, tree, or beast nor any beaten road, being commonly mid-leg deep in snow, till five o’Clock that afternoon; when we found ourselves near a village called Privana a Badanich16, the barracks of which, as I mentioned before, the Prince had destroyed. Being now, to our surprize, almost upon it, we consulted amongst ourselves how we might best get intelligence from it; for, as it lay on the road from Inverness twenty-four miles we apprehended the enemy might be there. But fortunately a soldier coming out told us, that the village was occupied by the Prince’s men. This intelligence gave us great pleasure; and having accordingly entered the place, we found a great many of the Prince’s adherents, the chief of whom was Lord George Murray and the Duke of Perth; but we heard no news where the poor Prince was. At first we had great hopes of rallying again: but they soon vanished, orders coming for everyone to make the best of his way he could. So some went one way, some another: those who had French Commissions surrendered; and their example was followed by my Colonel, Lord Balmerino17, tho’ he had none. Many went for the mountains, all being uncertain what to do or whither to go.

Notes

12 Walter Biggar Blaikie (1847-1928), a civil engineer and publisher, was one of the founders of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society and a member of the Scottish History Society. He was particularly interested in Celtic literature and Highland customs and traditions.

13 See introduction to text 8.

14 In the final stages of the campaign, the Jacobites had been joined by the Royal Ecossois, a regiment that had been raised in 1744 by Lord John Drummond, a younger brother of the Duke of Perth. Most of the officers and men of the regiment were Scotsmen serving in the Irish regiments or Scottish exiles living in France.

15 John Daniel was from Lancashire and did not understand Gaelic.

16 Ruthven Barracks, Ruthven in Badenoch on the east side of the Spey, near Kingussie.

17 Arthur Elphinstone, 6th Lord Balmerino, (1688-1746), a Scottish nobleman and an officer in the Jacobite army, was taken prisoner at the Battle of Culloden, tried before Parliament and executed on 18 August 1746.

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