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Battle of Culloden 1746
Aug 04, '21

The Battle of Culloden (Scottish Gaelic: Blàr Chùil Lodair) was the final confrontation of the Jacobite rising of 1745. On 16 April 1746, the Jacobite army of Charles Edward Stuart was decisively defeated by a British government force under Prince William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland, on Drummossie Moor near Inverness in the Scottish Highlands. It was the last pitched battle fought on British soil.

“It was the most memorable encounter and something that indelibly linked in my memory banks.”

I now know why?

Charles was the eldest son of James Stuart, the exiled Stuart claimant to the British throne. Believing there was support for a Stuart restoration in both Scotland and England, he landed in Scotland in July 1745: raising an army of Scots Jacobite supporters, he took Edinburgh by September, and defeated a British government force at Prestonpans. The government recalled 12,000 troops from the Continent to deal with the rising: a Jacobite invasion of England reached as far as Derby before turning back, having attracted relatively few English recruits.

The Jacobites, with limited French military support, attempted to consolidate their control of Scotland, where by early 1746, they were opposed by a substantial government army. A hollow Jacobite victory at Falkirk failed to change the strategic situation: with supplies and pay running short and with the government troops resupplied and reorganised under the Duke of Cumberland, son of British monarch George II, the Jacobite leadership had few options left other than to stand and fight. The two armies eventually met at Culloden, on terrain that gave Cumberland's larger, well-rested force the advantage. The battle lasted only an hour, with the Jacobites suffering a bloody defeat; between 1,500 and 2,000 Jacobites were killed or wounded,[1][2] while about 300 government soldiers were killed or wounded. While perhaps 5 – 6,000 Jacobites remained in arms in Scotland, the leadership took the decision to disperse, effectively ending the rising.[4]

Culloden and its aftermath continue to arouse strong feelings. The University of Glasgow awarded the Duke of Cumberland an honorary doctorate, but many modern commentators allege that the aftermath of the battle and subsequent crackdown on Jacobite sympathisers were brutal, earning Cumberland the sobriquet "Butcher". Efforts were subsequently made to further integrate the Scottish Highlands into the Kingdom of Great Britain; civil penalties were introduced to undermine the Scottish clan system, which had provided the Jacobites with the means to rapidly mobilise an army.

Culloden, 16 April 1746

13th Light Infantry

William Baillie

Officer of the 13th Foot

The Duke of Cumberland arrived to command the army in Edinburgh and took stern measures to restore discipline. After reinforcements arrived they set off on 31 Jan towards Stirling but the siege had been raised and the Jacobites were heading for Inverness. The 13th were part of the Duke's pursuit of the rebel army. A halt had to be made at Perth because of the weather, and the army used the 3 days to adapt their training to deal with the Highlanders' method of warfare. In Aberdeen they were again halted by storms, but while there they heard that Prince Charles had occupied Inverness and captured Fort Augustus.

On 8 April the advance continued so that by the 14th they made contact with their enemy at Nairn. Prince Charles was at Culloden House, 9 miles away. His army numbered 5,000, miserable and starving Highlanders, but they were ordered to prepare for battle on the 15th. Cumberland refused to engage at this point so Prince Charles decided to attack at night. At the same time, Cumberland moved his men forward in three columns, at around 4am. After 8 miles they were aware of rebel advance parties to their front.

The King's 10,000 troops formed up in 3 lines of battle. The 13th, to start with, were in the reserve line, numbering 374 all ranks. The Duke made a speech to stiffen the men's resolve as the two armies faced each other 500 yards apart. There was a change made to the front line when the 13th were brought forward to take a position on the right of the Royal Scots, with cavalry on the flank. The battle started with an artillery exchange but the Highlanders' guns were soon silenced. The English artillery fired grapeshot which spurred the Scotsmen to make an attack on the left of Cumberland's line, against the 4th and 37th Foot. After some confusion these regiments fought back with the bayonet. Meanwhile, Hawley's cavalry had broken through a walled enclosure on the right of the rebel line and brought guns to bear on their second line. Cumberland had positioned himself on the right of his army and described what he saw; "They (the rebels) then came rushing on in their wild manner, and upon the right, where I had placed myself, imagining the greatest push would be there, they came down three several times within a hundred yards of our men, firing their pistols and brandishing their swords, but the Royals and Pulteney's (13th) hardly took their firelocks from their shoulders, so that after those faint attempts, they made off, and the little squadrons on our right were sent to pursue them."

The cavalry on the left of the line also went into the attack. This caused the Highlanders to give up the fight and make a run for it. The rebel casualties were very high; 1,000 on the battlefield, and 500 taken prisoner. The pursuit went on for many miles, and those caught were killed. They lost all their artillery. The casualties on the King's side were 300 killed, wounded or missing. Most of these were in the 4th and 37th Foot. The 13th had an easy battle, losing no casualties. This was the end of Jacobite aspirations, and the 25 year-old Prince Charles, after suffering privation during his flight across the moors managed to escape over to Skye with the help of Flora Macdonald, and from there to France. He died in Rome in 1788. His followers had not betrayed him despite a price of 30,000 pounds on his head, but they were hunted down ruthlessly and treated severely by Cumberland's troops.

Culloden: 16th April 1746 (Old Style) (27th April 1746 New Style). The dates in this page are given in the Old Style.

Place of the Battle of Culloden: South east of Inverness and a few miles south west of Nairn in Scotland

Combatants at the Battle of Culloden: The Jacobite Army of Prince Charles and the Royal Troops of King George II

Generals at the Battle of Culloden: Prince Charles and Lord George Murray against the Duke of Cumberland.

Size of the Armies at the Battle of Culloden: 7,000 in the Jacobite Army and 8,000 in the Royal Army.

Winner of the Battle of Culloden: The Royal Army under the Duke of Cumberland.

British Regiments at the Battle of Culloden: Culloden is not a battle honour for British Regiments despite being a victory.

Cholmondeley's 34th Regiment: Battle of Culloden 16th April 1746 in the Jacobite Rebellion

Cholmondeley’s 34th Regiment: Battle of Culloden 16th April 1746 in the Jacobite Rebellion

The regiments present at the battle were: Cobham’s (10th) and Kerr’s (11th) dragoons, Kingston’s Light Dragoons, the Royals (1st), Howard’s Old Buffs (3rd), Barrel’s King’s Own (4th) Wolfe’s (8th), Pulteney’s (13th), Price’s (14th), Bligh’s (20th), Campbell’s Royal Scots Fusiliers (21st), Sempill’s (25th), Blakeney’s (27th), Cholmondeley’s (34th), Fleming’s (36th), Munro’s (37th), Ligonier’s (48th) and Battereau’s (62nd) Foot.

Colonel Francis Ligonier (brother of Lieutenant General Sir John Ligonier) died soon after the Battle of Falkirk and Sir Robert Munro was killed at that battle. Their regiments of foot became Conway’s and Dejean’s. Colonel Conway was one of the Duke’s aides de camp at Culloden. Bligh’s became Bury’s, Lord Bury being another aide de camp. James Wolfe became the lieutenant colonel of Bury’s.

The Royal Artillery was commanded by Colonel Belfort.

Background to the Battle of Culloden:

The Duke of Cumberland arrived in Edinburgh on 30th January 1746 to take over command of the Royal Army from General Hawley, following the unsuccessful Battle of Falkirk. The next day Cumberland marched north taking the circuitous route along the coast so the army could be supplied by the fleet. The army halted for some weeks at Aberdeen.


Charles Edward Stuart

Prince William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland


Very memorable indeed...


Aug 04, '21
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