is an evocative place for many people. Not only is it the site of
the last full-scale battle to take place on British soil, and the
last stand of an ancient royal dynasty which traced its ancestry
back to the Dark Age Gaelic Kingdom of Dal Riata and beyond, but
it is also the place where the Highland clan culture of Scotland
sang its last song. The Battle of Culloden in 1746 meant, quite
simply, the end of an era for Scotland.
Factsheet The Battle
of Culloden was fought on Drumossie Moor, to the north east of
Inverness, on April 16, 1746. It was the last of the great Jacobite
risings - popular attempts to reinstate a Stuart monarch on the
throne of Britain - and was led by Charles Edward Stuart, also
known as Bonnie Prince Charlie or the Young Pretender.
Jacobite comes from the name Jacobe, which is Latin
for James - a popular Christian name among Stuart kings. Charles
was the son of the Old Pretender, James Francis Edward Stuart,
and grandson of the deposed James II of England. He landed on
the shores of Scotland in July 1745 in an attempt to oust King
George II and his Hanoverian line from the throne, which had
become the birthright of his family in 1603 when King James
VI of Scotland had travelled south to become King James I of
England and Ireland.
raised support for his rising amongst the Highland clans which
were devoted to the Jacobites, although not all clans were loyal
to his cause and many openly supported the Hanoverians. The
majority of lowland Scotland is also thought to have opposed
the Jacobite rising of 45, although they did have many
supporters there as well as in England and the continent - traditionally
in France. Many nobles supported the rising and Lord George
Murray and the Duke of Perth joined the Young Pretenders
ranks as lieutenant-generals.
and his gathering army reached Perth on September 4, 1745, where
the Young Pretender proclaimed his father, the Old Pretender,
to be the rightful King. He took Edinburgh on September 17 and
won a decisive victory at Prestonpans on September 21. Carlisle
fell on November 15 after a short, five-day siege, and the Jacobites
marched on toward London through Lancaster, Preston and Manchester.
The army reached Derby on December 4, but turned back to Scotland
two days later on the advice of Lord George Murray and several
of the Highland Chiefs when it became clear that the much-promised
support of the French and the English Jacobites wasnt
forthcoming. It was this retreat, against the wishes of Charles
himself, which many historians believe to have been the fatal
move which defeated the
in Scotland Charles was victorious against the government forces
at Falkirk on January 17, 1746, and was involved in siege at
Stirling Castle. However, morale in the Jacobite camp was wavering
and the Jacobites retreated into the Highlands in early February
as the Duke of Cumberland advanced with a larger Hanoverian
force. Charles then took Inverness from the Earl of Loudoun
and raided various others government strongholds in the spring
of 1746, as the Duke of Cumberland built and trained an army
was advised by his commanders to avoid direct conflict with
Cumberlands army, and to pursue the guerrilla tactics
which were so effective in Highland warfare, however, Jacobite
funds were running short and desertion in the ranks was becoming
more frequent. This was the context in which the two armies
met at Culloden Moor on April 16, 1746.
made the first move by crossing the River Spey on April 12,
with the Jacobites on the other bank retreating without offering
any fight. On the night of April 15-16, Charles hoped to gain
advantage by a surprise attack on the Hanoverian camp near Nairn.
The plan, however, was a failure and the Jacobites retreated
to Culloden - a place which Charles was strongly advised not
to chose as the site for a battle. When the Hanoverians advanced
onto the field the next day many of the Jacobites were exhausted
after the night-time raid on Cumberlands camp.
were outnumbered around 9000 to 6000, and the ground was too
marshy to accommodate the Highlanders favourite tactic
- the headlong charge into the enemys ranks. Culloden
did, however, lend itself more to Cumberlands strength
in heavy artillery and cavalry. The artillery decimated the
clans as they awaited the command to charge. Many clansmen fell
simply because the command to charge came too late, as Charles
waited for the government troops to advance first, whereas the
government troops just kept firing in the light of their highly
When the command did come, the charge itself was disorganised.
The Hanoverians stood firm and blasted the Jacobite army into
the Highlanders headed for Inverness and were hunted down and
killed without mercy by Cumberlands dragoons. Others,
who headed into the mountains, stood a better chance of survival,
but the government troops were thorough in their retribution.
Many of the legends surrounding Culloden involve the clans
attempts to return to home and the severity of governments
reaction. The 45 was over and Bonnie Prince Charlie headed
back to the safety of France and a life of obscurity.