Muir of Culloden, The
DESCRIPTION: "I'll sing of my country, its deep glens and fountains... I'll sing of its battles renowned in story." "On the sixteenth of April, I'll ever remember." The Jacobite leaders disagree and attack half-heartedly; "Cauld lies the lads on the Muir of Culloden."
EARLIEST DATE: 1908 (GreigDuncan1)
KEYWORDS: Jacobites battle death
Apr 16, 1746 - Battle of Culloden Muir ends the 1745 Jacobite rebellion
FOUND IN: Britain(Scotland(Aber))
REFERENCES (3 citations):
Greig #124, p. 1, "The Muir of Culloden"; Greig #125, pp. 2-3, "The Muir of Culloden" (1 text plus 1 fragment)
GreigDuncan1 127, "The Muir of Culloden" (1 text, 1 tune)
Ord, p. 293, "The Muir of Culloden" (1 text)
cf. "Culloden Moor" (subject)
cf. "Culloden Field" (subject)
NOTES: Most songs of the end of 1745 Jacobite Rebellion (at least the ones in English) seem to talk about Bonnie Prince Charlie. This is a genuine exception; it is almost entirely about the tragic Battle of Culloden, which not only destroyed the Jacobite army but, ultimately, the Highland culture.
The history of the 1745 rebellion is almost like a wave: The level rises and rises and crests and then collapses. Indeed, the whole history of Jacobitism is rather like that. In the thirty years after George I had died, the Jacobite cause had seemed to die down -- notably due to the accession of George II in 1727 (Magnusson, p. 584); even the most extreme Jacobite would agree that he was an improvement on his father. It took two major change to bring Jacobitism back to life: The European political situation, and the rise of a new generation of leaders. James III, the "Old Pretender," was a pessimistic, uninspiring leader who outlived five monarchs who sat on the throne he claimed (Cook, p. 409) but managed to drive off even his own wife (Cook, pp. 407-408); he did his own cause more harm than good.
His son, Charles Edward Stuart, the "Young Pretender," was altogether different -- handsome, outgoing, and tremendously attractive. Few would call him a genius and some declare him little more than a drunk -- but he roused wild affection; he must have been one of the most charismatic leaders in history.
The whole thing started, in a way, as an incident in the War of the Austrian Succession, in which Britain (as usual) found itself fighting France. In 1743, the French were preparing to invade the British Isles. The invading force was to have been led by the brilliant Marshal de Saxe (Dorn, p. 161), who was so superior to British generals of the period that success seemed certain. Britain was poorly defended -- so many troops had gone to the continent that there were supposedly only 8000 soldiers in all of Britain (Browning, p. 221). But the expedition, which was intended to take place in 1744, was intercepted and ruined by the British fleet and storms (Magnusson, p. 585; Reid, pp. 7-9; Wilkinson, pp. 56-58).
Prince Charles, who had hoped to lead the expedition, wasn't willing to take that for an answer. The French were not willing to commit much to a second attempt, in part because they didn't trust Charles -- Browning, p. 220, says that the French viewed him as a "blinkered and quixotic adventurer."
The "blinkered" part probably arises from his manifest incompetence in writing and in scholarship; he hated studying, and McLynn-Charles, p. 35, quotes his tutor's comment on the boy's schoolwork: "[I]t is impossible to get him to apply to any study as he ought to or indeed in any tolerable degree, by which means the Latin goes ill on." Wilkinson, p. 45, tells us that he spoke French, Spanish, and Italian as well as English, and apparently eventually gained some Gaelic as well, but he flatly could not spell. Kybett, p. 31, declares that he was "functionally illiterate," but also claims that he "never fully mastered English, his primary language." This, of course, is nonsense unless he communicated by grunting; at best, it shows how diverse the opinions about Charles were. But it is agreed that he was very, very stubborn. He clearly hated studying -- and being told that things were impossible.
McLynn-Charlie, p. 553, gives perhaps the most balanced assessment of his abilities: "The old view of the prince as a man unable to deal with failure because of mental feebleness will not stand up to scrutiny. A close study of Charles Edward reveals him as highly intelligent, even if the intelligence was often of the divergent or 'lateral' type. His poor spelling and punctuation is a red herring, assiduously peddled by those who cannot see that 'intelligent' and 'academic' are very far from matching complements. More pertinently, the prince, unlike his father who wrote letters of impeccable orthography and sentiments, never wrote a boring sentence.... The prince habitually uses a medley of unusual (even eccentric) arguments, wit, irony and imagery that gives even his most self-pitying letters a peculiar richness...." Charles was stubborn to an extreme, and there were things he never learned (such as military tactics) -- but he was certainly more than a mere fool and a drunk.
Even though the French wouldn't support Charles, they certainly didn't mind him going on his own as long as it didn't cost them anything. Supported by some Irish exiles in France, and by pawning his mother's jewels (Magnusson, p. 586), he managed to scrape up two ships and headed for the Hebrides with about 3500 muskets (firelocks), 2500 swords, a tiny treasury, and about sixty marines (Reid, p. 10).
The two ships included only one real fighting vessel, the Elizabeth. On their way from France to Scotland, the convoy ran into the British vessel Lion. Having little other choice, the Prince's expedition put as many crew as possibly on the Elizabeth and left her to fight the Lion alone. (The ships ended up battering each other to the point where neither could continue, suffering total casualties in excess of 300; Browning, p. 221.) The prince, with half his supply of arms left behind, continued on (Wilkinson, pp. 60-63).
The prince landed on Eriskay with only a handful of men, and only a handful of that handful (the "seven men of Moidart") crossed to the mainland, landing at, yes, Moidart. Many chiefs were afraid of a rising without at least some foreign troops (Magnusson, p. 586) -- but Charles was charming enough that he quickly built an army. His reply, when some chiefs told him to go home, was the stuff of legend: "I am come home, Sir, and I will entertain no notion at all of returning to the place from whence I came; for I am persuaded that my faithful Highlanders will stand by me" (Magnusson, p. 587).
Not all of them did, to be sure. But most of the MacDonalds joined him (Thomson, p. 99, claims that they made up 40% of his force, but this was true for only a very short time. Still, most of them came in early, making them very important). Add in Lochiel's Camerons, and it was enough men to organize into something that could be called an army. Plus, while the Prince hadn't been able to bring many firearms, he at least had some -- and most of the Highlanders had been disarmed after the 1715 rebellion, so those who opposed the Jacobites had nothing with which to fight (Browning, p. 243).
It would have been interesting to see what would have happened had a significant fraction of the Campbells, the other great clan, joined. But, of course, Campbells and MacDonalds were not going to be on the same side at this time! (Thomson, p. 98).
It wasn't a big army, but it was enough to occupy Edinburgh (it helped that the city's fortifications were decayed, according to Magnusson, p. 591). Sinclair-Stevenson, p. 57, says that there was no real resistance. In an interesting move that might have done some good had anyone paid attention, the Jacobites proclaimed the Union of Scotland and England to be dissolved; Magnusson, p. 592. They then took on and defeated Sir John Cope at Prestonpans (for which see "Hey Johnnie Cope" and "Tranent Muir") in just ten minutes; it was said to be the shortest battle of the entire War of the Austrian Succession (Browning, p. 241).
After some further maneuvering in Scotland, during which more Highlanders joined the army but the Lowlanders for the most part proved disinterested (Fry/Fry, p. 194), Charles and his men headed into England. This was controversial -- many of the Scots wanted to be independent of England, whereas Charles wanted to regain the entire British Kingdom for the Stuarts. Plus many leaders thought that their force simply wasn't sufficient to attack the English. Charles finally persuaded a bare majority of his senior officers that they should take the army south (Browning, p. 243).
An invasion of England could not go down the center of the island due to the Pennine range. It had to go either to the east (via Berwick and Newcastle) or to the west (via Carlisle). The Hanoverian army of Marshall Wade blocked the eastward route. So the Jacobites went west. Some scholars think "The Flower of France and England, O" tells of their occupation of Carlisle -- an event which caused significant friction, because Lord George Murray (the brother of Charles's Marquis of Tullibardine, who had been one of the Seven Men of Moidart), who was widely regarded as the best soldier in the army but was a confirmed pessimist and as touchy as mercury fulminate, felt slighted. Neither for the first nor the last time (Sinclair-Stevenson, p. 58).
I note incidentally that, despite his reputation, Murray before 1745 seems never to have commanded anything larger than an understrength regiment (Young/Adair, p. 256), so that his position in the Jacobite army (he was officially Lieutenant General, giving him charge of half the force, and also a sort of de facto chief of staff) was about two grades above his previous best rank. He had no more strategic experience than anyone else in the army. He was now 51 years old, and set in his opinions; Reid, p. 23, quotes one of his own aides as saying "Lord George was vigilant, active, and diligent; his plans were always judiciously formed, and he carried them promptly and vigorously into execution. However, with an infinity of good qualities, he was not without his defects: proud, haughty, blunt and imperious, he wished to have executive disposal of everything and, feeling his superiority, would listen to no advice." Not a good recipe for a second-in-command! It was even worse because, as McLynn-Charlie notes on p. 142, Prince Charles was unused to dealing with such independent men.
Although there were forces in England capable of fighting them, the Jacobite maneuver did a good job of befuddling them. The main defensive army, led by Marshall Wade, was centered on Newcastle, and it just sat there. A second army, assembled by the Duke of Cumberland, tried to block the Jacobites from reaching Wales and the southwest, and it too tended to sit still. The Jacobite army , instead of continuing south from Carlisle, soon turned to the southeast, almost halfway between Wade and Cumberland (Browning, p. 243). The objective was London -- a go-for-broke gamble to take over the government before they could be stopped.
The invading army eventually reaching Derby. It had been a depressing march. There had been Jacobite rebellions in Scotland before, but no Jacobite army had reached England. They had hoped to find supporters. Except for a few recruits raised in Manchester, they found nothing. As Dorn says (p. 162), the rebellion's failure "was certain from the moment when Prince Charles on his southward march from Carlisle to Derby encountered oly a dispiriting indifference among the inhabitants of the countryside." They managed to raise (extort, really) money in most places -- enough to keep the army fed. "But the Jacobites were invariably greeted by sullen faces or by boots and jeers from the brave" (Kybett, p. 170).
And the Jacobite army remained small -- McLynn-Army, p. 25, lists the formations which began the march south. There were about 5100 infantry, mostly in small formation which were hard to control, and many of them ill-equipped. The cavalry totalled only 520, and their equipment was even worse. Had they raised the expected recruits in England, they could perhaps have defeated the Hanoverian armies in detail. Certainly the rank and file were very confident (McLynn-Army, p. 123). But many of the officers felt that, without reinforcements, there was no hope of real victory -- they might win a battle by stratagem, but if it came to a set battle against a proper Hanoverian army, they would certainly be destroyed.
So, at Derby, there was a council of war -- one that lasted from shortly after sunrise until midnight, then resumed the next day. Apparently many of Charles's officers had agreed to advance on England more as a raid than an actual invasion, and were willing to continue only if foreign troops appeared -- and, so far, none had (Magnusson, p. 603. It's ironic to note that this was at about the time Lord John Drummond's expedition, mentioned below, was being mounted). Charles had not understood this to be their meaning (McLynn-Charlie, p. 188). What was Charles to do? As Adair/Young note on p. 248, in connection with another revolt, "A rebellion on the defensive must fail." Charles could have risked everything on a run for London. He could have disbanded the revolt on the spot and fled. He could have retreated for Scotland and tried again for foreign help. Or he could retreat for Scotland and then dispersed the army.
In practical terms, the first was the most risky. It was also the only thing that could possibly succeed -- and McLynn-Army, p. vi, offers reasons why it might have succeeded, because the English government was in panic and the London mob was fickle. The odds were huge -- but the odds of winning any other way were non-existent. As Wilkinson says (p. 136), "There was still just a chance in London, a gambler's throw. But a retreat could only mean one thing -- the failure of the rebellion."
Charles wanted to go for it. But Lord George Murray again showed his severe pessimism, and argued that the army must retreat (Wilkinson, p. 132). He brought most of the other leaders over to his side. Sinclair-Stevenson, pp. 59-60, declares, "It [the arguments of those in favor of retreat] was all special pleading, and almost certainly the wrong decision. It was not well received: The Highlanders, conceiving at first that they were on the march to attack the army of the Duke of Cumberland, displayed the utmost joy and cheerfulness, but as soon as the day allowed them to see the objects around them and they found that we were retracing our steps, nothing was to be heard throughout the whole army but expressions of rage and lamentation."
Magnusson, p. 603: "They called it 'Black Friday': Friday, 6 December 1745, the day the Jacobites began their retreat from Derby." Page 604: "Lord George Murray had won the day, but had he lost the future. For two and a half centuries there has been endless speculation. Derby is one of the great, unanswerable 'ifs' of Scottish history."
Especially since the French had finally been induced to help out, in a small way. A small force of reinforcements, mostly taken from the Irish units in the French army, had been sent out around around the end of 1745 under the command of Lord John Drummond (McLynn-Charlie, p. 202). The Jacobite cause thus gained roughly a thousand experienced troops, plus artillery heavier than the light pieces they had managed to capture so far (Reid, p. 83). It's too bad these forces hadn't arrived earlier; their arrival, and Drummond's strong leadership, might have done much to strengthen the Jacobite grip on Scotland, which weakened appreciably while the army was in England.
Despite the despair of the retreat, and the hostility and appalling weather the army met on its way back to Scotland, there were military successes during the retreat, at Clifton and Falkirk. The former was small; the Duke of Cumberland's army was snapping at the Jacobite rear, and Lord George Murray, who commanded the rear, gave his vanguard a bit of a bloody nose and caused him to halt his pursuit (McLynn-Army, pp. 186-189). Falkirk was big though a very close-run thing (Sinclair-Stevenson, p. 60). But there was little planning behind what was done at this time; as Reid says on p. 94 of the siege of Stirling which preceded Falkirk, "they had decided to besiege Stirling Castle, not through any pressing strategic necessity, but rather it seemed for lack of anything more positive to do."
Falkirk shouldn't have happened. The Hanoverian forces under Hawley (who had replaced Marshall Wade) had a tremendous superiority in cavalry, but they did not scout the field (Reid, p. 98). Hawley's junior officers apparently considered his orders absurd, but he was so harsh that they dared not disobey (McLynn-Charlie, p. 209).
Falkirk is generally described as a big brawl. Neither side was properly deployed, and it ended in darkness and storm (Reid, p. 100) -- not too surprising, since it took place on January 17, 1746. Wilkinson, p. 176, says that "it was Prince Charles in person who by his intervention saved the situation," but most other sources think that he did little good, even causing the pursuit to fail (see, e.g., McLynn-Charlie, p. 210). Casualties were relatively light (Reid, p. 102), but the Jacobites has possession of the field, and picked up some useful equipment as a result.
Then, after Falkirk, the commanders started arguing again. Lord George Murray claimed that soldiers were deserting, that the weather was bad, and that British forces were on their tail; the only option was to head for the Highlands (Wilkinson, p. 184). As Wilkinson comments on p. 185, "Another victory was to be turned into a rearguard action." The retreat continued, but Charles himself wrote, "I know I have an army that I cannot command any further than the chief officers please, and therefore if you are resolved of it I must yield -- but I take God to witness that it is with the greatest reluctance, and that I wash my hands of the fatal consequences which I foresee but cannot help."
Whoever is to blame, these delays and retreats gave the government time to bring home more troops. Note that Falkirk is in Scotland, near the Forth. At the end of 1745, the Jacobites had retired back into Scotland (Kybett, p. 180) -- though they left a small garrison left at Carlisle which was quickly swallowed. (A bad move by Charles, since he had left all of his artillery with the garrison, hampering his future operations; Magnusson, p. 605. Though if he'd followed Lord George Murray's plan, things might have been just as bad; McLynn-Army, p. 191, says that Murray wanted to trash all the baggage.)
Kybett and Magnusson both think that Charles was by this time an alcoholic (Magnusson, p. 610, and Kybett, almost everywhere; Wilkinson, p. 228, admits that many called him a drunkard as early as the 1740s but says that he was simply trying to act like a British squire. McLynn-Charlie accepts that he ended up a drunkard, and acknowledges that he always had a fondness for drink, but does not think it began to overwhelm him until *after* the Forty-Five; on p. 243 he argues that it was during the flight, when Charles was under great tension but spent most of his time simply sitting and waiting, that he really started drinking heavily). It cannot be denied that the decision to garrison Carlisle was militarily bad -- yet it made some symbolic sense: Charles did not want to entirely abandon England.
The Jacobites returned to a Scotland which had largely been occupied against them. Glasgow had always been loyal to the Hanoverians, and Edinburgh had been recaptured soon after the invasion of England began (Magnusson, p. 606). The only good news was that Lord John Drummond has his army at Perth, which had even been reinforced by a few French soldiers (Wilkinson, p. 159). This force combined with the invasion army to win the aforementioned battle of Falkirk. But there was no follow-up; "The Jacobites spent most of the month of January in or around Falkirk, and in doing so they threw away whatever initiative they might have gained. They were never to regain it" (Magnusson, p. 608).
A month later, after Charles and Lord George Murray had another fight, they fell back into the Highlands (Magnusson, p. 615; McLynn-Charlie, p. 218, who adds on p. 219 that each of these retreats was disorganized -- the Jacobites, as Murray should have known, were horrible at logistics). Charles was once again sarcastic about the potential effects of the retreat: "Can we imagine, that where we go the enemy will not follow, and at last oblige us to a battle which we now decline?" (Browning, p. 264). In this, Charles again saw more clearly than Murray.
If there was any happy note for the Prince, it was that Charles met Clementina Walkinshaw, the closest thing he had to a love of his life, around this time (Magnusson, p. 608). Wilkinson, p. 157, says that it is not quite certain when he met her, but it was definitely in early 1746. McLynn-Charlie, p. 204, says that she helped nurse him through the various illnesses he suffered in early 1746. According to Cook, p. 422, she had actually been named for Charles's mother Clementina Sobieska, so it was pretty clear what her family politics were!
Other than that, it was a particularly hard time for the Prince, who was sick for several months in early 1746 (McLynn-Charlie, pp. 232-233), even as the army was enjoying several minor successes. But the force was still pinned back into a small, desolate area. They were out of money, meaning the soldiers could not be paid (Wilkinson, p. 193; McLynn-Charlie, p. 233. Magnusson, p. 616, notes that a ship sent by the French with a large supply of cash was captured). They had managed to bring in a French technical expert on sieges, Monsieur Mirabelle; he proved a complete incompetent (Magnusson, p. 612). Based in the relatively unproductive country around Inverness, they were short of supplies. Their commissary was breaking down due to the death of Charles's efficient administrator Murray of Broughton (McLynn-Charlie, p. 235).
In this situation, a good many clansmen deserted (Wilkinson, p. 194). Somehow, before the army fell apart of starvation and lack of pay and lack of hope, they needed to get out of their trap. They never figured out how to do it.
Into their stronghold came William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland (1721-1765), the third son of George II (and the second son to survive infancy), the man who had lost the skirmish at Clifton. Cumberland's record in wars in Europe shows that he was no general, but he inflicted ferocious discipline and understood butchery very well; massacres don't require brainpower. His army had been following the Jacobites since the March to Derby (his had been the army the chiefs were most afraid of when they argued for a retreat), but apart from the skirmish at Clifton, this was the first time he had closed on them. They had had one chance to stop him as he crossed the Spey (McLynn-Charlie, pp. 237-238; Reid, pp. 121-124). They didn't (most authors seem to think this was sheer stupidity, by junior officers or by Charles himself; Reid, p. 125, blames lack of reconnaissance). After that, the Jacobites were cornered; they had the sea to one side, dead land on another, and Cumberland coming up against them on another.
The faction led by Lord George Murray, that endless fount of suggestions that increased the odds of short-term survival at the expense of any chance of long-term success, wanted to go to the hills and fight as guerrillas (Magnusson, p. 616). But this would mean giving up arms and equipment, and -- as the government's vengeance after Culloden showed -- would open up the clans to piecemeal destruction. Charles insisted he would fight. This was the most hopeless of all the Jacobite battles -- but, once again, it seems to me the most reasonable option in the broad sense. The Jacobites had little chance of victory, but failure to fight meant clear defeat.
In a singularly foolish move, the Jacobite army had been scattered for the winter -- and did not manage to concentrate fully in time for Culloden (McLynn-Charlie, p. 239). The extra few thousand men who were still out foraging might have made a great deal of difference.
The Hanoverian army had the Highlanders outnumbered on the order of two to one -- Wilkinson, p. 195, estimates Cumberland to have had 9000 troops, the Jacobites 5000. Browning, p. 265, gives the numbers as 9000 and 5400. Young/Adair, p. 262, credit the Jacobites with "at most" 5000. Reid, pp. 145-146, puts 3800 in the Jacobite front line, which would probably mean 5500-6000 for the whole force. Young/Adair estimates the loyalist army at 13000. Kybett, p. 203, makes the exceptional estimate that the Hanoverians had 14000 troops. Brander, p. 215, thinks the Jacobites had only 4500 going into the Night March, compared to 10000 Hanoverians -- though on p. 217, Brander gives the Hanoverian numbers at Culloden as 9000 and Charles's as "certainly under 5,000."
And, no matter what their initial numbers, the Jacobite ranks were depleted by the march, and some of the men who made it back from the march would still have lost their weapons, and others would be too tired and hungry to fight successfully. This is one of the main reasons why estimates vary so much: Although we know which units were present for the Night March, the disaster of Culloden meant that there were no reports about the units' strength before the March or -- even more so -- after.
In addition to their edge in numbers, the Hanoverians of course had a great advantage in equipment. Making this disparity worse is the fact that Charles's handful of French regulars, who presumably would have been the best musketeers he had, were in the second line (Brander,p. 217.
The Battle of Culloden, April 27, 1746, was one of the most mismanaged affairs of military history. Experience showed that Charles's Highlanders had only one successful tactic, the so-called Highland Charge. The idea was to get a bunch of burly clansmen with swords in among the enemy. It worked better than a modern would think -- the standard army of the time was armed with slow-firing smoothbore muskets that weren't very accurate. If the charge were properly executed, the defenders might have time for only one volley, which would not do enough damage to halt the attackers. But the Charge required suitable terrain to pull it off. Why Charles's forced messed up so badly, and who made the decision to fight as they did, is an open question.
Lord George Murray wrote afterward that the Jacobite plan was hopeless -- Kybett, p. 197 -- but of course Murray was trying to defend his own behavior and make Charles look bad.
Reid, p. 129, reports, "Murray's criticism of the field appears to have owed more to his insistence on contradicting everything which [Adjutant General] Sullivan proposed, for on previous experience it fitted the rebel army's requirements in every respect. In order to execute a 'Highland Charge' successfully the rebels needed a clear run at their opponents, as they had on the flat cornfields of Prestonpans, not on the broken grounds of the defensive position proposed by Murray." Magnusson, p. 617, says of the battlefield, "They used to call it Drumossie Moor -- a bleak stretch of boggy, heather-clad upland moor above Culloden House, south-east of Inverness, overlooking the broad waters of the Moray Firth." McLynn-Charlie, p. 240, agrees with Magnusson at least in part: The ground on the left was too wet to make it easy to attack.
The original Jacobite plan was for a night march, allowing them to attack the Hanoverians at sunrise at Nairn. There is no agreement on whose idea this was. Ben Schwartz looked through the early histories on Google, and found the following quotes:
*** Supporting the theory that it was Charles's idea:*
Robert Chambers, History of the Rebellion of 1745-6 (London and Edinburgh, 1869 ("Digitized by Google")), p. 281, "There yet remained, before playing the great stake of a [pitch?]ed battle, one chance of success by the irregular mode [of] warfare to which the army was accustomed, and Charles [res]olved to put it to trial. This was a night-attack upon the [ca]mp of the Duke of Cumberland."
James Browne, A History of the Highlands and of the Highland Clans (London, Edinburgh, and Dublin, 1849 ("Digitized by Google")), Vol. III p. 232, has Lord George Murray putting the details to Charles's proposal:
"Concluding from the inactivity of the duke of Cumberland that he had no intention of marching that day, Charles held a council of war in the afternoon, to deliberate upon the course it might be considered most advisable to pursue in consequence of the duke's stay at Nairn. According to Charles's own statement, he had formed the bold and desperate design of surprising the English army in their camp during the night; but, desirous of knowing the views of his officers before divulging his plan, he allowed all the members of the council to speak before him. After hearing the sentiments of the chiefs, and the other commanders who were present, Lord George Murray proposed to attack the duke of Cumberland during the night, provided it was the general opinion that the attack could be made before one or two o'clock in the morning. Charles, overjoyed at the suggestion of his lieutenant-general, immediately embraced him, said that he approved of it, that in fact he had contemplated the measure himself, and that he did not intend to have disclosed it till all the members of the council had delivered their sentiments [vide Memorandum by the Prince, note, p. 134].
(James Johnstone) The Chevalier de Johnstone, Memoirs of the Rebellion in 1745 and 1746 (London, 1820 ("Digitized by Microsoft")), pp. 132-133, footnote, "The following is the account of it [the night-march to Nairn] given of it by Mr. Home: --
"'When mid-day (the 15th) came, and the King's army did not appear, it was concluded that they had not moved from their camp at Nairn, and would not move that day, which was the Duke of Cumberland's birth-day. About two o'clock, the men were ordered to their quarters, and Charles, calling together the generals and chiefs, made them a speech, in which he proposed to march with all his forces in the evening, and make a night-attack upon the Duke of Cumberland's army, in their camp at Nairn.
"'At first nobody seemed to relish this proposal; and the Duke of Perth and Lord John Drummond expressed their dislike of it. Lochiel, who was not a man of many words, said that the army would be stronger next day by 1500 men at least; but when Lord George Murray rose and seconded the proposal made by Charles, insisting and enlarging upon the advantage of a night-attack, that rendered cannon and cavalry (in which the superiority of the Duke's army chiefly consisted) of little service, it was agreed to make the attempt, as the best thing that could be done in their present circumstances, for they were almost entirely destitute of both money and provisions.'"
The notes apparently were added by the uncredited editor, "J.B" in 1821, along with the Introduction that had this to say about Home, whom he was apparently responsible for quoting, above. "But, of Home, from the introduction, pp. xlvi-xlvii, 'The history of Home, which appeared nearly sixty years after the Rebellion, and from which, previous to its publication, considerable expectations were entertained, added little to our knowledge on any of the above important points. This was partly owing to the defective information of the author, and partly owing to his fear of giving offence. Having himself borne arms in the Rebellion as a volunteer, in aid of the government, he was not a person to whom the leading Jacobites would willingly confide their secrets; .. Besides, the writer of this introduction can assert, of his own knowledge, that Mr Home submitted his history in manuscript to some members of the royal family.. His book affords materials for the historian, but ought not to be considered a history.'"
*** Supporting the theory that it was Lord George Murray's idea:*
Andrew Lang, "Prince Charles Stuart" in Scribner's Magazine (New York, 1895 ("Digitized by Google")), Vol. XVII January-June p. 416, "At a council Lord George proposed what Charles was longing for, a night surprise."
"Murray, Lord George (1694-1760" in Dictionary of National Biography (London, 1909 ("Digitized by Google")), Vol. XIII p. 1257, "Murray was entirely opposed to making a stand against Cumberland at Culloden.. He therefore advised that meanwhile a retreat should be made to the hills to await reinforcements, and when overruled in this, stipulated for a night attack as affording the only possible chance of victory."
*** Unclear as to whose idea it was:*
Robert Chambers, Jacobite Memoirs of the Rebellion of 1745 (Edinburgh, 1834 ("Digitized by Google")), p. 138, "The Prince (being informed that the Duke of Cumberland had halted that day at Nairn, to refresh his men, and that the ships with provisions were coming into the bay of Inverness, that evening) called a council of war; and, after great debates, (although that neither the Earl of Cromarty, who by this time was prisoner, though not known, nor the MacPhersons, nor a great many of the Frazers was come up,) it was resolved to march, and endeavor to surprise the Duke in his camp at Nairn, about twelve miles distance."
The Lockhart Papers (London, 1817 ("Digitized by Google")), Vol. II p. 518 in "Account of events at Inverness and Culloden" [likely a source for Chambers], "The P. being inform'd that the Duke of Cumberland had halted that day at Nairn to refresh his men (the ships with his provisions came into the bay of Inverness that evening) the P. calld a council and after great debates, tho' neither the Earl of Cromerty (who by that time was prisoner tho' not known) nor the Macphersons nor a great many of the Fraizers were come up, it was resolved to march and endeavour to surprise the Duke in his camp at Nairn about twelve miles distant."
Among modern commentators, Reid, p. 130, says the concept of the night march was Murray's. Wilkinson, p. 195, says, "Lord George Murray came forward with an ingenious plan for attacking the royal army at a disadvantage, thus offsetting their numerical superiority. Briefly, his proposal was to make an immediate night march upon Nairn, followed by the Highland charge at the first peep of dawn.... From Murray's own account it seems doubtful whether the proposal first came from him, but, at any rate, he adopted it with enthusiasm." Magnusson, p. 618, writes, "When the Hanoverian army did not appear on 15 April, Lord George Murray urged that the Jacobites should turn the tables by taking the offensive, and suggested a surprise night attack on Cumberland's sleeping camp."
Young/Adair, p. 258, says that "This plan, somewhat reminiscent of Monmouth's for Sedgemoor, was devised by the Prince and O'Sullivan. The Duke of Perth disliked it... but Lord George Murray, though 'very sensible of the danger should it miscarry,' came round to it, probably because he preferred it to fighting on the open moor." McLynn-Charlie, p. 241, describes the prince as "cajoling" the chiefs while Murray argued for another battlefield, and McLynn-Charlie, p. 242, implies that Murray was opposed to the very end. Brander, p. 215, credits the whole business to Charles and O'Sullivan, never even mentioning Murray.
Kybett, p. 198, says "Charles walked around the field [the day before Culloden] speaking to individual officers, trying to cajole them to agree to an impetuously conceived plan to attack Cumberland's camp at dawn the next day. No doubt he hoped to take the drunken government troops by surprise, but almost without exception everyone believed it a mad scheme."
"[Adjutant General] Sullivan was commanded to give the orders, and explain what he said in them. Lord George answered that there was no need of orders, [tha]t everybody knew what he had to do" (Reid, p. 132). But in fact they did *not* know what they had to do. "The attack on Nairn, put forward more or less on the spur of the moment by Murray, was badly thought out, poorly prepared and incompetently executed, and responsibility for the debacle lies squarely with Murray alone."
The real problem was not with the idea, though, but with its execution. The Highlanders had not been fed for two days, and were weakened by a cold rain (Magnusson, p. 618). The ground had not been scouted. The distance was rather long for a night march (Wilkinson, p. 195, says 12 miles; McLynn-Charlie, p. 244, implies a distance of 10 miles; Young/Adair, p. 258, says eight miles but adds that the night was exceptionally dark; Magnusson, p. 618, says 16 kilometers, or 10 miles. The map in Reid, p. 135, shows that Culloden Moor is about five miles from Inverness, with Nairn about 12 miles beyond that, but the army did not start from Culloden and would not have followed the direct path).
It would surely have been wiser to cover at least some of the distance before dark, but the army did not start until about 8:30 (Young/Adair, p. 258) or 9:00 p.m. (Magnusson, p. 618). The troops were slow to make the journey, and the march resulted in much disorganization (Magnusson, p. 619). The plan called for the army to divide into three columns, but they ended up all on the same trail (McLynn-Charlie, p. 244). Eventually the column started to break up. Lord George Murray, at the front of the column, sent word to Charles at the rear that it was too late for the attack, and that it had better be abandoned (McLynn-Charlie, p. 245). Charles, ever aggressive, didn't want to give up. But eventually Murray on his own ordered the column to halt (Young/Adair, p. 259). "Lord George made the only decision he could under the circumstances. He ordered what remained of the bitter army back to Culloden" (Kybett, p. 200).
"Surviving accounts of the night are pretty unanimous in depicting it as a sorry shambles from its confused beginning to its acrimonious end. The rebel army initially set off in what should have been three columns, following one behind the other. The first was let by Lord George Murray, the second by Lord John Drummond and the third by the Duke of Perth.... Instead of proceeding straight down the main road to Nairn, Murray decided to move across country, thus shunning any houses and people who might be tempted to warn Cumberland of his approach..." (Reid, p. 133). "[I]t soon proved quite impossible to prevent substantial gaps opening up between the columns and between the individual units within the columns. Murray afterwards tried to blame the French regulars and his MacIntosh guides... " (Reid, pp. 133-134). "[T]he rebel army simply [was] not up to the task" (Reid, pp. 134-136).
Charles apparently went bananas over this; Kybett, p. 200, describes him as losing control completely -- "Charles continued to shout hysterically that nobody could command his army but himself" -- though Reid, p. 139, declares that he put on a brave face. Wilkinson, p. 196, describes him as angry but resigned. Wilkinson and McLynn-Charlie, p. 246, both describe him as asking, "Where the devil are the men going?" McLynn also describes a man who went from fury at being disobeyed to weary resignation after the Duke of Perth pulled him aside and described the situation. Whatever his behavior, there was nothing to be done at that point. Lord George, not the Prince, had decided where and how the last battle would be fought. And his decision was simply dreadful: The open field of Culloden, where the Hanoverian artillery could sweep the Jacobite army.
(I must admit that I've never understood this. I can at least comprehend that Lord George would call off the attack. But why send everyone back to Culloden? Lord George disliked the ground, and the retreat left the men even more tired and hungry. If it was light enough for the night attack to fail, it was light enough to pick a better defensive position.)
Just how close the Jacobites had come to the enemy camp is not certain. Wilkinson, p. 196, and Reid, p. 137, say that Cumberland's campfires were already in sight, but McLynn-Charlie, p. 244, calculates that the Jacobites still had four miles to go before they could attack. Brander, p. 216, gives the distance as two miles from Cumberland's camp.
The troops straggled back to camp, even more hungry and exhausted than they had been before. They were also even more scrambled, because there was no real plan for the retreat (Reid, p. 138). All the Night March had done was soften them up for Cumberland's attack. Magnusson, p. 619, estimates that only a thousand Jacobite soldiers were still ready to fight, and says only 1500 took part in the initial attack on Cumberland's line. This is probably too low, but the number cannot have been large.
Thomson, p. 101, notes that "by every standard the Jacobite generals made a mess of Culloden when battle came on 16 April 1746. They chose unsuitable terrain, tired out their troops by ill-thought-out manouevres and vacillation, and failed totally to make proper use of their greatest asset, the Highland charge."
Kybett, whose method of analysis consists of finding the worst possible interpretation of Charles's behavior and then inventing a way to make it sound worse, claims that everyone in the army believed the battle plan was a "desperate attempt" -- and claims that Charles was drunk as the battle began (Kybett, pp. 198-199).
"There has been much argument about the choice of the battleground -- Lord George Murray claimed that it was a death trap for his troops. Others maintain that it was good ground for the Highland clansman to charge over; but it was also ideal terrain for the Hanoverian cavalry" (Magnusson, pp. 619-620).
The final battle took place a little south of the ocean. The Jacobite army seems to have left both its flanks rather exposed (so both the maps in Reid, p. 147, and Young/Adair, p. 264, and the semi-legible sketch facing p. 198 of Wilkinson; Reid, p. 145, says the flanks rested on walled parks. The parks probably had some defensive strength, but only if properly manned -- and they weren't; Reid, pp. 150-151, describes how the Hanoverians used them to outflank the Jacobites on the right).
Of the three divisions of the Jacobite army that had marched to Nairn, two were placed in the front line, with the third division forming a second line. Reid, p. 145, estimates that there were 3800 men in the Jacobite front line, which stretched over a distance of 1100 yards (and with a bit of a gap in it when Lord George Murray realigned some of his forces and the other half did not conform). The second line, which was more a tactical reserve than an actual line of battle, had no more than half that many (Reid, p. 146; in the map on p. 216 of Brander, it is so thin as to hardly even constitute a line). A few units, probably mostly cavalry (much of it dismounted, according to Young/Adair, p. 261), were behind that, but they were not really a line, just a small reserve. The small handful of guns -- perhaps a dozen cannon, of various calibers and poorly manned -- was all in the front line, according to Young/Adair, p. 262.
The Hanoverian army also was arranged in three lines, though Reid shows all three lines as being about equally heavy, while Young/Adair makes the front line very strong and the third line little more than a token; Brander splits the difference and makes the second line almost as strong as the first and the third line very weak. Still, given the relative sizes of the armies, the number in the Hanoverian front line must have been at least as many as in the Jacobite, and their reserves were greater -- and they covered the attack with artillery. Young/Adair, p. 263, says that the Hanoverian artillery was able to fire twenty rounds for each round fired by the Jacobites.
The weather too was on the Hanoverian side; the weather was cold and rainy, and the wind blew into the faces of the Highlanders (Young/Adair, p. 262).
"At Culloden the advantages in terms of firepower and training lay with Cumberland, and he had the bonus of fumbling Jacobite command. The result was swift, decisive and bloody. The Jacobite artillery was silenced by a precise, long-range bombardment from artillerymen who were then free to pound the Highland line with shot. When the charge began, fire was opened with grape[shot] which was supplemented by volleys of musketry. The onrush was poorly co-ordinated and the clusters of clansmen who reached the lines of redcoats were repelled by bayonets. Culloden was uncannily like one of those Victorian colonial battles in which steady, confident troops used discipline and firepower to repel tribal armies" (James, p. 219).
Under this pressure, the Jacobites had little choice but to charge. Even so, Young/Adair, p. 265. thinks they waited too long to go in. Reid, p. 159, agrees, and says that Charles probably ordered it; Lord George Murray, who actually commanded the charge, had been responsible for the delay.
Unfortunately, it was a disorganized charge -- the Duke of Perth's command on the left hardly took part at all, and when it did move, it got tied up in the bog and the movement halted (Reid, p. 166). The center and right, under Murray, rapidly lost order; Young/Adair, p. 267. Reid, pp. 159, says that, instead of the usual fairly regular advance until the clans were in musket range, at which time the men would rush the enemy lines, most men dropped their guns, drew their swords, and started running at once. And they bunched up, exposing them to concentrated canister fire, which of course slaughtered the officers leading the charge and caused the men to become even more disorganized; Reid, p. 160. Reid estimates they may have lost as many as 400 men just getting to Cumberland's line -- in other words, at least 20% of those who were charging. What was left simply could not hit with the force of a proper Highland Charge. Within minutes of reaching the Hanoverian line, the right had to retreat, and as it retreated, it broke up even further. The left still held together, but when the Hanoverian army counter-charged, the Jacobite army generally dissolved.
Browning, p. 265, gives Hanoverian casualties as 300, Jacobite as 1560 (though this is surely too precise). Magnusson, p. 620, estimates Jacobite losses as "at least 1,500 dead" and the Loyalist forces as having lost fifty dead and 259 wounded. Young/Adair, p. 271, concurs with gives those same numbers for the Hanoverians, adding that one (yes, just one!) soldier was missing, and adds that only about 3000 Hanoverian troops were seriously engaged. Reid, p. 170, also gives 50 dead and 259 wounded in Cumberland's force, and says there were 750 Jacobite dead on the moor, and estimates total Highlander losses as 1500, plus "154 rebel and 222 'French' prisoners."
"The main battle was over inside an hour. Prince Charles, once he saw the day was lost, rode away to the south-west, into hiding. For a moment there might have been a chance of gathering for another fight, but it was too late, and the prince sent word to the clans to disperse and look to their own safety. And well they might for the vengeance of the English was systematic and terrible" (Fry/Fry, p. 196). Although the Frys, and Kybett, seem to imply cowardice, Sinclair-Stevenson, p. 61, declares that Charles left the battlefield reluctantly.
"The curtain was about to ring down on the clan system and the last battle fought on British soil. It was only regrettable that it should have been marred by the excesses of the victorious general. 'Butcher' Cumberland earned his nickname and the notoriety which still clings to his memory. Instead of dying courageously on the field the Prince was persuaded to fly for his life in the heather and the legend of his escape wove a magic round his name which was largely undeserved. It was the poverty-stricken Highlanders whose honour and gallantry forbade them to betray him whose memory we must applaud. Ahead of them lay the Clearances and the empty glens, the sorrows and persecutions of the century to come..." (Brander, p. 217). Brander also notes the interesting fact that Culloden inspired few songs. He compares it to Flodden: Time needed to pass before the poets' pens could face the tragedy.
"There was still a chance of taking to the hills and continuing a guerrilla war of attrition against the Hanoverian victors. But Prince Charles had no intention of staying in Scotland, and told his followers it was now every man for himself.... For him, the Rising was over" (Magnusson, p. 624). Magnusson seems to disapprove of this course. But such an attempt would surely have failed; many man would have deserted, and their only bases would be in the Highlands; they would have had no way to trouble the English government, or even the Lowland Scots. All they would have done was inflict further trouble on the Highlands. True, the Hanoverians came with fire and sword -- but if the Jacobites had fought, then it would have been *both* Hanoverians *and* Jacobites picking the Highlands clean. If Charles made no other right choices, his decision to abandon the rising was certainly the best thing for all involved.
James, p. 220, observes how strongly our modern attitudes are influenced by the romance and legend of Bonnie Prince Charlie. At the time, Cumberland was feted as a great victor -- the "Conquering Hero" of Handel (Magnusson, p. 623). Magnusson also claims that a plant was renamed "Sweet William" after him (which I doubt); I am only slightly more willing to accept that, in Scotland, "the foul-smelling ragwort Senecto jacobaea was nicknamed 'Stinking Willie.'"
"But the '45 did not end with the battle. Everyone knew that, this time, rebellion was serious, and the smallness of the section of Scotland involved meant that real punishment would follow. The fact that many groups of clansmen got away from the battle gave a particular motive for punitive search. It would be made clear to those who had chosen to fight for the prince rather than have their roofs burnt over their heads by Lochiel and his men, that they were not better off in rebellion" (Mitchison, p 342).
"The atrocities and indiscriminate killing went on for several days. Detachments of Hanoverian troops were sent far and wide to scour the Highlands for rebels on the run. The glens were laid waste. Men found bearing weapons were hanged on the spot, and their womenfolk were raped. Whole families were evicted from their blazing hovels and left to starve. Twenty thousand head of livestock -- cattle, sheep and goats -- were driven off to be sold at market in Fort Augustus, the money to be distributed to the victorious army" (Magnusson, p. 623).
"Nowadays it would be called genocide. Cumberland himself advocated his own 'final solution" to the Highland problem: the transportation of whole 'clans such as the Camerons and almost all the tribes of the MacDonalds (excepting some of those in the Isles) and several other lesser clans' -- also excepting, of course, the Campbells, most of whom had fought on the Hanoverian side" (Magnusson, p. 623).
"Of the total of 3,471 Jacobite prisoners, 120 were executed: most by hanging, drawing and quartering, four by beheading because they were peers of the realm -- the privilege of rank. Of the remainder, more than six hundred died in prison; 936 were transported to the West Indies to be sold as slaves [which, at that time, meant that they would almost certainly be dead of yellow fever or the like within two years], 121 were banished 'outside our Dominions'; and 1,287 were released or exchanged" (Magnusson, p. 624).
"When all is said and done Cumberland and 'Hangman Hawley' [who at Culloden commanded the cavalry] marred their victory by the atrocities they permitted, and indeed encouraged, afterwards. Pillage, rape and murder were the order of the day, the innocent suffering with the guilty. An undistinguished military career lay ahead for [Cumberland], culminating in his defeat at Hastenbeck and the inglorious Convention of Klosterseven (1757). It is more charitable to remember him as the founder of the Ascot Race Meeting (1748)" (Young/Adair, p. 271).
There is to this day much dispute over who is to blame for the disaster of Culloden, and for the Forty-Five. There is a strong school which argues that, since Lord George Murray was a sound tactical general, he must have been a strategic genius and anything that went wrong in 1745 was someone else's fault. So Young and Adair write,p, 256, "The Young Pretender... besides being himself no soldier, distrusted his ablest general, Lord George Murray, and chose to lean on his hare-brained Quartermaster-General, John William O'Sullivan."
Similarly, Keegan/Wheatcroft, p. 292, write that the Forty-Five "was doomed from the outset" (though they also say "the chance was there"); "Lord George Murray... the only commander of ability on the Jacobite side, argued in vain for a rapid descent on England before the Hanoverian forces could recover from the shock of a rising in the North. The victories -- Prestonpans and Falkirk -- were the work of Murray. It was Charles himself who insisted on attacking... at Culloden, when saner voices argued for a retreat into the Highlands and a war of attrition" (though how an outnumbered force is supposed to win a war of attrition is beyond me. Keegan/Wheatcroft, p. 227, also paper over the fact that Murray had been the voice of retreat at Derby).
McLynn-Charlie, pp. 249-250, also thinks the ultimate fault is Charles's. After the Night March, when Charles confronted Murray, Murray offered three choices: To retreat to Inverness and face a siege, to scatter and become guerrillas, or to accept battle on a different field south of the Nairn. Charles refused all three possibilities, and hence accepted battle at Culloden. McLynn-Charlie, p. 247, blames this on Charles's character: "The prince was never warned of the very real risk that [the night march] might miscarry. At this stage in his life, Charles was far too credulous and trusting toward his favourites, while being ludicrously suspicious of those not in the circle of initiates. The charm and affability of Charles Edward was the positive side of a mentality that was also distinguished by a marked anxiety to please those he considered his friends.... All these signs of a fragile identity were reinforced by a declining grip on reality."
It seems to me that this over-complexifies things: It's basically true, but the real problem was that Charles had taken a lot of advice from Lord George Murray, and it had resulted in the Jacobites being stuck up in the Highlands, so Charles was understandably very suspicious of *Murray's* advice.
Reid, pp. 139-140, however, makes the significant point that, had the Jacobite army tried at that point to head for Murray's preferred battlefield, Cumberland could have pitched into their rear and done even more than he did at Culloden. When the Night March failed, I think, the Jacobite cause was lost. What was needed was a better plan for the March -- specifically, an alternate plan for what to do if the March were detected. But even if Murray thought of such a thing, he probably didn't dare suggest it.
Kybett, of course, blames everything on Charles. Browning too says that Charles was simply not a good enough leader for his cause, and notes correctly that the Prince's Catholicism cost him support (Charles, who clearly had no strong religious feelings, would actually convert to Protestantism after the Forty-Five, but too late to do any good; McLynn-Charlie, p. 399; Wilkinson, p. 227), and blames him for leading the Jacobite army into England.
In a very broad sense, Browning's charge is true: If Charles had been a military genius *and* smart enough to talk around Lord George Murray when needed *and* had been able to convince the French to really support him, then the rebellion would have had a much better chance. But if he had been able to call lightning from heaven, it would have had a better chance, too -- and the one was almost as impossible as the other.
Consider the flip side: The 1745 rebellion came much nearer success than the 1715, even though the latter was conducted under conditions much more favorable to revolt: The Hanoverian dynasty was weaker in 1715, and the Jacobites far stronger. Why did the 1745 rebellion come as close as it did? Because of Prince Charles.
Oh, Charles certainly wasn't anyone's notion of a general. But he understood something that Lord George Murray completely failed to understand, which was that a forlorn hope of a rebellion could only succeed by being bold -- even flashy. Charles was good at flashy. Lord George had opposed the idea of going after London; he had been wrong, and as a result, the Jacobite army had been forced to retreat all the way to Culloden in the north of Scotland. In the end, Murray didn't want to fight at Culloden either, even though the Jacobites needed to do *something* to keep the rebellion alive, and all Murray did was see to it that the battle, which would probably have been lost even if everything had gone well, was *guaranteed* to be lost.
Ironically, the period after the debacle at Culloden was considered the Prince's finest hour. He of course spent almost half a year on the run before he finally boarded the L'Heureux on September 20, 1746 (old style) to sail for France (McLynn-Charlie, p. 307). The flight was the subject of many songs such as "Skye Boat Song (Over the Sea to Skye)." For the most famous incident of this period, the time he spent with Flora MacDonald, see "Flora MacDonald's Lament." But his escape to Skye did not end his escapades; he spent another three months "in the heather"; "Despite the huge bounty on his head, not a single Highlander betrayed his whereabouts" (Magnusson, p. 627).
His escape was the more amazing because the British, according to James, p. 220, had 15,000 troops in the Highlands searching for him. Of course, they were somewhat distracted by the fact that they were also trying to destroy the Highland way of life.
Although Jacobitism is not quite dead, and many hoped for another rebellion, it was the last rising on behalf of the Stuarts. It is likely that Charles visited England again (Magnusson, p. 628), but he never started another rising (Magnusson, p. 627).
When Charles arrived in France, he found himself as popular as a rock star today: "It is difficult now to appreciate the sensation his exploits both on campaign and in the heather had caused. 'He left France an adventurer and came back a hero,' was Bulkeley's comment. Without exaggeration, in October 1746 the prince was the most famous man in Europe" (McLynn-Charlie, p. 308).
But fame doesn't last forever. As long as the War of the Austrian Succession continued, Charles was a useful pawn for France. But the war ended in 1748. He was no longer any use to France -- and had gotten himself into a certain amount of trouble with women and with political intrigues. By the time the war ended, he had in fact already left for Spain. He would spend the next twenty years (until his father died in 1766) a wanderer, always scraping for cash, and never saw his father after he set out to lead the Forty-Five (Magnusson, p. 629).
And the Stuart family's famous ill luck was starting to re-emerge. James the Old Pretender's wife had left him only two children before dying of scurvy caused by her extreme asceticism (McLynn-Charlie, p. 45). The two were Charles and his younger brother Henry. And Henry turned out to be homosexual (McLynn-Charlie, p. 327; Kybett, pp. 297-298); he decided to take holy orders to avoid the idea of marriage, and rose to be a cardinal in 1747, while still in his twenties (Wilkinson, p. 227).
Charles was heterosexual but extremely clumsy with women (Wilkinson, p. 233; McLynn-Charlie, pp. 554-555, argues that his parents' marital problems and his mother's early death badly damaged his ability to understand the opposite sex. Magnusson, p. 528, notes his several affairs in his years in France, including several with married women, one of them a first cousin). In 1852 he summoned Clementina Walkinshaw (McLynn-Charlie, p. 422). "Their relationship lasted for nine tempestuous years, during which she bore him a daughter, Charlotte, whom Charles adored. He became insanely possessive over Clementina, and would beat her in his drunken rages. In 1760 she left him, taking Charlotte with her" (Magnusson, p. 629). The quarrels reportedly began a month after Charlotte was born; Wilkinson, p. 233. Charlotte was seven when Clementina took her from her father (Wilkinson, p. 234); she claiming that Charles was threatening her life (Cook, p. 423). She supposedly said that she would rather see Charlotte cut in pieces (as Solomon would have divided the child of the two prostitutes) than returned to Charles.
It made no dynastic difference. Marriage with Clementina never seemed to be part of Charles's plans; he wanted a royal wife (McLynn-Charlie, p. 327), and of course no king would waste his daughter on a pretender, and there were no available ruling queens for him to seduce. The Stuart line was on its way to extinction.
And it was an ugly end. By the time he reached his fifties, not even Kybett has to distort facts to make Charles look bad; he did it all by himself. At first, he tried to get the courts of Europe to give him support for another invasion of Britain (Wilkinson, p. 226), with no success. He tried to convince his father to imprison Lord George Murray on the grounds that he was a traitor. When both these plans failed, Charles went to seed, and got drunk and (eventually) fat.
After his father died, Charles finally started worrying about producing an heir. He had almost certainly waited too long. His glittering reputation was gone, and the nations of the world no longer even pretended to hope for a Jacobite restoration. Even the Vatican had given in and (for practical purposes) acknowledged the Hanoverian dynasty (Kybett, p. 313; Cook, p. 424) -- the Vatican at this time, rather than recognize Charles as King Charles III, offered to recognize him as Prince of Wales! (McLynn-Charlie, p. 481). Every other country had long since accepted George III, and George II before him, as King of England.
But someone finally turned up a possible spouse in Louise of Stolberg, "young, fair, gay, penniless, it is true, but claiming the blood of Bruce in her veins and eager to become a 'Queen.' She was one of a quartette of fatherless daughters, and her mother, who had been left a widow at twenty-five in straightened circumstances, was willing enough to range one of her brood by presenting her to a titular King. Indeed, if Louise failed to suit, Charles might have a younger child for a bride" (Cook, p. 424). "[Louise] seems to have made the sacrifice very willingly. The marriage was first performed by proxy at Paris [Charles was there, Louisa wasn't]... and [she] was formally united to him on Good Friday 1772" (Wilkinson, p. 236). Charles called her his "Queen of Hearts" (Magnusson, p. 629), and he may even have cut back on his drinking for a while -- but not for long.
Charles was 51 at this time, and "Louise was young, and she took lovers -- first Alfieri, then Gehegan, an Irishman. Charles, his suspicions aroused, broke into her room one day, and there was a disgraceful scene" (Wilkinson, p. 236). She never produced a child, however; I seem to recall reading somewhere that she is suspected of having been sterile.
Having given up on Louise, Charles tried to have Charlotte legitimized (Wilkinson, p. 237), making her Duchess of Albany, but, really, no one cared much. His claim to the English throne, such as it was, would pass to his brother Henry.
Wilkinson, p. 225, sums up the truth and the legend this way. "The great romantic tradition of which this simple-minded young man of action was the unconscious founder still lived and flourished under the trampling boots of the southern invaders, and was to burst into bloom half a century later, with a riot of music and song, idealist tartans, and impossible Floras, and a whole new springtime of romance, which we may sneer at if we like as early nineteenth century sentimentalism, but which is really a hard, imperishable growth.... From this point of view -- indeed, from any point of view -- the later period of Prince Charlie's life does not greatly matter. It is a perfectly sound popular instinct which thinks of him always as a young man, ignoring those weary, wasted, insignificant years. There is little to be gained from the contemplation of a man of action who has no longer anything to do."
Compared to the rest of his family, he had a short life -- possibly the result of his alcoholism. By 1786, he was in poor health (McLynn-Charlie, p. 548). He had a stroke early in 1788, and died on January 30 of that year at the age of 67 (McLynn-Charlie, p. 549), with his daughter by his side and his brother Henry administering the last rites of the church that he had earlier scorned and that had cost him his chance for a crown. His father, by contrast, lived to be 78, and Cardinal York, the titular Henry IX, died in 1807 at 82 -- by which time he was actually being given a pension by the English government (Kybett, p. 314)! -- possibly in return for making over some of the Sobieski gems to become part of the English crown jewels. On the other hand, Charlotte outlived her father by only a little more than a year, dying in late 1789 of what McLynn-Charlie, p. 550, describes as liver cancer.
I have read, somewhere, that Charlotte had no children, and even Kybett, p. 304, says that Charles was "not aware" of the existence of any grandchildren. But Kybett, on that same page, says that Charlotte, in the period when her father would have nothing to do with her, became the mistress of a French bishop, and had three illegitimate children -- a daughter Algae, born 1780; a daughter Marie, born 1782, and a son Charles Edward, born 1783. It was shortly after the birth of the latter that Charles and Charlotte were reconciled. Magnusson, p. 629, claims however that Charlotte had married (presumably making the children legitimate), but that she left them behind when Charles summoned her.
The fate of these children seems to have been sad. Their father does not seem to have done anything for them; their grandmother Clementina Walkinshaw, herself quite poor, cared for them until she died in 1802 (Kybett, p. 312). In any case, they were clearly illegitimate in terms of their descent from Charles. James the Old Pretender's claim to the throne lived only in Henry, and it died out when he died. Officially there is still a Catholic heir to the Stuarts out there (I seem to recall that it was the heir of one of the defunct Germany dynasties), but in practice the Jacobite threat, never very great, died with Charles in 1788.
Among the others mentioned in this song:
"Lochiel": Donald Cameron, Lochiel of Cameron (1695-1748, called the "Young Lochiel," even though he was middle-aged, because his father was in exile as a Jacobite); he was the first great chief to come to Charlie's support. He was wounded at Culloden, and, like Charles, would die in exile; the British would execute his brother.
Drummond: Probably the aforementioned Lord John Drummond, though it might be William MacGregor of Drummond (Bahaldy), like Lochiel an early supporter of Charlie, since the others mentioned were among the prince's earliest supporters.
Lewis Gordon was responsible for raising most of the troops from the Aberdeenshire area. For a song about him, see "Lewie Gordon (Lewis Gordon)."
As noted above, the argument these three presented was, in a sense, sound: The Highlanders would have been depressed and would have deserted had the Jacobite army retreated. You wonder, though, if they weren't motivated partly by the fear of British retribution.... - BS, RBW
Last updated in version 3.3
- Brander: Michael Brander, Scottish and Border Battles and Ballads, Barnes & Noble, 1993
- Browning: Reed Browning, The War of the Austrian Succession, 1993 (I use the 1995 St. Martin's Griffin edition)
- Cook: E. Thornton Cook, Their Majesties of Scotland, John Murray, 1928
- Dorn: Walter L. Dorn, Competition for Empire, 1740-1763 (part of the series "The Rise of Modern Europe"), 1940 (I use the 1963 Harper Torchbooks edition with revised bibliography)
- Fry/Fry: Peter and Fiona Somerset Fry, The History of Scotland, 1982 (I use the 1995 Barnes & Noble edition)
- James: Lawrence James, Warrior Race: A History of the British at War, 2001 (I use the 2002 Abacus Books edition)
- Penguin, 1988, 1990
- Keegan/Wheatcroft: John Keegan and Andrew Wheatcroft, Who's Who in Military History from 1453, 1976, 1987 (I use the 1991 Promotional Reprint Company edition)
- Kybett: Susan Maclean Kybett, Bonnie Prince Charlie: A Biography of Charles Edward Stuart, Dodd, Mead & Company, 1988. It should probably be noted that this is a highly unusual biography in that Kybett intensely dislikes and disapproves of her subject; where most biographies tend to take the most generous view of their subject, Kybett's work is almost a hatchet job -- the only other people I can think of who are so harshly treated by their biographers are Hitler and Richard III. (To give an example: Shortly before Culloden, the Jacobite leaders were treated to a banquet. Charles, according to some accounts, refused to eat while his men were starving. Kybett manages to put this in a context which makes it sound like an example of the Prince's lack of feeling!)
- Magnusson: Magnus Magnusson, Scotland: The Story of a Nation, Atlantic Monthly Press, 2000
- McLynn-Army: Frank McLynn, The Jacobite Army in England, 1745: The Final Campaign, John Donald, 1998
- McLynn-Charlie: Frank McLynn, Bonnie Prince Charlie: Charles Edward Stuart, 1988 (I use the 1991 Oxford paperback edition). Of the three biographies I used, this is the only one to see both good and bad qualities in Charles.
- Mitchison: Rosalind Mitchison, A History of Scotland, second edition, Methuen, 1982
- Reid: Stuart Reid, 1745: A Military History of the Last Jacobite Rising, Sarpedon, 1966
- Sinclair-Stevenson: Christopher Sinclair-Stevenson, Blood Royal: The Illustrious House of Hannover, Doubleday, 1979, 1980
- Thomson: Oliver Thomson, The Great Feud: The Campbells & The Macdonalds, Sutton Publishing, 2000
- Wilkinson: Clennell Wilkinson Bonnie Prince Charlie, Lippincott, no copyright listed but after 1932. Of the three biographies (Kybett, McLynn-Charlie, and Wilkinson), this is by far the one most favorable to the prince. It has clearly been influenced heavily by the romantic view of Charles.
- Young/Adair: Peter Young & John Adair, Hastings to Culloden: Battles of Britain, 1964, 1979; third edition published by Sutton Publishing, 1996
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