Tales of a Grandfather, by Walter Scott

Chapter 81

THE state of Scotland had materially changed during the absence of the Prince and his army upon the expedition to Derby; and the nation was now in the situation of one, who, having received a stunning blow, recovers at last from his stupor, and aims, though feebly and with uncertainty, at retaliating the injury which he has sustained. Inverness was in the hands of Lord Loudon, commanding an army composed of the MacLeods, MacDonalds of Skye, and other northern clans, who, to the number of two thousand men, had associated against the insurgents. The Earl of Loudon even felt himself strong enough to lay hands on Lord Lovat in his own castle, named Castle Downie, and brought him to Inverness, where he detained him in a sort of honourable captivity. Fraser of Gortuleg, one of his clansmen, relieved Lovat by a stratagem. The old chief, having made his escape, lurked in the Highlands, keeping up his correspondence with Charles Edward. The house of Gortuleg was Lovat’s chief residence. Matters in the North were, therefore, unfavourable to the Chevalier’s cause. The capital of Scotland was again in possession of the constituted authorities, garrisoned by a part of Marshal Wade’s army which had been sent down for the purpose, and preparing to redeem, by a more obstinate resistance to the Highlanders upon their return from England, the hononr which they might be supposed to have lost by their surrender in the September preceding. This spirit of resistance had reached the Western Border, where reports were generally disseminated that the Chevalier and his forces had been defeated in England, and were now flying across the Border in such extreme confusion, that the militia and volunteers of the country would have little trouble in totally destroying them. For this purpose, many of the peasants of Dumfriesshire had assumed arms, but — they showed little inclination to use them, when they saw the Chevalier’s army return in complete order, and unbroken in strength or spirit.

The Highland army, after crossing the river Esk, was divided into three bodies. The first, consisting of the clans, moved with the Chevalier to Annan. Lord George Murray was ordered to Ecclefechan with the Athole brigade and Lowland regiments. Lord Elcho, with the cavalry, received orders to go to Dumfries, and to disarm and punish that refractory town. The Prince himself shortly followed with the infantry, which he commanded in person.

Dumfries’s ancient contumacy to the Jacobite cause had been manifested, not only by their conduct in the year 1715, but by a recent attack upon the Chevalier’s baggage, as he marched into England in the November preceding. The horse marched thither accordingly, with purposes of vengeance, and were speedily followed by the Prince’s own division. He laid a fine of L.2000 upon the town, and demanded, for the use of the army, 1000 pairs of shoes. Some of the money required was instantly paid down, and for the rest hostages were granted. No violence was committed on the town or inhabitants, for the Highlanders, though they threatened hard,1 did not, in fact, commit any violence or pillage.

The magistrates and community of Glasgow were yet more guilty in the eyes of the Prince than those of the smaller town of Dumfries. That city had raised a body of 600 men, called the Glasgow regiment, many of them serving without pay, under the command of the Earls of Home and Glencairn. This corps had been sent to Stirling to assist General Blakeny, the governor of the castle, to defend the passes of the Forth. From Stirling, the Glasgow regiment fell back with the other troops which had assembled there, and took post at Edinburgh. This was with a view to the defence of the capital, since the Highlanders, having bent their march to the westward, were likely to pay Edinburgh the next visit.

While the citizens of the capital were suffering from the apprehension of the neighbourhood of the rebels, those of Glasgow were paying the actual penalty attached to their presence. Clothing for the troops, and stores, were demanded from the town to the extent of more than L.10, 000 sterling, which they were compelled to pay, under the threat of military execution.

At Glasgow, the Prince learned, for the first time with some accuracy, the extent of the interest which France had taken in his cause, and the supplies of every kind which she had sent to him; supplies which, in amount, remind us of those administered to a man perishing of famine, by a comrade, who dropt into his mouth, from time to time, a small shell-fish, affording nutriment enough to keep the sufferer from dying, but not sufficient to restore him to the power of active exertion. The principal part of these succours came under Lord John Drummond, brother to the Duke of Perth, and a general officer in the army of France. They consisted of his own regiment in the French service, called the Royal Scots; the picquets of six Irish regiments; and Fitz–James’s light horse. Of the latter, not more than two squadrons appear to have mustered. He also brought some money and military stores. Lord John Drummond had been intrusted with letters from France, giving an account how matters had been conducted there, and what was designed for the assistance of the Chevalier. Charles’s brother, the titular Duke of York, had arrived at Paris in August, 1745, and, on the news of the battle of Preston, there had originated a sincere desire on the part of the French to assist the attempt of the House of Stewart effectually.

The original plan was, to put the Irish regiments in the French service under the command of the said Duke of York, and place them on board of fishing-boats, which should instantly transport them to England. This scheme was laid aside, and a much greater expedition projected, under the command of the Duke of Richelieu, which it was designed should amount to 9000 foot, and 1350 horse. The troops were assembled for this purpose at Dunkirk, Boulogne, and Calais, and a number of small vessels were collected for the embarkation. The French, however, were so dilatory in their preparations, that the design took air, and the English Government, to whom the expedition, had it sailed during the time of Charles’s irruption into the West frontier, must have been highly dangerous, instantly ordered Admiral Vernon, with a strong fleet, into the Channel, and assembled an army on the coast of Kent and Essex. Upon this, the French abandoned the expedition, the danger of which was greatly diminished by the retreat of the Highlanders from Derby. The Prince did not, for a long time, either hear or believe that this scheme, of a descent in favour of his family, was ultimately abandoned; and his confidence that the French continued to persevere in it, led him into more than one serious mistake. It was now agitated among the Prince and his adherents, in which way his small body of forces could be best employed. Some were of opinion, that they ought to direct their march upon the capital of Scotland. It is true, that part of the troops which had constituted Wade’s army at Newcastle were now preparing to defend Edinburgh, and that the rest of those forces were advancing thither under the command of General Hawley. It was nevertheless alleged, that the Highlanders might, in this severe season, distress the English troops considerably, by preventing them from dividing in their winter march in quest of quarters, and by obliging them to keep the field in a body, and undergo hardships which would be destructive to them, though little heeded by the hardy mountaineers. But although this scheme promised considerable advantages, Charles preferred another, which engaged him in the siege of Stirling castle, although his best troops were very unequal to that species of service. The Prince was, no doubt, the rather inclined to this scheme, that Lord John Drummond had brought both battering guns and engineers from France; and, thus supplied, he probably imagined that his success in sieges would be equally distinguished with that which he had attained by open war.

Before leaving the west country, the Highlanders burnt and plundered the village of Lesmahago, and particularly the clergyman’s house, on account of the inhabitants having, under that reverend person’s direction, attacked and made prisoner MacDonald of Kinloch–Moidart, who was traversing the country unattended, having been sent by the Prince on a mission to the Western Isles.

On the 3d of January, Prince Charles Edward evacuated Glasgow, and fixed his headquarters on the following day at the house of Bannockburn, while his troops occupied St Ninian’s, and other villages in the neighbourhood of Stirling. The town was summoned, and not being effectually fortified, was surrendered by the magistrates, although there were about six hundred militia within it. Some of these left the place, and others retired to the castle, where there lay a good garrison under General Blakney, a brave and steady officer. Having summoned this fortress, and received a resolute refusal to surrender, the Chevalier resolved to open trenches without delay; and having brought him to this resolution, we will resume the narrative of what had happened in the north of Scotland, and also in England, that you may understand what new actors had now come upon this eventful stage. The arrival of Lord John Drummond at Montrose, already noticed, with his French forces, gave additional courage to Lord Lewis Gordon, who was levying men and money in Aberdeenshire in behalf of Prince Charles. He was brother of the Duke of Gordon, a brave and active young man, but had in the beginning seemed uncertain which side to take in the civil turmoil. At first he is said to have offered his service to Sir John Cope on his way northward. But Lord Lewis received little encouragement; and affronted, it was supposed, with the neglect shown him by the commander-inchief, he finally embraced the cause of the Chevalier, and acted for him in Aberdeenshire, where his family interest, and the Jacobite propensity of the country gentlemen, gave him much influence. Thus strengthened, Lord Lewis was now joined by one part of Lord John Drummond’s auxiliaries, while the rest were sent to Perth to unite with Lord Strathallan, who, as we have seen, commanded in that city a considerable Highland reinforcement, destined to follow their countrymen into England had the Prince’s command been obeyed.

Lord Loudon, who, on the part of the Government, commanded at Inverness, was desirous to put a stop to the progress of Lord Lewis Gordon. For this purpose he despatched MacLeod, with 450 of his own men, and 200 Monros, and other volunteers, commanded by Monro of Culcairn. With these he advanced as far as Inverury, about ten miles from Aberdeen, to dispute with the Jacobite leader the command of the north or Scotland. On receiving intelligence of their approach, Lord Lewis Gordon got 750 under arms, chiefly Lowland men of Aberdeen shire, under Moir of Stonywood, and Farquharson of Monaltry, with a proportion of the Royal Scots regiment, and hastened against the enemy. MacLeod was nearly surprised, having sent many of his men to billet at a distance from the little town of Inverury. He had, however, time to get those who remained with him under arms, and to take possession of the most defensible parts of the town, when Lord Lewis Gordon marched in at the other end of the place, and a sharp action of musketry commenced. It was remarkable on, this occasion, that the Islesmen, who appeared on the part of Government, were all Highlanders, in their proper garb and that the greater part of those who fought for the Stewarts wore the Lowland dress, being the reverse of what was usually the case in the civil war. Lord Lewis Gordon, however, made his attack with much spirit — the firing continued severe on both sides — at length the Aberdeenshire men made a show of rushing to close combat, and the MacLeods gave way, and retreated or fled. As the battle was fought at night, the pursuit did not continue far, or cost much bloodshed. The MacLeods fled as far as Forres, having lost about forty of their men. It was generally believed of that martial clan, that they would have behaved with more steadiness if they had been fighting on the other side. Lord Lewis Gordon after this success, which he obtained on the 23d of December, marched his men to join the general rendezvous of Charles Edward’s reinforcements, which was held at Perth. There were thus assembled at Perth, the Frasers, the MacKenzies, the MacIntoshes, and the Farquharsons, all which clans had joined the cause since the Prince left Edinburgh; there were also the various forces raised by Lord Lewis Gordon, together with the regiments of Royal Scots and French picquets, which had come over with Lord John Drummond: their number, taken altogether, might amount to 4000 men and upwards-of whom more than one-half were as good Highlanders as any in the Prince’s service. These reinforcements had, you may remember, received an order from Prince Charles, by the hand of Colonel MacLachlan, to follow the army up to England. The Highlanders lying at Perth were unanimously disposed to follow their Prince and countrymen, and to share their fate. Lord Strathallan, on the other hand, supported by the Lowland and French officers, demurred to obeying this order. The parties were considerably irritated against each other on this occasion, and the dispute was not ended until the return of the Prince from England, when an order was transmitted from Dumfries, summoning the body of men in Perth to join the Prince at Stirling.

By this junction, the adventurer’s force was augmented to about 9000 men, being the largest number which he ever united under his command. With this, as we have already said” Charles formed the siege of the castle of Stirling. He opened trenches before the fortress on the 10th of January, 1746, but was soon interrupted in his operations by the approach of a formidable enemy. We must now turn our eyes to a different quarter, and remark what measures the English Government were taking for putting an end to the present disturbances.

The Duke of Cumberland, whom we left after the skirmish at Clifton, did not renew his attempt upon the rear of the Highland army. But they had no sooner crossed the Esk than he formed the investment of Carlisle, in which the Highlanders had left a garrison of about 300 men. They refused to surrender to the Duke’s summons, conceiving, probably, which seems to have been the idea of Charles himself, that the Duke of Cumberland had no battering cannon at his command; there were such, however, at Whitehaven, and he sent to obtain the use of them. They were placed on two batteries, the one commanding the English and the other the Scottish, or North gate. The governor of the place, upon a breach being made, although not yet practicable, sent out a white flag, demanding what terms would be allowed to the garrison. They were informed, in reply, that if they surrendered at discretion, they should not be put to the sword. These were the only conditions of the surrender, the garrison being understood to be reserved for the king’s pleasure. Colonel Townley, the commander of the Manchester Regiment, was here made prisoner, with about twenty of his officers, and one Mr Cappoch, a clergyman, who was designed by the Prince to be Bishop of Carlisle. Governor Hamilton, with about 100 Scottish men, also surrendered, as did Geohagan and other Irish officers in the French service. The melancholy fate of the gentlemen included in this surrender might have been so easily foreseen, that the Chevalier was severely censured for leaving so many faithful adherents in a situation which necessarily exposed them to fall into the power of the government which they had offended in his behalf. The defence of the measure is, that, conceiving he might be presently recalled to England to aid a descent of the French, he deemed it essential to hold Carlisle as a gate into that country. But to this it may be replied, that, by blowing up the fortifications of Carlisle, and dismantling the Castle, he might have kept that entrance at all times open without leaving a garrison in so precarious a situation.

On December the 31st, the Duke of Cumberland entered Carlisle on horseback, and presently after received the congratulations of deputies, not only from every place in the neighbourhood, but from Edinburgh itself, to congratulate him upon the advantages which he had obtained over the rebels.

In the mean time, the Duke’s pursuit of the Highlanders in person was interrupted by despatches which called him to London, to be ready to take the command against the projected invasion from France. The greater part of the infantry, which had been lately under his command, when his headquarters were at Litchfield, was now marched to the coasts of Kent and Sussex, being the readiest force at hand in case the descent should actually take place. It was at the same time, however, resolved, that such part of the Duke’s army (being chiefly cavalry) as had followed him to the neighbourhood of Carlisle, should continue their march northward, and. unite themselves with the troops which had long lain at Newcastle under the command of Field-marshal Wade. This aged officer had not been alert in his movements during the winter campaign, particularly in his march for the relief of Carlisle, and was therefore removed from his command.

General Henry Hawley was in the mean time named by the Duke of Cumberland to the command of the forces destined to follow the Highland army. Hawley was an officer of military experience, but dreaded and disliked by the soldiers, as a man of a severe and even savage disposition; and, although personally brave, yet of a temper more fitted to obey than to command. This general had been a lieutenant in Evans’s dragoons at the battle of Sheriffmuir, and as he fought in the right wing of the Duke of Argyle’s army, he had seen the success of the cavalry when engaged with Highlanders. This experience had given him a poor opinion of the latter force, and he had frequently been heard to impute the miscarriage of General Cope to that officer’s cowardice and want of conduct, and to affirm that a very different result might be expected from an encounter betwixt Highlanders and dragoons, when the last were properly led on to action.

With these feelings of confidence in himself, and with that experience of the Highland mode of fighting which his campaign in 1715 was supposed to have given him, General Hawley marched into Scotland at the head of a force which, when joined by the troops already at Edinburgh, amounted to 8000 men, two-thirds of whom were veterans. The rest consisted of upwards of a thousand Argyleshire men, commanded by Colonel Campbell (afterwards Duke of Argyle), and of the Glasgow regiment, to the amount of 600 men. There also joined, from Yorkshire, a body of volunteer light horse, called the Yorkshire Hunters, who were in arms for the House of Hanover and the established government.

Hawley, on arriving in Edinburgh, gave a specimen of his disposition, by directing gibbets to be erected, as an indication of the fate of the rebels who should fall into his hands; a preparation designed to strike terror, but which rather inspired aversion and hatred. The time was speedily approaching when such vaunts were to be made good by action. General Hawley, at the head of such a gallant force as he now commanded, conceived himself fully able to march towards Stirling, and attack the rebels, who were engaged in the siege of the castle. Having, accordingly, directed his forces to move in two divisions, the first marched from Edinburgh on the 13th of January, under the orders of General Huske, Hawley’s second in command. This gentleman was of sounder judgment and better temper than his superior officer; he had formerly been quartered in Scotland, and was well known and esteemed by many of the inhabitants. The Highland army, lying before Stirling, were regularly apprised of the movements of the enemy. Upon the 13th of January, Lord George Murray, who lay at Falkirk, obtained intelligence that the people of the neighbouring town of Linlithgow had received orders from Edinburgh to prepare provisions and forage for a body of troops who were instantly to advance in that direction. Lord George, made aware of Hawley’s intention, resolved to move with a sufficient force and disappoint these measures, by destroying or carrying off the provisions which should be collected in obedience to the requisition.

The Jacobite general marched to Linlithgow, accordingly, with the three MacDonaId regiments, those of Appin and of Cluny, and the horse, commanded by Elcho and Pitsligo. Parties of the cavalry were despatched to patrol on the road to Edinburgh for intelligence. About noon, the patrolling party sent back information that they perceived a small body of dragoons, being the advance of General Huske’s division, which, as I have stated, marched from Edinburgh that morning. Lord George sent orders to the patrol to drive the dragoons who had shown themselves back upon the main body, if they had one, and not to retire until they saw themselves in danger of being overpowered. In the mean time, he drew up the infantry in line of battle in front of the town of Linlithgow. Lord Elcho, according to his orders, drove back the advanced party of horse upon a detachment of sixty dragoons, and then forced the whole to retire upon a village in which there were masses both of horse and foot. Having thus reconnoitred close up to the main body of the enemy, Lord Elcho sent to acquaint Lord George Murray what force he had in his front, so far as he could discern, and received orders to retreat, leaving a small corps of observation. It was not Lord George’s purpose to engage an enemy whose strength, obviously considerable, was unknown to him; he therefore determined to remain in Linlithgow until the enemy arrived very near the town, and then to make his retreat in good order. This object he accomplished accordingly; and, on his repassing the bridge, there was so little distance betwixt the advanced guard of general Huske’s division and the rear-guard of Lord George Murray’s, that abusive language was exchanged between them, though without any actual violence. Lord George continued his retreat to Falkirk, where he halted for that night. On the next day, he again retreated to the villages in the vicinity of Bannockburn, where he learned that general Huske, with half the Government army, had arrived at Falkirk, and that general Hawley had also arrived there on the 16th, with the second division; that besides his regular troops, he was joined by 1000 Highlanders, followers of the Argyle family, and that they seemed determined upon battle.

Upon the 15th and 16th of January, the Chevalier, leaving 1000 or 1200 men under Gordon of Glenbucket, to protect the trenches and continue the blockade of Stirling castle, drew up his men in a plain about a mile to the east of Bannockburn, expecting an attack. His horse reconnoitred close to the enemy’s camp, but saw no appearance of advance. On the 17th, the same manoeuvre was repeated, the Highland army being drawn up on the same open ground near Bannockburn, while that of the Government remained in Falkirk, totally inactive.

The cause of this inactivity is stated to have been the contempt which General Hawley entertained for the enemy, and his unhesitating belief, that, far from venturing on any offensive movement, the insurgents were upon the point of dispersing themselves, from the dread of his approach. It is moreover said, that General Hawley, having felt the influence of the wit and gaiety of the Countess of Kilmarnock (whose husband was in the Prince’s army), had been unable to resist her ladyship’s invitation to Callander house, and that he had resided there from the time of his arrival in Falkirk on the 16th until the afternoon of the 17th of January, old style, with less attention to the army which be commanded than became an old soldier. In the mean time, rougher cheer was preparing for him than he probably experienced at Callander.

The Highlanders, holding a council of war on the field where they rendezvoused, had determined, since the English General did not move forward to fight them, that they would save him the trouble by an immediate advance on their side. There were only about seven miles between the two armies; and General Hawley, with a carelessness very unbecoming a veteran officer, appears to have sent out no patrols from his camp. This gave the insurgents an opportunity of trying a stratagem, which proved eminently successful. It was determined that Lord John Drummond, with his own regiment, the Irish picquets, and all the cavalry of the rebel army, should advance upon the straight road leading from Stirling and Bannockburn towards Falkirk. They were also to carry with them the royal standard, and other colours, of which they were to make a display in front of the decayed forest called the Torwood. This march and position of Lord John Drummond was, however, only designed as a feint, to persuade the King’s army that the whole rebel force was advancing in that quarter.

Mean while, Lord George Murray, making a circuit by the south side of the Torwood, had crossed the river Carron near Dunnipace, and was advancing to the southward of the high ground called Falkirk Moor, then an open and unenclosed common, swelling into a considerable ridge or eminence, which lay on the westward, and to the left of the royal camp. General Huske, who, as we have said, was second in command, was first aware of the approach of the enemy. About eleven o’clock Lord John Drummond’s division was visible from the camp, and, as had been designed, attracted exclusive attention, till about two hours later, when General Huske, by information, and by the aid of spy-glasses, descried the approach of Lord George Murray’s division, from which the real attack was to be apprehended. But though Huske saw the danger, General Hawley, whose task it peculiarly was to apply the remedy, was still at Callander-house. In this dilemma, the second in command formed the line of battle in front of the camp, but, in the absence of his superior officer, he had it not in his power to direct any movement either towards the division of Highlanders which kept the road, under Lord John Drummond, or against that which was ascending the heights to the left, under the command of Lord George Murray. The regiments remained on their ground in wonder, impatience, and anxiety, waiting for orders, and receiving none. Hawley, however, at length caught the alarm. He suddenly appeared in front of the camp, and, ordering the whole line to advance, placed himself at the head of three regiments of dragoons, drew his sword, and led them at a rapid pace up the hill called Falkirk moor, trusting, by a rapid movement, to anticipate the Highlanders, who were pressing on towards the same point from the opposite side of the eminence.

In the mean time, that part of the Highland army which was designed to possess themselves of the heights, marched on in three divisions, keeping along the moor in such a manner, that first the thickets of the Torwood, and afterwards the acclivity of the ground, hid them in some measure from Hawley’s camp. In this movement they kept their columns parallel to the ridge; and when they had proceeded as far in this direction as was necessary to gain room for their formation, each column wheeled up and formed in line of battle, in which they proceeded to ascend the eminence. The first line consisted of the clans — the MacDonalds having the right and the Camerons the left; in the second line, the Athole brigade had the right, Lord Lewis Gordon’s Aberdeenshire men the left, and Lord Ogilvie’s regiment the centre; the third line, or reserve, was weak in numbers, chiefly consisting of cavalry, and the Irish picquets. It may be remarked, that Lord John Drummond, who made the feint, remained with his troops on the high-road until the whole of the other division had passed the Carron, and then fell into the rear, and joined the cavalry who were with the Prince, thus reinforcing the third line of the army.

When Hawley set off with his three regiments of dragoons, the infantry of the King’s army followed in line of battle, having six battalions in the first line, and the same number in the second. Howard’s regiment marched in the rear, and formed a small body of reserve.

At the moment that the Highlanders were pressing up Falkirk moor on the one side, the dragoons, who had advanced briskly, had gained the eminence, and displayed a line of horse occupying about as much ground as one half of the first line of the Chevalier’s army. The Highlanders, however, were in high spirits, and their natural ardour was still farther increased at the sight of the enemy. They kept their ranks, and advanced at a prodigious rate towards the ridge occupied by Hawley’s three regiments. The dragoons, having in vain endeavoured to stop this movement of the clans towards them by one or two feints, resolved at length to make a serious attack, while they still retained the advantage of the higher ground. Their first movement was to take the enemy in flank, but the MacDonalds, who were upon the right of the whole Highland line, inclined to a morass, which effectually disconcerted that scheme; the dragoons then came on in front at a full trot, with their sabres drawn, to charge the Highlanders, who were still advancing. The clans, seeing the menaced charge, reserved their fire as resolutely as could have been done by the steadiest troops in Europe, until Lord George Murray, who was in front, and in the centre of the line, presented his own fusee within about ten yards of the cavalry. On this signal they gave a general discharge, so close, and so well levelled, that the dragoons were completely broken. Some few made their way through the first line of the Highlanders, but were for the most part slain by those in the second line. About 400 fell, either man or horse being killed or wounded. The greater part went to the right in complete disorder, and fled along the front of the Highland line, who poured a destructive fire on them, by which many fell.

This defeat of the cavalry began the battle bravely on the part of the insurgents, but they had nearly paid dear for their success. At the instant when the attack commenced, a violent storm of wind and rain came on, which blew straight in the faces or the King’s troops, and greatly disconcerted them. Lord George Murray called to the MacDonalds to stand fast, and not to regard the flying horsemen, but keep their ranks, and reload. It was in vain. The Highlanders, in their usual manner, rushed on sword in hand, and dropt their muskets. Their left wing, at the same moment, fell furiously sword in hand upon the right and centre of Hawley’s foot, broke them, and put them to flight; but the lines of the contending armies not being exactly parallel, the extreme right of Hawley’s first line stretched considerably beyond the left of the Highlanders. Three regiments, Price’s, Ligonier’s, and Burrell’s, on the extreme flank, stood fast, with the greater advantage, that they had a ravine in front which prevented the Highlanders from attacking them sword in hand, according to their favourite mode of fighting. These corps gallantly maintained this natural fortification, and by repeated and steady firing repulsed the Highlanders from the opposite side of the ravine. One of the three routed regiments of dragoons, called Cobham’s, rallied in the rear of this body of infantry who stood firm; the other two, being the same which had been at Preston, did not behave better, and could not well behave worse, than they had done on that memorable occasion. The battle was now in a singular state; “ both armies,” says Mr Home, “ were in flight at the same time.” Hawley’s cavalry, and most of his infantry, excepting those on his extreme right, had been completely thrown into confusion and routed, but the three regiments which continued fighting had a decided advantage over the Prince’s left, and many Highlanders fled under the impression that the day was lost.

The advantage, upon the whole, was undeniably with Charles Edward; but from the want of discipline among the troops he commanded, and the extreme severity of the tempest, it became difficult even to learn the extent of the victory, and impossible to follow it up. The Highlanders were in great disorder. Almost all the second line were mixed and in confusion,-the victorious right had no idea, from the darkness of the weather, what had befallen the left,-nor were there any mounted generals or aides-decamp, who might have discovered with certainty what was the position of affairs. In the mean time, the English regiments which had been routed fled down the hill in great confusion, both cavalry and infantry, towards the camp and town of Falkirk.1 General Huske brought up the rear of a very disorderly retreat, or flight, with the regiments who had behaved so well on the right; this he effected in good order, with drums beating and colours flying. Cobham’s dragoons, such at least who had rallied, also retreated in tolerable order. General Hawley felt no inclination to remain in the camp which he had taken possession of with such an affectation of anticipated triumph. He caused the tents to be set on fire, and withdrew his confused and dismayed followers to Linlithgow,2 and from thence the next day retreated to Edinburgh, with his forces in a pitiable state of disarray and perturbation. The Glasgow regiment of volunteers fell into the power of the rebels upon this occasion, and were treated with considerable rigour; for the Highlanders were observed to be uniformly disposed to severity against those voluntary opponents, who, in their opinion, were not like the regular soldiers, called upon by duty to take part in the contention. Many valuable lives were lost in this battle; about twenty officers and four or five hundred privates were slain, on the part of General Hawley; and several prisoners were made, of whom the greater part were sent to Doune castle. The loss of the rebels was not considerable; and they had only one made prisoner, but in a manner rather remarkable. A Highland officer, a brother of MacDonald of Keppoch, had seized upon a trooper’s horse and mounted him, without accurately considering his own incapacity to manage the animal. When the horse heard the kettle-drums beat to rally the dragoons, the instinct of discipline prevailed, and in spite of the efforts of his rider, he galloped with all speed to his own regiment. The Highlander, finding himself in this predicament, endeavoured to pass himself for an officer of the Campbell regiment, but being detected was secured; and although the ludicrous manner in which he was taken might have pleaded for some compassion, he was afterwards executed as a traitor.

The defeat at Falkirk struck consternation and terror into all parts of Britain. The rebellion had been regarded as ended when the Highlanders left England, and Hawley’s own assertions had prepared all the nation to expect tidings very different from those which were to be gathered from the disastrous appearance of his army, and the humiliating confession of his own looks and demeanour. There were more visages rendered blank and dismayed by the unexpected event of the battle of Falkirk, than that of the unfortunate general. Throughout the whole civil war, those of the better ranks in England had shown themselves more easily exalted and depressed, than consisted with their usual reputation for steadiness. In the march upon Derby, they might have been said to be more afraid than the nature of the danger warranted, were it not that the peril chiefly consisted in the very stupor which it inspired. After the retreat had commenced, the hopes and spirit of the nation rose again to spring-tide, as if nothing farther were to be apprehended from a band of men so desperately brave, who had already done so much with such little means. The news of the defeat at Falkirk, therefore, were received with general alarm; and at court, during a levee held immediately after the battle, only two persons appeared with countenances unmarked by signs of perturbation. These were, George the Second himself, who, whatever may have been his other foibles, had too much of the lion about him to be afraid; and Sir John Cope, who was radiant with joy at the idea that Hawley’s misfortune or misconduct was likely to efface his own from the public recollection.

No person was now thought of sufficient consequence to be placed at the head of the army, but the Duke of Cumberland, who was, therefore, appointed to the chief command. His Royal Highness set off from St James’s on the 25th of January, 1746, attended by Lord Cathcart, Lord Bury, Colonel Conway, and Colonel York, his aides-decamp. His arrival at Holyrood House restored the drooping” spirits of the members of the government. To the army, also, the arrival of the commander-inchief was very acceptable, not only from a reliance on his talents, but as his presence put a stop to a course of cruel punishments instituted by General Hawley, who had invoked the assistance of the gibbet and the scourge to rectify a disaster, which had its principal source, perhaps, in his own want of military skill. The Duke’s timely arrival at Edinburgh saved the lives of two dragoons who were under sentence of death, and rescued others who were destined to inferior punishments, many of which had already taken place. The army which the Duke commanded consisted of twelve squadrons of horse and fourteen battalions of infantry; but several of them had suffered much in the late action, and the whole were far from being complete. Every effort had, however, been made, to repair the losses which had taken place on Falkirk moor; and it may be said, the Duke of Cumberland was at the head of as gallant and well-furnished an army as ever took the field. Hawley, who was a personal favourite with the King, continued to act as lieutenant-general under the Duke; and Lord Albemarle held the same situation. The major-generals were Bland, Huske, Lord Semple, and Brigadier Mordaunt.

In a council of war held at Edinburgh, it was resolved that the troops should march the next morning towards Stirling, in order to raise the siege of the castle, and give battle to the rebels, if they should dare to accept of it, under better auspices than that of Falkirk. Great pains had been taken, in previous general orders, to explain to the common soldiers the mode in which the Highlanders fought — a passage so curious, that I shall extract it from the orderly-book for your amusement. Perhaps the most comfortable part of the instructions might be the assurance, that there were but few true Highlanders in the Prince’s army.

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/s/scott/walter/tales-of-a-grandfather/chapter81.html

Last updated Wednesday, March 5, 2014 at 22:29