Battle of Culloden

Battle of Culloden
Part of the Jacobite rising of 1745
The Battle of Culloden.jpg
An incident in the rebellion of 1745, by David Morier
Date16 April 1746
LocationCulloden, east of Inverness
ResultDecisive government victory
End of Jacobite rising
Kingdom of Great Britain Great Britain Jacobites
Commanders and leaders
Duke of CumberlandCharles Edward Stuart
10 guns
6 mortars
12 guns
Casualties and losses
240–400 killed[2]
1,000 wounded[2]
1,500–2,000 killed or wounded[2][3]
154 captured[2]
222 captured[2]

The Battle of Culloden (ən/;[4] Scottish Gaelic: Blàr Chùil Lodair) was the final confrontation of the Jacobite rising of 1745. On 16 April 1746, the Jacobite forces of Charles Edward Stuart were decisively defeated by Hanoverian forces commanded by William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland, near Inverness in the Scottish Highlands.

Queen Anne, the last monarch of the House of Stuart, died in 1714, with no living children. Under the terms of the Act of Settlement 1701, she was succeeded by her second cousin George I of the House of Hanover, who was a descendant of the Stuarts through his maternal grandmother, Elizabeth, a daughter of James VI and I. The Hanoverian victory at Culloden halted the Jacobite intent to overthrow the House of Hanover and restore the House of Stuart to the British throne; Charles Stuart never again tried to challenge Hanoverian power in Great Britain. The conflict was the last pitched battle fought on British soil.[5]

Charles Stuart's Jacobite army consisted largely of Catholics and Scottish Episcopalians – mainly Scots but with a small detachment of Englishmen from the Manchester Regiment. The Jacobites were supported and supplied by the Kingdom of France from Irish and Scots units in French service. A composite battalion of infantry ("Irish Irish Picquets"), comprising detachments from each of the regiments of the Irish Brigade plus one squadron of Irish in the French army, served at the battle alongside the regiment of Royal Scots (Royal Écossais) raised the previous year to support the Stuart claim.[6] The British Government (Hanoverian loyalist) forces were mostly Protestants – English, along with a significant number of Scottish Lowlanders and Highlanders, a battalion of Ulstermen, some Hessians from Prussia,[7] and Austrians.[8] The quick and bloody battle on Culloden Moor was over in less than an hour, when after an unsuccessful Highland charge against the government lines, the Jacobites were routed and driven from the field.

Between 1,500 and 2,000 Jacobites were killed or wounded in the brief battle.[2][3] In contrast, only about 300 government soldiers were killed or wounded.[2]

The battle and its aftermath continue to arouse strong feelings: the University of Glasgow awarded the Duke of Cumberland an honorary doctorate, but many modern commentators allege that the aftermath of the battle and subsequent crackdown on Jacobitism were brutal, and earned Cumberland the sobriquet "Butcher". Efforts were subsequently made to further integrate the comparatively wild Scottish Highlands into the Kingdom of Great Britain; civil penalties were introduced to weaken Gaelic culture and undermine the Scottish clan system.


Jacobite banner showing the Latin motto Tandem Triumphans. (The motto, meaning 'At last, Triumphant', was said to have been added after the events at Glenfinnan).

Charles Edward Stuart, known as "Bonnie Prince Charlie" or the "Young Pretender", arrived in Scotland in 1745 to incite a rebellion of Stuart sympathizers against the House of Hanover. He successfully raised forces, mainly of Scottish Highland clansmen, and slipped past the Hanoverian stationed in Scotland and defeated a force of militiamen at the Battle of Prestonpans. The city of Edinburgh was occupied, but the castle held out and most of the Scottish population remained hostile to the rebels; others, while sympathetic, were reluctant to lend overt support to a movement whose chances were unproven. The British Government recalled forces from the war with France in Flanders to deal with the rebellion.

After a lengthy wait, Charles persuaded his generals that English Jacobites would stage an uprising in support of his cause. He was convinced that France would launch an invasion of England as well. His army of around 5,000 invaded England on 8 November 1745. They advanced through Carlisle and Manchester to Derby and a position where they appeared to threaten London. It is often alleged that King George II made plans to decamp to Hanover, but there is no evidence for this and the King is on record as stating that he would lead the troops against the rebels himself if they approached London. (George had experience at the head of an army: in 1743 he had led his soldiers to victory at the Battle of Dettingen, becoming the last British monarch to lead troops into battle.[9]) The Jacobites met only token resistance. There was, however, little support from English Jacobites, and the French invasion fleet was still being assembled. The armies of Field Marshal George Wade and of William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland, were approaching. In addition to the militia, London was defended by nearly 6,000 infantry, 700 horse and 33 artillery pieces and the Jacobites received false reports of a third army closing on them. The Jacobite general, Lord George Murray, and the Council of War insisted on returning to join their growing force in Scotland. On 6 December 1745, they withdrew, with Charles Edward Stuart leaving command to Murray.

On the long march back to Scotland, the Highland Army wore out its boots and demanded all the boots and shoes of the townspeople of Dumfries, as well as money and hospitality. The Jacobites reached Glasgow on 25 December. There they reprovisioned, having threatened to sack the city, and were joined by a few thousand additional men. They then defeated the forces of General Henry Hawley at the Battle of Falkirk Muir. The Duke of Cumberland arrived in Edinburgh on 30 January to take over command of the government army from General Hawley. He then marched north along the coast, with the army being supplied by sea. Six weeks were spent at Aberdeen training.

The King's forces continued to pressure Charles. He retired north, losing men and failing to take Stirling Castle or Fort William. But he invested Fort Augustus and Fort George in Inverness-shire in early April. Charles then took command again, and insisted on fighting a defensive action.

Hugh Rose of Kilravock entertained Charles and the Duke of Cumberland respectively on 14 and 15 April 1746, before the Battle of Culloden. Charles' manners and deportment were described by his host as most engaging. Having walked out with Rose, before sitting down he watched trees being planted. He remarked, "How happy, Sir, you must feel, to be thus peaceably employed in adorning your mansion, whilst all the country round is in such commotion." Kilravock was a firm supporter of the house of Hanover, but his adherence was not solicited, nor were his preferences alluded to. The next day, the Duke of Cumberland called at the castle gate, and when Kilravock went to receive him, he bluffly observed, "So you had my cousin Charles here yesterday." Kilravock replied, "What am I to do, I am Scots", to which Cumberland replied, "You did perfectly right."

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