The Battle of Culloden


The Battle of Culloden

The final clash of the Jacobites and Hanoverians on April 16, 1746 was the last battle to be fought on mainland Britain. The Jacobites, led by Bonnie Prince Charlie, believed that his father had a claim to the throne. The Hanoverian army was led by the Duke of Cumberland, son of King George II.

The Jacobites had won small victories and were in a position to threaten London. Fearing lack of support, they withdrew back to Scotland, a move that may have cost them victory. They re-provisioned and won the Battle of Falkirk. Meanwhile, Cumberland's army trained for the upcoming battle.

Cumberland's army of nearly 9000 reached Nairn on April 14th. The 5400 Jacobites headed for Drummossie. The Jacobites tried a night attack on the Hanoverians on the 15th, but came up short and were forced to turn back.

April 16th was a cold day with strong gale winds. The Jacobites formed 2 lines in preparation for the approaching Hanoverians. Cumberland's troops formed 3 lines, then thinned to 2. The Jacobites fired first, but had little impact.

Cumberland's artillery knocked down the Jacobites, waiting for Charles' order to charge. Finally, the order came, but the boggy ground pushed the attack to the walls, which Charles was warned about. The Highland charge broke through the government lines, but were met by rounds of gunfire. In only 60 minutes, the battle was over. Over 1250 Jacobites dead, many wounded and imprisoned. As for the Hanoverians, only 52 dead and 259 wounded.

After the battle, Cumberland sent his troops back to the battlefield to kill any survivors. A forged "no mercy" section of the orders led to men being killed on site and women raped. Many were left to starve and their livestock stolen and sold.

Bonnie Prince Charlie managed to hide in Scotland, despite the £30,000 reward for his capture. Eventually he fled to France, disguised as a "lady's maid" to Flora MacDonald.

The Scottish Clan System was destroyed. They were disarmed by the Act of Proscription, the kilt and tartan were banned, the feudal bond of military service was ended, and the sovereignty of the Clan Chiefs were removed. More roads and barracks were built and a new fortress was built at Fort George to control the region. The Jacobites were defeated and the throne remained in the power of the English.


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