The Battle of Culloden (Blàr Chùil Lodair) (16 April 1746) was the final clash between the French-supported Jacobites and the Hanoverian British Government in the 1745 Jacobite Rising. Culloden brought the Jacobite cause—to restore the House of Stuart to the throne of the Kingdom of Great Britain—to a decisive defeat.
The Jacobites—the majority of them Highland Scots, supported the claim of James Francis Edward Stuart ("The Old Pretender") to the throne; the government army, under the Duke of Cumberland, younger son of the Hanoverian sovereign, King George II, supported his father's cause. It too included Highland Scots, as well as Scottish Lowlanders and English troops.
The aftermath of the battle was brutal and earned the victorious general the nickname "Butcher" Cumberland. Charles Edward Stuart eventually left Britain and went to Rome, never to attempt to take the throne again. Civil penalties were also severe. New laws attacked the Highlanders' clan system, and Highland dress was outlawed.
Charles Edward Stuart, known as "Bonnie Prince Charlie" or the "Young Pretender", successfully raised forces, mainly of Scottish Highland clansmen and defeated the Hanoverian Army stationed in Scotland 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. 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 5000 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 absolutely no evidence for this and the king is on record as stating that he'd lead the troops against the rebels himself if they approached London. 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 General George Wade and of William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland, were approaching. In addition to the militia, London was defended by nearly 6,000 Foot, 700 Horse and 33 artillery pieces and the Jacobites had (fictitious) 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 petulantly leaving the 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 new men. They then defeated the forces of General Henry Hawley at the Battle of Falkirk. 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 Invernessshire in early April. Charles now took command again, and insisted on fighting a defensive action.
Hugh (Rose of Kilravock), 16th Baron, entertained Charles Edward Stuart and the Duke of Cumberland respectively on 14th and 15th April 1746, before the battle of Culloden. On the occasion the Charles Edward Stuart's manners and deportment were described by his host as most engaging. Having walked out with Mr. Rose, before sitting down, he observed several persons engaged in planting trees. 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 Scottish", to which Cumberland replied, "you did perfectly right."
The bulk of the Jacobite Army was made up of "Highlanders" and was raised by both volunteers and forced recruits. A large number of men which made up the Jacobite Army were volunteers. These men made up the gentlemen (officers), cavalry and lowland units, and as such did much of the fighting during the campaign. The clans which supported the Jacobite cause tended to be Roman Catholic and Scottish Episcopalian, while clans which tended to be Presbyterian sided more with the British Government. Nearly three quarters of the Jacobite army was composed of highland clansmen, the majority of them being Roman Catholic, but more than a third being Scottish Episcopalians. The Highlanders served in the clan regiments which were recruited largely from the western highlands of Scotland. The bulk of these men were forced to join by their clan chiefs, landlords or feudal superiors. In consequence it mattered little whether the average clansmen believed in the Jacobite cause or not. Because of recruiting in this manner, when the campaign began to fizzle out in the lead up to the battle, desertion was major handicap to the Highland regiments within the Jacobite Army.
One of the fundamental problems with the Jacobite Army was the lack of trained officers. The Jacobite Army's lack of professionalism and training was readily apparent, even the colonels of the Macdonald regiments of Clanranald and Keppoch considered their men to be uncontrollable. A typical clan regiment was made up of a small minority of gentlemen (tacksmen) who would bear the "clan name", and under them the common soldiers or "clansmen" who bore a mixed bag of names. The clan gentlemen formed the front ranks of the unit and were more heavily armed than their impoverished tenants who made up the bulk of the regiment. Because they served in the front ranks the gentlemen suffered higher proportional casualties than the common clansman. The gentlemen of the Appin Regiment suffered one quarter of those killed, and one third of those wounded from their regiment. The Jacobites started the campaign poorly armed. At the Battle of Prestonpans, some only had swords, Lochaber Axes, pitchforks and scythes. Even though popular lore attributes a common highlander equipped with a broadsword, targe and pistol - it was only an officer or gentleman who was equipped this way. Further illustrating this point, following the conclusion of the battle, Cumberland reported that there were 2,320 firelocks recovered from the battlefield, but only 190 broadswords. From this it can be determined that of the roughly 1,000 Jacobites killed at Culloden, only one in five carried a sword. As the campaign progressed the Jacobites improved their equipment considerably. For instance, 1,500–1,600 stack of arms were landed in October. In consequence, by the time of the Battle of Culloden the Jacobite Army was equipped with .69 calibre French and Spanish firelocks.
During the later stage of the campaign the Jacobites were reinforced with several units of French regulars. These units, like Fitzjames' Horse, and the Irish Picquets were drawn from the Irish Brigade (Irish units in the French service). Another unit was the Royal Écossois ("Royal Scots"), which was a Scottish unit in the French service. A high proportion of these units were made up of mercenaries and "turned" prisoners of war. In fact, Fitzjames' Horse was mostly made up of English troops, not Irish, and also included a number of merchant sailors. Also, almost half of the Irish Picquets who fought the battle had been press-ganged from 6th (Guise's) Foot at Fort Augustus. The Royal Écossois also contained deserters, and the commander, Drummond, attempted to raise a second battalion after the unit had arrived in Scotland. The Jacobite artillery has been generally regarded as being ineffective at the Battle of Culloden. Several modern accounts of the Battle of Culloden claim that the Jacobite artillery suffered from having several cannon with different calibres of shot. In fact, all but one of the cannon employed by the Jacobite Army were 3-pounders.
The British Army at the Battle of Culloden was made up of infantry, cavalry, and artillery. Of the Army's 16 infantry battalions present, 4 were Scottish units. The officers of the infantry were made up of the upper classes and aristocracy. While the rank and file of the army was made up of the poor agricultural workers. On the outbreak of the Jacobite Rising extra incentives were given to lure recruits to fill the ranks of depleted units. For instance, on 6 September 1745 every new recruit who joined the Guards before 24 September were given £6, and those who joined in the last days of the month were given £4. Regiments were named after their Colonel. In theory an infantry regiment would comprise up to ten companies of up to 70 men. They would then be 815 strong, including officers. However, regiments were rarely anywhere near this large, and at the Battle of Culloden the regiments were not much larger than about 400 men.
The British Cavalry arrived in Scotland in January 1746. They were not combat experienced, having spent the last several years in service in anti smuggling duties. A standard cavalryman had a Land Service pistol and a carbine. However the main weapon used by the British Cavalry was a sword with a 35-inch blade.
The Royal Artillery vastly out performed their Jacobite counterparts during the Battle of Culloden. However up until this point in the campaign the British artillery had performed dismally. The main weapon of the artillery was the 3-pounder. This weapon had a range of and fire two kinds of shot: round iron and canister. The other weapon utilised by the artillery was the Coehorn mortar. These had a calibre of 4 inches (11 cm).
The Duke of Cumberland and his army of around 8,811 men arrived at Nairn on 14 April. The Jacobite forces of about 5,400 left their base at Inverness, leaving most of their supplies, and assembled 5 miles (8 km) to the east near Drummossie, around 12 miles (19 km) before Nairn. Charles Edward Stuart had decided to personally command his forces and took the advice of his adjutant general, Secretary O’Sullivan, who chose to stage a defensive action at Drummossie Moor, a stretch of open moorland enclosed between the walled Culloden enclosures to the North and the walls of Culloden Park to the South Map Lord George Murray "did not like the ground" and with other senior officers pointed out the unsuitability of the rough moorland terrain which was highly advantageous to the Duke with the marshy and uneven ground making the famed Highland charge somewhat more difficult while remaining open to Cumberland’s powerful artillery. They had argued for a guerrilla campaign, but Charles Edward Stuart refused to change his mind.
On 15 April the Government army celebrated Cumberland's birthday, drinking his health at his expense. At the suggestion of Murray the Jacobites tried that evening to repeat the success of Prestonpans by carrying out a night attack on the government army encampment, but the half-starved Highlanders who had only had one biscuit apiece during the day were still 2 miles (3 km) short of Nairn by dawn and had to march back, then dispersed to search for food or fell asleep in ditches and outbuildings. Many of them lay exhausted in the grounds of Culloden House throughout the battle.
Early on 16 April the Government army marched from Nairn, and Jacobite guns sounded the alarm (though not all heard) to bring their troops to form two lines. The front line of exhausted highland foot soldiers had guns in the centre and on the flanks, the second line included their horse regiments, worn out from the night march, and the Scots and Irish regiments of the French army. The weather was very poor with a gale driving sleety rain into the faces of the Jacobites. The Duke's forces arrived around mid day and initially deployed in three lines. Upon observing the ground and rebel dispositions, the Duke thinned his army to two lines, which he extended to his left, their left flank anchored on a low stone wall running along the south end of the field towards Culloden Park. The Duke posted Wolfe's Regiment forward of his left flank, able to enfilade any attack by the Jacobite right wing. Horse Dragoons and Government militia moved round behind the wall to infiltrate the park around the Jacobite flank. The Jacobite Army's artillery, outnumbered some three to one, opened fire first but due to a lack of trained gunners had little impact.
Over the next twenty minutes Cumberland's superior artillery continued to batter the Jacobite lines, while Charles, moved for safety out of sight of his own forces, waited for the government forces to move. Inexplicably, he left his forces arrayed under the Government fire for over half an hour. Although the marshy terrain minimized casualties, the morale of the Jacobites began to suffer. Several clan leaders, angry at the lack of action, pressured Charles to issue the order to charge. When he was eventually persuaded to issue the order, the McDonalds refused, angry because they had been placed on the left flank overturning their traditional right to take the right flank. The Clan Chattan was first away, but an area of boggy ground in front of them forced them to veer right so that they obstructed the following regiments and the attack was pushed towards the wall. The Highlanders advanced on the left flank of the Government troops but were subjected to several volleys of musket fire and the artillery which had switched from roundshot to grapeshot.
Despite this, a large number of Jacobites reached the Government lines, and for the first time a battle was decided by a direct clash between charging highlanders and formed redcoats equipped with muskets and socket bayonets. The highland charge broke and failed, the few rebels who managed to penetrate Cumberland's first line simply being shot down by the battalions in the second line. The fiercest fighting took place between Barrell's Regiment on the Royal left and Clan Cameron.
While the attack was still in progress, a small number of the Government forces had breached the park wall and the Campbell militia advanced unseen to fire at the right flank of the Jacobite lines. This added to all the other brutal gunfire, and threatened by cavalry the Jacobites were forced to retreat. The Duke ordered in his dragoons to rout the Jacobite forces, but the small contingent of Irish and other regular regiments covered the retreat as the Jacobites withdrew.
In a total of about 60 minutes the Duke was victorious, around 1,250 Jacobites were dead, a similar number were wounded, and 558 prisoners (336 Scots and Irish as well as 222 Frenchmen) were taken. Cumberland had about 52 dead and 259 wounded among his Government forces.
The aftermath of the battle witnessed the last in a series of efforts by post-Restoration governments to tackle dissent in Scotland. A persecution committed by the Stuart regimes of Charles II and James VII and II inflicted upon the Covenanters, known as The Killing Time, helped provoke the Glorious Revolution. In the reign of William III, the Massacre of Glencoe served as a small-scale, demonstrative act of persecution, following which Scotland was at peace internally. Following the rebellion of 1715, the Hanoverian regime had pursued a mild and indulgent, 'softly softly' approach, but further rebellions took place in 1719 and 1745–6.
After the battle, Lord George Murray's general orders of the previous day fell into Hanoverian hands. Cumberland sent an order, "Officers and men will take notice that the Public orders of the rebels yesterday was to give us no quarter." It was later found that this was untrue, and the 'no quarter' section was nothing but a forgery. With this implicit order the Jacobite wounded and most prisoners were killed with bayonets, pistols and clubs. Indiscriminate killing went on for several days, all men bearing arms were hanged on location, and their womanfolk raped. Families fled from their scorched hovels and were left to starve. In total over 20,000 head of livestock, sheep and goats were driven off and sold at Fort Augustus, where the soldiers split the profits.
Certain higher-ranking prisoners survived to be tried and executed later in Inverness and three "rebel lords" were taken to London. It was for his insistence that these aristocrats were not pardoned, not for his actions in Scotland, that Cumberland was nicknamed "Butcher" by some. To most Scots, other Britons and inhabitants of the British colonies he was "Sweet William", and received, amongst other tokens of thanks, an honorary doctorate from the University of Glasgow and the gift of a house and garden from the Committee of Perth.
The Charles Edward Stuart fled the battlefield and survived for five months in Scotland despite a £30,000 reward for his capture. He eventually returned to France, making a dramatic if humiliating escape disguised as a "lady's maid" to Flora MacDonald.
Immediately after the battle, Cumberland rode into Inverness, his drawn sword still covered in blood, a symbolic and menacing gesture. The following day, the slaughter continued, when patrols were sent back to the battlefield to kill any survivors. Cumberland emptied the jails of British prisoners, and replaced them with Jacobite sympathisers. A number of the prisoners were taken south to England to stand trial for high treason. Trials took place at Berwick upon Tweed, York and London with many Jacobite prisoners being held in hulks on the Thames or in Tilbury Fort where there is a memorial stone. Executions were conducted on the basis of drawing lots on a ratio of about 1 in 20. In total 3,471 Jacobites supporters and others were taken prisoner in the aftermath of Culloden, with 120 of them being executed and 88 dying in prison; 936 transported to the colonies and 121 more "banished". While 1,287 were eventually released or exchanged, the fate of the others is lost to history. As well as dealing out summary justice to his captives Cumberland was equally ruthless, executing 36 deserters from his own forces found amongst the prisoners.
By contrast to the ruthless treatment of many captured clansmen, the detachments of Irish soldiers from the French army were permitted to formally surrender and were treated well and eventually returned to France. They were considered as regular soldiers of a foreign ruler and accordingly subject to the normal practices of warfare. The captured Jacobites were regarded as traitors (even if many had had no choice but to follow their clan leaders) and treated accordingly.
The Hanoverian forces' assault on the Jacobite sympathizers continued in the coming months—destroying the clan system with the Act of Proscription disarming them, banning the kilt and the tartan, the Tenures Abolition Act ending the feudal bond of military service and the Heritable Jurisdictions Act removing the virtually sovereign power the chiefs had over their clan. Statute provisions were aimed at proscribing the perceived religion of the Jacobites, Episcopalianism (Catholicism was already banned). Government troops were stationed in the Highlands and built more roads and barracks to better control the region, adding to the Wade roads constructed for Major-General George Wade after the 'Fifteen rising, as well a new fortress at Fort George to the east of Inverness. The proscribed clan dress of kilt and tartan was, at least officially, only permitted in the Highland regiments serving in the British Army.
|Escort Troop||Fitzjame's Horse: 16 men.|
Lifeguards: 16 men.
|Commanded by Capt O'Shea. This unit was the prince's escort.|
|Lord George Murray's Division||Atholl Brigade: 500 men (3 battalions).||Raised not as a clan but as a feudal levy. Possibly consisted of 3 regiments. Suffered badly from desertion.|
|Cameron of Lochiel's Regiment: abt 650-700 men.||Led by Donald Cameron of Locheil. Regarded as one of the strongest Jacobite units, and as elite.|
|Stewarts of Appin or Appin Regiment: 250 men.||Led by Charles Stuart of Ardsheal. The regiment suffered from desertion. During the campaign it suffered 90 killed, 65 wounded.|
|Lord John Drummond's Division.||Lord Lovat's Regiment: abt 300 men.||Led at Culloden by Charles Fraser of Inverallochie, whose battalion was numbered at about 300. The Master of Lovat's battalion missed the battle by several of hours.|
|Lady Mackintosh's Regiment: abt 350 men.||Sometimes referred to in secondary sources as Clan Chattan Regiment. A composite unit, like the Athole Brigate. Led by Alexander McGillivray of Dunmaglass. Lost most of its officers at Culloden.|
|Farquharson of Monaltrie's Battalion: 150 men.||Consisted of mostly Highlanders but not all. Described by James Logie as "dressed in highland clothes mostly". Included a party of MacGregors.|
|Maclachlans and Macleans: abt 200 men.||Commanded by Lachlan Maclachlan of Castle Lachlan and Maclean of Drimmin (who served as Lt Col). The unit campaigned as part of the Athole Brigade, though fought at Culloden for the first time as a stand alone unit.|
|Chisholms of Strathglass: abt 80 men.||This very small unit was led by Roderick Og Chisholm. Suffered very heavy casualties at Culloden.|
|Duke of Perth's Division.||MacDonald of Keppoch's Regiment. 200 men.||Commanded by Alexander MacDonald of Keppoch. This small regiment consisted of MacDonalds of Keppoch, MacDonalds of Glencoe, Mackinnons and several MacGregors.|
|MacDonald of Clanranald's Regiment: 200 men.||Commanded by MacDonald of Clanranald, younger, who was wounded during the battle. Disbanded at Fort Augustus about 18 April 1746.|
|MacDonnell of Glengarry's Regiment: 500 men.||Commanded by Donald MacDonnell of Lochgarry. This regiment included a unit of Grants of Glenmoriston and Glen Urquhart.|
|John Roy Stuart's Division (reserve)||Lord Lewis Gordon's Regiment||John Gordon of Avochie's Battalion: 300 men.||Commanded by John Gordon of Avochie.|
|Moir of Stonywood's Battalion: 200 men.||Commanded by James Moir of Stonywood. The unit, unlike the others of this regiment, was made up largely of volunteers.|
|1/Lord Ogilvy's Regiment: 200 men.||Commanded by Thomas Blair of Glassclune.|
|2/Lord Ogilvy's Regiment: 300 men.||Commanded by Sir James Kinloch.|
|John Roy Stuart's Regiment: abt 200 men.||Commanded by Maj Patrick Stewart. Also known as the Edinburgh Regiment, because of where it was raised.|
|Footguards. abt 200 men.||Commanded by Lord Kilmarnock. A composite unit (see note).|
|Glenbuchet's Regiment. 200 men.||Commanded by John Gordon of Glenbuchat.|
|Duke of Perth's Regiment: 300 men.||James Drummond, Master of Strathallan. The unit included a party of MacGregors.|
|Irish Brigade.||Royal Écossois: 350 men.||Commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Lord Lewis Drummond.|
|Irish Picquets: 302 men.||Commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Walter Stapleton.|
(Commanded by Sir John MacDonald [Fitzjame's Horse])
|Right Squadron||Fitzjames's Horse: 70 men.||Commanded by Capt William Bagot.|
|Lifeguards: 30 men.||Commanded by Lord Elcho.|
|Left Squadron||Scotch Hussars: 36 men.||Commanded by Maj John Bagot.|
|Strathallan's Horse: 30 men.||Commanded by Lord Strathallan.|
|Artillery.||11 x 3-pounders.||Commanded by Capt John Finlayson.|
|1 x 4-pounders.||Commanded by Capt du Saussay.|
Captain-General: HRH Duke of Cumberland
Commander-in-Chief North Britain: Lieutenant-General Henry Hawley
|Escort Troop||Duke of Cumberland's Hussars: abt 20 men.||Made up of Austrians and Germans.|
|Advance Guard |
(Commanded by Maj-Gen Humphrey Bland)
|10th (Cobham's) Dragoons: 276 officers & men.||Commanded by Maj Peter Chaban.|
|11th (Kerr's) Dragoons: 267 officers & men.||Commanded by Lt Col. William, Lord Ancrum.|
|Highland Battalion: abt 300 rank and file.||Commanded by Lt Col John Campbell of Mamore 64th Highlanders.|
|Front Line (1st Division)|
(Maj-Gen. William Anne, Earl of Albermarle)
|First Brigade||2/1st (Royal) Regiment: 401 rank & file.||Commanded by Lt Col John Ramsay.|
|34th (Cholmondley's) Foot: 339 rank & file.||Commanded by Lt Col Charles Jeffreys.|
|14th (Price's) Foot: 304 rank & file.||Commanded by Lt Col John Grey.|
|Third Brigade||21st (North British) Fusiliers: 358 rank & file.||Commanded by Maj Hon. Charles Colvill.|
|37th (Dejean's) Foot: 426 rank & file.||Commanded by Col Louis Dejean.|
|4th (Barrell's) Foot: 325 rank & file.||Commanded by Lt Col Robert Rich.|
(Commanded by Gen John Huske)
|Second Brigade||3rd Foot (Buffs): 413 rank & file.||Commanded by Lt-Col. George Howard.|
|36th (Fleming's) Foot: 350 rank & file.||Commanded by Lt Col George Jackson.|
|20th (Sackville's) Foot: 412 rank & file.||Commanded by Col George Sackville.|
|Fourth Brigade||25th (Sempill's) Foot: 429 rank & file.||Commanded by Lt Col David Cunynghame.|
|59/48th (Conway's) Foot: 325 rank & file.||Commanded by Col Henry Conway.|
|8th (Edward Wolfe's) Foot: 324 rank & file.||Commanded by Lt-Col Edward Martin.|
|Reserve||Duke of Kingston's 10th Horse: 211 officers & men.||Commanded by Lt Col John Mordaunt.|
(Brig John Mordaunt)
|13th (Pulteney's) Foot: 510 rank & file.||Commanded by Lt Col Thomas Cockayne.|
|62nd (Batereau's) Foot: 354 rank & file.||Commanded by Col John Batereau.|
|27th (Blakeney's) Foot: 300 rank & file.||Commanded by Lt Col Francis Leighton.|
|Artillery||106 NCOs & Gunners|
10 x 3-pounder canon
6 x Coehorn mortars
|Commanded by Commander Royal Artillery (CRA): Maj William Belford and Captain-Lieutenant John Godwin.|
|1st (Royal) Regiment||0||4|
|3rd Foot (Buffs)||1||2|
|4th (Barrell's) Foot||17||108|
|8th (Wolfe's) Foot||0||1|
|13th (Pulteney's) Foot||0||0|
|14th (Price's) Foot||1||9|
|20th (Sackville's) Foot||4||17|
|21st (North British) Fusiliers||0||7|
|25th (Sempill's) Foot||1||13|
|13th (Pulteney's) Foot||0||0|
|34th (Cholmondley's) Foot||1||2|
|36th (Fleming's) Foot||0||6|
|37th (Dejean's) Foot||14||68|
|59th (Ligonier's) Foot||1||5|
|62nd (Batereau's) Foot||0||3|
|64th (Loudon's) Foot||6||3|
|Duke of Kingston's 10th Horse||0|
|10th (Cobham's) Dragoons||1|
|11th (Kerr's) Dragoons||3|