Monday, 18 April 2011

Highland Army disbands - On this day in Scottish Military History - 1746

On 16th April 1746 the Jacobite army was soundly defeated on Drumossie Moor by the Duke of Cumberland's Army. Hundreds of Jacobites retreated south through Daviot and headed towards the safety of a small Jacobite force at Ruthven Barracks near Kingussie. By 18th April there were nearly fifteen hundred Jacobite soldiers gathered there

Hundreds more streamed back through Inverness as the British dragoons chased them off the battlefield. They knew that they couldn't stay in Inverness so a large number headed down the Great Glen to regroup at Fort Augustus.

Prince Charles also followed that route but went further west; down to Invergarry.

Between the two forces at Fort Augustus and Ruthven there were many clansman like the Master of Lovat's battalion which had missed Culloden and were still ready for battle; but it was unrealistic to think that this shadow of the Highland Army which had taken the field just two days before could fight another pitched battle against the huge numbers of government troops which Cumberland now had at his disposal.

Some of the clan chiefs argued that they should take to the hills and continue to fight on in small groups. The summer was coming and France could send more men, arms and gold to help their allies. Cumberland could not stay in Scotland for ever; Britain was struggling against France on the continent and the majority of his men would need to go south in the near future.

Many other Jacobites had grave doubts about continuing the fight. There were clans loyal to King George in the Far North and Argyll. The Royal Navy controlled the seas and Fort William was a government outpost deep inside Jacobite clan territory . The route south was blocked by the Hessians, and Cumberland controlled the North-East. Where could they go to escape the government soldiers?

The outcome of the discussions between the Jacobite commanders was never really in doubt. On this day two hundred and sixty five years ago they were given orders by their fleeing commander to disperse and they were happy to obey them. The Highland Army which had marched to Derby, and sent London into a panic, disbanded itself.

The Battle of Culloden on the 16th April had effectively finished the Stuart cause; but it was on 18th April 1746 when the Jacobite Army ceased to exist.

After eight months of incredible high and lows Prince Charles was now on the run, and The Duke of Cumberland was about to take revenge on the rebels who dared to try and take his father's throne.

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