Culloden, Battle of (1746)

The battle of Culloden

Culloden, Battle of (1746), also known as the Battle of Drummossie Moor, last battle of the Forty-Five rising in which Scottish Jacobites, supporters of Prince Charles Edward Stuart the Young Pretender (the claimant of the Stuart line to the British throne), were overwhelmingly defeated by government forces led by William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland.

Drummossie or Culloden Moor, near Culloden House, lay about 10 km (6 mi) east of Inverness in Scotland. Early on the morning of April 16 about 5,000 Stuart supporters, exhausted, starving, demoralized, and reduced in number following their withdrawal from an advance as far as Derby, were taken by surprise, and suffered some 1,000 losses during the 40-minute action that followed. Cumberland lost only 50 men. His success was partly due to a change in tactics. In previous engagements the Jacobite Highlanders had used a wild headlong charge, effective both in terrifying ferocity and in their use of protective shields to deflect the opposition's bayonets. On this occasion an initial burst of artillery fire pounded the Jacobite line. Then, advancing on the Highlanders, each government soldier bayoneted the exposed side of the Highlander not directly in front of him, but to his right, with devastating effect. A further 1,000 were killed as "Butcher" Cumberland's men hunted down participants in the weeks that followed. Remarkably, "Bonnie Prince Charlie" reached France and exile after traveling around Scotland for five months, in spite of generous rewards offered for information and his capture. Although the Stuart threat to the Hanoverian line continued to be regarded as a powerful issue in British politics, the battle marked the last serious attempt to restore the Stuarts to the British throne.

The result of this massacre of the highland Scots by the English and the lowland Scots was the end of the crofting tradition of self sufficient small farmers in the north of Scotland and subsequent mass emigration to New Zealand and Canada, where large communities of Scots are to be found.

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See also Highland Clearances

Page created on May 3rd 2003 and updated on April 11th. 2011  Return to Britain