The Battle at Culloden

April 1746


Prince Charles Edward Stuart (Bonnie Prince Charlie) had the Supremacy over Scotland after the Victory of the Jacobites in the Battle of Prestonpans. At the urging of Lord George Murray they retired to Scotland.
They secured their Retreat by a Battle at Clifton and the Battle of Falkirk, in which they were victorious for the last time.

Given the Situation and the poor Supply, the Jacobites began to desert as they moved on to Inverness to settle in their Winter Quarters.

The Battle

In his downtown Quarters Charles got a disturbing Message.
Wilhelm August, Duke of Cumberland had moved north with a large Contingent and set up his Winter Quarters in Aberdeen. Since his Army in Flanders during the Austrian War of Succession Units of the scottish Black Watch Regiment belonged, he was familiar with the Fighting of the Highlander.

In early April, he moved with his troops to Nairn and was so only 50 km (31.1 Miles) away from the Jacobite army.
On the eve before the Battle, Charles made a Mistake. On Murray’s advice, of forcing his troops to advance in the Night to surprise the Government Troops in their Camp. Realizing that he would reach the enemy Camp too late -his Army was scattered by the search for food- he broke the Project in the early Hours of the morning and turned halfway around.

Order of battle of the armies in Culloden
© Wikipedia – Celtus

In the face of the tired Soldiers, Murray and other Officers called for the retreat to less accessible Territory. They were overruled and Charles had the Troops occupy the old Positions at ‘Culloden Muir’. Charles commanded the Center, Murray the right Wing and Lord John Drummond the left Wing.
At the beginning, Wilhelm had the Guns open a destructive Fire and Charles ordered the Attack of the Infantry, which finally advanced under the Sound of Bagpipes. The Highlander storm broke through the first Row of Government Troops, but then got stuck in the second. Already before the start, Wilhelm had instructed his Infantry to direct the Bayonets not at the opposite Man, but at the right side to avoid the traditional Shield Coverage.

Only part of the jacobite Army participated in the Attack.
The MacDonalds were posted on the left wing, refusing to follow the Attack Order out of anger, claiming the traditional right to set the right Wing. The brunt of the Fight fell on the Camerons, MacLeans, Chattans and MacLachlans. It came to a tough melee, which showed the Discipline and the hard Drill of Government Troops.

After 25 minutes, the Battle was settled and the Jacobites took flight in the face of Superiority and Artillery Fire.
The next Day, Wilhelm began to persecute the rest of the Jacobites and burned their Flags in public. Although Murray tried to reorganize the army in Ruthven, but failed due to the lack of Food and Supplies.


Wilhelm August, Duke of Cumberland, demonstrated utmost Cruelty in the persecution of the Jacobites.
He had more than 500 Wounded and Prisoners killed on the Battlefield, or burned alive. Officers were sentenced to Death in Show Trials for Treason. William’s approach earned him the Nickname of Butcher and their united hatred among the Scots. By Force of Arms, the Disarming Act and the Dress Act were enforced, abolishing the Clan System and banning scottish Symbols such as the Kilt.

Memorial to the Battle of Culloden – Moor

The Battle of Culloden was the last on the British Isles and is still considered a National Disaster today.
It ushered in the Demise of traditional scottish Culture and the Position of Clan Chiefs, which largely wiped out Knowledge about it, except oral Traditions.

The Events surrounding the Battle of Culloden were filmed in 1946 in the Documentary Culloden.

Battle at Prestonpans  | Battle at Falkirk  | Battle at Culloden

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