8th July 1758…..The Battle of Ticonderoga

Once more we step away from Scottish history and take a wider view of the world, with another British military disaster…

Ticonderoga was an engagement between the British and the French Armies in upstate New York in 1758 during the Seven Years War. Described in some quarters as “an unsuccessful British attack on a numerically disadvantaged French Garrison” it was in fact a crushing and humiliating defeat of a British force armed with all possible situational advantages. A bitter result made all the harsher by the nature of the shambolic and humiliating retreat they embarked upon as the battle came to its conclusion.

Once again a redcoat force, far far from their own shores, with superior numbers and all the tactical advantages they could wish for, were crushed by numerically inferior opposition due to the shortcomings of their leadership.

The French force celebrates their victory over Abercrombie’s British

Commanding the British was General James Abercrombie, a Scot born in Banffshire. He was a commander deemed to have considerable administrative abilities but with a reputation for indecision in combat and had acquired among his men the soubriquet of Mrs Nanny Cromby.

General James Abercrombie

The French were led by Louis-Joseph de Montcalm. A veteran of both Wars of the Polish and Austrian Succession with an outstanding service record as a battlefield commander, he was to die the following year at the Battle of the Plains of Abraham, along with that other distinguished leader of men James Wolfe.

Loius-Joseph de Montcalm

Abercrombie has taken considerable criticism over his performance at Ticonderoga. The prominent American historian and Pulitzer Prize winner, Lawrence H. Gipson,

commenting on Abercrombie’s Ticonderoga campaign said that “no military campaign was ever launched on American soil that involved a greater number of errors of judgment on the part of those in positions of responsibility”. James Holden noted that American and British writers, both contemporary and historical, used words like “imbecile”, “coward”, “unready”, and “old woman” to describe him.

 

Up till this point the war had gone badly for the British with a string of French victories including the Battle of Fort Bull, the Battle of Fort Oswego and the massacre at Fort William Henry (as depicted in that ace movie The Last of the Mohicans). Consequently, the British Prime Minister William Pitt had felt it necessary to take over direct control of the North American campaign. He devised a strategy of standing on the defensive in Europe where the French were strong and initiating offensive operations in North America where they were weak.

 

The French force which Montcalm assembled at Ticonderoga in June comprised some 5000 regular French troops, the same again in militia raised from the French settlers and some Indian allies. Abercrombie meantime set off by boat on July 5th from the ruins of Fort William Henry at the head of the largest military force that had ever been assembled on the continent; some 16,000 regular British troops, including the 42nd (Highland) Regiment (aka The Black Watch) plus militia.

 

Montcalm assessed his position and his numerical inferiority and decided not to simply hold the fort and await besiegement. He opted instead to defend the likely approaches. Monsieur Le Montcalm set about improving his defensive position. Over the course of the two days before the battle his men dug out trenches on the rising ground about a mile north west of the fort and strengthened these with felled trees sharpened to a point: obstacles which would hinder infantry but could provide no obstacle to cannon fire. He also dispatched a portion of his force to monitor the approach of the British fleet but when this hove into site and its size became apparent this force was rapidly withdrawn

 

On the morning of July 6th, two days before the battle, the British force landed unopposed at the north end of Lake George and headed towards the fort. On arriving at the French defences north west of the Fort, Abercrombie ordered his engineer, Lieutenant Matthew Clerk to climb the adjacent Rattlesnake Hill and assess the French position. Young Clerk duly reported to his General that the French defences appeared incomplete and could easily be forced. Apparently Montcalm had managed to disguise the strength and completeness of his defence works by the simple stratagem of covering them with shrubbery.

The British landing point and advance route

Heartened by his engineer’s thoroughly professional assessment, Abercrombie met with his senior officers that evening to discuss his attack plans. Debating simply whether they should go forward in ranks of three or four they settled on three.

 

Battle commenced just after noon with Abercrombie sending forward Rogers Rangers (sans Spencer Tracy) and some light infantry to force the outlying French defenders back. These were followed by three columns of his regular troops. Montcalm had set out his defensive force with seven battalions forward, each covering approximately 100 metres of front. He had entrenched cannon on each flank and the low ground between his left wing and the river was manned by militia.

 

The French were able to pour withering fire into the redcoat formations as they tried to work their way through the defensive obstacles the French had deployed and by 2 pm it was clear that the initial attack had failed. Montcalm, dressed as an ordinary soldier, moved among his men encouraging their efforts and ensuring that all needs were met. Abercrombie meanwhile remained somewhat to the rear, positioned to receive progress reports.

 

On being informed of the failure of his initial attack, Abercrombie then ordered his reserve forward, provincial troops from Connecticut and New Jersey. And within half an hour it became clear that their attack had met with the same results as that of their more experienced comrades. At this point it seems that Abercrombie ordered a withdrawal along the entire frontage but apparently two regiments on the left wing, the 42nd and the 46th persisted with their efforts and as late as 5pm the 42nd were still thrashing away, indeed they almost made it to the point where they were able to physically engage with the enemy.

 

It was only as night fell that the last of the British troops withdrew and Abercrombie was able to commence the march back to his ships. This retreat in the dark and through the woods became disorganised and, as rumours spread of French pursuit, panic-stricken. The humiliating nature of the whole episode being fully apparent to its participants with one of Abercrombie’s own Lieutenant-Colonel’s describing it subsequently as “shameful”.

 

British losses were of the order of 1000 dead and 1500 wounded with the Black Watch incurring particularly heavy proportional losses of 300 men and 8 officers. French casualties were reported in the order of 550, dead and wounded.

 

The criticisms of Abercrombie’s handling of the battle are primarily: the French garrison was poorly provisioned and would have been unable to resist a siege for ling. Information which Abercrombie could easily have acquired from the various prisoners and deserters that passed through his hands; deploying artillery on the undefended Rattlesnake Hill would have led to the rapid destruction of the French defensive position. A consideration which apparently no one on the British side thought of; on realising that his initial attacking plan had failed Abercrombie could have taken time to consider a fresh alternative; similarly the option of outflanking the French right wing never occurred to Abercrombie or his men and would appear to have been well worthy of consideration. And carrying out the full retreat in the dark and through the woods to his initial landing position was wholly unnecessary.

 

Abercrombie never commanded another military campaign but in the proud and noble tradition of the British military he continued to be promoted until his eventual retirement.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Operation Mercury

By way of a change………a WW2 battle.

1st June 1941….Operation Mercury, the German airborne assault on Crete, is brought to a successful conclusion.

 

This defeat was the latest in a serious of military humblings endured by the British Army at the hands of the Wehrmacht, in the opening two years of WW2.

In that time British soldiers had stood toe-to-toe with the Germans in Norway and France in 1940 and in Greece in the summer of 1941. On each occasion, they had been swept aside and forced to flee to the nearest coastline and await collection by the ships of the Royal Navy.

British troops being evacuated ……from Dunkirk

……Norway

…and Greece

It appeared that the quality of British Generalship, the entire command and control system and even the performance of their front line troops was being completely outclassed by the those of the Germans.

 

Performance

When you look in detail at the Battle for Crete the question which arises is…. was the British performance really that poor or was that of the Germans so outstanding. One view is that the Germans simply went about the business of warfare in their normal fashion and when circumstances dictated that they needed to find another gear, said gear was found and immediately engaged. And in exactly the same manner, the British and their Commonwealth allies, went about the business in THEIR own fashion and, as had become the case with them, were completely defeated and in fairly short order.

There is very little in the way of positives to be taken by the British from the entire episode. Outnumbering the invading force by a factor of 4 to 1 and lavishly supplied from the outset with invaluable intelligence in the form of Ultra intercepts, the General commanding, Bernard Freyberg, took one of the most advantageous defensive positions in the history of warfare and handed victory to his enemy in just a few short days.

Seventy six years later those aspects of the battle given prominence in the historical record remain pretty well unchanged. Firstly that Hitler was so dismayed by the extent of the casualties suffered by the Fallschirmjager that he expressly forbade any subsequent similar efforts for the remainder of the war. Secondly that the British Balkan adventure, first into Greece followed by Crete, dislodged the German timetable for Barbarossa to the extent that the Germans failed to take Moscow before their invading thrust was eventually parried, thus paving the way for ultimate allied victory.

 

It’s rare to come across any subsequent account of these events which seeks to analyse the principal reasons for the British defeat in the face of what are generally deemed to be highly favourable circumstances…….as is so often the case with British involvement in either World War.

In this case those reasons aren’t hard to find and even a cursory examination of events allows the reader to form their own conclusions.

The German airborne landings were made at four points along the northern coast of the island. And while all met with similar initial lack of success it is at the western most of these, Maleme airfield, where the entire outcome of the Battle of Crete was decided.

 

The Key Commanders

There were a small number of key commanders on each side whose performance over the next 48 hours would largely determine the final outcome of the Battle.

For the Allies these were:  Major General Bernard Freyberg, a New Zealand veteran of the Great War who had participated in the Gallipoli landings and had become the youngest General in the British Army. He had led the 2nd New Zealand Division during the Battle for Greece and been given command of all Allied forces on the island prior to the German attack.

General Bernard Freyberg, commanding the Crete garrison

Acting Major General / Brigadier Edward Puttick who had taken over command of the 2nd New Zealand Division. Brigadier James Hargest, commanding the 5th New Zealand Brigade.

Brigadier Hargest, commanding 2nd New Zealand Division

And finally Lieutenant Colonel Leslie Andrew, another WW1 veteran who commanded the 22nd New Zealand Battalion and had the principal responsibility for the defense of the crucial airfield at Maleme

For the Germans the key men were General Kurt Student who led all German airborne forces. Brigadier Eugen Meindl who commanded the Storm Regiment which landed in the Maleme Sector at the outset of the battle and General Julius Ringel , commander of the 5th Mountain Division which landed at Maleme on the second day.

 

The Attack Begins

It was at Maleme, at 7.30 on the morning of 20 May, that the Luftwaffe’s Storm Regiment, under the command of Brigadier Eugen Meindl dropped by parachute and glider.  Some forty gliders landed to the west of the airfield on the dried up bed of the River Tavronitis which they intended to then use as the start line for their subsequent attack.  The paratroopers were dropped a little to the east of the airfield where they landed right on top of the New Zealand 5th Infantry Brigade.

German fallschirmjaeger landing on the 1st morning

There ARE criticisms which can be levied at the Germans in this battle, despite their swift and conclusive victory. The failures of intelligence and photo reconnaissance regarding the true extent and dispositions of the Allied forces are the greatest. Prior to the British evacuation of Greece the garrison strength in Crete was around 10, 000 men. German intelligence believed that all the evacuated troops had been taken to Alexandria in Egypt. They had, however, been conveyed, to a man, to Crete. So the Allied strength on the morning of the attack was in the order of 42, 000 men, some four times greater than the attackers had expected to encounter. And they were attacking with a force of less than 10,000.

The paratroopers leapt from the Junkers carrier craft at a height of only around 300 feet. The casualties inflicted on them and the aircraft by the dense crowds of allied riflemen were devastating.

 

The German landing areas (photo credit WalkingTheBattlefields)

 

Over 1800 Germans were fed into the Maleme sector on this first morning with almost half of them being killed or wounded. The attacks which were happening simultaneously at the other three landing sites: Heraklion, Rethymno and the Ayia Valley met with similar results.

 

Brigadier Meindl who had dropped by parachute rather than glider moved at speed and sent his I Battalion under Major Koch directly against the western flank of the airfield defences while Major Stenzler’s II Battalion was sent on a flanking movement in an attempt to take the key Allied strongpoint, Hill 107, from the rear. Within an hour, however, Meindl had been wounded twice and would play no further part in the action.

Hill 107, Maleme airfield. The schwerpunkt of the Battle for Crete

The diligent Fallschirmjaeger officers continued to press home their attacks. Colonel Andrew’s area of responsibility – the airfield and Hill 107 – comprised some five square kilometres of very uneven and heavily overgrown terrain. He had two companies deployed. C Company on the airfield and D Company defending the eastern side of the Tavronitis river bed due west of Hill 107. Neither was equipped with radio. Andrew had two Matilda tanks ready for action but hesitated to play his trump card too early.

 

Just before 11 am he contacted his commander, Brigadier Hargest, situated some 4 miles east along the coast to say he had lost contact with both his forward companies. He received no response. Within an hour the Germans brought their mortars and a light field gun into action against Andrew’s hard-pressed troops. He continued to press Hargest for aid in the form of reinforcements but was told all those available were engaged with the enemy.

At 5pm the Colonel decided to utilise his two tanks with a small number of supporting infantry. This was a short-lived episode best not dwelt on, whereby one tank crew discovered very quickly that not only were they carrying the wrong ammunition for their gun but that their turret could not traverse properly. The second vehicle, left to go forward alone, found its belly stuck on a boulder on the river bed and was abandoned by its crew.

 

At this point Colonel Andrew informed Hargest of the failure of his armoured counter-attack and his continuing inability to establish any contact with his forward companies.  Furthermore he stated his intention, if not immediately reinforced, of withdrawing from his position on Hill 107. Hargest reply “If you must, you must”  encapsulates in one short sentence the collective shortcomings of the allied commanders in this, as in so many other WW2 battles: confusion, uncertainty, a complete absence of initiative: utterly lacking in the basic qualities of military leadership which were being demonstrated so ably by the enemy they were facing.

 

Sat in his command post on the lee side of Hill 107 it seems Andrew was either afraid to go and look through his binoculars in an attempt to ascertain what was happening with is two forward companies, or the thought did not occur to him. Hargest, similarly, sat shackled to his command post buffeted by developing events and apparently powerless to interfere in them.  At this point both Andrew’s companies, whilst considerably reduced by casualties in the fierce fighting, were still resisting strongly: C on the airfield and D on the edge of the Tavronitis river bed.

 

End of the First Day

And so night fell. Overall the German attack had failed to capture every single one of their objectives across the four landing sites. They had taken terrible casualties and in each location fully expected an Allied counter attack which would bring the battle to a swift and conclusive end.

 

At Maleme they had only 57 unwounded troops capable of fighting. The loss of battalion, platoon and company commanders had been particularly heavy.

General Freyberg’s failure to launch a counter attack at this point is, from the allied perspective, probably the most troubling aspect of the battle. It’s possible that with Brigadier Hargest having his overwhelming leadership failure in the Maleme sector, Freiberg had simply been misled over developments there. But it would seem that he showed little interest in the Maleme sector as he continued to obsess over the possibility of an impending German seaborne attack at several miles further east at Cannea.

Apologists for Freyberg maintain that in order to preserve the critical secrecy of Ultra, Freyberg simply erred on the side of caution and did not confide in his fellow officers lest the source of his intelligence were revealed. As he seemed to completely ignore the intelligence he was fed immediately prior to and during the early stages of the battle. This is an interpretation of the facts which is barely believable.

 

Hill 107 Is Given Up

And now occurred the key developments which would see the British yield their position on Hill 107 thus their hold on Maleme airfield and with it their hold on the entire island of Crete.

 

Sometime before midnight Colonel Andrew in his command bunker near the top of Hill 107, a position which commanded the Tavronitis river bed and the critical airfield, finally succumbed. Dismayed, no doubt, by the non-appearance of the requested reinforcements, perturbed by Brigadier Hargest’s unhelpfulness, still out of contact with C and D companies, although his lack of initiative in overcoming this last problem, remains a puzzle to this day, and feeling the pressure from Stentzler’s flanking attack to the rear of the hill, he decided to withdraw from his position.

 

He NOW sent runners to both forward companies, but only to advise them of his imminent withdrawal rather than simply to secure a sit rep, and radioed his intention to Hargest. His commander, once again, felt that this information merited no reaction on his part other than to advise Freyberg in turn that the situation at Maleme airfield was “quite satisfactory”. It’s almost unbelievable.

 

The runners failed to get through to either company. Both of whom, while battered, were still stoutly resisting the efforts of Meindl’s men to force their line. Captain Campbell of D company and his sergeant-major took it upon themselves to carry out a reverse recce on their own battalion headquarters, finding it abandoned and them with it. Somewhat shaken at this he then felt that HE had no choice but to withdraw his men in turn.

 

Captain Johnson of C Company only discovered that his battalion commander had bugged out in the early hours of the morning. Doubting that a counter attack would be mounted in daylight and believing that his men would not be able to hold their position for another 24 hours he led them silently back to New Zealand lines.

Dawn found the Falschirmjaeger in full possession of Hill 107 and no New Zealand troops within the airfield perimeter

 

Student Acts

But General Kurt Student, sitting in his command post in the ballroom of the Hotel Grande Bretagne in Athens knew nothing of this. He knew only that none of the mission objectives had been met by nightfall on day one and that casualties were in the order of 40 percent. He knew also that his immediate superiors General Lohr of IV Air Fleet and Field Marshall von List of XII Army were aware of the situation.

Not all was lost, however. With Hill 107 in German hands he had his toe-hold. He needed to know if the Tavronitis end of the Maleme runway was accessible for troop-carrying Junkers. With exactly that element of resourcefulness wich was absent on the Allied side, he despatched a Captain Kleye from his staff in the early hours of that 2nd morning. Kleye carried out the test landing successfully. Student immediately ordered General Ringel to prepare to fly in with his 5th Mountain Division.

 

General Julius Ringel, commander of 5th Mountain Division

 

After preliminary bombing runs during the morning and early afternoon of the 2nd day Ringel’s Division began landing at Maleme. Each aircraft pausing briefly to disgorge its occupants before immediately taking off again. And they continued to maintain this at a rate of twenty planes per hour. Observing this from his Command Post several miles away at Cannea, Freyberg concluded that the Germans had decided to evacuate the surviving attackers. His self-delusion was complete.

 

With substantial numbers of German troops now assembling in the Maleme sector there could now only be one outcome to the Battle. And despite managing to finally put together a counter attacking effort the garrison was doomed.

 

Evacuation….Again

There then followed yet another chaotic forced march to the beaches. This was now the established trademark of the British Army when fighting Germans on foreign shores. The last Royal Navy ship departed from the southern shore on 1st June, having rescued all but 5000 of the survivors of the garrison. For the most part the evacuation process had been carried out in a disciplined manner. Although it was noted by some New Zealand troops as they climbed aboard their rescue ship, that some of the British Commandos who had landed later on the island to facilitate the evacuation, had managed to get themselves aboard before them.

 

In short, Freyberg’s entire defensive operation had been a disasterous failure. Outnumbering the german attack force by a factor of four to one, with regular ULTRA feeds as to German intentions and with, for the most part, experienced and gutsy troops at his disposal, the island had been lost in some ten days.

 

His reward for this dreadful performance was further command positions! It was Freyberg in charge at Monte Cassino in 1944 who, having repeatedly failed to dislodge German troops (including some of the very same fallschirmjaeger who had fought at Crete) decided that bombing the 800 year old abbey to matchwood was the thing to do. The fact that the Germans were not in the abbey prior to its destruction but then flooded into the wreckage where they continued to hold the British at bay, comes as no surprise.

23rd December 1688……..James II Ships Out to France.

And so the last monarch of the House of Stuart slipped away, without ceremony, on a ship to France and exile. There were few to witness his supine departure and Bonnie Dundee was not among them. The newly ennobled Viscount had taken his final leave of the King some days previously prior to James embarking on the barge at Whitehall that would transfer him to his final departure point.

James slips away from London on 18th December, heading for the coast.

James slips away from London on 18th December, heading for the coast.

During this exchange Dundee had brought to bear his not inconsiderable powers of persuasion in an effort to persuade James to remain and lead the fight to overturn his unlawful usurpation from the throne by William of Orange. However, this king had never been a man to bend his shoulder to the wheel of personal effort. And faced with a choice between maintaining, after a fashion, his regal court in exile, or the uncertainty and rough life of a counter-usurper he jumped on his boat and fled.

James heads into exile.

James heads for France and exile.

The only historical mark surviving from his precipitate flight is a blue plaque on the wall of the house where he spent his last night in his kingdom and a personal note he left outlining his grievances at the way matters had developed: a prolonged whinge about what was said and done by those who had schemed to bring about his replacement which does nothing to enhance history’s view of his shortcomings as a man and a monarch.

Plaque at the house in Rochester where James spent the night before sailing for France

Plaque at the house in Rochester where James spent the night before sailing for France

From the moment William had stepped ashore at Torbay in November with 21,000 troops behind him, support for James had gradually ebbed away. By the time that the single military action of the campaign was fought at Reading on 9th December , all was done and dusted. A combination of naked self-interest on the part of English and Scottish nobility and lack-lustre leadership from James had served the crown to William and his soon-to-be co-Ruler Anne, on the proverbial silver platter.

James' letter, intended for public consumption, comprising his list of whinges

James’ letter, intended for public consumption, comprising his list of whinges

A week before James’ final departure he had made an initial effort to flee to France. As in most of his kingly endeavours during his reign, he made a hash of it and had been compelled to return to London somewhat shamefacedly. It was at this point, 17th December, the day before he jumped onto his barge to head to Dover that he had a final conference with the last remaining men of substance that he had around him.

Engaged in a conference in Whitehall with various motley individuals who sought to give him false assurances, he withdrew out to the Mall, summoning with him, Viscount Dundee and Colin Lindsay, 3rd Earl of Balcarres.  The three men walked awhile and discussed the stark reality of the position.

We have no firm record of this conversation. James, it appears, was determined to flee, fearing that his life was in danger. Both Dundee and Balcarres would have sought to persuade him that if he was going to depart his capital that he should head north to Scotland where firm cause could be made. Their efforts were unsuccessful. Promising to send from France royal commissions for both men to drive his affairs civil and military, he then took his final leave of them.

At this very moment William was arriving in west London at the home of the Countess of Northumberland. The following day with James now gone, he took up quarters in St James’Palace.  On its military side, the Revolution was now accomplished.

 

 

 

 

 

9th December 1688 The Battle of Reading

This was the main military event of William of Orange’s Dutch invasion.

battleofreading_zpsnvkc818i

Britain, we are often told, has never been successfully invaded in a thousand years. Napoleon and Hitler both gave it serious thought but apparently realised the futility of the idea. And since William’s Norman knights destroyed the Shield Wall of Harold’s Saxons at Hastings in 1066, it has never been successfully attempted.

This, like so many other notions handed down to schoolchildren over the years, is in fact false.

In the dying months of 1688, as James II, the last incumbent of the House of Stuart struggled to hold on to the legacy which had been faithfully handed down continuously over three centuries, a hostile Armada sailed from Holland, intent on removing said monarch from his throne and seizing the kingdom by naked force of arms.

King James II

King James II

Ever since James had ascended the throne following the death of his brother, Charles II, in 1685, his calamitous and cack-handed rule had emphasised the divisions within his three kingdoms and given strength to the various bodies of self-interest who were opposed to his Catholicism on the grounds of their own narrow religious inclinations.

On 10th June 1688 James’ wife, Mary of Modena, gave birth to a male heir and the concerns of many of these bodies now crystallised and plotting for a military overthrow of the British Kingdom which had been on-going since April now burgeoned into action.

James' wife, Mary of Modena

James’ wife, Mary of Modena

 

Chief amongst these holders of vested interest was the Dutch Parliament, the States-General. The smouldering embers of the Franco-Dutch War of 1672-78 now re-ignited as this august body, envisaging a formal Catholic Alliance between the British and French thrones with the consequent damage to Dutch interests, moved to direct military intervention.

The Dutch States General in 1688. The principal instigators of the successful invasion of the United Kingdom.

The Dutch States General in 1688. The principal instigators of the successful invasion of the United Kingdom.

William’s fleet of some 500 ships, probably four times greater than the legendary Spanish Armada of 1588, set sail after on 1st November and made landfall at Torbay in Devon 4 days later. 21, 000 hostile and, mostly foreign troops stepped ashore with the Dutch Parliament’s front man, prepared to conquer the kingdom by force of arms.

William lands at Torbay

William lands at Torbay

Amongst their number walked that intrepid military opportunist Hugh MacKay. Under whose generalship  William’s now British Army would be destroyed at Killiecrankie the following summer.

Concern about the threat of a Dutch invasion had been clear for many months. In September King James had written to the Scots Privy Council with instructions that Scotland’s entire standing army, with the exception of the garrisons of Edinburgh, Stirling and Dumbarton Castle should forthwith heads south, initially to Carlisle and thence to Chester.

 

It has been argued cogently that these forces could do nothing to stem the progress of William’s invasion force and that had they remained then Dundee would have had considerably greater resources to hand when the decisive Scottish encounter was fought at Killiecrankie ten months later. But this is to surrender to the vicissitudes of hindsight.

 

One week after William’s forces landed, James raised the faithful Claverhouse to the Scottish peerage, conferring upon him the title Viscount of Dundee.

 

Meantime William’s army sat inactive at Exeter. King James’ forces took up station at Salisbury to block the route to London. And on 17th November the King left the capitol to take up personal command of the army.

James’ timorous nature and clumsy handling of his regal responsibilities now began to bear fruit as many of his senior commanders, more mindful of their personal interests than of their proper, sworn loyalty to their rightful monarch, now began to melt away.

 

Given this encouragement, William began to advance from Exeter and as they reached Wincanton, the increasingly irresolute James withdrew the army to Reading.

 

The newly ennobled Bonnie Dundee had watched James’ futile efforts at warfare and the treachery which had done much to make it so, with increasing dismay. Maintaining the Scottish cavalry as a single coherent body he marched it to Reading.

At this point he then endeavoured to present to his monarch the three realistic options which he now believed to face him: to give battle to William, to meet with him personally and negotiate a position or to “make his way to Scotland, upon the coldness he observed in the English army and nation”.

Viscount Dundee

Viscount Dundee

 

The accounts of the battle itself are brief and depressingly similar with the suspicion of convenient re-interpretation inevitably hanging heavily in the air. A contingent of Dutch troops, some 250 in number, against the town. They engaged a portion of James’ army, mostly Irish, and within a short period of time had mastered them. Much is made of the apparent efforts of Reading citizens to our hostile fire from their windows into the ranks of the home army but it stretches credibility somewhat.

 

Nonetheless, the outcome is beyond dispute and any realistic military opposition in England to the hostile Dutch invasion had come to an end.

 

The dismal consequences of this require no repetition: William and his spouse were installed first as joint rulers of England then at a disastrous Convention in Edinburgh in March, the decision was taken to confer the Scottish Crown upon them. Dundee’s subsequent military campaign to restore King James to his throne effectively ended at the Battle if Killiecrankie where Dundee fell at the moment of victory.

 

The unhappy litany of disaster then continues with such notable events as the Massacre of Glencoe and the signing of the Act of Union in 1707.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

18 May 1689…Tae The Lairds of Convention ‘Twas Claverhouse Spoke…

One of the most colourful and dramatic moments in the political / military historiography of 17th Century Scotland……

In the aftermath of James II/ VII’s supine abandonment of the throne of the Three Kingdoms following William of Orange’s hostile invasion in December 1688, the English Parliament fell over themselves to hand the crown to William and his good lady wife, Mary, as joint sovereigns.

The representatives of Scotland’s citizenry, conveniently present in London at the time, were summonsed to the royal presence that they might advise their Majesties on the most diplomatic manner in which to impose the same transition on the northern kingdom.

Amid much tiptoeing around vested interests it was recommended that a Convention be summonsed to gather in Edinburgh in March to pontificate and ultimately adjudicate on the appropriate decision: William or James.

On the 14th of March the Convention assembled in the ancient capital of Scotland. It was conducted in the same tiresome manner in which these issues are dealt with today; slowly, ponderously, to no good effect and all the time crying out for the decisive intervention of men and women of vision and courage.

Some who had once been for James were now for William. Others couldn’t make up their minds and amid it all courageous men of conscience, Dundee and Balcarrres principally, recoognising the constraints under which they worked, toiled to do what was necessary to achieve the required outcome.

The one factor in favour of King James’ cause was that Edinburgh Castle was held for him by the Duke of Gordon. Gordon, however, was a creature of his time; feckless and fearful and reluctant to put himself in a position where his status or political life was threatened.

It required stealthy visits under cover of night by Dundee and Balcarres to prevent the erstwhile nobleman from handing over the Royal fortress to the Williamites during the critical phase.

Ultimately, as the days and debates wore on, all could see whence the wind blew and one by one the nobility of Scotland, recognising where there best interests lay, gradually put aside their loyalty to their one true Monarch and, reluctantly or otherwise, backed the usurper.

Claverhouse led the, now, rebel cabal which determined that the best course of action was to convene a rival convention in Stirling that might deliberate on the matter in a safe environment, more conducive to balanced decision making. Those principals, still loyal to King James, agreed to leave the capital early on the morning of Monday 18th March.

At the appointed hour, Bonnie Dundee, at the head of his troop of horse which had been under his command through the previous ten years; at Drumclog, Bothwell Bridge and throughout his tenure as Sheriff of Dumfries and Wigtownshre, now assembled in the early morning sunshine.

It would have come as no surprise to the King’s future Lieutenant-General that they stood and waited alone. After a modest pause Dundee led them forth of the city, pausing only for that momentous moment when he climbed the rocks of Edinburgh Castle to the Postern Gate, where once more he sought to impose his moral and physical courage on Gordon to hold the castle for King James, come what may.

And then they were gone. That lone troop of horse, heading north up that road which in four months time would end at the Battle of Killiecrankie.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

30th January: The Executions of Charles I and Oliver Cromwell

On Tuesday 30th January 1649, Charles Stuart, 11th monarch of the House of Stuart, 2nd incumbent of the unified throne was marched from St James’ Palace to Whitehall to be publicly beheaded. His forbears had sat on the throne of Scotland for 261 years and now it was to end. In the snow, in a foreign land, in front of a silent mob.

Charles I heads for his execution

Charles I heads for his execution

Twelve years later, on Wednesday 30th January 1661, the disinterred body of Oliver Cromwell, which had lain in its grave for over two years, was taken from the Red Lion Inn in Holborn along with that of Henry Ireton, another of the regicides, to Tyburn where it was publicly hanged in chains. No public pronouncement of death being deemed necessary as the corpse had been such for some time.

After hanging there for some hours his body was taken down and the head struck unceremoniously from the rest of it whence it was placed high on a wooden stake for all to see.

Cromwell's corpse is hanged (with his fellow regicides Bradshaw and Ireton)

Cromwell’s corpse is hanged (with his fellow regicides Bradshaw and Ireton)

Cromwell: a man who had come close to being crowned himself and who was deemed then and since to represent the quintessentialness of British values to have his body treated in a manner so contemptuous that even now, three and a half centuries later we have no idea, and less concern, as to the location of said head.

Cromwell's severed head, as pictured in 1700. It's present whereabouts are unknown

Cromwell’s severed head, as pictured in 1700. It’s present whereabouts are unknown

As Cromwell’s corpse swung in the winter breeze, there was to be no dwelling on the manner in which events had unfolded. When he had died, the first time, he was at the height of his powers as Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of the Three Kingdoms. His position backed up by his New Model Army, an extremely effective military force of his own creation. Nonetheless, it was remarkable the extent to which the fortunes of his interests had deteriorated so much in such a short space of time.

For Charles Stuart, however, there was plenty of time for him to consider the vicissitudes of his life. By January 1649 he had been held prisoner for nearly three years. First by the Scots Covenanting Army in Newcastle, upon whose mercy he had thrown himself when he had exhausted all other options following the defeat of his army in the Civil War. And then when the Scots handed him over to the vengeful Parliamentarians he was held under house arrest in a number of different locations whilst said Parliamentarians made up their mind as to what to do with him.

During this time his prospects were not entirely grim with the Scots rising in arms once more, this time to seek his freedom. But these hopes were to be dashed as Cromwell and his New Model destroyed this army at the Battle of Preston. And as negotiations wound tediously on over the months it was only near the end when Parliament sought to indict him for treason that he would have had some idea that matters might end with his death.

Charles I at his trial. Parliament had sacked his barber and he would let no-one near him with a razor.

Charles I at his trial. Parliament had sacked his barber and he would let no-one near him with a razor.

Like the citizenry of England, the Scots were not averse to brutally assassinating their anointed monarch when the need arose. As when James I was done to death in the basement of Blackfriars Monastery in 1437. Or when James III died at the hands of a mysterious assassin in the immediate aftermath of the Battle of Sauchieburn in 1488.

Edward II of England’s grizzly end by means of a hot poker testifies to the enthusiasm with which such matters were conducted south of the border, albeit this happened after his abdication. However, we have the cases of Henry VI and the Princes in the Tower as eloquent evidence of due process in that part of the world.

However, in the long and colourful history of the Kingdom of Scotland there had never been efforts made to prosecute then execute a monarch. In England, however, not only was there a proud tradition of executing reigning monarchs, such as Lady Jane Grey in 1554. They had also taken it upon themselves to execute other peoples’ monarchs. The utterly reprehensible fashion in which Her Grace, Mary Queen of Scots was held prisoner for some nineteen years before a shameless show trial found her guilty of treason against a monarch of whom she was not a subject and condemned her to death, stands in clear testimony to the barbaric manner in which such matters have been conducted there over the centuries.

Mary, Queen of Scots at her execution in 1587.

Mary, Queen of Scots at her execution in 1587.

In January 1649, the first effort of the Rump Commons to raise the treason indictment against King Charles was immediately thrown out as unlawful by the three Chief Justices of the Common Law Courts of England. And so, in the high-handed manner in which this august body conducts its business, the Rump Commons unconstitutionally declared itself capable of legislating alone.

It then created a bill for the King’s trial and passed it as an act without royal assent. By this stage even the incorrigible optimism of Charles Stuart would have begun to give way to a more realistic assessment of the way the wind was blowing.

Charles had a firm and unaltered view of his God-anointed position. It was largely this firmness of purpose expressed as a wholesale refusal to compromise with any and all which had brought him into conflict with his Parliaments and his citizenry and which, arguably, had brought about the ruinous collapse in the fortunes of himself and those of the noble House of whom he was but the latest progeny.

So we can be reasonably sure that he did not entertain himself in his final hours with thoughts of what might have been done, by himself or by others, in the years gone by, to avoid this disastrous outcome.

Perhaps he might have handled his dealings regarding religious worship less high-handedly. The manner in which the he imposed his chosen form of worship on the people of Scotland led directly to the Signing of the National Covenant and thus to years of needless bloodshed which would continue long after his death.

The National Covenant is signed in 1638. The bloodshed of the Covenant Wars would soon follow.

The National Covenant is signed in 1638. The bloodshed of the Covenant Wars would soon follow.

Perhaps, he might have recognized the fundamental split that had occurred with his English Parliament and returned to the land of his fathers to re-establish the separate Kingdom of Scotland. Perhaps, in 1603, his father before him, James VI/I, might have given more thoughtful consideration to the offer of the joint crown in the first place. And instead of haring across the border at the first opportunity never once to return on the twenty-two years of his remaining life, he might have considered the possible downside of the arrangement. He might have pondered how a political arrangement with a single monarch presiding over two nations with separate sovereign Parliaments and with clear and historically proven diverse interests could ever possibly work.

No such thoughts occurred to either man. Nor indeed to those who came after. Charles’ son, Charles II, restored to the throne when the whole Cromwellian nonsense crumbled to dust after the man’s death, had too many other distractions to entertain him than taking action to provide long-term political stability.

And his brother, James II, had little enough time during his reckless reign to consider what could be done before jumping into the boat and heading for France, despite the entreaties of those who had the interests of him, his Ancient House and the people of Scotland at heart.

It was James’ reckless abandonment of his responsibilities that directly gave rise to another 57 years of bloodshed and sacrifice in the Jacobite Risings.

So perhaps there was a clear inevitability about the manner of his death. The mistakes, however, were not all his.

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17 January 1746, the Battle of Falkirk (II)

The 1745 Jacobite Rising lasted nine short months, from Charles Edward landing on Eriskay in July until the destruction of the Army at Culloden the following April. During this time there were three major battlefield engagements and at least two minor skirmishes. Charlie’s Jacobite Army won all of these engagements bar one.

You could fill a book analysing the reasons for the failure of the Rising. Many people have. It is this writer’s view that failure was inevitable. However, the military performance of the Jacobite Army throughout this campaign cannot be gainsaid.

The history of the Rising, commonly given to us, highlights; the Jacobite victory at Prestonpans, deemed to be simply lucky; the drive south into England which reached Derby before turning for home when victory was seemingly within their grasp; then the final denouement at Culloden with the apparently inevitable victory of professional, experienced British troops over badly organised, badly led, uncivilized highlanders.

This superficial assessment of events fails to recognise the two key conclusions that a proper, balanced analysis would reach. Firstly, the Jacobite Army was an extremely effective military force. Secondly, as was so often the case since its inception under Cromwell, the performance of the British Army was utterly sub-standard.

In this post we’re focusing on Falkirk, the second of the three battles, using it an attempt to answer two questions. How good a military force was the Jacobite Army, particularly the generalship, and how good or bad were the British Army who opposed them?

The Commanders

Lord George Murray commanded the Jacobite Army at Falkirk. At fifty years of age he had significant previous form with respect to Jacobite Risings. Out in the 1715 event, he commanded one of the three Atholl regiments in the Earl of Mar’s Army during this campaign and fought in the defeat at the Battle of Preston in November where he was taken prisoner. He escaped and made his way to France. In the 1719 Rising he had a prominent role at the Battle of Glenshiel, the only field action fought during that campaign. Murray commanded the right wing and was wounded during the action but escaped the field.

Lord George Murray de facto military commander during the '45

Lord George Murray de facto military commander during the ’45

He returned to Scotland in 1724 and was pardoned by the Government the following year. When Charles arrived at Blair Atholl in September 1745 at the head of the newly assembled army, Murray joined and was installed as Lieutenant-General. By the time the first battle of the campaign was fought, at Prestonpans on 21st September, Murray was virtually in full military command. However, Charles, as commander-in-chief was never fully comfortable with this arrangement and the relationship between the two men, both personally and in matters military was often disputatious. It was on Murray’s initiative that the bold move was taken the night before Prestonpans to change flanks by taking his infantry in narrow file across the marsh before falling on Cope’s redcoats, annihilating the British Government’s force.

This victory aligned with his comfortable command over the mostly highland army put him in a strong position. However, Charles was less than comfortable with him on a personal level from the outset and his counsellor’s dripped poison in his ear regarding Murray at every opportunity.

Murray was opposed to the Prince’s plan to march into England and at Derby he led the arguments in favour of retreating northwards. A decision which Charles was fully opposed to but had little choice other than to concur with in the face of almost unanimous agreement amongst the chiefs.

As the army made its way back north Murray took command of the rearguard, with redcoat detachments maintaining a continuous presence at his rear and flank. Twelve days, and almost two hundred miles into this ordeal when they reached Clifton Moor in Cumbria, Murray turned his rearguard of several hundred men around and engaged an enemy contingent of similar size under the personal command of the Duke of Cumberland, sending word up the line to Charles of his intentions.

Once again Murray won the day. And the Jacobite Army was able to continue its northward march untroubled by further enemy interference.

Henry Hawley commanded the Hanoverian force that was to fight at Falkirk. He was 67 years old and, like Murray, a Lieutenant-General. He too had previous form in Jacobite Risings. As Lieutenant-Colonel of the 19th Regiment of foot he fought at, and was wounded in, the Battle of Sheriffmuir. Which was fought on the same day as Murray led his force at Preston.

General Henry Hawley. Commander of the losing side at the battle.

General Henry Hawley. Commander of the losing side at the battle.

His upward progress in the British Army continued at a steady pace and in 1743 he was second-in-command of the cavalry at the Battle of Dettingen, during the War of the Austrian Succession. A commander with a particularly harsh reputation in a particularly harsh environment, James Wolfe once said of him “The troops dread his severity, hate the man and hold his military knowledge in contempt.”

On 29th December 1745, following General Cope’s disastrous defeat at Prestonpans, Hawley was promoted to Commander-in-Chief of George’s forces in Scotland. Following the destruction of his own command at Falkirk, he was involved at Culloden in the aftermath of which he further enriched his reputation for brutality in dealing with the prisoners of war.
The Armies

The Jacobite army consisted entirely of volunteers, not all of whom were convinced of the possibility of success. Prince Charles’ arrival on Eriskay on 2nd August 1745 with but seven companions was largely unexpected by those who he hoped to lead. Twenty six years had elapsed since the last failed restoration attempt and the weapons had long been lying under the thatch. Nonetheless, he made his way to Moidart on the mainland and, crucially, managed to convince both MacDonald of Clanranald and Cameron of Lochiel to commit to this fresh attempt. The fiery cross was duly sent out and the Prince penned many letters with the rally set for Glenfinnan on 19th August.
The Standard was raised, as it had been on four previous occasions and the Rising was on. Albeit the army at this point comprised little more than 1000 men, virtually all Highlanders.

In the traditional manner of Highland armies whether under the command of Montrose, Dundee or the Prince, this force would grow then shrink in size and grow again on a continual basis as the individual clan Chiefs took it upon themselves to be part of it or not. By the time they reached Derby in early December it was no more than 4000 strong. And the force that Murray commanded at Falkirk was at its largest with a strength of some 8000 men.

King George’s armies were of a different nature altogether. These were paid professionals benefitting from formal training and for the most part combat-experienced from either the continental battlefields of the War of the Austrian Succession, or from the subjugation of various indigenous peoples across the world.

When General Cope watched his defeated men flee the field at Prestonpans, the 2,500 men he saw disappear into the distance was probably more than the force that had routed them. During the rest of the campaign the redcoat army would outnumber the Jacobites. Hawley’s command at Falkirk being in the order of 9000 men.

In terms of cavalry the Jacobites had little to speak of and none that could be effectively deployed at a tactical level on the battlefield. The welcome arrival of French troops later in the campaign, in the form of the Irish Brigade provided some additional cavalry who were deployed in a peripheral role at both Falkirk and Culloden.

The Armies’ Performance Prior to Falkirk

In the first four months of the Campaign Murray had marched his little Army out of the Highlands and taken the Capital, unopposed by enemy forces. He’d destroyed the first army sent against him at the Battle of Prestonpans. He had then marched them all the way to Derby through what was unmistakably hostile territory, regardless of the false hopes held by Prince Charles and his immediate circle that huge numbers of latent, English-born Jacobites would flock to their banner.

On the way back, harried by redcoat soldiery at rear and flank, he had turned a portion of his force around and dealt a decisive blow against these, allowing the army to continue their return to Scotland without further menace.

By contrast the performance of King George’s men looked pretty poor. Having failed to stamp out the rebellion in its crucial, nascent stage they had then been forced to abandon Edinburgh to their enemy. Given the opportunity to crush it at a full, formal field engagement at the Battle of Prestonpans. Which was exactly the type of engagement where the esteemed quality of the British Army’s training, equipment, leadership and martial stock, provided huge superiority. And they failed utterly.

General Cope, as so many redcoat generals before and since, succumbed to the delusions they cherished so dearly. That there enemy was an undisciplined rabble, poorly armed and poorly led. Blinded by the chasm he believed to exist between his force’s superiority in all military aspects and the paucity of those of the Jacobites, he was outthought, outfought and completely outgeneraled. Like Cope, like Chelmsford at Isandlwana, Burgoyne at Saratoga, Percival at Singapore. Hubris abounded.

Granted when Murray viewed the dispositions of the two sides the evening before Prestonpans it would have given him cause for thought. Particularly with his personal experience of battlefield defeats against just this type of force. It’s at times like this that a resourceful commander has to think outside the box. Exactly as Cromwell did with his flank march across the Pennines prior to the destruction of the Scots Engagement army at the first battle of Preston in 1648, or moving front by ninety degrees under cover of darkness as, again versus the Scots, at Dunbar in 1650.

It could be argued that Murray was fortunate to have at his side a man with the key local knowledge of the path through the marshy ground which allowed the outflanking to take place. History has proven that able commanders make their own luck.

Falkirk

Now, early in the New Year of 1746, despite their unquestioned success on the battlefield up to this point, the Jacobite Campaign was in a poor position. All could see now that there would be no further support than that already shown, whether political or military. England was a busted flush so if final success was to be achieved it would have to be found in Scotland. And so they moved to besiege Stirling Castle, in the absence of any other constructive option.

A fresh Hanoverian army had came north under the previously mentioned General Hawley. And in early January it left Edinburgh to attack them. Fortunately for the Jacobites, Hawley was as much a typical product of the school of redcoat generalship as Cope.

As Hawley reached Linlithgow, the Jacobite advance guard moved back and Murray made preparations for a full engagement at Plean on 15th January.
Hawley, however, having reached Falkirk, moved into a most comfortable billet and showed no signs of moving against them, as he engaged with local sympathetic nobility and enjoyed their hospitality to the fullest. His army was encamped some 2000 yards away.

Once again, as one commander sat on his arse convinced of his forces’ superiority over his enemy, said enemy then exercised his resourcefulness to the fullest. Early on 17th January Murray led the Jacobite army directly towards Hawley’s encampment at Falkirk. His approach was designed to bring his army onto the high ground above the Hanoverians. Exactly the same approach used by Dundee when he left Blair Castle on the morning of Killiecrankie in July 1689 seeking General MacKay’s redcoats during the first Jacobite Rising.

As was his wont the marching order of the army was determined by the order of battle with the MacDonald’s promised the right wing of any battle to be fought that day: Keppoch’s regiment led the van, some 450 strong with Clanranald and the Glengarry men following.

At about 1 o’clock in the afternoon word was brought to Hawley that the Jacobite army approached. Unbelievably, Hawley chose to ignore this intelligence. Clearly no reconnaissance was being conducted and if Hawley had posted some form of rudimentary advance guard then posterity has failed to record the details. By 2 o’clock the attack was imminent. A further message was conveyed to the good general, by te commendable General Huske, outlining the peril of their position and this, it seems, was enough to move Hawley out of his chair.

As he galloped into the camp, sans hat and breathing heavily, his men were already preparing to move out and they headed up the hill in a relatively orderly if somewhat hurried manner. Their artillery train of ten stout cannon, however, became stuck in the mud at the foot of the hill and would be unavailable to them in the imminent action. This would be a boon to the Jacobites when you recall the early damage wrought on their line at Culloden when Cumberland had the full train at his disposal.

 

The Initial Dispositions

The first redcoat troops to reach the top of the hill were the dragoons. They could clearly see the Jacobite army approaching from the right. They proceeded on for several hundred yards until stopped by boggy ground, then wheeled right ready for action as the remainder of Hawley’s infantry then took position to the right of them as the Jacobite force opposite them formed up into line of battle.

At this point it seems the calm but cold weather conditions which had prevailed all day now deteriorated significantly, with strong wind and stinging raining now enveloping the battlefield. The rain was to have a major detrimental impact on the performance of all the muskets deployed on the field. Another element which would favour the more lightly armed Jacobites whose weapon of choice was the broadsword.

The opposing forces stood opposite each other for some quarter of an hour while their dispositions were completed in the lashing rain (see map). The redcoat front line comprised the three regiments of dragoons on the left and six regiments of infantry. Their second line comprised a further five infantry regiments with the Glasgow and Campbell militias posted a little to the rear in keeping with the British military doctrine of the time.

The best of the many maps of the Battle of Falkirk, From Katherine Tomasson's seminal biography of Lord George Murray

The best of the many maps of the Battle of Falkirk, From Katherine Tomasson’s seminal biography of Lord George Murray

The Jacobite were deployed in three lines with all their cavalry deployed in the rear rank as reserve. Their front line of 10 clan regiments was some 4000 men strong.

Due to the haphazard manner in which they had been brought to the field by their commander in the first place and the limitation placed on their initial dispositions by the boggy ground in the second, the redcoats had to make do with the lie of the land as they found it. The luxury of fighting on chosen ground a la Napoleon at Austerlitz or Wellington at Waterloo having been denied them by the incompetence of their general. The problem that they faced was the huge ravine which is the prominent feature on the battlefield even to this day.
During this period Lord George Murray stood at the front of the Jacobite right wing, in front of Keppoch’s men with targe and broadsword in hand. Beside him stood his aide-de-camp Anderson of Whitburgh, the invaluable young man who had guided the army through the morass before the attack at Prestonpans. Word was brought to Murray by Colonel Stewart who had been sent to reconnoitre the enemy position that there was no infantry support behind the redcoat dragoons.

 

The Battle Begins

At about four o’clock Hawley started the ball rolling and ordered the aforementioned dragoons on the right to charge. During their march to the field and as they formed up on it, the entire Jacobite army had been a model of military discipline. This continued now as the dragoon charge drew near. Every man on the right wing with a firearm awaited the signal from Murray before firing at the enemy. The ripple of fire ran down the whole wing and some eighty redcoat saddles were emptied.

This was enough for the rest who turned and bolted. Crashing in amongst the infantry regiment who were now the end of the line, they swept away the Glasgow militia and disappeared from the battlefield.

 

The Highlanders Charge

Whether directed by Murray or by their Chiefs, the MacDonalds now launched the full-throated highland charge which had been so effective on battlefields for centuries.

These were the men who would, of their own volition, charge again at Culloden three months later. Each of them having witnessed first hand on two previous occasions thick, red lines of British infantry disappearing like snow off a dyke in the face of such irresistible ferocity.

Within seconds the MacDonalds and the Athollmen who had stood behind them in the second rank, were in among the redcoat infantry with broadsword and dirk. Nine of the redcoat infantry regiments from both ranks now began to unfurl like ripped knitting. Only the three regiments from the right wing who had formed up on the other side of the ravine, having had no other option, were able to make a stand and the remnants of the other nine sought shelter behind them as they tried to conduct a fighting retreat of the hill.

Hawley’s second in command, Major Huske, who appeared to conduct himself on the day to a standard far higher than that of his commander, now sought to rally the lurking remnants one of the dragoon regiments, Cobham’s. Having done so they now, to their credit, launched a fresh attack on the Jacobite forces nearest them. However, the French troops of the Irish Piquets, counter attacked and drove them in turn from the field.

In due course Murray found himself at the bottom of the hill beside Hawley’s stranded cannon having a discussion with the Prince and his advisors concerning their next move.

From the initial charge of the dragoons the whole action had probably taken about ninety minutes. A second redcoat army had been driven from the field albeit without their complete destruction. But, as is always the case in the history of the Jacobite risings, there would be another one along soon.

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