Friday, 28 March 2014
The Government in Disarray as Charlie's Army Make Their Move.
Given that Charles Edward Stuart landed in Scotland in a very remote place, where historically Jacobite sympathies were strong, the government's "intelligence services" in Scotland were at that time woefully inadequate. When there were strong reports of Charles' arrival in Scotland, there were many in high places who refused to accept the reports as true. Even as Charles was preparing to sail to Scotland, intelligence was reaching the Hanoverians of his every move. I think that even then the English had little concern for the "Young Pretender" in a hired boat. But that boat did reach the Isle of Eriskay on the 23 July, albeit with a handful of supporters, no money and no weapons. The main players within the Scottish government at this time were 1.The Marquess of Tweeddale, Secretary of State for Scotland. Top position in Hanoverian Scotland. 2.Andrew Fletcher, Lord Milton, The Lord Justice-Clerk. 3.Duncan Forbes of Culloden, Lord Presidentof the Court of Session. 4.William Grant, the Lord Advocate. Between Eriskay on 23 July and Glenfinnan on 19 August we have records of letters involving the four lumenaries mentioned above. 30 July. Letter from the Marquess of Tweeddale to Lord Milton, the Lord Justice-Clerk dismissing reports that Prince Charles had left the port of Nantes on July 15th ".... it was said that he was actually landed in Scotland , which last part I can hardly believe ...." 4 August. Letter from Lord Milton to the Marquess of Tweeddale. " I do not yet hear any surmise of the Pretender's son having landed. My colleague the Lord Advocate (William Grant) likewise discounts the rumours. 10 August. Letter from Lord Milton to the Marquess of Tweeddale. " Regarding the Pretender's eldest son having landed in Uist, I have heard nothing further worth your Lordship's knowing." For the rest of August conflicting reports of Prince Charles' whereabouts, went back and forth, with little or no action taken by the government or the army. On the 7 August a 'credible' report was received from the Reverend Lauchlin Campbell, Church of Scotland Minister in Ardnamurchan(A Whig and a Protestant) to say that the Prince was now living in his parish, and that "all my Jacobite members were in high spirits." What Lord Milton wrote to Tweeddale in late August left no doubt that Prince Charles had landed and was raising an army of Highlanders. Lord Milton had received an eye-witness report from James Mor Macgregor about the raising of the Jacobite Standard at Glenfinnan. This man, the son of Rob Roy Macgregor, was a government informant who travelled easily through the Highlands,and was generally well received by most Highlanders. His reports were always reliable, for which he was probably well paid. In addition a government soldier who had been taken prisoner and witnessed the Rising at Glenfinnan, passed this information on to the relevant authority. As if to rub a little salt in Old Tweeddale's wound, and clinch matters, Lord Nimmo was bold enough to mention that Charles Stuart "was dressed in a white coat and a brocade vest and that he had the Star and George, and a broad-brimmed hat with a white feather, and other small ornaments unworthy of mention here." In Scotland, where immediate action was required, the man responsible "for the defence of the realm" was General Sir John Cope, recently appointed Commander-in-Chief, Scotland. He had less than 3000 men under his command, with dragoon squadrons untried in battle and scattered across the country, and their horses out at grass. He had three infantry regiments under strength and a few weak companies of the newly raised Highland Regiments (Hanoverian) under Lord Loudoun. The Government and the army in Scotland were ill-informed and ill-prepared for any rebellion by a sizeable force, Jacobite or otherwise. Things had been quiet for many years and the army and its horses were literally put out to grass. And before Eriskay, who could have blamed Tweeddale for ignoring this "fly in the ointment" to continue his pleasant, carefree existence in his comfortable quarters in Edinburgh.