Sunday, 15 June 2014

Jacobites Withdraw to the Highlands.

The Jacobites were unsure whether Falkirk really was a victory; some thought it was a battle half finished, that they should have pursued Hawley's demoralised army "with the rapidity of a torrent" according to the Chevalier Johnstone. In the end they decided to continue the siege of Stirling Castle, the Prince being the only one having any faith in the fatuous Monsieur Mirabelle. He wasted another ten days with no effect on the castle, ten days which tied up the whole Jacobite army, according to old General Blakeny. Meanwhile, Charles returned to Bannockburn House to be with the lovely Clementina. On 29 January, Lord George and the principal clan chiefs presented another memorandum to the Prince, no more acceptable to Charles than its predecessors. Basically, it told of widespread desertions in the Jacobite army, especially since Falkirk, the earlier loss and dumping of artillery, and saying that Charles' army was not in a fit state to meet the enemy. They recommended that they withdraw to the Highlands, where they could continue the war in their own territory, in country suited to their style of fighting. On receiving the memorandum the Prince was more than dismayed. He 'struck his head against the wall till he staggered, and exclaimed most violently against Lord George Murray'.(according to Hay of Restalrig). In the end Charles had to comply with the wishes of the majority. The retreat of the Highland army would begin on 1 February, but now came the news that the Duke of Cumberland and most of his large army had reached Linlithgow, not that far away. On the evening of 31 January Lord George and the clan regiments fell back on Bannockburn. Leaving a small cavalry unit at Falkirk to watch the enemy, and some troops to remain at Stirling, it was agreed that the Prince's army would rendezvous in a field just outside Stirling at nine that next morning. That morning, Lord George arrived at the appointed place to find not a soul there. The orders had been altered, or more probably disregarded by Charles and O'Sullivan. There was complete confusion as the Highlanders, in no order at all, streamed westwards in small groups. 'They left cannon and their carts upon the roads behind them'. Lord George was bitter and very angry and nothing could stop him from bursting in on the Prince at dinner 'after the most disrespectfull and impertinent manner', according to O'Sullivan. Lord George stated that 'it was a most shamefull and cowardly flight, Yet they were a parcel of villains who had advised him (The Prince) to it'. The fragmented Jacobite army headed north, some going to Doune and Dunblane, the Highland army marching to Crieff, while the rest of the army reached Perth. The Prince held a review of the army, and was able to establish that not more than 1,000 soldiers had deserted. A council of war was held that night in Crieff, and the atmosphere in that room was explosive in the extreme. Charles stated that 1,000 deserters was hardly a reason for a retreat, while Lord George was no less enraged by the total disruption of his plans for an orderly withdrawal. Mutual recrimination followed with even hints of treachery.'There never had been such heats and animosities as at that meeting'. Despite all of the ill-feeling, it was decided that the cavalry and the Lowland regiments march to Inverness along the coast (via Montrose and Aberdeen) under Lord George Murray, and the Prince with the clans would take the direct route to the Highlands. On 4 February both parts of the army set out for Inverness. Leaving Crieff on 4 February, the Prince spent two nights at Castle Menzies, reaching Blair Atholl on the 6th, where he stayed with Duke William until the 10th, 'hunting and hawking' according to information relayed to Cumberland. From Blair, Charles' army continued their march to Dalnacardoch, where the Prince stayed for two more nights, but his main army marched on to Ruthven, near Inverness. It was now the 12 February. By 19 February the Prince had taken over Culloden House, five miles from Inverness. This was the home of Duncan Forbes, Lord President of the Court of Session, an important government official who had vacated his home the day before, and left hurriely with Lord Louden. The Prince was joined two days later by Lord George Murray and his brother, Duke William of Atholl. Lord George related that his coastal march by way of Montrose and Aberdeen had been very difficult due to 'a vast storm of snow', making progress difficult, especially for the cavalry. It was not until 21 February that they finally reached Inverness.

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