Thursday, 14 August 2014

The Final Chapter.

People have always asked whether Charles and the Jacobite army could have made it all the way to London, instead of turning back at Derby, a decision which infuriated the Prince. It may well have been possible to reach the capital since King George and his court were actually preparing to quit London for Germany. London was in turmoil. However, one has to ask whether an army of 5,000 would have been able to hold and police this city's vast population, even if the various English armies had been unable to intercede ? I cannot imagine that a Stuart prince and large numbers of 'barbarous' Highlanders would have been at all welcome in London. The large armies of Cumberland and Wade were closing in , and I fear that the Jacobite adventure might have ended there and then. Charles's army could have made it to London, but within a short time defeat was inevitable. There would be no 'coronation' for Charles at Westminster, nor anyone willing to anoint him. From the outset, Charles's problem was an inability to maintain an army of sufficient size. The promises that Jacobites would rise in England, Ireland and Wales came to nothing, but there were plenty among his court of "Irish travellers" eager to perpetuate these lies and raise false hopes. Facts should be faced. The Jacobites in Scotland were the only people that Charles could count on. The French, English etc. never lived up to their promises. When they turned back at Derby, some of the Highland chiefs had argued that Charles should have stopped in Edinburgh as 'King of Scotland', and that they had been prepared to defend Scotland, but not England. That was disingenuous. They had in fact promised to see his father regain all Three Crowns of Britain. They possibly saw what lay ahead if their army continued towards London. The Highland clansmen were fearless and expert soldiers, but they were suited to fighting in rough, hilly terrain. This suited their guerrilla style, but against a professional army, fully equipped and highly trained, with a large complement of cavalry and modern artillery, they were always going to lose. The Hanoverian Army in early 1746, under the command of the Duke of Cumberland, was a highly professional and battle hardened army. The earlier Government army of late 1745 (vide Prestonpans) was anything but. The English people never took to the Stuarts , neither when they reigned in Scotland nor when they came south to England as their monarch. Queen Elizabeth, the Virgin Queen, had her cousin, Mary Queen of Scots (Mary Stuart) executed to ensure she wouln't take the English throne. Charles I, a Stuart king, met with the same fate. The Restoration of the Monarchy in favour of the Stuart, King Charles II, only happened because at that time the alternatives were unacceptable, and the people were tired of conflict. His brother James II later came to the throne and lasted only a few years before he was forced into exile. The Stuart line was strongly Catholic, and since the Reformation, the peoples of England and Scotland were uneasy with monarchs who might still have some allegiance to the Church of Rome. The suspicion that Britain would once more have a Catholic king would prove too much for the people of Britain. This would be the biggest barrier of all for Charles to overcome. Charles Edward Stuart arrived in Scotland with next to nothing, and one year on, he left these same shores with nothing. Between times he and his Jacobite army won a few battles and scared the living hell out of the government in London. Charles was bold and at times courageous, never more so than the time he spent as a fugitive in the wilds of the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, and he with a massive price on his head. However, those he left behind paid an even greater price after 'Bliadhna Tearlach'. THE END, LE FIN, AIG AN DEIREADH .

Sunday, 10 August 2014

'Bliadhna Tearlach' ( TheYear of the Prince ).

The planned French naval invasion of 1744 was a genuine attempt to help the Prince win back the Three Kingdoms for his father, James III. However storms and British warships saw the enterprise end in disaster. The French would not mount another invasion force like this again. SOME COMMENTS AND OBSERVATIONS ON THE "YEAR OF THE PRINCE". 1. Charles would not be deterred. He made his way to Scotland in a hired French ship with just a handful of men he could trust. In the face of the unknown, this demonstrated considerable courage. 2. He was depending on the loyalties of Jacobite clans who had supported the Stuart Cause in the past. Coming ashore in Moidart, Charles knew that this was a strong Catholic area, well away from the notice of Protestant observers. Here he was able to summon the chiefs of the most powerful clans. Unless these clan chiefs could be persuaded to join with him, Charles knew that the rising would be dead in the water. Even Murray of Broughton would have called it a day. 3. For any chance of success, Charles would need Clan Cameron to join the Rising. Their chief, Young Lochiel , did not believe a rising would succeed and told the Prince so. The Prince summoned him to a meeting at Kinlochmoidart, and knowing the historic allegiance the Camerons had to the Stuarts, he played on this and won over Lochiel by suggesting he could sit at home in Achnacarry and read in the newspapers about his Prince's battles. The Prince was astute enough to know that with this very large clan on his side, it was likely that many others would follow. 4. It was strange that Lord George Murray had 'signed up' for the Government side, and only a week later joined the Jacobites. He said his heart had ruled his head. Murray of Broughton would continue to use this strange volte face to infect the Prince with suspicions of Lord George's treasonable intent. The Prince thereafter never fully trusted his leading Lieutenant-General. This would have an effect on decision making and indeed on the whole conduct of the campaign. 5. Lord George Murray was a natural general in war. He was brave and the ideal man to lead the Highlanders in their particulr attacking style. However he could be fierce in thought and word, and in demeanour, proud and haughty. He resigned his commission twice in high dudgeon, once when the Duke of Perth took over the seige of Carlisle, and again when Lord Cromartie crossed into Easter Ross in pursuit of Lord Louden's Government forces. In each case Lord George had not been 'consulted'. He was difficult and irascible, did not take kindly to being countermanded, disliked the Irish and preferred his own council. He had found it difficult to throw his lot in with the Jacobites, and his decision was a great sadness to his wife. 6. Lord Elcho knew Prince Charles and his father, the Old Pretender, as far back as their time in Rome. Even then, he tried to disuade Charles from contemplating an invasion of Britain, unless he could command 30,000 men and large supplies of money and arms. He was not impressed with the Prince from these first meetings, but did join him in Edinburgh in September, 1745, 'after much soul searching'. He was an able and fearless soldier, but was said to be brutal in battle, giving no quarter. He detested Charles' Irish advisors. He is damning of Charles in his "Memoirs". While he was in exile in France, Lord Elcho wrote to the British authorities seeking an amnesty, that on his return he would swear allegiance to the Hanoverian King George II. Not surprisingly, his appeal was rejected. 7. The Jacobite army was fortunate at Prestonpans when they were shown a way through the marshes placing them in an ideal position to defeat General Cope's 'unasailable' force. 8. Fortune favoured the Jacobites again in the way they gained entry into the town of Edinburgh through an open port gate. 9. The Jacobites (and often it was Charles himself) made mistakes in releasing prisoners on parole whose freedom had been won by the oath they took never to take up arms against the Prince and his army herein after. They rarely held to that oath and shortly rejoined their regiments to fight another day. 10. As the Jacobite army retreated north, Charles left a garrison of 400 men within Carlisle to 'keep a foothold in England'. This was a ridiculous decision taken solely by the Prince during the period when he no longer took council. The armies of Cumberland and Wade took Carlisle's surrender with ease, and these poor souls were brutally executed or transported to the colonies. This was a high price paid by the 'defenders' of Carlisle for the worthless decision of the Prince. 11. While in the area of Shap near Penrith, the Hanoverian army was closing in, attemping to prevent the Jacobite forces from reaching Scotland. The Prince had given orders that the retreat must continue, However, Lord George Murray decided to make a stand at the village of Clifton against English cavalry which had constantly harrassed them. A good number of the cavalry were killed while the rest scattered. You could say that Murray had disobeyed the Prince's orders, or you could say that the action at Clifton had secured the Jacobite rear and given them extra time to reach the Scottish border. 12. The biggest and most costly mistakes made by the Prince relate to the Battle of Culloden. A good part of the Jacobite army was missing or late for the battle. The soldiers had not had proper food in many days and were forced to go scavaging, and in consequence they were weak and tired. Then Charles had the mad idea to march these poor men through the night to 'surprise' Cumberland's army ( no doubt to repeat their success at Prestonpans). In single file they marched for seven hours in the dark, so tired that many of them fell asleep by the roadside. By the time their long line neared Culloden, it was dawn. No 'surprise' to Cumberland now, but surprising that the Jacobite troops had made it at all. The choice of site for the battle was Charles's alone, and on that he would not change his mind. The flat marshy plain of Culloden was about the worst choice he could have made, totally unsuited to the Highlanders' way of fighting. Depriving the Macdonald Clans of the right wing of the battle line at Culloden was crass stupidity on the Princes' part (to appease Lord George Murray), and one can undertand their reluctance to move or fight when battle was engaged. The result of these things could only have one outcome to the battle.

Thursday, 7 August 2014

'A Desparate Undertaking,' 'A Very Mad Design.'

From around 1650, the Stuarts either lost hold of the British Crown or held on to it very tentatively. For Charles Edward Stuart it would be the last throw of the die for the Stuart Cause. Almost all of the Jacobite supporters in France, barring a significant few, and the clan chiefs back in Scotland advised him that his quest to regain the Three Crowns for his father could only end in failure, if indeed an invasion of Britain was actually possible. The news that Charles intended to come to Scotland seems to have filled almost all of the Jacobite leaders in Scotland with dismay. Lochiel said it was a 'desperate undertaking', Macleod of Macleod considered the 'Design a vey mad one'. The Duke of Perth thought otherwise, as did the Prince's French based advisors, George Keith, the 10th Earl Marischal of Scotland, who had fought at the Battle of Sherrifmuir during the 1715 Rising, Aeneas Macdonald from Kinlochmoidart, now a banker in Paris, and John Murray of Broughton (Peebleshire) whose brief seems to have been courier of messages between Jacobites in Scotland and Charles in France. On his first meeting with Murray in Paris, the Prince said that 'with great keenness' he was determined to land in Scotland the following summer, 'if he only brought a single footman'. Was this keenness or naivite' ? In a letter to his father, James III, in February 1745, he said that 'it would be of great comfort to me to have real business on my hands'. Charles was looking for an adventure, a successful one which would see his name written into the annals of history. The Jacobite leaders in Scotland were now extremely concerned that their plotting was beginning to draw attention in the wrong quarters, and in a letter despatched to the Prince through Murray of Broughton, they strongly urged him most strongly not to come. That advice was very clear. Many of Charles' companions were Irish, as many of them had found employ in the Irish Regiments of the French Army. Their Irish Catholicism was a big plus for Prince Charles and he came to place a lot of faith in them. Sir Thomas Sheridan, his former tutor, now seventy, had travelled from Rome to be with him in France. Another favourite with Charles was the Irishman John William O'Sullivan, fat and well-fed, 45 year old, who left the priesthood to become a soldier of fortune. O'Sullivan seemed to keep the Prince in a good humour, not an easy task, it seemed. The next Irishman was the the exiled Protestant clergyman, the Reverend George Kelly, once secretary to a Jacobite bishop, who spent many years in the Tower of London before escaping to France. Another Irish companion of Charles was another Kelly, Father Kelly who had been Charles confessor in France. These close Irish companions of the Prince were either old or unfit or both, and the sum of their military experience amounted to little or nothing. The Irish had little to lose and argued constantly with the Scots close to the Prince. These Irishmen were full of enthusiasm for the idea of an expedition. The Scots banker, Aeneas Macdonald, said that the 'expedition to Scotland was entirely an Irish project'. I believe that without this coterie of Irishmen, the Prince might not have embarked on this 'adventure'. The French got word in November 1743 that a group of notable English Jacobites had made a request for armed intervention, and in the following month, December 1743, 38 transports were assembled at Dunkirk, ready to transport 12,000 men under the command of Marischal Saxe. An escorting force of 22 warships were gathered at Brest. In early March 1744 the French expeditionary force with the escorting convoy of warships set sail into the English Channel / La Manche but were picked up by 20 British warships. The French ships changed course and avoided action with the British, but on the 6 March, a very violent and long lasting storm destroyed most of the transports with the loss of all hands. The ship carrying both Marischal Saxe and Prince Charles somehow escaped. A few days later Saxe decided to abandon the whole venture. Charles was left in utter despair, the best hopes of an invasion destroyed and unlikely to be repeated. Had this invasion landed, the course of history might have been different. Fortune eluded Charles Stuart.

Friday, 1 August 2014

Charles Stuart and his Hanoverian Cousins.

The name Stewart (or Stuart) derives from the title, High Steward of Scotland, bestowed by the King on the Anglo-Norman knight, Walter Fitzalan in the middle of the 12th century. High Steward was a high office in the Scottish royal household, responsible for the overall administration of the court, and control of royal revenues. His position gave him the right to lead the army into battle. Walter was the first High Steward of Scotland. A descendant of his, also called Walter Fitzalan, became the 6th High Steward of Scotland, now known as Walter Stewart. He married Marjory Bruce, daughter of King Robert the Bruce. Their son, Robert, eventually became King Robert II of Scotland. He was the first of the Stewart family to ascend the throne of Scotland in the year 1371 and the first in a long line of Stewart Kings of Scotland and later of Britain. The first Ruler of the United Kingdom of Great Britain was King James VI of Scotland, the son of Mary Queen of Scots. In 1603 he ascended to the thrones of Scotland, England and Ireland, and would be named King James the First of Great Britain. After this, problems arose between the Stewart kings and their subjects, often orchestrated by the religious divide caused by the Reformation. Later Stewart monarchs( Charles I) acted like 'Little Gods on Earth,' whose Divine Right to Rule was their firm belief, but not that of the people's parliament. What followed were terrible civil wars, the last regicide in Britain, a people's republic and the Restoration of the Monarchy under Charles II. When he died in 1685, his younger brother was crowned King James II, but his reign only endured until 1689. People thought that James was a practicing Catholic, and when his second wife was expecting a child, the fear of the country reverting to Catholicism, brought matters to a head. Parliament invited his Protestant daughter, Mary, and her husband William III of Orange (in Holland) to accept the Crown of Great Britain. Civil war followed, and in 1690 at the Battle of the Boyne in Northern Ireland, the army of James II was defeated. James went into exile in France, never to return.. The last Stuart monarch of Britain was Queen Anne, after whose death in 1714 saw its future rulers chosen from princes of a foreign country. At critical times, after King James II was defeated and forced into exile in France, various attempts were made to place a Stuart back on the throne of Britain. In 1689 Viscount Graham of Claverhouse ('Bonnie Dundee') raised an army in support of the deposed King James II. On the death of Queen Anne in 1714, the last Stuart ruler of Britain, the accession of the Hanoverian Prince George provoked a rebellion under the Earl of Mar in 1715. In 1719 a small army of Scots and 200 Spanish troops were defeated at Glenshiel, at which a young Lord George Murray took part. Finally, we have the 1745 rebellion/rising in support of Charles Edward Stuart. It is noticeable that each of these risings took place in Scotland - not in England nor Ireland. Religion, the Highland Clan structure and the politics of the day would be factors in making Highland Scotland a place touched by the 'spirit of rebellion'. Queen Anne died without an heir in 1714, and the issue of succession could only be solved by retracing the Stuart line back to King James I of England (and VI of Scotland). Everyone knows that King James had a son, the unfortunate Charles I, but few are aware of the existence of a daughter, Elizabeth (1596-1662) who married Frederick, King of Bohemia. In biblical parlance, Elizabeth Stuart begat Sophia, Electress of Hanover who begat a son George who was invited over to Britain to be their new king, King George I. There followed a series of "German Geordies", whom Charles Stuart and his supporters looked on as usurpers of the Three Crowns of Britain. In the years 1745 and 1746, the Crown of Britain was fought over by the Jacobite and Hanoverian forces, and the winner would take all.