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.

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