The Battle of Culloden

A Historical Poem

’TWAS in the year of 1746, and in April the 14th day,
That Prince Charles Stuart and his army marched on without delay,
And on the 14th of April they encamped on Culloden Moor,
But the army felt hungry, and no food could they procure.

And the calls of hunger could not brook delay,
So they resolved to have food, come what may;
They, poor men, were hungry and in sore distress,
And many of them, as well as officers, slipped off to Inverness.

The Prince gave orders to bring provisions to the field,
Because he knew without food his men would soon yield
To the pangs of hunger, besides make them feel discontent,
So some of them began to search the neighbourhood for refreshment.

And others, from exhaustion, lay down on the ground,
And soon in the arms of Morpheus they were sleeping sound;
While the Prince and some of his officers began to search for food,
And got some bread and whisky, which they thought very good.

The Highland army was drawn up in three lines in grand array,
All eager for the fray in April the 16th day,
Consisting of the Athole Brigade, who made a grand display
On the field of Culloden on that ever-memorable day.

Likewise the Camerons, Stewarts, and Macintoshes, Maclachlans and Macleans,
And John Roy Stewart’s regiment, united into one, these are their names;
Besides the Macleods, Chisholms, Macdonalds of Clanranald and Glengarry,
Also the noble chieftain Keppoch, all eager the English to harry.

The second line of the Highland army formed in column on the right,
Consisting of the Gordons, under Lord Lewis Gordon, ready for the fight;
Besides the French Royal Scots, the Irish Piquets or Brigade,
Also Lord Kilmamock’s Foot Guards, and a grand show they made.

Lord John Drummond’s regiment and Glenbucket’s were flanked on the right
By Fitz-James’s Dragoons and Lord Elcho’s Horse Guards, a magnificent sight;
And on the left by the Perth squadron under Lord Strathallan,
A fine body of men, and resolved to fight to a man.

And there was Pitsligo, and the Prince’s body guards under Lord Balmerino,
And the third line was commanded by General Stapleton, a noble hero;
Besides, Lord Ogilvie was in command of the third line or reserve,
Consisting of the Duke of Perth’s regiment and Lord Ogilvy’s– men of firm nerve.

The Prince took his station on a very small eminence,
Surrounded by a troop of Fitz-James’s horse for his defence,
Where he had a complete view of the whole field of battle,
Where he could see the front line and hear the cannons rattle.

Both armies were about the distance of a mile from each other,
All ready to commence the fight, brother against brother,
Each expecting that the other would advance
To break a sword in combat, or shiver a lance.

To encourage his men the Duke of Cumberland rode along the line,
Addressing himself hurriedly to every regiment, which was really sublime;
Telling his men to use their bayonets, and allow the Highlanders to mingle with them,
And look terror to the rebel foe, and have courage, my men.

Then Colonel Belford of the Duke’s army opened fire from the front line,
After the Highlanders had been firing for a short time;
The Duke ordered Colonel Belford to continue the cannonade,
To induce the Highlanders to advance, because they seemed afraid.

And with a cannon-ball the Prince’s horse was shot above the knee,
So that Charles had to change him for another immediately;
And one of his servants who led the horse was killed on the spot,
Which by Prince Charles Stuart was never forgot.

’Tis said in history, before the battle began
The Macdonalds claimed the right as their due of leading the van,
And because they wouldn’t be allowed, with anger their hearts did burn,
Because Bruce conferred that honour upon the Macdonalds at the Battle of Bannockburn.

And galled beyond endurance by the fire of the English that day,
Which caused the Highlanders to cry aloud to be led forward without delay,
Until at last the brave Clan Macintosh rushed forward without dismay,
While with grape-shot from a side battery hundreds were swept away.

Then the Athole Highlanders and the Camerons rushed in sword in hand,
And broke through Barrel’s and Monro’s regiments, a sight most grand;
After breaking through these two regiments they gave up the contest,
Until at last they had to retreat after doing their best.

Then, stung to the quick, the brave Keppoch, who was abandoned by his clan,
Boldly advanced with his drawn sword in hand, the brave man.
But, alas! he was wounded by a musket-shot, which he manfully bore,
And in the fight he received another shot, and fell to rise no more.

Nothing could be more disastrous to the Prince that day,
Owing to the Macdonalds refusing to join in the deadly fray;
Because if they had all shown their wonted courage that day,
The proud Duke of Cumberland’s army would have been forced to run away.

And, owing to the misconduct of the Macdonalds, the Highlanders had to yield,
And General O’Sullivan laid hold of Charles’s horse, and led him off the field,
As the whole army was now in full retreat,
And with the deepest concern the Prince lamented his sore defeat.

Prince Charles Stuart, of fame and renown,
You might have worn Scotland’s crown,
If the Macdonalds and Glengarry at Culloden had proved true;
But, being too ambitious for honour, that they didn’t do,
Which, I am sorry to say, proved most disastrous to you,
Looking to the trials and struggles you passed through.

This Afternoon a Messenger arrived from the Duke of Cumberland, with the following Particulars of the Victory obtained by his Royal Highness over the Rebels, on Wednesday the 16th instant near Culloden.

Inverness, April 18.

On Tuesday the 15th the Rebels burnt Fort Augustus, which convinced us of their Resolution to stand an Engagement with the King’s Troops. We gave our Men a Day’s Halt at Nairn and on the 16th marched from thence, between Four and Five, in four Columns. The three Lines of Foot (reckoning the Reserve for one) were broken into three which made the three Columns equal, and each of five Battalions. The Artillery and Baggage followed the first Column upon the Right, and the Cavalry made the fourth Column on the Left.

After we had marched about eight Miles, our advanced Guard, composed of about forty of Kingston’s and the Highlanders led by the Quarter-Master-General, perceived the Rebels at some Distance making a Motion towards us on the Left, upon which We immediately formed; but, finding the Rebels were still a good Way from us, and that the whole Body did not come forward, we put ourselves again upon our March in our former Posture, and continued it to within a Mile of them, where we again formed in the same Order as before. After reconnoitring their Situation, we found them posted behind some old Walls and Huts, in a Line with Culloden House. As we thought our Right entirely secure, General Hawley and General Bland went to the Left with the two Regiments, of Dragoons, to endeavour to fall upon the right Flank of the Rebels, and Kingston’s Horse was ordered to the Reserve. The ten Pieces of Cannon were disposed, two in each of the Intervals of the first Line, and all our Highlanders (except about one Hundred and Forty which were upon the Left with General Hawley and who behaved extremely well) were left to guard the Baggage.

When we were advanced within 500 Yards ofthe Rebels, we found the Morass upon our Right was ended, which left our right Flank quite uncovered to them; His Royal Highness thereupon immediately order’d Kingston’s Horse from the Reserve, and a little Squadron of about Sixty of Cobham’s which had been patrolling. to cover our flank; and Pulteney’s Regiment was order’d from the Reserve to the Right of the Royals.

We spent above half an Hour after that, trying which should gain the Flank of the other; and His Royal Highness having sent Lord Bury forward within a Hundred Yards of the Rebels, to reconnoitre somewhat that appeared like a Battery to us, they thereupon began firing their Cannon, which was extremely ill serv’d and ill pointed: Ours immediately answer’d them, which began their Confusion. They then came running on in their wild Manner; and upon the Right, where His Royal Highness had placed himself, imagining the greatest Push would be there, they came down three several Times within a Hundred Yards of our Men, firing their Pistols and brandishing their Swords but the Royals and Pulteney’s hardly took their Firelocks from their Shoulders, so that after those faint Attempts they made off; and the little Squadrons on our Right were sent to pursue them. General Hawley had, by the Help of our Highlanders, beat down two little Stone Walls, and came in upon the right Flank of their second Line.

As their whole first Line came down to attack at once, their right somewhat out flanked Barrel’s Regiment, which was our Left, and the greatest Part of the little Loss we sustained was there; but Bligh’s and Sempil’s giving a, Fire upon those who had out flanked Barrel’s soon repulsed them, and Barrel’s Regiment and the Left of Monroe’s fairly beat them with their Bayonets: There was scarce a Soldier or Officer of Barrel’s, and of that Part of Monroe’s which engaged, who did not kill one or two Men each with their Bayonets and Spontoons.

The Cavalry, which had charged from the Right and Left, met in the Center, except two Squadrons of Dragoons, which we missed, and they were  gone in Pursuit of the Runaways: Lord Ancram was order’d to pursue with the Horse as far as he could and did it with so good Effect, that a very considerable Number was killed in the Pursuit.

As we were in our March to Inverness, and were near arrived there, Major Generai Bland sent the annexed Papers, which he received from the French Officers and Soldiers surrendring themselves Prisoners, to his Royal Highness. Major General Bland had also made great Slaughter, and took about 50 French Officers and Soldiers Prisoners, in his Pursuit.

By the best calculation that can be made, ’tis thought the Rebels lost 2000 Men upon the Field of Battle, and in the Pursuit. We have here 222 French, and 326 Rebel Prisoners, as will appear by Lists hereunto annexed. Lieutenant Colonel Howard killed an Officer, who appeared to be Lord Strathallan, by the Seal and different Commissions from the Pretender found in his Pocket.

‘Tis said Lord Perth, Lord Nairn, Lochiel, Keppock, and Appin Stuart, are also killed. All their Artillery and Ammunition, of which a List is also annexed, were taken, as well as the Pretender’s and all their Baggage. There were also 12 Colours taken.

All the Generals, Officers, and Soldiers, did their utmost in his Majesty’s Service, and shewed the greatest Zeal and Bravery on this

The Pretender’s Son, it is said, lay at Lord Lovat’s House at Aird, the Night after the Action. Brigadier Mordaunt is detached with 900 Volunteers this Morning into the Frazier’s Country, to attack all the Rebels he may find there. Lord Sutherland’s and Lord Reay’s People continue to exert themselves; and have taken upwards of 100 Rebels, who are sent for; and there is great Reason to believe Lord Cromarty, and his Son, are also taken. The Monro’s have kill’d Fifty of the Rebels in tbeir Flight. As it is not known where the greatest Bodies of them are, or which Way they have taken in their Flight, his Royal Highness has not yet determined which Way to march. On the 17th, as his Roysl
Highness was at Dinner, three Officers, and about sixteen of Fitz James’s Regiment, who were mounted, came and surrenderd themselves Prisoners.

The kill’d, wounded, and missing of the King’s Troops, (as by the annex’d List,) amount to above 300.

The French Officers will be all sent to Carlisle, till his Majesty’s Pleasure shall be known.

The Rebels, by their own Accounts, make their Loss greater by two Thousand than We have stated it. Four of their principal Ladies are in Custody, viz. Lady Ogilvie; Lady Kinloch, Lady Gordon, and the Laird of McIntosh’s Wife. Major Grant, the Governor of Inverness, is retaken; and the Generals Hawley, Lord Albeirmarle, Huske and Bland, have Orders to enquire into the Reasons for his Surrendring of Fort George.

P.S. Lord Cromarty, Lord McCleod his Son, with other Prisoners, according to the inclosed List, are just brought in from Sutherland by the Hound Sloop, which his Royal Highness had sent for them, and they are just now Landing.

London Gazette, 26th April 1746


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  1. In the year 2017, on the 16th day of April at 12:25 am

    […] one therefore I have added a link to it on another site rather than post the whole poem here.  The Battle of Culloden was written by William […]

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