The Sausagemen of the Inglorious '45
Well, all that's about to change. As you can read in one of my recent posts, I had the privilege of being a part of Virtual Lard 3 on 3rd October. During that weekend, I found myself blethering with Doug about ITLSU and TotW (that's If the Lord Spares Us and Triumph of the Will if those consonant clusters didn't mean anything to you.) And we discovered a kindred experience: collecting two armies so you can introduce others to the joys of Lard. Incidentally, I also picked him up wrong when he talked about his armies and Oz. I thought we were on the other side of the world to each other. You can imagine my surprise and delight when I learned he was just down the road an hour or so from myself!
Then something exciting happened. Instead of working on two opposed armies, we decided to work on a project together. And as we went through the list of possibilities, we settled on the Jacobite Rebellion of 1745, which, as you may or may not know, culminated in the battle of Drummossie Moor, or Culloden as it is more commonly known, on 16th April 1746.
Doug decided to drive himself mad with the plaid by taking on Bonnie Prince Charlie, and I decided to drive myself slightly less mad with the plaid by concentrating on Cumberland's Men.
And because I've got some models on order, and I'm eagerly awaiting their arrival, I can't show you much progress so far. But I can concentrate on some myth busting about the '45, which had some seriously inglorious consequences, matched only by the amount of inglorious and erroneous nationalistic Prebble-induced twaddle.
Let me explain...
It's a battle between the Stuarts and Hanoverians...?
Nope. Not even close. It wasn't some doomed attempt to retake the thrones of England, Scotland and Ireland they had lost because James VII and II did a runner when Orange Bill came a calling. Their main motivation was the opposition to the Union of 1707 (celebrated by the erection of a mile long street in my home town of Aberdeen). This union of parliaments just over a century after the Union of Crowns led to the creation of the United Kingdom of Great Britain on 1st May 1707.
In 1715, some 22,000 fought for the Jacobites, but by the time of the 1745 rebellion about 11-12,000 Scots were still prepared to take up arms. The big upward shift in Jacobite support in 1715 came as a result of widespread opposition to the Union of 1707. Jacobite recruitment stressed this.
So, it's the defeat of Scottish Nationalism then...?
Not in the modern sense of nationalism, it wasn't. Whilst the Stuarts wanted to be restored to the thrones of England, Scotland and Ireland, and be based in London, but the Britain they and their supporters conceived was very different from the one that developed in the 18th century. Instead, there would have been a more confederal multi-kingdom monarchy, with capitals and parliaments in Edinburgh and Dublin (Dublin still had a parliament at this time, of course).
A Stuart Scotland would probably have been ‘independent’ and have had its own army, but would likely not have had much room to pursue a separate foreign policy from London. In this sense, it would have been in a position close to that enjoyed by the British Empire’s dominions, such as Canada and Australia, in the 19th century.
In the 18th century Scots in general were typically depicted wearing the kilt in political cartoons and satires. So initially Culloden was seen as a victory over all “rebellious Scots” as the National Anthem puts it, in a verse now no longer sung...
But it was a battle between Catholics and Protestants, right..?
Statistically, the most likely recruit for the Jacobite army came from the north east of Scotland and an adherent of the Scottish Episcopal Church. Episcopalians supported the Stuarts because they believed that if they were restored, Presbyterianism would be disestablished in Scotland. Most of the Highlanders who fought for the Stuarts were Episcopalian too. Although there were a number of Catholics, these were a minority of the army, and that minority becomes more stark when the Scottish and Irish troops in the French service are excluded.
Okay then, but this was definitely a battle between a modern army and a more archaic Highland force, right..?
Well, only if you want to ignore the facts, because if you call the Jacobites a ‘Highland army’ you're playing into Prebble and modern day politics and not the actual composition of the Jacobite army.
Simple fact is, the Jacobite army at Culloden was organised along regimental lines. These regiments were named after their commanders as was still the case in the British army at the time. The Jacobite army was drilled with a mixture of French and British tactics and they had a large amount of artillery compared with Montrose a century before. Transport difficulties, not archaic army structure was to blame for much of its absence at Culloden.
The battle of Culloden had to be fought because the Jacobite army needed to protect Inverness, its last major supply depot. As it was, supplies were low. Charles’s army was too large and too conventionally organised to fight a guerilla war, and would have broken up if this had been attempted. And with many units from the Scottish Lowlands, we simply can't call Charles Edward Stuart's army a Clan army. And let's not forget the French, Irish and English soldiers involved in the Jacobite cause, including a soap boiler from Herefordshire.
Some of the most effective units at Culloden were not Highland ones. The Forfarshire Regiment held its shape and retired in good order; most of the men made it home safely to Angus. And some of the bravest actions of the battle were carried out by Lord Lewis Gordon’s brigade from Aberdeen and Banff, Lord John Drummond’s Royal Scots in the French service and Viscount Strathallan’s Perthshire Horse.
Oh, and Charles' army received their orders in English. Not The Gaelic.
Let's talk about weapons for a moment. Because for so long, the conflict has been presented as the inevitable victory of modern Britain over backward Scotland. However, the Jacobite army at Culloden was heavily armed with French and Spanish muskets, as well as captured British ‘Brown Bess’ Land Pattern muskets. The diameter of the musket ball is slightly smaller in the French and Spanish guns, so it is easy to tell these apart (Brown Bess was 19mm with a 17.5mm ball and French/Spanish patterns were 17.5mm with a 16.5mm ball).
It appears that the Jacobites fired many rounds at close quarters with the British front line with one British officer having six musket balls through his coat alone. They hoped to dislodge the British from flanking positions, and likewise to slow down the British cavalry advance in the final stages of the battle. Because British cavalry and dragoons typically used swords rather than guns as they attacked, the battle can be more accurately described as a victory for British swords over Jacobite muskets than the other way round.
Doug's Blog to see his progress as well!
As always, thanks for stopping by!