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Digital Subscriptions > History Revealed > February 2016 > Battlefield: Culloden

Battlefield: Culloden

A single, brief-but-bloody battle, fought on a Scottish moor on a cold spring day in 1746, brought an end to the Jacobites’ bid to reclaim the British crown for the Stuarts. Julian Humphrys explains all…
OPENING SHOTS The redcoats open fire on the Jacobites, as re-enactors bring the last battle of the ‘Forty-Five’ rising to life

Massacre of the clans

Five miles east of Inverness, on a bleak, windswept moor on 16 April 1746, two armies faced each other. For one of the commanders, Charles Edward Stuart, this was the culmination of a journey that had begun the previous July, when he landed in the Outer Hebrides. He had come to lead a French-backed bid to claim the British throne for his father, the exiled James Stuart.

Support for Charles, also known as Bonnie Prince Charlie, had been decidedly lukewarm - many Protestant Scots were hostile to the Catholic Stuarts. But he cobbled together an army that, in September, won a stunning victory over a Government force at Prestonpans near Edinburgh. In early November, he and his army crossed the border into England. By December, he’d reached Derby – only six days’ march from a very-worried London. Few English Jacobites had joined Charles, however, and Government regiments – many brought back from fighting in France – were massing. The decision was taken to retreat to Scotland.

Despite winning a second victory, this time at Falkirk, the Jacobites fell back into the Highlands, where they prepared for a fresh invasion in the spring. But the Government’s forces were also on the move and, in February, a substantial army under the Duke of Cumberland marched into Aberdeen.

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The February 2016 issue of History Revealed