Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Battle of Preston Pans

Today is the anniversary of the Battle of Preston Pans, the greatest of all Jacobite victories in the Jacobite Rising of 1745.

When "Bonnie Prince Charlie" landed in Scotland to reclaim the throne for his father, James III (whose supporters were known as Jacobites), the Highland clans quickly formed an army for him. George II sent General Sir John Cope to stop this "Young Pretender". After almost fighting a battle in the Correyaireck Pass, Cope retreated to the Lowlands. Charlie and his army followed, and captured Edinburgh. General Cope was too late to save Edinburgh, but he set up his army on Preston Pans.

Charlie was ready for a battle, so his Jacobites moved to Preston Pans too. That evening, the armies kept rearranging for battle. In the morning, a thick fog covered the battlefield. The Highlanders charged through the fog and, missing the infantry in the middle, routed the dragoons on the flanks of the enemy. With their flanks open, the British infantry was rolled up by the wild, sword-swinging Highlanders in less than fifteen minutes. The first major conflict of the Jacobite Rising of 1745 was a huge victory for the Jacobites. General Cope actually brought the news of his own defeat, unlike his valiant subordinate Colonel Gardiner, who died in battle while leading seventeen soldiers who remained on the battlefield. The battle is celebrated in the song, Hey Johnny Cope, Are Ye Waulkin' Yet?

Following this battle, Charles and his army had much of Scotland to themselves. They enlarged the Jacobite army, until they daringly marched into England.

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