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.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Charles XII's View on War

Charles XII of Sweden was one of the greatest soldiers of his age. God had uniquely prepared him to fight Poland and Russia, who were intent on stealing Swedish territory, in the Great Northern War (1700-1721). For nine years, the brilliant King of Sweden crushed his enemies until his defeat at Poltava. Even then, he still continued the war until he was killed in 1718 while besieging a fortress. This accomplished soldier said of war: "I have resolved never to start an unjust war but never to end a legitimate one except by defeating my enemies."

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Johnstone's Escape

Today is the anniversary of the Battle of the Plains of Abraham. As I have already written on it, I will not study the entire battle, but only focus on one man's escape during the rout of the French. The Chevalier de Johnstone was aide-de-camp to General Montcalm during the campaign. A year after, when he was taken prisoner by the British:

"An Englishman asked me one day the name of the general officer, mounted upon the black horse, who had passed their army at the moment after the defeat of our army, the 13th of September the year preceding. He added that they aimed at his horse in order to dismount him, and make him prisoner; but that it turned out that his horse was invulnerable, to escape the thousand musket shots which assailed him on all sides. I answered him that it was myself; that chance had conducted me there without any desire or ambition to attain that salutation, worthy in effect of a general officer, but that their soldiers had not followed their orders, for the discharge they had aimed at me fell in the brushwood. I felt the sound of the balls which passed me at the height of the horizon, like a handful of pease which they had thrown in my face; and I showed him my dress, in which a ball had carried away a piece of cloth from the shoulder."

God miraculously preserved Chevalier Johnstone from harm.

A general officer, who could be Chevalier Johnstone, exhorts the French troops just before they march to that fateful battle on the Plains of Abraham.

Sunday, September 11, 2011


Today, 302 years ago, the Battle of Malplaquet in the War of the Spanish Succession was fought.

The War of the Spanish Succession was fought from 1702-1713 to determine who would be King of Spain. There were two claimants to the throne: the Austrian Charles III and the Frenchman Philip V. Austria, England, the Netherlands, and Prussia supported Charles III and France and Bavaria supported Philip V. There were three theatres of war: the Netherlands/Belgium, Spain, and the Rhine River.

England sent the Duke of Marlborough to head the Allied war effort in the Netherlands with Prince Eugene of Savoy as his second-in-command. Marlborough had beaten the Franco/Bavarians at Blenheim, at Ramillies, and at Oudenarde. Prince Eugene had worked with him except at Ramillies, where he defeated the French at Turin instead.

The war had not gone well for the French. Cities had surrendered, three French armies had been destroyed, and commanders had been killed or captured. A few bright spots shone through, like Berwick's victory at Almanza and Tesse's repulse of Eugene at Toulon. But Marlborough had never been defeated in battle.

Louis XIV assigned the campaign of 1709 to his best French general, Marshal Villars, with Marshal Boufflers as his second-in-command. Villars had entrenched near Malplaquet with a new French army and was prepared for battle. He had perhaps 80,000 soldiers and few veterans.

By contrast, Marlborough and Eugene had united and had 100,000 soldiers ready to take the French lines. Most of them were veterans. The Allies had 110 cannons, against 80 French cannons.

Early in the morning, the battle began with a heavy artillery duel. The Dutch assaulted the right wing of the entrenchments but were forced back by a heavy counterattack. Marlborough sent Eugene into the left with a heavy column of troops. They advanced, but were met with heavy cannon and musket fire. Nevertheless, the Allied forces stormed through. Eugene was wounded in the head, but not mortally.

With the left secure, the allies poured cavalry through the center. Boufflers led the French cavalry, including the Maison du Roi (King's Guards--Gardes du Corps, Gendarmes, Chevaux-Legers) in six counter-attacks on the Allied cavalry.
Villars was wounded in the knee and was moved from the field. Boufflers withdrew the French army neatly away, while the Allies did not attempt a pursuit. The French had lost 9,206 men and the Allies, 20,316.

So who won? Marlborough forced the French from their entrenchments and proceeded to capture the city of Mons, but Villars had inflicted heavy casualties on the Allies. Marlborough was fired in 1711, and the command given to the Duke of Ormonde.

Malplaquet bears similarities to Bunker Hill. Both saw an entrenched army forced from their fortifications while inflicting heavy casualties on their opponents. And yet the heavy casualties made the British more eager for peace.

Note: Casualty figures are taken from John Cornelius O'Callaghan's excellent study History of Irish Brigades in the Service of France

Friday, September 2, 2011

Beatrix Jenkinson

"If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men"--Romans 12:18

Picture from From left to right: Mary Jenkinson, Charles Edward Stuart, Beatrix Jenkinson.

Beatrix Jenkinson is relatively unknown. I have not yet found the date of her birth, death, or marriage (supposing she was married). She appears for a short time on the stage of history and disappears just as suddenly, leaving behind a reputation for kindness.

One thing that is known is that she had at least one sister named Mary and one brother. Her father was minister at Tranent Church in Scotland. In the year 1745, Bonnie Prince Charlie landed in Scotland to reclaim the crown of England, Scotland, and Ireland for the Stuarts. He raised an army of Highland Scots and marched on Edinburgh, which was defended by General Sir John Cope. On his march, Prince Charles stopped at Duddingston, where he met Beatrix and Mary Jenkinson. He called them the "bonniest lassies I have seen in Scotland".

On September 21, Charlie finally brought General Cope's army to battle at Preston Pans. In fifteen minutes the British were routed, with General Cope running for dear life. Only his subordinate Colonel James Gardiner continued the battle until he was wounded with a Lochaber axe. Colonel Gardiner was carried to Tranent Church and cared for by Beatrix Jenkinson until he died on the morning of September 22.

This, then, is all that is known of Miss Jenkinson, who met Prince Charles and cared for his enemy, Colonel Gardiner.