Friday, July 27, 2012

Mercy at Prestonpans

Prince Charles and his Highland army cheering after the Battle of Prestonpans.  
A captured cannon can be seen in the foreground

So inconceivably rapid was the onset, that the Camerons and Stewarts of Appin on the extreme left had swept over Whitefoord's artillery before he had time to fire more than five hasty rounds.  The guard, overwhelmed in the wave of tartan, made a brief stand behind the guns and then fled for their lives, leaving the two brave officers, Lieutenant-Colonel Whitefoord and Major Griffith, to the mercy of the enraged Celts.  Griffith was severely wounded and made prisoner, Whitefoord alone remained at his post, and when asked by Stewart of Invernahyle to surrender, made a desperate lunge at his antagonist with his sword by way of answer.  Invernahyle adroitly caught the point of the weapon in his targe, and in another instant Whitefoord would have met his fate at the hands of Invernahyle's stalwart miller, who seeing his laird in danger raised the Lochaber-axe he was carrying to cut down the obstinate Lowlander, but fortunately for that officer, Invernahyle was able to restrain his excited clansman, and Whitefoord seeing the utter futility of further resistance yielded to his magnanimous preserver."
"Whitefoord did not forget his obligation to Invernahyle, and after Culloden, when that chieftain was a fugitive among the hills, the brave colonel made the most strenuous efforts to secure his pardon, threatening to resign his commission if a protection was not granted for the lives and property of his preserver's wife and children.--Vide Introduction to "Waverley."
from pg. 98, volume 2, Life and Adventures of Prince Charles Edward Stuart by W. Drummond Norie

Friday, July 13, 2012

The Cross at Carillon

On July 8, 1758, the British army of General James Abercromby--16,000 strong--attacked the French defenses outside Fort Carillon during the French and Indian War (1754-62).  For the entire day, the British infantry struggled through the dense abbatis (sharpened logs) which the French had hurriedly constructed.  Every time, however, they were thrown back by General Montcalm's 3,000 French regulars.  Near the end of the day, the 42nd "Black Watch" Highlanders attacked.  A few penetrated the abbatis, climbed the wall, and fought hand-to-hand with the French until being bayoneted.  At c. 6:00, the British attempted one more attack, but were thrown back.  The rangers and provincial (colonial) troops covered the retreat of the British army.

This battle was Montcalm's greatest victory, and he knew who had given it to him.  When it became clear that the British had retreated, he erected a cross with this inscription:

"Quid dux? Quid miles?
Quid strata ingentia ligna?
En signum! En victor! Deus hic,
Deus ipse, truimphat!"

In 1911, William Charles Wood translated the Latin into English, while keeping the poetry:

"General, soldier, and
Ramparts are as naught!
Behold the conquering Cross!
'Tis God the triumph wrought!"

Oh, for more Christians and historians to see all of life as this general saw it!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Theresa Sobeska, Electress of Bavaria

"He hath delivered my soul in peace from the battle that was against me: for there were many with me"--Psalm 55:18

"The lamentable situation of the Electress and her children appealed strongly to the chivalry of Marlborough.  "It has made my heart ache," he wrote to the Duchess, "being very sensible how cruel it is to be separated from what one loves."
"On November 10 a treaty was concluded by the King of the Romans and the Bavarian representatives, whereby the Electress undertook to disband her husband's army, to surrender his fortunes, and to restore his conquests.  In return she was permitted to reside at Munich, to receive a sufficient revenue, and to maintain a personal guard of 400 men."--pp. 245, 251, Wars of Marlborough by Frank Taylor

Theresa Kundegarde Sobieska was born in 1676.  In 1695, she married Maximilian II Emmanuel, Elector of Bavaria.  1695 was the middle of the Nine Years War, as France and the Holy Roman Empire clashed in Europe.  The Nine Years War ended in 1697, and Bavaria enjoyed peace.

But the peace was broken in 1702 with the outbreak of the War of the Spanish Succession.  Max Emmanuel changed sides, joining France against the Holy Roman Empire.  This new Franco-Bavarian force was poised along the Rhine, until the Duke of Marlborough shattered it at the Battle of Blenheim.  The Elector with the remains of his army joined the French in their retreat, leaving his wife as vice-regent of Bavaria.  The Allies wasted Bavaria with fire and sword, to compel the Elector to surrender.  On November 10, 1704, the Electress signed a treaty with the Holy Roman Emperor.  When the war ended in 1713, the Elector returned to his dominions, which had been saved for him by his wife, Theresa Kundegarde Sobieska.