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Reign of George I page 6


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Argyll soon appeared before the citadel with two or three hundred dragoons and an equal number of foot, as well as the city guard and volunteers, and the horse militia of the neighbourhood, completing a force of about one thousand two hundred men. He summoned Macintosh to surrender, but was answered by a Highland gentleman, named Kinnachin, that they did not understand that word, and, he hoped, never would; that they had made up their minds neither to ask nor to give quarter; and that, if Argyll was ready to give an assault, they were ready to receive it. Argyll reconnoitred the defences of the citadel, and saw that he had no power to compel a surrender; and he was speedily recalled from the attempt by news that Mar, taking advantage of his absence, was marching on Stirling. Singularly enough, as he commenced his return to prevent the loss of Stirling, Macintosh, afraid of being surrounded by fresh forces, and attacked by artillery from the city, was stealing out of Leith by night, and directing his course southward. He crossed the head of Leith pier, his men wading to the knees in the water, reached Musselburgh before midnight, and early on Sunday morning, the 16th, was at Seton Place, the seat of the earl of Wintoun, about seven miles from Edinburgh, where he took position behind a strong old garden wall, and prepared for the attack of Argyll. This general, however, was already in motion in a reverse direction. He reached Stirling in time to re-occupy it, but Mar, with four thousand men, and as many more following, was the same day at Dumblane, within six miles of his camp. A general of any spirit would have fallen on Argyll whilst his men were exhausted with fatigue; but Mar, who was cowardly and incompetent, retreated again towards Perth, pretending that the country round Dumblane was destitute of provisions, and that it was necessary to protect the north from incursions from the troops of Sutherland.

Meantime Macintosh, after waiting two days at Seton House in expectation of an attack from Argyll, and deprived of any intelligence of his departure by a body of volunteers and militia under lords Torphichen and Rothes lying betwixt him and the city, resumed his march on the 19th across the heaths of Lammermuir, and joined the English insurgents at Kelso on the 22nd. This united force now amounted altogether to about two thousand men - one thousand four hundred foot commanded by Macintosh, and six hundred horse under lord Kenmure and Mr. Forster. This force might, in the paucity of troops in the service of the king, have produced a great effect had they marched unitedly southward and engaged general Carpenter, who was advancing from Newcastle, with only about nine hundred cavalry, to attack them; or had they gone at once north, taken Argyll in the rear, and then combined with Mar. But after marching to Jedburgh and then to Hawick, the Scotch and English came to two different opinions. The Scotch would not enter England, being persuaded by the earl of Wintoun that, if they went into England, they would be all cut to pieces, or be sold for slaves. Macintosh was willing to enter England, but they would listen to no one but Wintoun. The English, on the contrary, would not remain in Scotland. Lord Derwentwater and his brother, Charles Radcliffe, amongst the English, were the only ones who joined in opinion with the Highlanders. They thought that by joining Mar they might make themselves masters of all Scotland; would thus raise the courage of the Scots, and create a terror of them amongst the English, whereas, if they failed in England, their ruin was irretrievable. When the English would not listen to this, Charles Radcliffe requested that he might have a hundred horse to take his fortune along with the Highlanders; but this was refused on the ground that it would weaken their forces. At last the Highlanders consented to remain with the English so long as they remained in Scotland. After marching about for some time the English leaders declared that by their letters they learned that, on appearing in Lancashire, two thousand men would join them. They resolved, therefore, to march south, and lord Derwentwater protested against this step in vain. At length five hundred Highlanders went off to the north, Macintosh and the rest joining the English and marching south. They entered England on the 1st of November, and took up their quarters at Brampton, in Cumberland, for the night, where Forster opened a commission from Mar, appointing him their commander in England. They next day marched to Penrith, where the bishop of Carlisle and lord Lonsdale awaited them at the head of the posse comitatus, amounting to ten thousand men. These, however, fled on their approach, leaving behind them numbers of horses, which were very useful, and troops of prisoners, which, being only an incumbrance, were allowed to go away. As they advanced through Cumberland, they proclaimed the pretender at Kendal, Appleby, and Kirby Lonsdale, but no one joined them, the leading catholics in that country and Westmoreland, Mr. Howard of Corby and Mr. Curwen of Workington, having been secured by government in Carlisle Castle. At Kirby, however, some of the Lancashire catholic gentry met them, and they now marched across that county to Lancaster. That town was garrisoned by troops under the notorious colonel Chartres, who attempted to blow up the bridge over the Loyne; but as the inhabitants resisted, he quitted the place, and the rebels entered it, and released such of their friends as were in the prison, amongst them one Thomas Syddal, who was confined for heading a mob to pull down a meeting-house in Manchester. On the 9th they marched into Preston, Stanhope's regiment of dragoons retiring at their approach. There they were in the midst of a very catholic population, and gentlemen of that persuasion joined them with their tenantry and servants to the amount of one thousand two hundred. This reinforcement, however, was rather a mob than an army. The men came armed with old guns, swords, and pitchforks; but of these, even, they had a great deficiency, and of discipline they had none.

But here their career was doomed to end. Preston had witnessed the rout of the royalists by Cromwell, and it was now to witness the rout of the rebels by the royalists. Carpenter, on finding that the insurgents had taken the way through Cumberland, also hastened back to Newcastle and Durham, where he was joined by general Wills. Both these officers had served with distinction in the Spanish campaign, and were well able to cope with a far more formidable body. Wills was in advance with six regiments of cavalry, mostly newly-raised troops, but full of spirit, and well officered. He came near Preston on the 11th of November, whilst Carpenter was approaching in another direction, so as to take the enemy in the flank. Forster quickly showed that he was a very unfitting commander. He was at first greatly elated by the junction of the Lancashire men, but, on hearing that the royal troops were upon them, he was instantly panic-stricken, and, instead of issuing orders, or summoning a council, he betook himself to bed. Lord Kenmure roused him from his ignominious repose, but it was too late; no means were taken to secure the natural advantages of the place. The bridge over the Ribble, which might have kept the enemy at bay, was left undefended; so that when Wills rode up to it on the morning of the 12th, he imagined that the rebels had evacuated the place.

It is difficult to conceive, also, what Macintosh had been about. To a veteran officer as he was, the gross neglect of every advantage of the ground must have been something wonderful; yet he, too, appeared to have equally disregarded them. Besides the bridge over the river, there was a deep and hollow way of half a mile from the bridge to the town, with high and steep banks, from which an army might have been annihilated; but all was left undefended. It was only when Wills advanced into the town that he became aware that the rebels were still there, and found his path obstructed by barricades raised in the streets. His soldiers gallantly attacked these barricades, but were met by a murderous fire both from behind them and from the houses on both sides. They could neither force the barricades, nor take much effect on the enemy, who were sheltered by the houses. Night came on, and they were obliged to retire, having suffered considerable loss. It was now seen what a bloody reception they would have met with had the bridge and the hollow way been properly manned. As it was, there was the prospect of a desperate conflict. Carpenter, it is true, had now come up, but together their forces, according to the duke of Berwick, did not exceed one thousand men, whilst those of the rebels more than doubled theirs. But, luckily for the royal forces, there was wanting a head in the rebel commander. With all the advantages on his side, he secretly sent colonel Oxburgh to propose a capitulation. Wills at first refused to listen to it, declaring that he could not treat with rebels who had murdered many of the king's subjects; but at length he said, if they would lay down their arms, he would defend them from being cut to pieces by the soldiers till he received further orders from government.

On learning this proposal, the rebel troops were in a fury of rage. The Highlanders demanded to be led by their own officers against the enemy, in order to cut their way through them; but their officers were not so unanimous, and, after a scene of confusion, during which, had Forster appeared, he would have been killed with a hundred wounds, the unfortunate men surrendered. Lord Derwentwater and colonel Macintosh were given up as hostages, and the men laid down their arms. Lords Derwentwater, Widdrington, Nithsdale, Wintoun, Carnwath, Nairn, and Charles Murray, and many members of the ancient northern families of Ord, Beaumont, Thornton, Clavering, Patten, Gascoigne, Standish, Swinburne, and Shafto were amongst the prisoners. When the numbers of the prisoners, however, came to be counted, it was very evident that great numbers had managed to escape or disguise themselves as natives of the town, for they only amounted to one thousand four hundred - scarcely more than the Lancashire men who had but just before joined them. Only seventeen of the rebels had been killed, and seventy of the king's troops, with as many more wounded.

This branch of the rebel force was thus completely removed from the field, and on the same day a far more sanguinary conflict had taken place betwixt the chief commanders on the two sides, Argyll and Mar, at Sheriffmuir. Mar had completely justified the observations of Sir Walter Scott, in his notes to the Sinclair MSS., that, "with a far less force than Mar had at his disposal, Montrose gained eight victories and overran Scotland. With fewer numbers of Highlanders Dundee gained the battle of Killiekrankie; and with about half the troops assembled at Perth, Charles Edward, in 1745, marched as far as Derby, and gained two victories over regular troops. But in 1715, by one of those misfortunes which dogged the house of Stuart since the days of Robert II., they wanted a man of military talent just at a time when they possessed an unusual quantity of military means." Mar, in fact, was a most miserable general; he had no single qualification for it - boldness, promptness, or adroitness. He lingered his time away when he should have been acting, and acted without judgment or energy when he did act. Whilst he had been loitering at Perth, Argyll had been continually augmenting his forces, and by the commencement of November had more than doubled them by reinforcements from Ireland. It is indeed strange that both in 1715 and 1745 the Stuarts should have neglected Ireland, a country of like faith with themselves, and burning under a sense of grievous wrongs from England. It would seem as if the disgust with which James II. quitted that country still survived in his descendants; but, if so, it was a most impolitic disgust, for, besides that it deprived them of a powerful aid, it enabled their enemy to bring over large bodies thence against them, which otherwise must have been retained to keep down the Stuart partisans. By the* accession of force from Ireland, Argyll had now raised his army to three thousand three hundred men, of which one thousand two hundred were cavalry.

It was the 10th of November when Mar, aware that Argyll was advancing against him, at length marched out of Perth with all his baggage, and provisions for twelve days. He was joined at Auchterarder the next morning by general Gordon, whom he had sent to Argyllshire to muster the western clans. He had been by no means successful, yet, when the two bodies were united, they amounted to ten thousand men, but a very motley crew, Highlanders and Lowlanders, motley in their several garbs, many of them without arms, and most of them very insufficiently armed. Sinclair says, "Though we had more men, the duke had more arms in a condition to fire." On the 12th, when they arrived at Ardoch, Argyll was posted at Dumblane, and he advanced to give them battle.

The wild, uneven ground of Sheriffmuir lay between them, and it was on this spot that Argyll on quitting Stirling had hoped to meet them. He therefore drew up his men on this moorland in battle array, and did not wait long for the coming of the Highland army. They were as eager for the fight as the soldiers of Argyll. As the earl called around him his officers, and asked whether they should fight or retreat - for even then he could talk of a retreat - they interrupted him by impatient cries of "Fight! fight!" The soldiers threw up their caps and bonnets, raised loud hurrahs, and showed every demonstration of longing for the combat.

It was on a Sunday morning, the 13th of November, that the battle of Sheriffmuir was fought. Princes and. commanders seem to have a penchant for fighting on a Sunday. What numbers of the most sanguinary battles have taken place on a Sunday! and those rulers and governors who are of all men the most severe against the desecration of the Sunday by the people, terming often innocent amusement such desecration, think it no desecration at all to engage on that day in the mutual slaughter of thousands of men made in the image of God.

Argyll commanded the right wing of his army, general Whitham the left, and general Wightman the centre. He calculated much on this open ground for the operations of his cavalry. On the other hand, Mar took the right wing of his army, and was thus opposed, not to Argyll, but to Whitham. The Highlanders, though called on to form in a moment, as it were, did so with a rapidity which astonished the enemy. "I never saw," said Wightman. in an official despatch," regular troops -more exactly drawn up in line of battle, and that in a moment, and their officers behaved with all the gallantry imaginable." They opened fire on Argyll so instantly and well, that it took the duke's forces by surprise. Argyll was compelled to be on the alert. He observed that Mar had drawn out his forces so as to outflank him; but, casting his eye on a morass on his right, he discovered that the frost had made it passable, and he ordered major Cathcart to lead a squadron of horse across it, whilst with the rest of his cavalry he galloped round, and thus attacked the left wing of Mar both in front and flank. The Highlanders, thus taken by surprise, were thrown into confusion, but still fought with their wonted bravery. They were driven, however, by the momentum of the English horse backwards; and betwixt the spot whence the attack commenced and the river Allan, three miles distant, they rallied ten times, and fairly contested the field. Argyll, however, bore down upon them with all the force of his right wing, offering quarter to all who would surrender, and even parrying blows from his own dragoons which went to exterminate those already wounded. After an obstinate fight of three hours, he drove the Highlanders over the Allan, a great number of them being drowned in it, and then returned to learn the fate of the rest of his army. He found that he had been taking the office of a general of division instead of that of the commander-in-chief, whose duty is to watch the movements of the whole field, and send aid to quarters which are giving way. Like prince Rupert, in his ardour for victory over his enemies in front of him, he had totally forgotten the centre and left wing, and discovered now that the left wing was totally defeated.

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Proclamation of George I.
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