Ward's Book of Days.

Pages of interesting anniversaries.

What happened on this day in history.

APRIL 16th

On this day in history in 1746, took place the Battle of Culloden.  

The Battle of Culloden, also known as Drummossie, was the final battle of the Forty-Five Rebellion, at which British forces under the Duke of Cumberland defeated the Jacobite army.  

The Forty-Five Rebellion had been instigated by France, a nation continually at odds with Britain since 1340. The French king subsidised an invasion by Charles Edward, The Young Pretender, who landed in Scotland and gathered a force of Highlanders, hoping to regain the throne for the Stuarts.  

At first, the invasion was a great success. The combined French and Scottish army defeated the British forces at Prestonpans and took the city of Carlisle, which surrendered largely because the garrison had not been paid for two months. The rebel army continued to grow with disaffected persons joining in, until Charles arrived at Derby.  

Here there was dissent within the group. Charles wanted to press on to London and claim the crown of Great Britain. The Highlanders only wanted to hold Scotland as a separate kingdom and revoke The Act of Union. The French only wanted to cause disarray amongst the British Government. After a vote amongst the captains, it was narrowly decided that they should turn back to Scotland. 

This was the turning point of the campaign. If Charles had carried on to London, he might well have succeeded. As it was, he haemorrhaged support on the way back and at last found himself on Culloden Moor with only 5000 men, harassed by the Duke of Cumberland with 9000 men.  

Charles believed that the fierceness of his Highland men would win a pitched battle for him but he was sadly mistaken. Cumberland trained his men to work in formation, each man bayoneting the Highlanders in their exposed sides, rather than fighting directly with the man directly in front of him who was defended by a shield. Cumberland’s tactics were a success and the Highlanders broke and fled. Charles managed to escape to exile in France. The government suppressed the Highlands, by disarming the population and clearing the land.  

The musician, Handel composed See the Conquering Hero Come, in honour of The Duke of Cumberland. Cumberland had a flower named for him, Sweet William, but in Scotland it became known as Stinking Willie.

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