History is a funny thing. I have been an active student for more than fifty years. Thru the standard text books, the TV Dramatisation of “Culloden”, (which led me to read the book by John Prebble) adventure stories like Robert Louis Stevenson’s “Kidnapped”, songs like “The Skye Boat Song”, I became fascinated by Jacobite History…that period between 1688 and 1746 and the massacre at Culloden Moor.
I have been to Glencoe, where the Government Campbells massacred the MacDonalds.
I have been to Carlisle Castle, visited the dungeons where Jacobite prisoners were held and I have seen the “licking stones” where these unfortunates, deprived of water to drink were grateful for the rain water, which trickled down.
I have been to Clifton in Cumbria, the last battle (actually a skirmish) fought on English soil.
I have been to several towns in Lancashire associated with the Jacobites. Burnley, Preston, Lancaster and Wigan. And of course Manchester, where the Jacobite army invading England, picked up their only English recruits. I have followed the road where they marched lut of Manchester.
I have been in the square in Derby, where there is a statue of Bonnie Prince Charlie, said to be the best likeness of him. This is the furthest point south the Jacobites came. Fear of being outflanked and French assistance not arriving and an English population which was indifferent or hostile, caused the Highland Chiefs to vote to go back to Scotland. A sullen Bonnie Prince Charlie barely spoke to them again.
Arguably London was in panic and the Jacobites MIGHT have been rewarded had they pressed on. It is one of the great unknowns.
I have been to Falkirk, Nairn and to Inverness, where the victorious Government troops went on an orgy of plunder, murder and rape, after their bloody victory at Culloden.
Of course, I have stood on Culloden Moor, at the spot where fourteen troopers of a Franco-Irish cavalry regiment, called Fitzjames Horse provided the personal escort to Charlie, who cracked up at the battle and had to be escorted off the field.
Catch me on a good day and I will tell you the Jacobite Order of Battle, where each Clan stood and where the “French” regiments (actually Irish and Scots) stood, providing the covering fire that allowed a lot of Highlanders to escape …rebels could expect no quarter …but to the “French” it was just the fortunes of war. They surrendered and were later repatriated back “home” to France.
And I have been close to Ruthven Barracks, the place where the defeated Highlanders were supposed to rendezvous with Charlie.
Of course, Charlie had already begun his escape thru the heather…his followers only got a message to “look to their own safety”.
Some would end up dead or transported or pressed into service in “British” Highland Regiments.
Meanwhile, back in European palaces, serial drunk and serial abuser of women, Bonnie Prince Charlie would forever curse and blame his followers for his defeat.
Never in human history did brave men and women follow such a dastardly “leader”.
Of course I could bring you to the place in London where the officers of the Manchester Regiment were hang, drawn and quartered and I could bring you to Essex Street in the Strand where Charlie visited (incognito) four years after defeat at Culloden. He got himself baptised as an Anglican in a pathetic attempt to get new followers.
I could bring you to the spot near Marble Arch, which was once Tyburn…the gallows where people, often for political or religious crimes were publicly executed.
The last execution of a Jacobite leader took place there in 1753. He had foolishly made a trip to Scotland and was betrayed.
His name…Dr Archie CAMERON.
History is indeed strange.