The Jacobite Uprising of 1745

Bonnie Prince Charlie
Bonnie Prince Charlie
The Jacobite Uprising of 1745 was a civil war fought in Great Britain. This was the second and final uprising in support for the House of Stuart. King James VII of Scotland (James II of England) had been removed long ago. The House of Stuart, a Catholic faction no longer in control of the Monarchy, was replaced by the House of Hanover. This House was led by King George II. Now, James had been trying to invade Scotland and then England, but the English navy was not leaving any gaps. In 1745, most of the English army including King George II himself left to fight the French in Belgium during the War of Austrian Succession. This gave a good time for an uprising. James's son, Prince Charles Edward Stuart, would lead an invasion because James was much to old to fight in battles. They were a small force, but they still tried to conquer the whole of Scotland and to get the chiefs of the clans on their side. There were many Jacobite (Jacobite comes from the Latin word for James: Jacobus) supporters in Scotland and even some in England. Contrary to popular belief, the Scots greatly supported the Jacobites. Though 2,000 Scots served at Culloden, nearly 15,000 Jacobites served on the opposing side. However, they would not rebel until an invasion came. One good source of propaganda for the English government was that the Jacobites were Catholic and that King James would restore Catholicism. The Church of England would not tolerate a Catholic king, and neither would the English people. However, France and Spain, two predominately Catholic nations, would help Prince Charles Stuart. With some loyal Jacobites that had come with his father, James II, when he left Britain, and some French troops and supplies, Prince Charles Edward Stuart would invade Scotland.

The Jacobite plan was to get the chiefs of the various Highland clans on their side by invading Scotland. Once they had some Highlanders, they would eliminate the government forces and then invade England. Charles came with 3,000 Frenchmen, including an Irish Brigade of 700, the same one that had fought at the Battle of Dettingen in 1743, on the Elisabeth. The Elisabeth encountered the HMS Lion. During the battle, both ships were badly damaged, but the Elisabeth was forced to retreat. Prince Charles later landed on Eriskay, an island located very closely west of Scotland. At first, the Highland clans thought that this invasion would be another hoax, but, nonetheless, Charles took Glenfinnan, known as an old Clan McDonald fortress. Then, over 1,200 men joined the Jacobite cause. The Jacobites marched south and their forces swelled to 3,000. The Jacobites later took Edinburgh and routed two government Dragoon regiments. Still, the government forces under Sir John Cope greatly understimated the Jacobites.

The government troops would later meet the Jacobites at the Battle of Prestonpans on September 21, 1745. The two commanders of the government troops were Prince Charles and his aid, his best general, Lord George Murray. The government troops were inexperienced whereas the Highlanders were well-seaoned troops. The usual Jacobite soldier carried a basket-hilted claymore, not to be confused with the huge hand and a half claymore of the Middle Ages. They also carried dirks(short daggers) and cocked pistols. Some even carried muskets. One division carried pikes which are usually depicted in paintings.  The Battle of Prestonpans was a complete massacre. The Highlanders launched a surprise morning raid. They charged into the tents of the enemy while taking few casualties. Most the government troops fired unaimed shot and ran for their lives. The battle was such a slaughter that a young sixteen year old killed a total of fourteen men. The only troops that escaped were the Dragoons. John Cope was to later receive ridicule and is known the subject of the bagpipe tune “Hey Johnnie Cope are ye waken yet?”, which refers to the unpreparedness of his troops for a morning raid.

It was not until December 4th that more action would be taken. The Jacobite force of 5,000 took the city of Derth, England. Prince Charles Edward Stuart had heard of the French attempting to give aid and he wanted to take London. His fellow officers, however declined. Charles felt betrayed. His troops were at their high peak and ready to take back the throne for his father. His forces now retreated back to Scotland. They would see combat again, though.

The next battle fought was the Battle of Falkirk on January 17, 1746. Other Highland forces were already besieging General Blankeney at Stirling Castle, and Charles went to give them aid.  The government forces in Edinburgh Castle, which was not taken by the Jacobites, came to aid General Blankeney under the command of General Hawley. During the Jacobite Uprising of 1715, the Jacobites had been slaughtered by cavalry. Hawley thought that the same would happen at Falkirk. How wrong he was. The dragoons charged up a hill to where the Jacobites were. They were forced to retreat because of a musket volley and when they did charge, the Jacobites took out their dirks and stabbed the  horses. The Jacobites then charged down the hill at the rest of the army. They used the famous tactic of the Highland Charge. During this, they would take out their pistols or muskets and fire them before the enemy could fire a volley. This would lead to fewer casualties. Also, the government forces had no cannons at the battle. Sir John Cope, the loser at the Battle of Prestonpans had predicted that the commander that took his place would lose as he did to the Jacobites, and he was right. Also, during the siege, Charles's men refused to build any siege works such as sandbags. This lead to them not being able to take Stirling Castle. In the end, however, Charles was victorious. This would be the last successful battle that he would have though.

The Battle of Culldoen
The Battle of Culldoen

The Jacobites later turned north and took Fort George and Fort Augustus in Inverness. Around this same area is where the rebellion would end. At the famed Battle of Culloden, Hanoverian, English, and even some Scottish forces defeated the Jacobites. The most common misconception of Culloden is that the Scots hated the House of Stuart and joined the English. This is far from the truth because way more Scots fought for the Jacobites than for the House of Hanover. At the battle, the Jacobite forces were massacred by the Duke of Cumberland. This was because of a massive musket and cannon volley on the Jacobites and new bayonet tactics. The Jacobites had always won because of sheer fierceness and not because of discipline. The Jacobites would charge right near the government forces and then they would be fired upon. In the dust, a bayonet charge was ordered. This caused panic in the Jacobite ranks and they fled. The Duke of Cumberland ordered all of the wounded Jacobites killed. The defeat at Culloden was one of the only victories that the Duke of Cumberland won. This was also the last battle fought on the island of Great Britain.

Prince Charlie later fled to the Orkney Islands where he even had to dress up as a woman to get past a patrol. He later went back to France. He had wanted to continue the rebellion, but his father did not want the throne. He then went to both France and Spain and ask for help, but both nations declined. He died on January 31, 1788 in France.



[2] Encarta Encyclopedia

[3] Encyclopedia Britannica


[5] Bonnie Prince Charlie: A Biography by Carolly Erickson