Today marks the anniversary of the decisive Battle of Culloden, fought on April 16, 1746. It was the final conflict of the Jacobite rising of 1745, a rebellion led by Prince Charles Edward Stuart, also known as Bonnie Prince Charlie. This battle is one of the most significant events in Scottish history, as it left a lasting impact on Scotland’s people, culture, and politics.
The Jacobite rising of 1745 began when Bonnie Prince Charlie landed in Scotland to claim the British throne for his father, James Stuart, who was exiled in France. The Jacobites, who supported the Stuarts, quickly rallied behind the prince, and soon a full-scale rebellion was underway. The Jacobites had some significant victories, including the Battle of Prestonpans, which allowed them to take control of Edinburgh. However, the tide of the war turned against them when the British government dispatched a large army under the command of the Duke of Cumberland, the younger son of King George II.
On April 16, 1746, the two armies faced each other on the moorland of Culloden, near Inverness in the Scottish Highlands. The Jacobite army was outnumbered, outgunned, and outmaneuvered by the better-trained and better-equipped British forces. The Jacobites made several strategic mistakes, including a flawed plan to attack the British army, which resulted in them being decimated by intensive artillery fire. The British cavalry also proved devastating, easily charging through the disorganized Jacobite ranks.
Despite their bravery, the Jacobites suffered a crushing defeat at the hands of the British army. Thousands were killed or wounded, and those who survived were either taken prisoner or fled into hiding. Bonnie Prince Charlie managed to escape to France, but the rebellion was over, and the Jacobite cause was defeated once and for all.
The aftermath of the Battle of Culloden was brutal. The British army pursued and executed many fleeing Jacobites, while others were transported to the colonies as indentured servants. The Highlands were also subjected to a policy of “pacification,” aimed at suppressing the clan system and preventing future uprisings. Many Highlanders lost their homes, land, and way of life. The Battle of Culloden remains a poignant reminder of the bloody and violent history of Scotland and the long struggle of the Scottish people for independence and autonomy.