The British Army at Culloden

Stuart Reid


The story of the battle of Culloden has traditionally been told from the Jacobite viewpoint. There is no doubt that it was one of the decisive moments in Scottish history but the battle did not of itself bring about the destruction of clan society, or even initiate the process, however it does dramatically symbolise it's passing. For those who survived, the Rising was the defining moment in their lives and so they seem to have been compelled to produce a most remarkable body of letters and memoirs describing it at length and in considerable detail. While immensely valuable in itself this body of literature is not matched by anything comparable from the other side and so not only have the Jacobite memoirs tended to set the agenda, but near total reliance on those sources, and a partisan tendency to erroneously refer to Cumberland's soldiers as Hanoverians, glosses over the fact that Culloden was won by the British Army.

Indeed had the battle of Culloden been fought against the French alone, the gallant stand of Barrell's 4th Foot would rank among one of the British soldier's most desperate fights - indeed for a time the regiment bore Culloden as a battle honour. Similarly, while the bloody pursuit by the British cavalry is routinely condemned - that was exactly what cavalry were trained to do. Indeed the irony is all the greater in that Culloden actually ranks as one of the British cavalry's more successful operations.

The purpose of this book is therefore to rescue that British Army from an undeserved obscurity; to describe the army, and also to go some way to describing the battle as it was seen using letters written by British officers and soldiers.



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