We stopped at Culloden on June 1st on the way to Loch Maree. Anyone who has visited the battlefield at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, can identify with the feeling one gets while standing on this moor covered with thick clumps of gorse and other course greenery. The first thing that occurs to you is the quote from Will Henry Thompson's poem The High Tide at Gettysburg.
Above the bayonets, mixed and crossed,
Men saw a gray, gigantic ghost
Receding through the battle-cloud,
And heard across the tempest loud
The death-cry of a nation lost!
The pain still vibrates in the air like an echo. It's still etched in every Scottish face. Not only because the blood of Scots brothers, fathers, and sons was spilled, but because of the repercussions that followed the battle.
The defeat at Culloden was the death of a political idea to replace the Hanoverian King George II with a Charles Edward Stuart (the Young Pretender).
But the Jacobite cause was much more than a fight to replace the King with a man they felt followed the royal blood line more dear to their hearts. It was also waged because of the fear of religious repression under King George's rule. Most of the highlanders who fought on the battlefield of Culloden were Roman Catholic or Scottish Episcopalian.
And added to the mix was the power those clan chiefs, landlords, or clan superiors had over the clansmen. Centuries of tradition was hard to shake off. Most of the men were farmers and were untrained for warfare and poorly armed. But when the Laird of your clan insisted you rise to the call, you followed him into battle. And they did. Between 1500 and 2000 men were killed or wounded and 154 were captured.
Jacobite clanmen weren't the only group to fall at Culloden. With them were French soldiers enlisted for their cause by Charles Stuart. 222 of them were captured.
Of the Hanoverian Government troops who fought, made up of English and Scottish soldiers, 50 were killed and 259 were wounded.
This burial Carne has been constructed in the middle of Culloden moor in memorial to all who lost their lives.
The repercussion of the Battle of Culloden and the entire Jacobite uprising ricocheted through the highlands.
Under the Duke of Cumberland's orders the clansmen were given no quarter. Every injured man still found alive on the field was bayonetted to death. Indiscriminate killing went on for days in the area with any man seen bearing arms hanged wherever he might be and his women raped. Whole families were burnt out of their homes, and their possessions and livestock confiscated. They were left to starve while 20,000 head of livestock, both sheep and goats, were driven to market at Fort Augustus and the money split among the soldiers.
Prisoners were taken to England for trial. The high ranking lords were charged with high teason and executed and their property confiscated, and sold. The common man fared better. 120 were executed, 936 were transported to the colonies, and 222 were banished. 382 were freed as exchanged prisoners with
France. 905 were actually released.
With the physical repercussions exhausted the political ones took over. The clan system of Laird justice was disolved. No longer would the chief of a clan have judicial or military power over the clansmen. A special act was passed by Parlament that forbad any clansman or woman from wearing highland dress except as part of a military uniform. The bagpipes were banned from being played and an attempt was made to do the same with the Gaelic language. In other words, Scotland was supposed to become an integral part of Great Britain and leave it's culture behind.
But the Scots were made of sterner stuff than King George II knew. Their culture is alive and well today.
The new Culloden Memorial Center opened in October of 2007. It has wonderful exhibits which help you understand the conflict and the sacrifices made during and after it. You can actually go up on the roof and view the entire moor.
This small bouquet of flowers placed so lovingly at the base of this marker seemed so poignant, it brought tears to my eyes.
Happy fourth of July to you all.