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1745: The Last Campaign on English Soil

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T.H. McGuffe describes the invasion, and subsequent hurried retreat, of England during the Jacobite Rebellion.

Two manuscript volumes recently presented to the Royal United Service Institution throw important light on the invasion of England carried out by Prince Charles Edward Stuart in the last months of 1745. Public attention has been concentrated chiefly upon the romantic nature of the young Prince’s first landing, his victories at Prestonpans and Falkirk, his complete overthrow at Culloden Moor and the daring adventures attending his final escape to France. Yet the details of the campaign in England are well worth study. By the end of October, 1745, Charles was in an excellent position to put his fortune to the touch. All Scotland, save for an isolated English garrison or so, was in his power. He had a first-rate, if small, army of Highlanders. French and Irish officers were arriving with money, arms and artillery. The main land forces of the Hanoverian King were in Flanders under the command of their most capable General, George II’s son the Duke of Cumberland; while in the north defeated Sir John Cope had been removed from his command, and the only force which might oppose the Prince lay at Newcastle-upon-Tyne, where three regiments of infantry, and as many of dragoons had been scraped together under General Wade. On October 31, 1745, Charles began his advance, with hope high in his own heart if not in those of his principal lieutenants. For Lord George Murray, an acute and intelligent soldier of experience, and Charles’s most powerful military adviser, fundamentally, doubted the wisdom of the invasion, and many Highlanders, thinking of their harvesting and their herds, quietly took themselves off home to their glens and shielings.

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