The Jacobite Expedition of 1708
Christopher Sinclair-Stevenson describes the failure of the unfortunate Pretender’s first attempt to invade Scotland.
That very night a gale of wind put the whole fleet in peril. The King, young as he was, faced the danger with a courage and coolness beyond his years; but his suite was thoroughly frightened.
All through February 1708, contingents of troops could be seen arriving at the 1 Channel ports of Dunkirk and Saint-Omer. Six French regiments, those of Bernay, Auxerre, Agen, Luxembourg, Beauferme, and Boulogne, marched in; and the Irish corps, with its d’Oringtons, de Galmoys and de Fitzgeralds lending a polyglot air to the enterprise, prepared to go on board. The Comte de Forbin, an outspoken buccaneer, regarded the matter in hand with sarcasm. He had already burst forth during an interview with Pontchartrain, the French Minister of Marine. Admittedly, the Union of 1707 between England and Scotland was unpopular, and those opposed to it might be expected to rise; but a rebellion organized by a handful of dissident noblemen and a full-scale revolution were two very different propositions.
‘And besides, the Minister did not mention any port which was in a condition to receive us, and I could not refrain from telling him ... that the project of invasion was entirely without grounds of encouragement; that Scotland was calm and tranquil; that not a single district had risen in arms; that we could not count on any port where our fleet might anchor, or where the King of England and his troops could disembark in safety; and finally, that to land six thousand men without an assured means of retreat was, in fact, to sacrifice them and to send them to certain destruction.’