Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Battle of Prestonpans


‘…When this awful pause had lasted for a short time, Fergus, with another chieftain,
received orders to detach their clans towards the village of Preston,
in order to threaten the right flank of Cope's army and compel him to a
change of position. To enable him to execute these orders, the Chief of
Glennaquoich occupied the church-yard of Tranent, a commanding situation,
and a convenient place, as Evan Dhu remarked, 'for any gentleman
who might have the misfortune to be killed, and chanced to be curious
about Christian burial.' To check or dislodge this party, the English
general detached two guns, escorted by a strong party of cavalry. They
approached so near that Waverley could plainly recognise the standard
of the troop he had formerly commanded, and hear the trumpets and
kettle-drums sound the signal of advance which he had so often obeyed. He
could hear, too, the well-known word given in the English dialect by
the equally well-distinguished voice of the commanding officer,
for whom he had once felt so much respect. It was at that instant,
that, looking around him, he saw the wild dress and appearance of his
Highland associates, heard their whispers in an uncouth and unknown
language, looked upon his own dress, so unlike that which he had worn from
his infancy, and wished to awake from what seemed at the moment a dream,
strange, horrible, and unnatural. 'Good God!' he muttered, 'am I then a
traitor to my country, a renegade to my standard, and a foe, as that poor
dying wretch expressed himself, to my native England!'…’

Jacobites scored a victory at Prestonpans, during the Rising of ’45.  General John Cope, mentioned above in the text from Sir Walter Scott’s “Waverley”, endured a court-martial after his men fled during the fight.  He was exonerated.  Charles Edward Stuart was on the winning track at this point.  The Battle of Prestonpans took place on September 21, 1745.

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