Thursday, June 10, 2010

Battle of Glenshiel

The "little rising" of 1719 involved Spanish troops and Scots Jacobites in a battle against the English.  This rising came about more as a result of King Philip V of Spain's desire to regain status and power after the Treaty of Utrecht.  Spain rolled into Sardinia (1717) and Sicily (1718), after which England declared Spain in violation of the Treaty of Utrecht, and attacked a Spanish fleet off the Greek coast.

Spain embarked on a plan to ally with Jacobites against England.  George Keith, the 10th Earl Marischal at Glenshiel was engaged to lead land forces, while a Spanish fleet was deployed to join them.  The fleet never reached Scotland, dispersed by rough seas.  The rising may have lasted longer had the fleet carrying 7,000 troops reached shore.  As it was, approximately 1,000 Spaniards/Jacobites faced a similar number of British troops under General Joseph Wightman. 

Walter Scott discusses Glen Shiel in his "Tales of a Grandfather":

...On his arrival at his own island of Lewis, Seaforth speedily raised a few hundred Highlanders, and crossed over to Kintail, with the purpose of giving a new impulse to the insurrection. Here he made some additions to his clan levies ; but, ere he could gather any considerable force, General Wightman marched against him with a body of regular troops from Inverness, aided by the Monros, Rosses, and other loyal or whig clans of the northern Highlands.

They found Seaforth in possession of a pass called Strachells, near the great valley of Glenshiel. A desultory combat took place, in which there was much skirmishing and sharp-shooting, the Spaniards and Seaforth's men keeping the pass.  George Monro, younger of Culcairn, engaged on the side of Government, received during this action a severe wound, by which he was disabled for the time. As the enemy continued to fire on him, the wounded chief commanded his servant, who had waited by him, to retire, and, leaving him to his fate, to acquaint his father and friends that he had died honourably. The poor fellow burst into tears, and, asking his master how he could suppose he would forsake him in that condition, he spread himself over his body, so as to intercept the balls of the enemy, and actually received several wounds designed for his master. They were both rescued from the most imminent peril by a sergeant of Culcairn's company, who had sworn an oath on his dirk that he would accomplish his chief's deliverance.

The battle was but slightly contested ; but the advantage was on the side of the MacKenzies, who lost only one man, while the Government troops had several killed and wounded. They were compelled to retreat without dislodging the enemy, and to leave their own wounded on the field, many of whom the victors are said to have despatched with their dirks. But though the MacKenzies obtained a partial success, it was not such as to encourage perseverance in the undertaking, especially as their chief, Lord Seaforth, being badly wounded, could no longer direct their enterprise. They determined, therefore, to disperse as soon as night fell, the rather that several of their allies were not disposed to renew the contest. One clan, for example, had - been lent to Seaforth for the service of the day, under the special paction on the part of the chief, that however the battle went, they should return before next morning; this occasional assistance being only regarded in the light of a neighbourly accommodation to Lord Seaforth.

The wounded Earl, with Tullibardine and Marischal, escaped to the continent. The three hundred Spaniards next day laid down their arms, and surrendered themselves prisoners. The affair of Glenshiel might be called the last faint sparkle of the great Rebellion of 1715, which was fortunately extinguished for want of fuel. A vague rumour of Earl Marischal's having re-landed had, however, wellnigh excited a number of the most zealous Jacobites once more to take the field, but it was contradicted before they adopted so rash a step...

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