Sunday, November 13, 2011

Battle of Sheriffmuir

The Battle of Sheriffmuir was fought on November 13, 1715.  This battle moved both Robert Burns (“The Battle of Sherramuir”) and James Hogg (“Will ye go to Sheriffmuir”) to write about it.  The battle resulted in substantial loss of life for both the Jacobites and King George I’s armed forces.  Sir Walter Scott wrote about this event in his “Tales of a Grandfather”.

‘By day-break, on Sunday, 13th November, the insurgent army drew up in two lines of battle, on the plain above the place where they had spent the night. They had not long assumed this posture, when they perceived a strong squadron of horse upon an eminence to the south of their lines. This was the Duke of Argyle, who, with some general officers, had taken this post in advance, for the purpose of reconnoitering the enemy's position and proceedings. In this he succeeded but imperfectly, on account of the swells and hollows which lay between him and Mar's army….

The numbers slain in the battle of Sheriffmuir were considerable. Seven or eight hundred were killed on the side of the rebels, and the royalists must have lost five or six hundred. Much noble and gentle blood was mixed with that of the vulgar. A troop of volunteers, about sixty in number, comprehending the Dukes of Douglas and Roxburghe, the Earls of Haddington, Lauderdale, London, Belhaven, and Rothes, fought bravely, though the policy of risking such a troupe doree might be questionable. At all events, it marked a great change of times, when the Duke of Douglas, whose ancestors could have raised an army as numerous as those of both sides in the field of Sheriffmuir, fought as a private trooper, assisted only by two or three servants. This body of volunteers behaved in a manner becoming their rank. Many of them were wounded, and the Earl of Forfar was slain.
The loss of the Earl of Strathmore and of the young ClanRanald, was a severe blow to the Insurrection. The last was a complete soldier, trained in the French Guards, and full of zeal for the cause of James. "My family," he replied to Mar's summons to join him, "have been on such occasions ever wont to be the first on the field, and the last to leave it." When he fell out of the ranks, mortally wounded, Mar met him, and, ignorant of what had happened, demanded why he was not in the front. "I have had my share," said the dying chief, and fell dead before his commander. Many of his men retired from the army in consequence of his death.’

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