صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

clothing, like a forest in motion. The ground between the two armies was a plain field, covered with a thick stubble, the rustle of which under their feet, added to the mutter by which they expressed and heightened their fierceness and rage, carried terror into the ranks of the royal army. The left wing of the rebels having moved first, their line was somewhat oblique, and the Camerons came first in contact with the king's forces, firing upon the guard of the cannon as they approached. The Camerons were undoubtedly brave, but had these cannon been in the hands of skilful engineers, they must have repented their temerity. Here, however, to the six field pieces there was only one gunner, who had belonged to the Scotish train of artillery before the Union, and three old soldiers belonging to the company of invalids from Edinburgh castle, with two or three sailors which Cope had brought along with him from Dunbar, and so soon as the Highlanders advanced, the sailors, the three old invalids, and the gunner took to their heels, carrying the powder flasks along with them, so that colonel Whiteford, who, with his own hand fired off five of the cannon, all that were fired that day, could not fire the sixth for want of priming. * Colonel Whitney, with bis dragoons, was ordered to advance and attack the rebels before they came up to the cannon. He did advance a little ahead of the cannon, when he received a fire which wounded himself, besides killing several of his men, and the whole squadron wheeled round, rode over the artillery guard, and fled. The artillery guard had given one very indifferent fire, and they now dispersed. The rebels still rushing on, without stopping to make prisoners, colonel Gardiner was ordered to advance with his squadron and attack them, disordered as they seemed to be, by running over the cannon and the artillery guard. The colonel, who was a veteran of the school of Marlborough, and brave in the highest degree, advanced at the head of bis men, encouraging them to the charge, but no sooner did the fire of the Highlanders reach them than they too reeled, fell into confusion, and fled. The Highlanders, most of whom had their pieces still loaded, now advanced against the foot, firing as they came on. Confounded to see the cannon taken

• Home's History of the Rebellion, p. 86.

and the dragoons put to flight, the foot fired without waiting for orders. Beginning with the companies of the outguard on the right, who were nearest the enemy, the fire, irregular, feeble, and ineffective, ran down the line as far as Murray's regiment. The Highlanders having fired off their muskets, threw them down, rushed in, sword in hand, and the line of the king's foot having already broken as the fire had been given from right to left, they had nothing to do but to cut down the terrified fugitives as fast as they could come up with them. Hamilton's dragoons on the left seeing what had happened on the right, and receiving a fire from the Highlanders, advancing to attack them, though they were yet at a considerable distance, immediately wheeled about and fled. Murray's regiment, which stood next them on the right, fired off one solitary platoon and followed their fellows.

In this manner was the celebrated battle of Gladsmuir, as it has always been called by the victors, fought and won by the rebels.t In a very few minutes after firing the first cannon, the king's army, horse and foot; was totally routed; not one of the soldiers ever attempted to load his piece a second time, and, notwithstanding the carnage made among them, there was not so much as one of their bayonets stained with blood. obtained,” says the chevalier de Johnstone," a complete victory, and with such rapidity, that in the second line where I was, still by the side of the prince, we saw no other enemy on the field of battle than those who were lying on the ground killed and wounded, though we were not more than fifty paces behind our first line, running always as fast as we could to overtake them, and near enough never to lose sight of them.” The Highlanders made a terrible slaughter of the king's troops, particu larly at the spot where the road rau in between the two enclo

66 We

* Home's History of the Rebellion, pp. 84-88.

t“ The Highlanders in their accounts generally give it the name of the battle of Gladsmuir, though Gladsmuir is at least three miles distant from the scene of action. There was, it seems, a tradition among them, that a battle was to be fought on the muir of the Gledes, which, in the issue, would ensure to the rightful sovereign the peaceable possession of his throne. They made the application that was most favourable to their views.”—Statistical Account of Scotland, vol. xvü. p. 80.

sures, as it was soon stopped up by the fugitives, as also along the walls of these enclosures, where they killed, almost without effort, those who attempted to climb them. The strength of the position of the royal army thus became its destruction. Some of the broken regiments attempted to rally in the enclosure, where there was an eminence that commanded the field of battle, and from which they fired some straggling shots, but they were soon put to flight by the Highlanders, who entered the enclosure after them."*

Never indeed was victory more easily gained, and scarcely was there ever one more complete. Of upwards of fourteen hundred infantry, well equipped in every respect, who formed the principal line of battle, only about one hundred and sixty, or at most two hundred, escaped by early flight or extraordinary swiftness ; of the remainder a few were made prisoners, but by far the greater part of them were put to death. Of the dragoons, general Cope, with the assistance of the earls of Home and Loudon, gathered together about four hundred and fifty at the west end of the village of Preston, and marching by Soutra Hill and Lauder, reached Coldstream that night. The cannon, tents, baggage, and military chest, containing fifteen hundred pounds sterling, fell into the hands of the victors, and their supply of arms was more than for a considerable time they could raise men to employ,

The loss of the rebels was trifling; four officers and about thirty or forty men killed, six officerst and about seventy men wounded.

That this battle was in a high degree disgraceful to the king's troops does not admit of any dispute, but the prowess of the Highlanders was magnified beyond all bounds, and the most extravagant falsehoods were propagated to lessen the reproach

* Memoirs of the Rebellion by the Chevalier de Johnstone, pp. 34-38.

+ One of these was Macgregor of Glengyle, son to the famous Rob Roy: " When advancing to the charge with his company, he received five wounds, two of them from balls that pierced his body through and through. Stretched on the ground with his head resting on his hand, he called out to the Highlanders of his company, ' My lads, I am not dead! By -- I shall see if any of you does not do his duty.' "-Memoirs of the Rebellion by the Cheve alier de Johnstone, p. 36.

of the one, and to heighten the achievements of the other. * Of the king's officers it did not appear, upon inquiry, but that many of them and the general in particular—had done their duty, but two only, and they both fell in the field, were honoured with the meed of popular applause. The one was colonel Gardiner, a man who united in his character the Christian and the hero, and was sincerely lamented by both parties. Deserted by his own men, he attempted to join and to rally a party of infantry, and was cut down by a stroke of a scythe given him by a Highlander from behind, while he was engaged with another before. He had previously received two wounds, one in the shoulder from a ball, and another in the forehead by a broadsword. « Honest, pious, bold Gardiner,” says general Wightman in a letter to the lord president, “ died in the field, and was stript very nigh to his own house, as is said. I believe he prayed for it, and got his desire, for his heart was broken with the behaviour of the Irish dogs whom he commanded.”+

* Though Sir John Cope had such certain information from Mr. Home, the day before the battle, of the numbers and the equipment of the rebels, on his trial he said, that the rebels were about five thousand five hundred in the field!! A Mr. Bruce also reported that he had heard Mr. Baillie, steward to the late solicitor general, Dundas, who had been sent in among the rebels to procure intelligence, state, in presence of Sir John Cope, colonel Gardiner, and others, their numbers to be about five thousand; lieutenant colonel Whiteford, taken prisoner in the battle, said he was told by the duke of Perth, and the lords George Murray, Elcho, and Nairn, that their number was five thousand; majors Severn and Talbot, with captain Leslie, said they had been told by the duke of Perth, that by the returns the night before the battle their number was five thousand five hundred; lieutenant Craig, who saw them going up Fawside hill the afternoon before the battle, said, to the best of his judgment, they seemed to be above five thousand. On the other hand, a Mr. Jack, professor of mathematics, who was present in the battle, stated that the whole of the rebels in the field of battle, on the attack, from the ground they occupied, could not be above sixteen or eighteen hundred men, which was amazingly near the truth—for there were, as we have stated, above six hundred of the rebels in the second line that never came into the actionthough his estimate was ridiculed, and himself reviled as a calumniator. It is easy to see the motives that might induce the rebel officers to magnify their numbers, though it detracted somewhat from their glory; but that experienced officers should have miscalculated so egregiously,can be accounted for only from their having seen the enemy through a misty atmosphere, or with a perturbed imagination.- Memoirs of the Rebellion. · Trial of Sir John Cope, &c. &c.

+ Culloden Papers, p. 225.

The other was captain Brymer, of Lee's regiment, “ the only officer,” says Home, “ in the king's army who had seen Highlanders attack regular troops, and the only person who seemed to think that there was any thing formidable in their attack. When the rebels broke in upon that part of the line where he stood, he disdained to turn his back, and was killed with his face to the enemy."* Of the unfortunate general the most ridiculous stories were assiduously circulated;" that he had made his escape to Berwick in a boat ;t that by putting a white cockade in his hat, he had passed through the midst of the Highlanders unknown, and escaped into England ;; and to stir up the spirit of the country against him, it was confidently stated, that a little before the engagement he had promised his army, after overcoming the rebels, whom he designated by the appellation of “ Scots brutes," eight full hours' liberty to pillage the city of Edinburgh, the town of Leith, &c., which had succoured them. These statements were utterly without foundation, but they have served to perpetuate contempt and hatred of the man and his memory, though the sheer cowardice of the troops he was sent to command is the only thing that, up to this day, has ever been proved against him.

The exploits of the Highlanders, upon which so many tongues and pens were then, and have been since employed, when disrobed of the embellishments bestowed upon them by the inventors or the narrators, were such as have been common to barbarians in every age, and in every clime, and from the pusillanimity of their opponents, were at this time much more easy of performance than upon ordinary occasions. “ They (the king's troops) threw down their arms,” says the chevalier de Johnstone, “ that they might run with more speed, thus depriving themselves of the only means of arresting the vengeance of the Highlanders. Of so many men in a condition, from their numbers, to preserve order in their retreat, not one thought of defending himself. Terror had taken entire possession of their minds.” Such being the case, it is not at all wonderful that " the field of battle presented a spectacle of

* Home's History of the Rebellion, pp. 88, 89.
† Merchant's History of the Rebellion, p. 106.
| Memoirs of the Rebellion, by the Chevalier de Johnstone, p. 38.
II.

C C

« السابقةمتابعة »