““Culloden,” he said, the whispered word an evocation of tragedy.”
Outlander: Voyager, Diana Gabaldon
We had turned off the main road to Inverness, and were heading down the ‘B’ roads in search of an ancient site we wanted to visit. As we drove, a young stag leaped out into the road in front of us, his emerging antlers still rounded and covered with velvet. I was glad that I was not driving at speed as we followed the brown signs that said ‘Culloden’; there have been more than enough deaths there without adding to their number. But that was one place we were not going. The battlefield of Culloden has too many tales of horror and too many uneasy ghosts still haunt moor and memory. I had no desire to feel them again… and, as a sassenach myself, there is a lingering sense of shame for the actions of the Duke of Cumberland.
As it was, our road led us too close for comfort to the place where so many were slaughtered in battle and with cruel and merciless abandon in the aftermath. All unsuspecting, we pulled into a parking spot beside a huge boulder, over five feet high and over fifty-three feet in circumference… and just a few hundred yards from the battlefield of Culloden.
On the 16th of April, 1746, ten thousand English troops, met the Highlanders who fought for Charles Stuart… Bonnie Prince Charlie… at Culloden. The English foot soldiers and cavalry, under the command of the Duke of Cumberland, were heavily armed with artillery. The Jacobite Highlanders were weary, weakened by sickness and hunger and numbered less than half the English force. The level ground at Culloden was unsuited to the Highlanders’ fighting style and their army was decimated.
Charles Stuart, his cause lost, managed to escape the field with a small band of followers. Few Highlanders escaped… on Cumberland’s orders, the wounded and those not slain in battle were shot in a sickening episode of brutality. Cumberland would follow the battle with the harrowing of the Glens, laying the Highlands bare and earning for himself the name of the ‘Butcher’.
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