Battle of Tippermuir, 1 September 1644

Battle that revived the Royalist cause in Scotland during the First Civil War. By the summer of 1644 the Covenanters felt secure in Scotland, having defeated a Royalist rebellion, and with the remaining Royalist leaders scattered far and wide. Thus when a force of 1,000 Irishmen led by Alaster M'Coll Keitach (known as Alaster McDonald) landed on the west coast in July, the Scottish leaders were not worried. Their confidence seemed well founded as McDonald led his men deep into the Highlands without finding any Royalists. However, McDonald sent off a letter to Montrose, who received them at Carlisle, and with only two friends crossed into Scotland. Once he reached the Irish, their situation improved. A force of Atholl clansmen sent to oppose the Irish instantly changed sides, as did a force of Grahams, Montrose's own clan, sent against the Irish before it was known that Montrose was with them.

Their immediate opponents were the covenanters army of Perth under Lord Elcho, a force of 700 horse and 7,000 cavalry, twice the size of Montrose's force. Elcho chose his ground. On the morning of 1 September he marched out of Perth and formed up on open ground at Tippermuir, three miles outside Perth. Montrose formed up his force in a line only three deep, which made his front longer than that of the bigger covenanter force, with the Irish in the centre, the Atholls on the right, and the Grahams on the right. Elcho began the battle with a cavalry attack from his left, which broke up in confusion under musket fire from the Irish, and a rain of stones from the Atholl clansmen. Their retreat confused the Covenant infantry line, and Montrose took advantage of the confusion, launching an general attack which drove off the Covenant right and centre quickly, and the left after a sharp fight. Montrose managed to maintain a close pursuit. The Covenanting army lost 2,000 men killed while Montrose captured their arms and ammunition, enough to solve all of Montrose's supply problems. However, as he rested at Perth, Montrose discovered the main weakness of his army - the Highlanders, loaded with booty, returned to their homes, leaving Montrose with just the Irish troops, themselves already reduced in number.

cover The English Civil War , Richard Holmes & Peter Young, an early work by one of the country's best known military historians, this is a superb single volume history of the war, from its causes to the last campaigns of the war and on to the end of the protectorate.
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See Also
Books on the English Civil War
Subject Index: English Civil War

How to cite this article: Rickard, J. (21 April 2001), Battle of Tippermuir, 1 September 1644,

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