The Battle of Glenshiel – The Jacobite Rising in 1719, Jonathan Worton

The Battle of Glenshiel – The Jacobite Rising in 1719, Jonathan Worton

Century of the Soldier 35

The 1719 uprising is the least known of the main Jacobite revolts, coming a few years after the more famous rising in 1715 and ending after the Jacobite army fell apart at Glenshiel. The uprisings of 1715 and 1719 were caused by the death of Queen Anne in 1714, ending the direct line of Stuart kings. This came two months after the death of Sophie of Hanover, the Protestant heir to the throne and a granddaughter of Charles I, meaning that instead of passing to another Stuart, the throne went directly to her son George. This encouraged the supports of the exiled ‘Old Pretender’ to plan for a possible Jacobite restoration, but they missed their best chance in 1714.

This book covers the entire uprising, not just the battle itself. We start with a good introduction to the previous thirty years of the Jacobite cause, starting with the overthrow of James II and the two earlier Jacobite uprisings in Scotland (1689-91 and 1715), and how the Jacobite cause interacted with European politics. Next comes a look at the leading Jacobites of 1719, looking at their earlier careers, what had brought them to rebel, their military experience, the role they had played in 1715 and for the survivors their fate after the failure of the 1719 uprising.

Next comes a look at the plotting that led to the uprising of 1719, which was meant to have accompanied a Spanish invasion of England. One does get the impression that reason for the Jacobite’s poor showing in 1719 was that they were terrible plotters. By 1719 the Jacobite exiles were scattered across Europe. James II had died in 1701 and his claim passed to his son, James Francis Edward Stuart, a melancholy and uninspiring leader who by 1719 was in exile in the Papal States. The Jacobites had lost the support of France and were hunting for alternative backers. The senior Jacobite leaders in 1719 weren’t men who had followed James II into exile, but were instead men who had worked for Queen Anne but had rebelled in 1715, often because their own career prospects had suffered under George I or because they were in debt. This was a group that didn’t trust each other, living in cities around Europe and communicating in code. The two most senior Jacobite leaders didn’t even reach Scotland in 1719 and many of the exiles were unenthusiastic about the entire venture. Trying to come back with Spanish help made their cause almost unsupportable in England, and it didn’t help in Scotland either, where the remaining Catholics were a tiny minority.

Next is a look at the two armies, comparing the Highlands who made up a large part of the Jacobite Army with the regular establishment of the new British army. Both sides also had foreign support – Spanish troops for the Jacobites and Dutch for the Georgians.

The second half of the book looks at the military campaign itself, starting with the failed Spanish invasion of England, which like so any earlier examples was foiled largely by the weather. Next we look at the naval aspect of the campaign, with the Royal Navy playing a larger than normal part in the campaign on land, forcing the Jacobites to abandon their original coastal bases and capturing and then destroying the Spanish garrisoned castle on Eilean Donan.

This brings us to the battle itself, which saw the Georgian army attacking the Jacobites in an apparently strong defensive position in Glenshiel. We get a good selection of maps showing the course of parts of the battle, from near contemporary sources, and a good clear account of the battle itself. This was an unusual clash, with very low casualties on the defeated Jacobite side. In addition a significant number of highlanders watched the battle from nearby heights without joining in.

This is more than just a battle history, and is actually a good history of the entire little known 1719 Jacobite rising, which was followed by two and a half years of relative peace in the Highlands.

1 – The Jacobite cause, 1688-1718: Monarchies, Risings and Wider Wars
2 – Leading Personalities of the 1719 Rising
3 – The Cardinal, the Duke and the Exiles
4 – The Opposing Armed Forces
5 – The Threatened Spanish Invasion of England
6 – The Jacobite Expedition
7 – The Royal Navy Intervenes
8 – Countermeasures and Containment
9 – The Jacobite Rising and the Battle of Glenshiel
10 – Aftermath and Impact

Author: Jonathan Worton
Edition: Paperback
Pages: 230
Publisher: Hellion
Year: 2018

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