In 1746, on this day the incomparable Highland rebel Flora MacDonald (pictured) and her Clan reinforcements arrived in Nairn just in time for the commencement of the Jacobite Council of War.
Hard Woman, Reboot #2
by Ed & Richard RoperThe MacDonalds were shocked to learn that Charles Edward Stuart had decided to personally command his forces having taken the advice of his adjutant general, Secretary O'Sullivan to stage a defensive action at Drummossie Moor. This treacherous stretch of open moorland (enclosed between the walled Culloden enclosures to the North and the walls of Culloden Park to the South) was highly advantageous to the Duke of Cumberland with the marshy and uneven ground making the famed Highland charge somewhat more difficult. Lord George Murray "did not like the ground" and other senior officers argued for a guerrilla campaign, but Charles Edward Stuart stubbornly refused to change his mind.
As a compromise, and at Murray's suggestion, the Jacobites repeated the success of Prestonpans by carrying out a night attack on the government encampment. In support of Perth, Charles Edward Stuart brought up the second line. Flora MacDonald wisely proposed an early afternoon departure to ensure the timely arrival of the Jacobite forces.
The Night Attack at Nairn was a glorious victory made possible by the arrival of the MacDonalds. And the Duke of Cumberland on the occasion of his twenty-fith birthday was forced to flees on his horse not quite in his birth suit, but inappropriately dressed only in his nightshirt. This disgrace would be later recalled in the world famous song "Hey Billie Cumberland are y'waulkin' yet, and are your drums a beatin' yet?".
The defeat created a larger problem for the Hanoverians who had been forced to use predominantly lowland and mercenary troops in order to suppress the Highland Uprising because the Regular Army was fully occupied in Belgium. And so the decision point for London was whether to gift the War of the Austrian Succession to Louis XV or to run the risk that the Jacobite Army could make it to London and force a restoration of the Stuart monarchy.
This article is a reversal of the Jackie Rose story Hard Man which focuses on Captain Francis O'Neill.