Russell MacLeod Middleton - Jacobite
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Jacobite Warrior
Springfield, OH
Jacobite at Culloden, jpg (167K). Giving a presentation at school, jpg (9K).   On guard duty, jpg (99K). Watching the Princes' dinner, jpg (16K).
In Camp At School   On Guard Watching the Officers Eat

What is a Jacobite?

The term Jacobite is the name commonly given to English and Scottish supporters of the exiled Stuart dynasty, in particular the Roman Catholic line of these Kings. The name is derived from Jacobus, the Latin name for King James VII, the last Stuart King to sit on the British throne. Although the' 45 rebellion gains most of the attention in this period's history the Revolution actually started on April 4, 1689. For it was on this date a convention parliament declared that James VII forfeited the Scottish throne.

The Jacobite Rebellion, although a battle of succession for the British throne, was also a battle of religion. England was mainly Protestant, while Scotland and Ireland were largely Roman Catholic. Add to this mix the Presbyterians of lower Scotland and the stage is set for war. And although the events are called a rebellion, the conflict was in fact a war of religion which encompassed all three countries (England, Scotland, and Ireland) during the period of 1689 - 1747. Sadly, its effects are still felt in Great Britain today.

The first battle of the 'religious war' took place in 1689. John Graham, Viscount Dundee raised the standard of James VII in April of that year. By July he had the support of most of the Highland Clans and clergy and molded these forces around a base force of cavalry, which he commanded. On July 27th, the Jacobites under John Graham met and defeated a larger government army under Mackay in the Pass of Killiecrankie near Pitlorchy (description of battle on the right). The Jacobites won, but John Graham himself was killed. Without his leadership, this rebellion quickly petered out after another battle at Dunkeld on August 21st, 1689.

From "The Jacobite Rebellion" by Brian Workman
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The Battle of Killiecrankie

It was late afternoon in the Scottish Highlands, 27 July 1689. General Hugh Mackay was nervously organizing his troops as they emerged from the gorge that formed the pass of Killiecrankie. He commanded a force of some 4400 Lowland Scots and English Soldiers, and he was on bad ground. His force was in the bottom of Glengarry, the valley of the River Garry. At his back was the river, and 400 yards away up the slope to his front stood a force of 2400 Highlanders. Mackay well knew what he could expect. He was born a Highlander, although his fighting life had been spent as a mercenary.

The Highlanders quietly waited the command to charge. In the center, carrying the Royal Stewart standard, was the Chief of the MacDonells of Glengarry.

On this warm summer's day, each Highlander had prepared himself for battle. The poor clansmen had few guns. Most were barefoot, and they had shed their heavy woolen great-kilts. They stood with their long shirttails whipping loose about their thighs.

On their left forearms were the round leather-covered shield called a targe. From its center jutted a ten inch steel spike, making even the shield an offensive weapon. In his left hand, which was thrust through the leather straps holding the targe, every man gripped a dirk. Its blade was long enough that four or five inches protruded below the edge of the targe.

In his right hand was the Highlander's yard-long basket hilt broadsword. Even though the true claymore of the 1500's was a huge two-handed sword, the Scot still called his basket hilt a claymore; and the cry "Claymore!" was the battle command for the closing charge.

Looking at this array, it was easy to see why the English and the Lowland Scot called the Highlander a savage and a barbarian. General Mackay had good reason to be nervous, although he outnumbered the clansmen almost two to one.

The Highlanders began to move down the slope. At 100 paces Mackay ordered "Fire." The English volley swept the stoically advancing Highlanders, but they immediately received the command "Claymore!" While the English forces fumbled to reload their heavy muskets or to insert plug bayonets into the muzzles, the clansmen closed on the run, screaming their clan war cries. They came in low, pushing pikes and gun muzzles upward with the targe and slamming into the front rank with targe spike and dirk. With the right hand they used the claymore against the second rank of English, stabbing and slashing.

In thirty minutes the Battle of Killiecrankie was over. Some 3800-4000 English troops lay dead on the field, along with about 800 Highlanders.

These Jacobite Highlanders were the product of a Celtic tribal culture where the warrior was the most admired individual. The tactics used in the battle described above worked well, even against great odds, until the fateful Battle of Culloden in 1746. There Bonnie Prince Charlie mismanaged the Highlanders; and the clans were shattered, along with Scotland's hope for independence.

In ancient times the clan bards had sung of their heroes in this manner:

Beware of MacDonell! Beware of his wrath!
In friendship or foray, oh cross not his path!

He knoweth no bounds to his love or his hate,
And the wind of his Claymore is blasting as fate.

Like the hill-cat who springs from her lair in the rock
He leaps on the foe--there is death in the shock.

And the birds of the air shall be gorged with their prey
When the Chief of Glengarry comes down to the fray,

With his war-cry, The Rock of the Raven
Hail to our Chief, MacDonell of Glengarry!

by Joe D. Huddleston
originally appeared in The Highlander magazine.
More Pictures of Russell MacLeod Middleton as an Eighteenth Century Highland Warrior.

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