Grim episode from Falkirk’s past is remembered

A historical re-enactor carrying a Lochaber axe ponders the slaughter which ensued when British and Jacobite armies collided on Falkirk Muir in 1746.
A historical re-enactor carrying a Lochaber axe ponders the slaughter which ensued when British and Jacobite armies collided on Falkirk Muir in 1746.

Historical re-enactors and heritage groups gathered at Falkirk’s Battlefield Monument yesterday to mark the carnage of the bloody Second Battle of Falkirk.

Fought on January 17, 1746, the Battle of Falkirk Muir was the last significant success of the doomed Jacobite cause, but made no difference to the outcome of a campaign that ended in the slaughter of Prince Charles Edward Stuart’s army at Culloden.

Yesterday’s memorial gathering had a Jacobite theme, involving the laying of white roses - classic symbol of the Jacobites - on the base of the memorial on Greenbank Road.

During the chaotic battle, fought in near-blizzard conditions, the Jacobite army under Lord George Murray had initially outmaneouvred experienced British general Henry Hawley.

A reckless pursuit of beaten redcoat regiments left the exuberant Highlanders open to flank attack from the British army’s disciplined and unbroken right wing.

But the battle was retrieved when the crack Irish Piquets - technically regular soldiers in the French army - were committed - it’s thought by Prince Charles (“Bonnie Prince Charlie”) himself.

Hawley’s army, beaten but not broken, retreated to Linlithgow while the exhausted victors took possession of Falkirk town.

More combattants fought at Falkirk Muir than at any other battle of the Jacobite wars (1689 to 1746).

As previously reported in the Falkirk Herald the battlefield now has an interpretive signposted walk route, and last year a private venture plan to open a battlefield visitor centre on part of the site was announced.