Poems by the one and only 'great'
Scottish Poet William Topaz McGonagall
POEM : The Battle of Culloden by William Topaz McGonagall
FROM : From Poetic Jems
TWAS in the year of 1746, and in April the 14th day,
That Prince Charles Stuart and his army marched on without delay,
And on the 14th of April they encamped on Culloden Moor,
But the army felt hungry, and no food could they procure.
And the calls of hunger could not brook delay,
So they resolved to have food, come what may;
They, poor men, were hungry and in sore distress,
And many of them, as well as officers, slipped off to Inverness.
The Prince gave orders to bring provisions to the field,
Because he knew without food his men would soon yield
To the pangs of hunger, besides make them feel discontent,
So some of them began to search the neighbourhood for refreshment.
And others, from exhaustion, lay down on the ground,
And soon in the arms of Morpheus they were sleeping sound;
While the Prince and some of his officers began to search for food,
And got some bread and whisky, which they thought very good.
The Highland army was drawn up in three lines in grand array,
All eager for the fray in April the 16th day,
Consisting of the Athole Brigade, who made a grand display
On the field of Culloden on that ever-memorable day.
Likewise the Camerons, Stewarts, and Macintoshes, Maclachlans and Macleans,
And John Roy Stewart's regiment, united into one, these are their names;
Besides the Macleods, Chisholms, Macdonalds of Clanranald and Glengarry,
Also the noble chieftain Keppoch, all eager the English to harry.
The second line of the Highland army formed in column on the right,
Consisting of the Gordons, under Lord Lewis Gordon, ready for the fight;
Besides the French Royal Scots, the Irish Piquets or Brigade,
Also Lord Kilmamock's Foot Guards, and a grand show they made.
Lord John Drummond's regiment and Glenbucket's were flanked on the right
By Fitz-James's Dragoons and Lord Elcho's Horse Guards, a magnificent sight;
And on the left by the Perth squadron under Lord Strathallan,
A fine body of men, and resolved to fight to a man.
And there was Pitsligo, and the Prince's body guards under Lord Balmerino,
And the third line was commanded by General Stapleton, a noble hero;
Besides, Lord Ogilvie was in command of the third line or reserve,
Consisting of the Duke of Perth's regiment and Lord Ogilvy's-- men of firm nerve.
The Prince took his station on a very small eminence,
Surrounded by a troop of Fitz-James's horse for his defence,
Where he had a complete view of the whole field of battle,
Where he could see the front line and hear the cannons rattle.
Both armies were about the distance of a mile from each other,
All ready to commence the fight, brother against brother,
Each expecting that the other would advance
To break a sword in combat, or shiver a lance.
To encourage his men the Duke of Cumberland rode along the line,
Addressing himself hurriedly to every regiment, which was really sublime;
Telling his men to use their bayonets, and allow the Highlanders to mingle with them,
And look terror to the rebel foe, and have courage, my men.
Then Colonel Belford of the Duke's army opened fire from the front line,
After the Highlanders had been firing for a short time;
The Duke ordered Colonel Belford to continue the cannonade,
To induce the Highlanders to advance, because they seemed afraid.
And with a cannon-ball the Prince's horse was shot above the knee,
So that Charles had to change him for another immediately;
And one of his servants who led the horse was killed on the spot,
Which by Prince Charles Stuart was never forgot.
'Tis said in history, before the battle began
The Macdonalds claimed the right as their due of leading the van,
And because they wouldn't be allowed, with anger their hearts did burn,
Because Bruce conferred that honour upon the Macdonalds at the Battle of Bannockburn.
And galled beyond endurance by the fire of the English that day,
Which caused the Highlanders to cry aloud to be led forward without delay,
Until at last the brave Clan Macintosh rushed forward without dismay,
While with grape-shot from a side battery hundreds were swept away.
Then the Athole Highlanders and the Camerons rushed in sword in hand,
And broke through Barrel's and Monro's regiments, a sight most grand;
After breaking through these two regiments they gave up the contest,
Until at last they had to retreat after doing their best.
Then, stung to the quick, the brave Keppoch, who was abandoned by his clan,
Boldly advanced with his drawn sword in hand, the brave man.
But, alas! he was wounded by a musket-shot, which he manfully bore,
And in the fight he received another shot, and fell to rise no more.
Nothing could be more disastrous to the Prince that day,
Owing to the Macdonalds refusing to join in the deadly fray;
Because if they had all shown their wonted courage that day,
The proud Duke of Cumberland's army would have been forced to run away.
And, owing to the misconduct of the Macdonalds, the Highlanders had to yield,
And General O'Sullivan laid hold of Charles's horse, and led him off the field,
As the whole army was now in full retreat,
And with the deepest concern the Prince lamented his sore defeat.
Prince Charles Stuart, of fame and renown,
You might have worn Scotland's crown,
If the Macdonalds and Glengarry at Culloden had proved true;
But, being too ambitious for honour, that they didn't do,
Which, I am sorry to say, proved most disastrous to you,
Looking to the trials and struggles you passed through.