Updated: Jan 20, 2021
The soldier above all others prays for peace, for it is the soldier who must suffer and bear the deepest wounds and scars of war. ~ MacArthur
Trying to write this blog on our visit to the Battle of Culloden has been difficult. How do you put into words the feeling of a battlefield? How can we pay our respects to the men who died?
When we traveled through Inverness and decided to stop by the Battle of Culloden, we had no idea what to expect. In fact, our base knowledge was from the Diana Gabaldon The Outlander books and Starz television series .
Needless to say, it was limited. Our excitement of seeing an important historical site that changed the relationship of Claire, Jamie, and Captain Jack Randall significantly. Knowing that these are fictitious characters does not take away from the feelings you experience when you walk onto to this battlefield.
Let us give you a brief history lesson on this battle:
The Battle of Culloden (Blàr Chùil Lodair) was the final confrontation of the Jacobite rising of 1745.
On 16 April 1746, the Jacobite forces of Charles Edward Stuart were decisively defeated by Hanoverian forces commanded by William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland, near Inverness in the Scottish Highlands.
The Jacobites were those who wanted the House of Stuart restored to the British throne. Scottish Highlanders formed a high proportion of Jacobite military forces due to the feudal nature of clan society, which obliged tenants to provide their landlord with military service.
The Battle of Culloden is often cited as the last pitched battle on British soil and lasted less than an hour. Exhausted by a night march carried out in a failed attempt to surprise Cumberland's troops, many Jacobites missed the battle, leaving fewer than 5,000 to face a well-rested and equipped force of 7,000 to 9,000 soldiers.
Fighting began with an artillery exchange, that of the government being vastly superior in numbers and training; Charles held his position, expecting Cumberland to attack, but he refused. Unable to respond to the fire and taking heavy casualties, some of the clan regiments began to withdraw and Charles ordered his front line to charge.
Government casualties are estimated as 50 killed, plus 259 wounded; many Jacobite wounded remaining on the battlefield were reportedly killed afterwards, their losses being 1,200–1,500 dead and 500 prisoners.
Take note of the casualties… 1,200-1,500 Jacobites killed to the 50 British killed...the battle lasted less than an hour.
These numbers are heart wrenching. Regardless of which side is in the “right,” one death is too many.
When you visit this battlefield, the first thing you will notice is how “small” the actual area is. There are flags to show where the battle lines were drawn.
It was scary when you realize just how close these two armies were stationed. How men clashed with limited resources and fought for their beliefs.
The pictures in textbooks do not depict the violence many men experienced and witnessed during war. Even today with the many conflicts happening all over the world, we are removed from the physical violence our service members experience.
Secondly, we noticed a temperature change. Walking from the Museum to the grounds, you feel the temperature noticeably drop and become cooler.
Whether you believe in the paranormal or not, you will feel a change. According to Mark Keyes, director of the Pennsylvania Paranormal Association, “Cold spots and measurable temperature drops are common in alleged haunted locations.”
Lastly, as you walk the path around the battlefield, you will notice it is lined with large boulders engraved with the names of various Clans. These humble markers serve as gravestones for the families lost during this assault. You will also feel a demanded reverence. As we followed the trail, we began to notice a feeling of grief and sadness.
You are standing on hallowed ground.
Men. Dads. Grandfathers. Sons. Uncles. Friends. All of them were a life lost for what they believed true. Their TRUTH.
“Near the edge of the field I stood holding a gun, pointing it at the lad who had once been my best friend. He was dressed in the red coat of a government soldier; I was not.” David Holdsworth, Angelos.
From the beginning of time, men have been fighting over land, politics, or religion. The Battle of Culloden is not any different. What we want you to learn and experience is the magnitude of this Battle. It is a major part of Scottish History and needs to be understood and respected.
We are not immune to the effects of war. We have had family members serve in the Armed Forces and may have experienced some of the horrors of fighting. What we want is for us to Remember, Respect and Revere.
As fans of The Outlander TV series, we came across an article where the Clan Fraser grave at Culloden was being damaged by fans from the show. We find this sickening as this is a grave where REAL men died and are honored. We love Jamie Fraser just like anyone else, but to desecrate a grave is appalling.
Leaving notes for a fictitious character...there are better ways to show your love of Jamie and Claire Fraser:
Write Diana Gabaldon a thank you card
Support the National Trust for Scotland
Educate yourself on the History of Scotland
As with any great story and well-loved characters, not to mention Scottish Highlanders, we were just as thrilled as any other fan with finding the historical sites mentioned in the books/tv series. If we could challenge you as a reader of our blogs and lover of stories, keep the historical sites sacred.
Walking the battlefield and seeing the portrayal of this battle from the Outlander TV series is impactful. You see, feel, hear and sense the energy left from those who are laid to rest. Each having a story to tell.
You know the story of “Jamie Fraser.” What if you took the time to research the story of one of the many Clans buried at Culloden? Show your respect and tell their story.