Jacobites at Sheriffmuir 1715

This describes the Battle of Sheriffmuir from a Jacobite point of view and gives details of the losses on both sides. The Jacobites were led by the Earl of Mar and the government forces by the Duke of Argyll, a supporter of the Protestant monarchy. On November 13 1715, the two armies met at Stone Hill near Dunblane. (SP 54/10/45B).


Sunday 13th.  The Earl of Mar gave orders for the whole army to form on the muir [moor], to the left of the road that leads to Dunblane, fronting to Dunblane. The general persons were ordered to their posts, the Stirling squadron [unit] with the king’s standard [royal flag] and two squadrons of the Marquis of Huntly formed the right of the first line of horses.  All the clans formed the first line of foot  [infantry soldiers who fought in face-to-face combat]. The Perth Shyre [Perthshire] and Fife Shyre [Fifeshire] formed the left of the first line of horses.  The Earl of Marischal’s [George Keith, 10th Earl Marischal c1692-1778] squadron on the right of the second line, three battalions of the Marquis of Senforth’s foot, two battalions of my Lord Huntly’s, the Earl of Panmure’s, the Marquis of Tullibardine’s.  The battalions of Drummond commanded by the Viscount of Strathallan and Logiealmond, the battalion of Strowan and the Angus squadron of horse formed the second lines.  When the army was forming, we discovered some small number of the enemy on the height of the west end of the Sheriff muir which looks into Dunblane from which place they had a full view of our army.  The Earl of Mar called a council of war consisting of all the noblemen, general officers and lairds [lords] of the clans, which was held on the front of the horses on the left.  Where it was voted to fight the enemy nemine contradicente [without contradiction; of one mind].  Upon which the Earl of Mar ordered the Earl of Marischal Major General of the horses with his own squadron and Sir Donald MacDonald’s battalion, to march up to the height where we saw the enemy and dislodge them and send an account of the enemy’s motion [movement] and disposition [state].  No sooner the Earl Marischal begun his march but the enemy disappeared and the Earl of Mar ordered the army to march up after them, by the other general’s orders, the lines marched off the right, divided in the centre, and marched up the hill in lines, after marching about a quarter of a mile, the Earl of Marischal sent back an account that he discovered the enemy forming their line very near him, to the south of top of the hill, upon which the army,

particularly the horse, was ordered to march up very quickly and form to the enemy; but by the breaking of their lines in marching off, they fell in some confusion in the forming and some of the second line of foot jumbled into the first, on or near the left and some of the horse formed near the centre which seems to have been the occasion that the enemy’s few squadrons on the right were not routed [defeated & dismissed] as the rest.

The Earl of Mar placed himself at the head of the clans, and finding the enemy only forming their lines thought fit to attack them in that posture[ position], sent Colonel William Clephon, adjutant- general to the Marquis of Drummond, lieutenant-general of the horse on the right and to lieutenant-general Gordon on the right of the line of foot and major David Erskine, one of his aide-de-camp [military officer serving as personal assistant], to the left with orders to march up and attack immediately:  and upon their return, pulling off his hat, waved it with a ‘huzzah’ and advanced to the front of the enemy’s formed battalions. Upon which all the line to the right, being of the clans led by Sir Donald McDonald’s brother, Glengarry, captain of clan Ranald.  Sir John McLean, Glencoe, Campbell of Glenlyon, Colonel of Broadalbin’s, and brigadier Ogilvy of Boyne with Colonel Gordon of Glenbuckett at the head of one of Huntly’s battalions made a most furious attack, so that in seven or eight minutes we could neither perceive the form of a squadron or battalion of the enemy before us.  We drove the main body and left of the enemy in this manner for about half a mile, killing and taking prisoners, all that we could undertake.  The Earl of Mar endeavoured to stop our foot and put them in some order to follow the enemy which we saw making off in some small bodies [small groups] from a little hill below towards Dunblane where the Earl of Mar resolved to follow them to complete the victory when an account was brought him that our left and most of our second line had given way and the enemy was pursuing them down the back of the hill and had taken our artillery.  Immediately, the Earl of Mar gave orders for the horse to wheel and put the foot in order as fast as could be, marches back with them:  when he was again near the top of the hill two squadrons of the enemy’s grey dragoons [British Army] were perceived marching towards us:  when they came near the top of the hill and saw us advancing in order to attack them, they made faster down the hill then they came up and joined at the foot of the hill to a small squadron or two of the black dragoons and a small battalion of foot which we judge had marched about

the west of the hill, joined them.  At first they again seemed to form on the low ground and advanced towards us:  but when they saw us marching down the hill upon them they fled off very speedily to Dunblane.  The Earl of Mar remained possessed of the field of battle and our own artillery and stood upon the ground till after sunset and then considering that the army had no covering nor victuals [food] all the night before and none to be had nearer than Braco, Ardoch, and adjacents, where his lordship expected the left to rally and the battalions of Lord George Murray, inner right, MacPherson and MacGregor to join, resolved to draw off the artillery and march the army to that place where were some provisions.  There were two carriages of the guns broke, which we left on the road:  but those battalions did not join till next day afternoon, before which the enemy’s army was returned to Stirling.

We took the Earl of Forfar who was dangerously wounded.  Colonels Laurence [possibly Laurence Oliphant of Gask]  and ten or  twelve captains and subalterns [officer below rank of captain] and about two hundred sergeants and private men and the Lord of Glenkindie, one of the volunteers, four pairs of colours [battalion flags], several drummers and about fourteen or fifteen hundred foot under arms.  We compute [calculate] that there lay killed upon the field of battle about seven or eight hundred of the enemy. And thus we cannot make an exact account of their loss yet this is certain, that those lay dead upon the field above is of the enemy none of ours besides the number of the wounded which must be very great.

The prisoners taken by us were civilly [respectfully] used and none of them stripped, some allowed to return to Stirling upon their parole*.  And the officers have the liberty of the town of Perth.  The few prisoners taken by the enemy are useless now most of them stripped and found wounded after taken. The Earl of Panmure being one of the prisoners wounded after taken, they having refused his parole, was left in a village, and by the hasty retreat of the enemy, upon the approach of our army, was rescued by his brother and his servants and carried off.

This was the word of honour of a prisoner of war who is granted freedom only after promising not to engage in further fighting until formally exchanged by the other side.

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