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The Battle of Culloden

Duke of Cumberland Prepares for March North

Having spent upwards of five weeks at Aberdeen, the Duke of Cumberland began to prepare for his march to the north. As it was his intention to proceed by the coast road, he had ordered a number of victualling ships to rendezvous at Aberdeen; and early in April, these vessels, escorted by several ships of war provided with artillery, ammunition, and other warlike stores, had arrived at their destination, for the purpose of following the army along the coast and affording the necessary supplies. About this time the weather had become favourable, and though still cold, the snow had disappeared, and a dry wind which had prevailed for some days had rendered the river Spey, the passage of which was considered the most formidable obstacle to his march.

Accordingly, on the 8th of April the duke left Aberdeen with the last division of his army, consisting of six battalions of foot and a regiment of dragoons. The whole regular force under his command amounted to about 7,200 men, comprehending fifteen regiments of foot, two of dragoons, and Kingston's horse. Besides these, there were the Argyleshire men and other militia, whose united numbers may be stated at 2,000. At the time of the duke's departure, six battalions, with Kingston's horse and Cobham's dragoons, under Major-general Bland, were stationed at Strathbogie, and three battalions at Old Meldrum, under Brigadier Mordaunt. The duke quartered the first night at Old Meldrum and the next at Banff, where two spies were seized and hanged. One of them was caught while in the act of notching upon a stick the number of the duke's forces. On the 11th the duke marched to Culloden, and at Portsoy he was joined by the remainder of his army, which had been stationed at Old Meldrum and Strathbogie. The army being too numerous to obtain quarters in the town, the foot encamped for the night on some ploughed fields in the neighbourhood, and the horse were quartered in Cullen and the adjacent villages. The Earl of Findlater, who, with his countess, had accompanied the army on its march from Aberdeen, on arriving at his seat at Cullen, made a present of two hundred guineas to the troops.

Next day, being Saturday, the 12th of April, the duke put his army again in motion, and, after a short march,halted on the moor of Arrondel, about five or six miles from the river Spey. He then formed his army into three divisions, each about half a mile distant from the other, and in this order they advanced towards the spey. The left division, which was the largest, crossed the river by a ford near Gormach, the centre by another close by Gordon castle, and the division on the right by a ford near the church of Belly. In their passage, the men were up to their waists in the water, but, with the exception of the loss of one dragoon and four women, who were carried away by the stream, no accident occurred.

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