Battle of Sheriffmuir
(November 13, 1715)
Before the Old Pretender ever set foot on Scottish soil, the Earl of
Mar raised the Jacobite standard at Braemar on September 6, 1715 in support
of the restoration of the Stuart Kings. The rising was doomed to
fail from the start. Promise of lavish military aid from the
French came to naught when Louis XIV died on September 1. It was said
that hopes for the Stuart cause sank as he declined and died as he
expired. Even then, if Mar had proceeded resolutely, the rebellion might still
have succeeded. The Jacobites captured Perth and might have taken
Edinburgh too had Mar - known as Bobbin' John - not dallied for weeks, giving the
Hanoverian forces vital time to prepare.
On November 13, 1715, the armies met at Sheriffmuir, five miles north
of Stirling. The outcome should have been certain, for the
government army of between 3,000 and 5,000 men was opposed by a Jacobite army of
greater than twice that number. The threat faced by the Duke of Argyle,
who commanded the government forces, was stark. A defeat would have
left the way into England wide open. His task, then, was simply to bar
the route south.
The MacRaes fought that day, as ever, as MacKenzie's shirt of
mail. Assigned to the left wing of the Jacobite army, they formed the Kintail
Company of the Lochalsh Highland Battallion under Lord Seaforth.
Owing to the rising and uneven ground, the opposing armies outflanked
each other, with the result that the right wing of each army overwhelmed the
left wing of the other. The Highlanders on the Jacobites' left
wing, the MacRaes among them, fought bravely for some three hours, but were
driven back by Argyle's dragoons to the Allan Water, from where further
retreat was impossible. It is probable that many died from drowning.
The battle as a whole was indecisive. Mar simply withdrew his
troops back to Perth. On the same day, the English Jacobites were
defeated at the Battle of Preston. The rebellion continued for some weeks
more, but was effectively ended by Sheriffmuir. Even the late
arrival of the Old Pretender on 22 December 1715 could not turn the Jacobites'
fortunes around. He returned to France just six weeks later and
never set foot in Scotland again.
As for the MacRaes, the Battle of Sheriffmuir proved one of their
blackest days. It is said that by nightfall on the day of the battle,
there were fifty-eight new widows in Kintail.
John MacDougall, the 22nd
chief raised 500 men and fought in the above battle.
© Clan Macrae
Millennium Gathering 1999
Battle of Sheriffmuir Poem
Battle of Sheriffmuir midi