Battle of Culloden

The Battle of Culloden took place on April 16, 1746. Upon the death of Queen Anne in 1714, the house of Hanover acquired the British throne from the House of Stuart. Culloden was the final battle in the “Jacobite rising of 1745,” in which the Jacobites attempted to remove the house of Hanover and restore the Stuarts. As indicated by Wikipedia, the Jacobite forces consisted primarily of Catholic and Episcopalian Scots, whereas the loyalists were mostly Protestant English and Scotsmen. The loyalist forces, led by the Duke of Cumberland, soundly defeated the Jacobites, and effectively ended the uprising.

Generally speaking, the newspaper articles I found concerning the Battle of Culloden were taken from other sources, such as speeches, and other newspapers. Based on my research experience with old newspapers up to this point, this is not at all uncommon.

Essentially all of the newspapers in the database America’s Historical Newspapers, that would have broken the news to the public about the battle, were from Boston or Philadelphia. The first mention of the battle that came from a newspaper from another city was the July 6th, 1747 edition of the New-York Evening Post [1]. The preponderance of print in these cities would seem to be in accordance with some of what we have learned in class about early newspaper printing in America.

The articles from America’s Historical Newspapers about the Battle of Culloden seem to have burst onto the scene in early to mid-July of 1746, with a number of newspapers featuring the subject. I suppose this marks the rough amount of time it took for news of the battle to reach the colonies: a little under three months, which is a bit faster than I would have expected.

The earliest account of the battle I found in the database was printed in an edition of the Boston Evening-Post from July 7, 1746. The newspaper featured a letter “from the Provost of Glasgow, to the Provost of Air and Irvine”[2]. The letter recounted the battle; it mentioned how it lasted three hours, and how the Duke of Cumberland now had control of the nearby city of Inverness [3].

An issue of the Pennsylvania Gazette, from the same month, featured, as one of its headings read, “Further Accounts of the Late Battle at Culloden Muir” [4]. The articles displayed in this edition seem to be taken from different British sources, including the London Gazette [5]. These accounts were written from the perspective of the loyalists. Some of them appear to have been written by people who were actually at the battle [6]. These articles referred to figures like the British King and the Duke of Cumberland with terms of reverence [7]. One might have expected British newspapers to be written in such a manner, but the choice to include these pieces might have said something about the attitudes of the Pennsylvania Gazette itself.

A later issue of the Pennsylvania Gazette, from October of 1746, also featured a recount of the battle (taken from a speech) that praised the loyalist forces [8]. The speech indicated how brave and valiant the loyalist troops were [9]. The article championed attitudes of British loyalty over attitudes of rebellion [10]. I felt this was a bit ironic, considering the events to come in the American Revolution, and yet it makes sense given the historical context.

Overall, it seems that these early American newspapers were used to recount the Battle of Culloden, and to do so from a pro-loyalist angle. This comes as little surprise, as we have learned that American attitudes towards the British crown were generally favorable in the years preceding the American Revolution. It is true that most of these accounts were direct reprints of newspaper articles or speeches from Britain itself. But I think the choice to include these pieces speaks to the same idea that these papers sought to convey a sense of support for the British crown.

[1] [New York] The New-York Evening Post, July 6, 1747.

[2] [Boston] The Boston Evening Post, July 7, 1746.

[3] [Boston] The Boston Evening Post, July 7, 1746.

[4] [Philadelphia] The Pennsylvania Gazette, July 12, 1746.

[5] [Philadelphia] The Pennsylvania Gazette, July 12, 1746.

[6] [Philadelphia] The Pennsylvania Gazette, July 12, 1746.

[7] [Philadelphia] The Pennsylvania Gazette, July 12, 1746.

[8] [Philadelphia] The Pennsylvania Gazette, October 30, 1746.

[9] [Philadelphia] The Pennsylvania Gazette, October 30, 1746.

[10] [Philadelphia] The Pennsylvania Gazette, October 30, 1746.

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One thought on “Battle of Culloden

  1. It would be impossible to do because there simply weren’t many Scottish printers in the 1740s, but it would be fascinating to see whether the background of the printer made any difference. (By the 1770s, Scots formed a major subgroup among printers.)

    Liked by 1 person

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