Battle of Prestonpans 1745

The Battle of Prestonpans was the first significant conflict in the second Jacobite Rising. The battle took place on 21 September 1745. The Jacobite army loyal to James Francis Edward Stuart was led by his son Charles Edward Stuart (Bonnie Prince Charlie) which included members of Clan Grant from the Grants of Glenmoriston. The British Government forces loyal to George II was led by Sir John Cope.

On 20 September Sir John Cope’s forces met some of Charles Stuart’s forces at Prestonpans east of Edinburgh. Sir John Cope decided to engage the Jacobite army and began assembling his forces.

The rest of the Jacobite army were met by a local farmer who supported their cause, and told them about a route known as the Riggonhead Defile through a marshy area near to where the British Government forces were assembling. In the early morning, the Jacobites silently made their way along this route, three abreast.

The British Government forces had set look-outs, but as the Jacobite forces merged from the morning mist, they were only able to get off one volley of canon shots before the Jacobites had closed in on them with “wild war cries and with the bloodcurdling skirl of the pipes….”

The British Government forces fled the battlefield in retreat. Some did remain to fight including Colonel Gardiner, who fought in a final heroic clash but was mortally wounded. He was taken to nearby Bankton House where he lived. He died from his wounds and an obelisk was erected to his memory in the mid-19th century.

The battle lasted less than fifteen minutes with hundreds of government troops killed or wounded and 1500 taken prisoner.  A cairn to their memory was erected in 1953 close by the battle site.

Tranent EH33 1LY Scotland GB
Get directions