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Marshal MacDonald Visits the Field of Culloden

The marshal, having carefully examined the ground and position of the respective armies, asked, ‘Where was the artillery?’ He was told that there was virtually no artillery. ‘What! No artillery?’ said the marshal, and then added, ‘Where was the cavalry?’ and was answered, ‘There was no cavalry.’ Upon this he became greatly excited, struck his forehead with his clenched fist, and exclaimed, ‘Those idiots of generals, les perruques, if they had brought out these men on purpose to be slaughtered they would have done exactly what they did. They would have led them into these open moors without cavalry and practically without artillery against an enemy supplied with both.’ Then, turning round and pointing to the mountains in the south-west, he continued, ‘Why not occupy these fastnesses? Who can tell how long our brave Highlanders in their vantage ground might have kept the English at bay?’

MacDonald was the son of the Jacobite exile Neil MacDonald. Brought up as a Frenchman, he became one of Napoleon’s Marshals and the Duke of Tarentum. His visit to the land of his fathers was made in 1825.

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