Lieutenant-General Sir John Cope, the leader of the British army, has been ridiculed, in song and history books, for losing the Battle of Prestonpans – the first major battle of the 1745 Jacobite Rising. His defeat led to the invasion of England, in which the Jacobites almost drove King George II from the throne. But was Cope really to blame?
The Jacobite Risings occurred after Paliament ousted King James Stuart in 1688 and installed a new dynasty. Stuart loyalists, many of them based in Scotland, took up arms repeatedly in futile attempts to restore James’s descendants. The 1745 Rising, led by Bonnie Prince Charlie, was the last. Martin Margulies traces Scottish history up to the ’45, describes the sharply contrasting weapons and tactics of the opposing armies, and follows the Prestonpans campaign from the time Charlie landed, almost alone, on the remote Isle of Eriskay through the moment his tiny force destroyed Cope’s regulars in an early morning Highland charge.