1719 - Battle of Glenshiel

More Spanish Invasion

Most people have heard of the Spanish Armada, but few have heard of the other failed Spanish invasion attempt which concerned Scotland. In 1719 the Old Pretender obtained a small Spanish invasion force, which, commanded by the Earl Marischal and the Marquis of Tullibardine, intended to take Inverness. However, on reaching the Western mainland the force was surprised near the pass of Glenshiel on 1 April 1719 by the forces of General Wightman. The Highlanders who had joined the attempt ran for it. The Spanish, no doubt having had quite enough of their Scottish holiday, surrendered. Here is how it was reported in the Edinburgh Evening Courant.

Postscript to the Edr. Evening-Courant No. 84

Giving an Account of the Particulars of the Engagement on the 10th of June, sent by Major General Wightman, dated from Glensheels the 11th of June 1719.

About four in the afternoon, I came up within a mile of the rebels camp, at a place called Glensheels, such a strong pass that is hardly to be paralelled; I took about an hour to view their situation, and without loss of a moment made my disposition. About five I begun the attack, which lasted about three hours and an half continual fire and hazardous dispute; but at last providence was on our side, and we beat them from all corners, over all their mountains and rocks.

I've sent your Lordship a true list of our kill'd and wounded. Afor the enemy, 'tis impossible to give any account of them, more than the late Lord Seaforth and George Murray are wounded, the first in the arm, the other, in the leg. We lay on our arms last night to bring off our wounded, and this morning arrived at this place, where I no sooner came, than I had a letter of capitulation from the commander of the Spaniards, who were allowed as prisoners at discretion, and at about two in the afternoon they surrendered with all their arms and ammunition, which was some relief to us, who had wasted near all we had in the action. The Spanish colonel gives account, that Seaforth and all the rest are shifted for themselves and he believes will get off as soon as possible; and I cannot hear of any considerable body of the highlanders together. The Numbers of the highlanders that were engaged were 1640, besides the Spaniards who defended the pass, and 500 on the Hills, in hopes to have catch't our baggage, but by good fortune have preserved all.

Our numbers, your Lordship knows, was only three regiments of foot, four companies of Amerong's and a hundred and fifty dragoons, out of which were left at Inverness an hundred foot and thirty dragoons, so that we had not above 840, (excluding what men were left to secure the baggage,) which was not near half the number of the rebells we engaged. It will be almost impossible to perswade the world, horses were brought to this place, and to have few or any out of order.

Towards the end of the action I observed some Spaniards left in the pass to defend it, which obstructed our finishing the affair, and obliged me to dismount 30 dragoons, which with about 40 foot, was all we had as a reserve; with which numbers I attackt them, and carried it in 10 minutes. They were better at climbing the rocks than we at their retreat, so that we have few or any prisoners except a Spanish captain and their physician.

For my part, I leave my caracter to all the gentlemen whom I have had the honour to command on this expedition.

The Disposition of his Majesty's Forces commanded by Major General Wightman, when they attackt the Rebels, June 10th 1719, who were commanded by the late Lords Seaforth, Tullibardine, Marishal, &c.

All the Grenadeers on the right, commanded by Major Milbourne, being about 140 to begin the attack; the Regiment of Montague by Colonel Laurence, that of Harrison by Colonel Harrison, to sustain the Grenadeers, and that of Hussele's, and four companies of Amerong's to sustain the two afore-mentioned English, right wing commanded by Colonel Clayton, (who acted as Brigadeer) and were to gain the tops of the mountains, and attack the left of the rebels, who were drawn up on a half circle. Fifty of Lord Strathgnaver's country, under the command of Lieutenant Mackay, a half-pay officer, on the flank of his wing.

The Dragoons under the command of Major Robinson, kept the road that led to the pass with four cohorns in their front; the regiment of Clayton under the command of Colonel Reading on the left, and on his flank 100 of the Monro's, commanded by Monro of Culcairne, to attack the right wing of the rebels.

'Postscript to the Edinburgh Evening-Courant No.84', MS. 488, f.3.

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