Battle of Prestonpans 1745

Battle Trust Memory Lane [11]: Redcoats in flight and one leaves across the Forth

The Original Union Flag [before Ireland joined the Union] is Paraded in The Pans

On September 19th 1745 Cope's army arrived at Prestonpans and prepared for battle with the Highlanders by then at Duddingston

Cope had been outwitted in the Highlands by Bonnie Prince Charlie, who had slipped behind him from Fort Augustus across the Corrieyarick Pass to reach Dalwhinnie then Perth and Edinburgh.

Cope had continued to Inverness then travelled the next 100 miles by forced march to Aberdeen where his army took barges directly to the Forth. If the Prince had not reached Edinburgh a few days earlier Cope could have landed at Leith but perforce diverted to Dunbar. From there he marched via Haddington to Prestonpans. The lands between Cockenzie, old Preston and Tranent were an ideal spot to do battle, and the crops had just been harvested. Cope placed his Baggage Train at Cockenzie House and his soldiers and dragoons across the fields north of Bankton House and east of Preston House/ Preston Lodge School. The Highlanders took the high ground at Birslie Brae by early afternoon on September 20th.

click to enlarge the pictures

After losing the battle the following day, many redcoats fled to Morrison's Haven hoping to cross the Forth to Pittenween

Unfortunately they were caught on the beach at Morrison's Haven by the Highlanders and surrendered to The Prince. However, as tradition has it one was assisted to escape by the Horsbrugh family who took him to Pittenween and allowed him on his way. The Forth Yacht Club once again volunteered to undertake the 'Horsbrugh duty' although rough seas prevented more than a single dinghie making the beach from their moorings in Dunbar where Mathew Wills Younger of Prestoungrange was the man who made good his escape. The Prince and his lady seem well pleased!

[Sincere thanks to the Club's Commodore for ensuring the re-enactment was accomplished. Fine thanks also to Arran Johnson and Fiona Campbell aka Bonnie Prince Charlie and Jenny Cameron throughout the re-enactments Ed.]

Published Date: June 19th 2020


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