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News from Ringan Head ... September 21st 1745

Intelligence arriving for the Riggonhead Walkers this September...

The call for information on the location of the Riggonhead Defile and Farm which played such a significant role in the Prince's Victory in Prestonpans on September 21st 1745 is bringing in a good level of response. In particular a detailed description recorded in 1903 has arrived in Re-enactment HQ as follows:

Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland, edited by Francis Groome, published in London 1903

"The Highland army commenced its movement in the morning of the 21st, early enough to allow the whole of it to pass the eastern outlet from the morass before the dawn. It was divided into two successive columns, with an interval between. The Duke of Perth led the first column, and two persons intimately acquainted with the morass went before him to show the way. A little in advance of the van, too, was a select party of 60 men doubly armed, under the command of Macdonald of Glenalladale, major of the regiment of Clanranald, whose appointed duty it was to seize the enemy's baggage.

"The army proceeded in an easterly direction till near the farm of Ringan head; and then, turning to the left, they marched in a northerly direction through a small valley which intersects the farm. During the march the strictest silence was kept, not even a whisper was heard; and lest the trampling of horses might discover their advance, the few that were in the army were left behind.

"The ford or path across the morass was so narrow that the column which marched three men abreast had scarcely sufficient standing room; and the ground along it was so soft that many of the men at almost every step were up to the knees in mud. The path in question which was about 200 paces to the W of the stone bridge afterwards built across Seton mill­dam led to a small wooden bridge thrown over the large ditch which ran through the morass from W to E.

"This bridge, and the continuation of the path on the N of it, won a little to the E of Cope's left. From ignorance of the existence of this bridge, from oversight, or from a supposition that the marsh was not passable in that quarter, Cope had placed no guards in that direction; so that the Highland army, whose march across could here have been effectually stopped by a handful of men, passed the bridge and cleared the marsh without interruption.

"Hitherto the darkness had concealed the march of the Highlanders; but the morning was now about to dawn, and at the time the order to halt was given, some of Cope's pickets, stationed on his left, for the first time heard the tramp of the Highlanders. The Highlanders plainly heard these advanced guards challenge them, ‘Who is there? Who is there?' No answer having been returned, the pickets gave the alarm, and the cry of 'Cannons, cannons! Get ready the cannons, cannoniers!' re­sounded through Cope's left wing...."

Published Date: May 21st 2007

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