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III. Camerons Charge and Capture the Cannons at Prestonpans

A Prestonpans Legend Re-enacted

The 2009 re-enactments of the Battle of Prestonpans added one more significant 'authentic' cameo to the Trust's growing collection - the legendary charge by the Camerons on Cope's six cannons on his south flank on September 21st 1745.

This aspect of the re-enactment was led by the Montgomeries and Glenbuckets from atop the bank at Cuthill Park, but not before the redcoats had laid down fire on them of which one salvo can be seen exploding just behind HRH Prince Charles Edward.

click to enlarge all pictures

History tells us the Camerons paused for a moment, then urged on by their Clan Chief Lochiel, raced to capture the artillery before any further fire could take place. The salvo itself had been fired by just two officers who had stayed at their posts, Colonel Whitefoord and Master Gunner Griffith, whilst all the gun crews themselves had fled taking all the powder flasks with them as soon as the charge began. Whitefoorde later described how the 'Highlanders feet rustled audibly against the stubble of the recently harvested corn' as they charged with a swiftness not to be conceived uttering hideous cries.

The situation could perhaps have still been saved if the dragoons had followed through and Whitefoorde ordered Colonel Whitney's troop forward, but they faltered after but a few shots were fired and then they too fled.

New Artillery Re-enactors Welcomed to the Pans

The artillery the Camerons faced in the re-enactment, six 1.5 pounder cannons, was provided by Lancashire Militia [4], Birkbeck's Battery [1] and Glenbucket's Highland Regiment [1]. It was the first occasion since 1995 that full artillery action has been 'authentically' portrayed and it is to hoped that it can become a regular feature for the years ahead. The pyrotechics which certainly spiced up the artillery salvoes came from the Militia.


Sincere thanks to the photographers who kindly provided the pictures here - Garry Menzies, Robert of East Lothian Courier, Gillian Hart and Gordon Prestoungrange. Ed.

Published Date: September 29th 2009

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