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November 13th 1715

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But for the Earl of Mar...

Thereís some say that we wan,
Some say that they wan
And some say that nae wan ava man
But thereís aye thing Iím sure
That at Shirramuir
A battle there was that I saw, man
And we ran and they ran,
And they ran and we ran,
And we ran and they ran awa, man.

The rising of 1715 was a story of missed opportunities. The Jacobites under the command of the Earl of Mar had made their headquarters in Perth. But Mar was a commander who found it difficult to take decisive action. He waited for almost a month in Perth while further reinforcements arrived from the Highlands and even then seemed reluctant to attack the governmentís forces under Argyll. At last on November 10th he left Perth with a force estimated to be over 10,000 men hoping to destroy Argyllís army of around 4,000 stationed at Stirling. Argyll though outnumbered had good intelligence and succeeded in outmanoeuvring Mar by occupying the high ground above Dunblane where the most effective use could be made of his cavalry.

The Battle of Sheriffmuir itself contained elements of pure farce. Neither commander was able to see what was going on and in the event the left flank of each army was routed. With decisive action and the superior forces at his disposal, Mar, it is generally believed, could have achieved victory but with his usual indecision allowed Argyllís forces to hold the field and retreated north. From that day on the rebellion was lost, not with a bang but a whimper. Marís incompetence as organiser and military commander had been brutally exposed and his supporters started to dwindle away, none more so than the Highlanders who thankfully returned home with their own private plunder.

When at last James arrived at Peterhead on December 22nd the revolt was all but over. He stayed till February 4th 1716 and then took ship again from Montrose back to France. He never visited Scotland again.

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