Rebellion and Savagery
The Jacobite Rising of 1745 and the British Empire
2005 | 272 pages | Cloth $55.00
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Table of Contents
PART I. THE RESPONSE TO THE CRISIS
Chapter 1. Rebellion: Criminal Prosecution and the Jacobite Soldiers
Chapter 2. Savagery: Military Execution and the Inhabitants of the Highlands
Chapter 3. The 1745 Crisis in the Empire
PART II. CUMBERLAND'S ARMY AND THE WORLD
Chapter 4. Cumberland's Army in Scotland
Chapter 5. Cumberland's Army in the Mediterranean
Chapter 6. Cumberland's Army in North America
Epilogue: Cumberland's Death and the End of the Officers' Careers
Excerpt [uncorrected, not for citation]
On July 23, 1745, Charles Edward Stuart, the twenty-four-year-old grandson of England's long-dead, ousted King James II, landed in Moidart, on the western coast of Scotland, in the company of seven men. He intended to seize power in Britain, reverse the dynastic consequences of the Revolution of 1688, and on behalf of his father, who lived in Italy, restore the deposed Stuart family to the British throne. Before sailing for Scotland Charles Edward had been in correspondence with several British Jacobites, supporters of the Stuart dynasty, including prominent clan leaders and landlords in the Scottish Highlands. Some of these men greeted him near the coast, and with their help he raised a small army composed largely of Gaelic-speaking Highlanders. By mid-August he and his men were marching south. In September they took the town of Edinburgh, leaving the government's garrison beleaguered in Edinburgh Castle. Gaining new recruits along their route, and winning nearly all of their engagements with the government's forces, eventually the Jacobite army proceeded as far south as Derby, in the Midlands of England, before Charles Edward reassessed his circumstances and decided to turn back toward Scotland.
While the Jacobites retreated, the government reassembled its available military forces and placed them under the command of the Duke of Cumberland, the second son of King George II. Cumberland pursued Charles Edward northward, finally trapping the main body of his forces at Culloden Moor, near Inverness, on April 16, 1746. The battle that day was a violent rout. Hundreds of Jacobite soldiers were killed in the field, and the rest were captured or scattered. Charles Edward escaped. It took him several weeks, but he managed to leave Britain and sail to France. Cumberland, in the meantime, led the government's forces on a punitive mission through Highland Scotland, disarming much of the population, burning crops, seizing livestock, and on occasion attacking entire communities, including old people and children, women and men.
While Cumberland was pursuing his military campaigns in the Highlands, he was struggling to restore order on the government's terms. Thousands of veterans of the Jacobite rising were brought into custody, and evidence was gathered against hundreds of them in anticipation of formal criminal trials. Trying all of Charles Edward's soldiers proved logistically impossible, however. More than three hundred trials were held, and over one hundred defendants were found guilty and executed for rebellion. A larger number of prisoners, perhaps as many as eight hundred, were induced to plead for mercy and accept transportation to the colonies, where they were sold as bound laborers.
In order to understand the violence of 1746 it is necessary to comprehend the character and scale of Charles Edward's aims. He believed that his father was the rightful monarch of all Britain and Ireland, and he came to Scotland with the ultimate purpose of asserting his family's claim to those kingdoms and the entire British Empire. As a result, the conflict had a powerful, almost intrinsically violent, moral component. Both sides accused the men in the opposing army of treason. As one writer with Jacobite sympathies put it, whenever a fighting man chooses the wrong side in a "civil or domestic" war, he puts "his soul in a most desperate issue," because "for every slaughter he makes of those on the right side, he is downright guilty of so many murders." Another, less ardently partisan pamphleteer described the result when soldiers conflate military conflict with treason and murder: "rancor, ill-nature, and malice usurp the place of a noble resentment, and the unnatural contest is carried on without either decency or charity." It is possible to go far toward explaining the violence of 1746 without mentioning that the fighting involved Scottish Highlanders.
Nonetheless, it is also clear that the army's operations were encouraged by a widespread antagonism toward the people and traditions of the Highlands. After the fighting had ended, one Lowland Scottish writer asked his readers to sympathize with the government's soldiers at Culloden by emphasizing the alien character of the Highlanders. The killing had been excessive, he acknowledged, "Yet one thing I own, that the rebels had enrag'd the troops; their habit was strange, their language still stranger, and their way of fighting was shocking to the utmost degree." Kilts, the Gaelic language, and the wielding of broadswords distinguished the Highland soldiers in Charles Edward's lines. These attributes also, especially in the minds of the government's supporters, helped mark the Highlanders as primitive, contemptible, and dangerous.
In 1745 and for years thereafter, an array of commentators suggested that the Gaelic-speaking people of the Highlands were isolated, impoverished, and slavishly devoted to their clan leaders. The Highlanders were also, almost incessantly, described as gullible and violent. They seemed quick to take up arms in insurrection, and from the perspective of the government, their home region appeared almost impossible to police. For many, the Jacobite rising served as an object lesson demonstrating the link between civilization and political stability. Charles Edward had succeeded, to the extent that he did, by exploiting the savagery of the Highlands.
Though Jacobites took up arms only in Britain, the rising was perceived as a crisis throughout the British Empire. Charles Edward's opponents emphasized the peculiar Highland character of the original Jacobite army, but they could not dismiss the insurrection simply as a local disturbance in northern Scotland. On the contrary, especially after the Jacobite forces reached England, the supporters of the government linked the Jacobite rising to global politics and trumpeted risks that they claimed the entire empire faced.
At the time of Charles Edward's landing, Britain was engaged in a long-running contest with the empires of France and Spain. In 1739 the imperial rivalry had turned violent, with the outbreak of war against the Spanish in the Caribbean. Over the next few years the fighting spread to engage most of the major powers of Europe, with combat on the European continent as well as in the Caribbean and in North America. By 1744 France had unambiguously aligned itself with Spain against George II. After Charles Edward landed in Britain one year later, his opponents suspected that the French were using him as a tool to advance their own imperial interests. Though France gave the Jacobites less support than they expected, a French ship had carried Charles Edward to Moidart, and later in the year a regiment of regular French troops landed in Scotland to fight for him.
Even before Charles Edward's arrival, many in Britain and the colonies had rallied to the ongoing war effort, believing that the British Empire was confronting the combined might of the world's major Catholic imperial powers. In actuality the war in Europe—known today as the War of the Austrian Succession—did not simply pit Catholics against Protestants, because Britain was allied with the Catholic Hapsburg dynasty in Austria. Nonetheless, for most Britons—at home and in the colonies—the Austrian dimension of the conflict was not the critical one. It mattered more that Britain's Spanish and French adversaries were Catholic. The religious element in the war increased in importance after Charles Edward arrived. Like his father and grandfather before him, Charles Edward was Catholic, and in Scotland, at least, he drew considerable support from fellow Catholics. In 1745 and 1746, nearly everywhere in the British Empire, Catholics were suspected of supporting the Stuart cause.
After Cumberland defeated Charles Edward at Culloden, many British colonists in North America rejoiced because they believed that the Jacobites, had they won, would have ceded large swaths of colonial territory to the Catholic French. The rising had served as a reminder of the colonists' dependence on the political stability, diplomatic leverage and military strength of the British government, and their vulnerability to the consequences of events across the ocean. Therefore, in America as well as in Britain, Cumberland acquired the status of a hero. He was celebrated as a champion of Protestantism, a guardian of British liberty, and a defender of Britain's imperial ambitions.
One of the most enduring effects of the Jacobite rising was to increase the public stature and political power of the army. Despite the long-standing controversy surrounding the maintenance of large armies in peacetime, after peace was restored in Europe in 1748, Cumberland remained captain general of Britain's land forces, with command over hundreds of officers and thousands of troops, and his soldiers continued to patrol the Scottish Highlands. He took advantage of the political capital he had gained from his victory in Scotland and concentrated his energies on strengthening the army, reforming it, and giving it a prominent role in the governance and defense of the empire. Cumberland faced vocal, at times strident, opposition to his efforts, and political imperatives required him to station the bulk of his forces outside England. In 1749 he introduced a system of rotation that cycled regiments between Scotland, Ireland, and the Mediterranean. Though North America was not formally part of the cycle, men were rotated between Scotland and the American colonies as well.
In the colonies and Scotland, the soldiers guarded vulnerable territories, but Cumberland and his supporters in the ministry believed that the army's mission involved more than defense, that garrisons should serve as agents of civilization. There was no detailed consensus, however, either within the army or in the counsels of government, over exactly what that project entailed. The officers in Cumberland's army participated in debates over the promotion of immigration, trade, and industry, the construction of infrastructure, the definition and enforcement of property rights, the spread of the English language, the advancement of Protestantism, and the education of children, in the Scottish Highlands and in colonies overseas. Their thoughts on these issues evolved as they gathered experience in various postings.
The narrative in Rebellion and Savagery returns repeatedly to a group of officers who served under Cumberland in Scotland and were later deployed in colonial posts: William Blakeney, Humphrey Bland, Edward Cornwallis, John Campbell, the Earl of Loudon, and James Wolfe. After serving with Cumberland in Scotland, Blakeney became lieutenant governor of Minorca; Bland assumed the governorship of Gibraltar; Cornwallis took commands in Nova Scotia, Minorca, and Gibraltar successively; Loudon became commander in chief of the British army in North America; and Wolfe led the contingent of the British army that conquered Quebec. Under the direction of these men, and others like them, the army emerged from the crisis of 1745 with a sense of mission that both encompassed and transcended the northern hills and islands of Scotland.
In the immediate aftermath of Culloden, the army made policy in the Scottish Highlands, punishing some men and women as rebels or bandits and working with others cooperatively. As the weeks progressed Cumberland and his officers began to offer advice to the government drawing on their experience in the region, and over the next several years they contributed to an extended policy debate. Between 1746 and 1753, Parliament enacted statutes for the disarmament of Highlanders, the reform of the region's court system, the regulation of religious life, and the forfeiture of estates belonging to Jacobites. The ministry also established policies for the management of the forfeited estates, guidelines that were designed to promote commerce and Presbyterianism, the use of the English language, and loyalty to George II. Military officers played a part in drafting these proposals, and once they were enacted, soldiers helped enforce them.
Though the army was never exclusively in control of the development of policy, in the late 1740s and early 1750s Cumberland's officers were engaged in similar, parallel reform efforts in their colonial posts. In the Mediterranean and in the forests and farms of North America, they faced similar challenges, patrolling populations that included many who did not speak English, in places where British legal institutions were weak or altogether absent. The officers traded advice across the waters and brought to their tasks a shared enthusiasm for the maintenance of security and the advancement of reform. As an institution, the British army of the early 1750s exhibited a new confidence in its power and influence. Cumberland's high officers, in particular, left Scotland with reinvigorated ambition. In their overseas assignments they sought to promote cultural transformation, encourage commercial development, and facilitate religious and political change.
Thus, the Jacobite rising influenced the administration of the empire in two distinct phases. First came the military confrontation itself, which affected all of Britain's domains. Then, after the immediate crisis was over, the British army assumed a new prominence in the governance of the Highlands and in the empire as a whole. As a reflection of this chronology, this book is divided into two parts. Part I is a discussion of the immediate crisis, emphasizing the army's 1746 campaign and its implications for the future direction of the empire. Part II examines the army in the years following 1746, relating its ongoing participation in the administration of Highland Scotland to its imperial mission, specifically in the Mediterranean and North America. The Scottish and colonial stories are interconnected. The debates surrounding the transportation of former Jacobites and reform in the Scottish Highlands had direct ramifications for the colonies. Events in North America, in turn, profoundly influenced the dynamic of politics in Scotland, most dramatically after Britain's renewal of hostilities with France in 1754. More generally, the political fortunes of Cumberland and the army affected the entire empire and carried particular significance for the countries in which soldiers were stationed.
Along with Cumberland, Blakeney, Bland, Cornwallis, Loudon, and Wolfe assumed their responsibilities with a distinctive view of political power and reform. In their words and actions they manifested an intense sense of indignation against certain kinds of cultural difference, characteristics which they variously described and condemned as savagery, infidelity, ignorance, superstition, sloth, or violent cruelty. Several of them also mixed their moral outrage with a self-consciously enlightened interest in ethnography. They tried to be systematic in their efforts to classify peoples, explain the beliefs and behaviors of the groups under their authority, and prescribe policies designed to advance the process of social development. The officers were generally fascinated with the peculiarities of their various assignments and drew sharp distinctions, for example, between the peoples of the Mediterranean, North America, and Britain. At the same time, however, they believed that they could learn much by making analogies, and all of them sought to contribute to ongoing policy debates in Scotland, the Mediterranean, and across the Atlantic, by citing the army's ever-widening pool of experience. The officers shared a belief that the army could operate as an agent for reform in uncivilized, rebellious, or contested lands. They insisted that the first step in that process was to establish Britain's undivided sovereignty over its territories, regardless of whether the inhabitants were ready or willing to be ruled.
Though Cumberland's officers were deployed in several places as military governors, for the most part they believed that military rule should be temporary. Nearly everywhere they went, in the early moments of their imperial projects, Blakeney, Bland, Cornwallis, Loudon, and Wolfe harbored hopes for a better future. They invested military manpower and resources in the construction of roads, bridges, docks, and public buildings, promoted manufacturing and commerce, and encouraged immigration. In regions populated by Catholics they sought to reform education, promote intermarriage, and facilitate Protestant conversions. In the long run they hoped to establish English-style governmental institutions, including civilian law courts. As far as was possible, consistent with the interests of the home country, the officers intended to place all the free inhabitants of Britain's possessions on a similar footing and make all of them loyal to the British regime.
In many respects, the operations of Cumberland's army after 1745 represented the continuation of a long historical process. At least since the Middle Ages, Anglo-Saxons, Anglo-Normans, English, and Lowland Scots, under the leadership of the kings and queens of England and Scotland, had been alternately battling and attempting to reform the Celtic peoples of Cornwall, Wales, Ireland, and the Scottish Highlands. Beginning in the sixteenth century, English imperialists had expanded these efforts, in effect, by turning their attention to North America. Considered in broad, schematic terms, this was a very old story. Nonetheless, the official response to the crisis of 1745, and the subsequent operations of Cumberland's army, reflected British preoccupations that were distinctive to the era.
As Linda Colley has argued, the eighteenth century witnessed an official effort to create a new understanding of "British" nationality, one that accommodated various English, Scottish, and Welsh traditions and united the peoples of Britain by emphasizing a few antagonisms that they all allegedly shared, particularly against France and the Catholic Church. These were also years in which many in Britain, and in Scotland in particular, were engaged in a fluid debate over the categorization of peoples, the attributes of "savagery," and the meaning of "civilization." In large part because of the distinctive language and traditions of the Gaelic-speakers, and the complex relationship between Highlanders and the rest of the peoples of Britain, Ireland, and the colonies, these issues—the meaning of British nationality, and the steps between savagery and civilization—carried special significance in Scotland.
It is impossible to comprehend the actions of Cumberland's army in Scotland without considering the peculiar history of the Highlands, and the double-stigma that outsiders had long attached to the Gaelic-speaking inhabitants of the region as rebels and as savages. A deep-seated and widely-shared suspicion of the Highlanders informed the violence of the government's military campaign in 1746. The reform efforts introduced after the fighting ended were similarly informed by regional history, and built on previous efforts to solve the "Highland problem" by introducing the Highlanders to civilization. In the eyes of many reformers, the region resembled North America in important ways. They viewed it as a place on the edge of the empire, where metropolitan standards of behavior, the rule of law, and the authority of the central government, were weak.
The Highlanders were one of the first peoples the English and Lowland Scots ever called "savages." The Gaelic language and the Highlanders' clan-based social structure were common throughout Scotland until the high Middle Ages, when Germanic and Scandinavian invaders displaced the old Celtic traditions of the Lowlands. For centuries thereafter the Highlanders' culture was assumed to be older than that of the Lowland Scots, and in Anglo-Saxon eyes, more primitive. As early as the fourteenth century, outside observers began identifying the Gaelic-speaking people of the Highlands as "savage and untamed." By the eighteenth century, after the British encounter with North America and sub-Saharan Africa, the Gaelic-speakers had become, in the minds of many outsiders, representatives of an increasingly complex category of uncivilized groups. Some writers, stressing the importance of domesticated grazing animals in the Highland economy, suggested that the Highlanders had progressed further than the native tribes of North America. Others were less certain. In the aftermath of the Jacobite rising of 1745 one writer asserted that the Highlanders organized their lives according to principles of "patriarchal government" that were "suited only to those early ages before mankind had begun to form themselves into large societies."
The phrase "patriarchal government" in this context referred to clanship, the hierarchical network of family ties and obligations that helped organize Highland society. Under the customary terms of the clan system, men could demand protection and hospitality from their chiefs, who in return could summon them for military service. The military function of the clans involved more than protection against foreign invasion. Clans were active in settling local disputes and sought reparations against outsiders when the interests of their members were infringed. In the process they maintained order and regulated exchange in much of the Highlands and therefore performed an essential economic function, particularly among keepers of cattle. In parts of the Highlands, men, women, and children spent weeks every year following herds of livestock. The clans helped support these families and guarded their animals during their travels.
The men who guarded the cattle on the mountains were real. So too were the clans that protected them, but these were also powerful stereotypes. By the middle years of the eighteenth century many Highlanders lived quite comfortably without crossing hills on foot or calling on the services of clans. Not everyone was a herder, and there were financial and legal institutions that offered an alternative to the clan system for the negotiation of contracts or the settlement of disputes. Some prominent aristocrats in the Highlands were not clan leaders, and their powers as landlords had historical and legal foundations separate from clanship. Nonetheless, as social institutions that appeared to set the Highlanders apart, clanship and herding dominated most political discussions of them.
The term "Highlander" did not have a simple, consistent definition. In some contexts the word was used to designate the residents of a region encompassing the hills and mountains of northern Scotland, all of the British mainland north of Inverness, Scotland's northwestern coast, and the islands to the west. By an extension of that definition, former residents of the area were still considered Highlanders even after they had moved, particularly if they spoke Gaelic. Furthermore, the children and grandchildren of such Highlanders could inherit the status even if they had never seen the Highlands. Thus there were Highlanders born in Glasgow in the eighteenth century, and in several colonies abroad.
Nonetheless, Highlander status was not always or universally understood to be hereditary. In some cases contemporary observers disagreed among themselves whether the offspring of Highland families retained the identity of Highlanders. One important example involved the Earl of Loudon, who led the government's Highland regiment against the Jacobites in 1745 and 1746. Like his father and grandfather before him, Loudon resided on a prosperous estate near the Irish Sea south of Glasgow, apart from the Scottish Highlands. His distant ancestors may have spoken Gaelic, but English was the language of Loudon's household. Loudon did not call himself a Highlander, and none of his associates in the army or the Scottish aristocracy applied that label to him. After two years of service in the Highland regiment, he let it be known that he was weary of dressing in Highland kilts and "longed to have on britches". Nonetheless, throughout Loudon's career, residents of the Highlands identified him as a member of Clan Campbell, one of the most powerful of the Highland clans. Opponents of the Campbells excoriated Loudon as a partisan for that clan's interest. The Campbells, for their part, generally welcomed him as one of their own.
Many purported descendants of prominent Highland families did not consider themselves Highlanders. The region contained an unusually prosperous English-speaking elite, and thanks to several generations of intermarriage, many well-born families in the area had cousins within the gentry and aristocracy of England. The Highlands' English-speaking gentry impressed Daniel Defoe, who in his semifictional work A Tour Thro' the Whole Island of Great Britain declared that by the early 1720s the gentlemen of the Highlands had attained "the politest and brightest education and genius of any people so far north, perhaps, in the world." The reputed sophistication of the Highland elite did not, however, necessarily undercut the frequently repeated assertion that the Highlanders as a group were uncivilized. On the contrary, some aristocrats and landholders in the region were among the most vocal and prominent commentators insisting that the local people needed civilization. Some members of the elite had plans for educating the rest of the inhabitants of the region. They established model villages on their estates in a self-conscious effort to introduce civility and economic efficiency into areas they perceived to be primitive.
In the years leading up to 1745, the landlords' efforts to reform and improve the lives of their Gaelic-speaking tenants became steadily more comprehensive and ambitious. The Campbells, under the leadership of the Earls and Dukes of Argyll, over several generations, were trendsetters. Beginning in the late seventeenth century the heirs of the Argyll estates altered their approach to estate management in order to establish stable, stationary year-round homes for their leaseholders, diversify the local economy, and direct more of the Highlanders' energies toward the accumulation of wealth. The Argylls established coal mines, slate quarries, orchards, and fish factories on their lands. In a break from prior practice, they used written leases and rented fields in small lots for relatively short terms of years. By the 1730s they had abolished most of the service requirements in their leases in order to place the market for land on a simpler cash basis. In all these efforts they believed that they were making their estates operate more like modern farms in the Lowlands of Scotland and England. These projects resembled colonial ventures, since the landlords accepted it as their mission to transform a society governed by irrational and unproductive tradition.
Writers describing the Highlanders often modeled their analysis on discussions of allegedly primitive peoples overseas. In the early 1720s Defoe prefaced his description of the Highlands by declaring that England's "geographers" knew as little about the Scottish Highlands as they did about "the inner parts of Africa." A decade later the English writer Edward Burt asserted that less had been published about the Highlands than about "either of the Indies." Both Defoe and Burt responded to this perceived deficiency by providing descriptions of Highland life that they thought could stand beside ethnographic accounts of life in Africa and in the forests of North America. Missionaries launched similar projects. In 1714, after the Scottish Society for Propagating Christian Knowledge (SSPCK) sent its first Presbyterian ministers into the Highlands, its directors asked one of its emissaries to send back an "account of the superstitious customs of the people of the north." The SSPCK was modeled on English and Dutch missionary organizations. The society's charter directed it to serve the inhabitants of regions "where error idolatry superstition and ignorance do most abound," including "the Highlands, islands, and remote corners" of Scotland and "Popish and infidel parts of the world" abroad.
By the early 1740s the SSPCK had established a network of itinerant teachers and small schools scattered throughout the Highlands. It also funded much smaller projects to convert and educate the native peoples of North America, and in an effort to advance the purposes of its charter, it briefly considered undertaking missionary efforts in Asia as well. The varied activities of the SSPCK strongly suggest that the Presbyterian directors of the organization placed Highlanders in a single broad category, that "great part" of the world's inhabitants "who live in barbarity and ignorance." They believed that the Highlanders were uncivilized, but an examination of the actual activities of their organization makes it clear that the directors did not simply treat North America's peoples and the Scottish Highlanders equally. An intense hostility to Highland culture led the directors of the SSPCK, over the objections of several of their missionaries, to ban the use of the Gaelic language in missionary schools. The missionaries complained that this had the effect of alienating the students from their parents and prevented graduates of the schools from introducing their families and other members of their communities to the gospel. The board of directors dismissed the missionaries' complaints, preferring to concentrate the society's resources exclusively on the children, cut them off from their family traditions, and ultimately (they hoped) consign Gaelic to an older, dying generation.
The SSPCK took a different approach toward the native peoples of North America. Initially, the chosen missionaries (New Englanders who had been recruited in the colonies) lived in forts and trading posts and made contact only with the adults who came to them. Two pastors in Maine, for example, made "small compliments of pipes and tobacco" to the men who visited their fort and tried to speak to the men in their native Algonkian languages. They met with little success. They taught none of their visitors English and boasted no conquests for Protestant Christianity. Subsequently, the SSPCK insisted that its missionaries in North America learn native languages and "live and inhabit with the Indians in the wilderness." Rather than taking children away from their parents or initiating a campaign against the Algonkian or Iroquoian tongues, they sought to convert influential tribal leaders and imagined they could introduce Presbyterianism to whole communities en masse. This contrast in missionary strategies for Scotland and North America serves as a reminder that when British reformers in the eighteenth century labeled a community savage or barbarous, that was only the beginning of their analysis. An array of political considerations affected the proposals they advanced for the civilization of the ostensibly primitive group.
Before 1745 the Highlanders were most often compared not with North American groups or other societies across the ocean but rather with the Gaelic-speaking, Catholic Irish. One of the principal reasons the SSPCK was so determined to combat use of the Gaelic language in the Highlands was the close relationship between Irish and Scottish Gaelic. The Scottish Highlands and Ireland had been linked, culturally and politically, for centuries. Prior to the sixteenth century the water separating the Highlands from Ireland had been far more important as route for travel than as a barrier between peoples. In those years, extended families had branches on both sides of the Irish Sea, and no sectarian divisions impeded trade, cultural exchange, or the formation of political alliances. These circumstances changed dramatically in the second half of the sixteenth century, thanks in large part to a shift in English policy toward Ireland. The historian Nicholas Canny has suggested that English military officers and government officials in the Elizabethan era viewed themselves as colonizers and conquistadores, associating their subjugation of the Irish with the Spanish conquest of native tribes and empires in North and South America. Other historians have placed more emphasis on the long history of English colonization in Ireland and on local precedents for the government's actions, but Canny has demonstrated that the English came to a new understanding of the process of conquest and colonization in the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, and that a new mode of imperialism arose simultaneously in Ireland and North America.
During the wars in Ireland during Queen Elizabeth's reign, Scottish Highlanders went to fight with the Irish against the English regime. In response, the English government adopted a series of policies that established long-lasting, influential precedents that would eventually affect policy debates not only in Scotland but in various parts of the empire. In an effort to divide the Irish from the Highlanders, control both groups, and hasten the process of Anglicization, Elizabeth's successor as king of England, the Scottish king James VI (known in England as James I), planted a colony in Ulster, in northern Ireland, to insert a wedge between Ireland and Scotland. This policy had a far more devastating impact on Ireland than on Scotland, but similar colonies were planned for the western coasts of Scotland, and the project of controlling the Highlands through the planting of colonies would remain a major feature of public policy debate in the region for more than 150 years.
Reform-minded writers in the eighteenth century frequently linked colonization with the formation of culturally mixed communities, which in turn they associated with global commerce, cosmopolitanism, the rejection of tradition, and wealth. They also associated mixed communities for historical reasons with England. As Defoe famously asserted in his satire "The True-Born English-Man," England was a product of successive invasions, a country where Celtic, Roman, Anglo-Saxon, and Norman traditions, among others, collided. By contrast, the Scottish Highlanders, at least in the hinterlands, were generally considered pure Celtic. The purity of the Highlanders' stock allegedly contributed to their backwardness. Edward Burt made the point this way: "The Highlanders are exceedingly proud to be thought an unmixed people, and are apt to upbraid the English with being a composite of all nations, but, for my own part, I think a little mixture in that sense would do themselves no manner of harm."
In the Scottish context, one of the figures most commonly associated with colonization schemes was Oliver Cromwell. In the 1650s Cromwell's soldiers fought royalist opponents in the Scottish Highlands, and after securing victory he had hundreds of them transported as bound servants to Virginia and the West Indies. Cromwell and his officers established garrisons in the Highlands. Defoe praised the lasting influence of Cromwell's army in the vicinity of its forts, particularly around Inverness. After a unit had been stationed there, an "abundance of the English soldiers settled in this fruitful and cheap part of the country." The men, with their wives and children, introduced the English language and English farming methods into the region. By the 1720s, according to Defoe, the aftereffects of Cromwell's occupation were obvious. The inhabitants had acquired English "usages and customs" from the soldiers who had stayed with their families after demobilization. As a result, the people of Inverness dressed better, and their food was "much more agreeable to the English stomachs than in other parts of Scotland."
Like Defoe, most commentators on Highland life in the early eighteenth century recognized that the region was divided. Many facets of life separated Highland communities from one another—differences in social class, language, and education, clan rivalries, differing levels of commercial development, and religious controversy. At least since the early seventeenth century, the divisions within Highland society had carried important implications for Britain as a whole, as England, Wales and Scotland struggled over the powers of the monarchy and the consolidation of state power. Political alignments in the Highlands were always fluid, and the apparent distinctiveness of various Highland communities invariably complicated any effort to stereotype the inhabitants as a group. On the other hand, when the region's politics turned violent, reports of combat served to reinforce the Highlanders' reputation for disorder. An ominous turning point came in 1688, when the old Stuart monarchy—or at least the old line of succession—was overthrown.
The Revolution of 1688, known as the "Glorious Revolution" in England, led to the removal of Charles Edward's grandfather, England's James II and Scotland's James VII, from the throne. The revolution introduced a new divisive issue into the politics of the Highlands, because the region was home to a significant number of defenders of the old constitution and dynasty. The events of 1688 transformed the supporters of James II and VII — henceforward known as "Jacobites" — from conservative backers of the ruling monarch into alleged subversives. A deep irony operated in public discussions of Jacobitism from that time onward. The Jacobites, in Ireland, Scotland, England, and elsewhere, exhibited a love of tradition. No other characteristic in religion, in political leaning, or in culture united them as firmly as their belief in a divinely sanctioned social and political hierarchy, with only one possible royal house in power. Nonetheless, despite their professed devotion to law and ancestral rights, they were depicted by their opponents as outlaws. Even though Britain's Jacobites insisted that they were "for the greatest part, of the most ancient families of this island," all of them, and the Highlanders in particular, were singled out as exhibiting little respect for social order. Over the long term, the Highlands came to be seen as a hiding place for rebels.
Concentrating on events in England, some historians have presented the Revolution of 1688 as a quick and easy affair. Viewed as an event in the empire as a whole, it was neither quick nor easy. Scotland's political leaders were divided and uncertain over the meaning of the revolution, and armed conflict erupted briefly in 1689, when a body of Highlanders, along with others from the Scottish Lowlands, fought against the new regime on the exiled king's behalf. The revolution also unsettled colonial American politics, but the most intense theater of combat was Ireland. James went to Ireland in 1689, and the fighting in that kingdom lasted for more than a year. The old Stuart king had never been a proponent of Gaelic culture, but the support he received among Gaelic-speaking Irish Catholics convinced many observers on both sides of the dynastic controversy that Gaelic traditions, Catholicism, and Jacobitism were linked. The fighting was brutal, and it involved militia on both sides as well as the principal competing armies. One of the militiamen fighting for the revolution was the young William Blakeney, who carried emotional scars from the conflict for the next sixty-five years. Though the fighting in Ireland engaged many men outside the regular armies, the negotiations leading to the decisive capitulation, the Treaty of Limerick of 1691, were conducted according to conventional rules of war. The government chose not to treat the Jacobite soldiers as criminals but rather as members of a legitimate military force. Instead of facing prosecution for treason, the men were allowed to depart with their leader for France.
After 1691 the deposed King James never saw England, Scotland, or Ireland again, but in exile he continued to agitate for a return to the throne. He died in France in 1701, and eventually his son James Francis Edward Stuart tried to assert his own hereditary right to rule. In 1708 a French fleet took James Edward to the mouth of the Firth of Forth, but the French commanders turned back without allowing him to land. In 1715 the British supporters of the Stuarts took up arms without the presence their would-be king. Recruiting locally, Jacobite armies operated in Scotland and the north of England for more than two months before suffering decisive defeats. James Edward arrived only after the fighting was effectively over. He spent six weeks touring northeast Scotland before returning to exile in France.
The Jacobites' military efforts in 1708 and 1715 were timed to take advantage of two events that had promised to redefine their cause and expand their base of support. In 1707 a Treaty of Union had been concluded between the English and Scottish parliaments resulting in the dissolution of the parliament in Edinburgh and the arrival of Scottish representatives in the Houses of Parliament in Westminster. James Edward had come to the coasts of Scotland in 1708 carrying a proclamation calling for the repeal of the Treaty of Union. By promising to restore Scottish independence, he hoped to gain the support of Lowland Scots and Highlanders who felt threatened by the parliamentary union with England. Six years later, in 1714, the Jacobites gained an opportunity to appeal to English pride when a German prince, the elector of Hanover, assumed the British throne as George I. During the rising of 1715, James Edward and his supporters derided the Hanoverians as foreigners with no hereditary claim to the crown and no understanding of the needs, values, or desires of the British people.
The rising of 1715 was designed to bring the English and the Scots together in a common cause, and similarly to unite the inhabitants of the Lowlands with the Highlanders in Scotland. Though many Highlanders rallied to the Jacobite banner, they were hardly the only Britons to do so, and the rising in 1715 did not depend exclusively on their support. Nonetheless, Highlanders were visible in the lines in Scotland, and they were conspicuous in the collective memory of the event. Years later the Jacobite army in Scotland was remembered as a body of Highlanders. Partly because of this simplified recollection, many commentators viewed the 1745 rising as a replay of 1715. Consequently, they analyzed the government's response to the 1715 rising, concentrating on its policy in the Highlands, to find legal and practical precedents for punitive and ameliorative action and to discover why, after the 1715 episode, the government's efforts had failed. Every supporter of the Hanoverian dynasty agreed that the events of 1745 demonstrated the inadequacy of the government's response to the earlier rising.
In the years following 1715, the government pursued an array of initiatives designed to punish the participants in the rising and alter the social conditions that had allegedly facilitated the mobilization of Jacobites. After the Battle of Preston in 1715, hundreds of captured Jacobite soldiers were persuaded to accept conditional pardons from George I requiring them to work in the colonies as bound laborers. As a result, at least 639 men, mostly Highlanders, were sent in bondage to North America and the Caribbean. The prisoners were sold in Maryland, Virginia, South Carolina, Jamaica, Barbados, St. Kitts, and Antigua. In general, the places that took them had labor shortages and depended primarily on slave labor. After the captured soldiers had been sent to America, other punitive measures were adopted by the authorities in the Scottish Highlands. The estates of several prominent Jacobite landlords were forfeited to the crown, and some justices of the peace were dismissed from their offices. Nonetheless, a powerful contingent of the Highland elite opposed these measures, and, partly as a result, the government failed to silence or impoverish all the Jacobites. Through a series of commercial transactions and legal maneuvers, many of the forfeited estates were transferred to relatives or friends of the original owners, and many Jacobite justices of the peace managed to keep their commissions. In 1716 Parliament passed a Disarming Act for the Highlands, but its provisions were weak and the statute was not effectively enforced.
A second wave of government initiatives came in the 1720s, after Robert Walpole consolidated his power within Parliament. In recognition of the weakness of the previous enactment, a new Disarming Act was adopted, and General George Wade was appointed commander in chief in Scotland with a mandate to enforce it. Among the military units serving under him were six new companies of Highlanders. The Highland soldiers were seen as effective agents of law enforcement, and the creation of the new companies was intended to serve economic and political purposes as well. The units employed men who might otherwise have been idle or dangerous, and their initial assignment was to enforce the Disarming Act and guard the Scottish Highlands against French or Jacobite threats from abroad. Four additional companies were formed in 1739 and all ten were combined into a new unit which soon would be known as the Forty-second Regiment, or the "Black Watch." The Black Watch would eventually serve as a conduit for deploying thousands of young men from the Highlands into the British colonies, but in their first eighteen years of operation, the Highland companies never left Scotland.
When Wade was sent to the Highlands to administer the Disarming Acts, some local leaders protested that using a standing army to police the region violated the laws of God, humanity, and Britain. They declared that the policy was "not fit even to be executed upon barbarians" and was certainly unsuitable for the "free Christian people" of the Scottish Highlands. Particularly since much of the policing duty fell to Highland companies, Wade's "standing army" turned out to be less oppressive, in the short run, than the protesters feared. Nonetheless, the deployment of these troops set a precedent that affected government policy in 1745 and 1746. The domestic assignment of the soldiers reinforced the idea that military units could be used to police the inhabitants of the Scottish Highlands. It was also widely believed in official circles that Highland soldiers were the most appropriate men for the job.
The formation of the Highland companies was one component of a general program to establish a new legal order in the Highlands, tie the Highlanders to centralized governmental institutions, and connect them, politically and economically, to the wider British world. As part of this effort, Wade oversaw a road-building campaign. Soldiers formed work gangs of approximately twenty each and descended on communities along the projected routes. In this manner they made their presence felt through large swaths of the Highlands, and they left a physical mark on the landscape. While primarily a military project, road building also served economic and cultural purposes. The roads facilitated internal commerce and brought outsiders into the region, though initially most of the newcomers were military men. The soldiers themselves saw the roads as a way to improve the Highlanders' lives in accordance with the standards of the eighteenth century. One man compared Wade's roads with similar ones constructed by the British garrison on the Mediterranean island of Minorca. In both places, he asserted, the local people refused to use the new transportation links and instead preferred to travel on well-worn paths across the hills. He thought that both the Highlanders and the Minorcans were stubborn and obstinate "in refusing to make use of so great a conveniency because it is a novelty introduced by the English." The Highlanders, like the people of that distant island, were narrow-minded and unable to appreciate the benefits that accrued from military construction.
Long before 1745, commentators from outside the region had identified a "Highland problem." The Highlanders in general, it was asserted, were ignorant, poor, and frequently violent. They were excessively loyal to their clans and also susceptible to the seditious persuasions of Catholics and Jacobites. Ultimately, in the minds of those who thought this way, the Highland problem stemmed from the geographical isolation of the region and the backward condition of the people who lived there.
When Cumberland arrived in 1746, he came to a country that had already been the target of ambitious reform efforts. Missionaries, landlords, and government officials had pursued efforts for decades to accelerate the pace of cultural development. Among those interested in changing the lives of the Highlanders, it was already commonly assumed that the army would play a role in the process, by building infrastructure, enforcing laws, employing Highlanders, and in general by exposing the people to civilization. The policies that the British authorities pursued in the Scottish Highlands after 1746, therefore, did not reflect a radical shift in aims. Instead, the events of 1745 had simply given urgency to a project that was already, if haltingly, underway. The crisis also had the effect of bringing more British subjects into the debates over the fate of the Highlanders. North American colonists, in particular, paid more attention to them than ever before.
In the first half of the eighteenth century the Scottish Highlanders fit awkwardly into the British Empire. Their home region had long been the target of colonization schemes, and they had been subjected to missionary work that in some ways resembled projects undertaken among the native peoples of North America. At the same time, however, some Highlanders were themselves colonists in the wider overseas empire. Prior to 1745, many colonists in America had actively encouraged them to come across the ocean to settle. Even after the 1715 rising, the government of South Carolina had petitioned for the importation of Jacobite Highlander prisoners, in order to bolster their colony's population of "white men." In comparison to 1715, the 1745 rising generated a much stronger fear of Highlanders in America. In the late 1740s and early 1750s, the American colonists, like the English, commonly associated the Highlanders with savagery, sedition, Catholicism, and the imperial ambitions of France.
The Highlanders' position in the British Empire was unusually complex, but similar uncertainties surrounded many of the empire's inhabitants. In Britain, Ireland, and the colonies, military officers, local civilian authorities, lawyers, and missionaries recommended divergent programs for various populations according to their nationality, sectarian affiliation, and the progress the groups had allegedly made toward civilization. In their writings on political affairs, eighteenth-century policy-makers and commentators manifested an almost obsessive concern for the categorization of peoples. Nonetheless, uncertainty about the boundaries of categories, disagreements between observers, overlapping and often contradictory classification schemes, the peculiarities of local traditions, and complicating geopolitical relationships between different groups, made it impossible for anyone in the empire to prescribe or pursue a single, practical, coherent policy toward all Catholics everywhere, all purported savages, or all British peoples. These labels helped shaped policy, but it would be futile to attempt to construct a simple explanatory framework based on these classifications, to suggest, for example, that one group within the empire was treated as it was simply because it was stigmatized or privileged on the basis of its purported status as "savage," "civilized," "Protestant," "Catholic," "British" or "foreign."
"Rebellion" and "savagery" were two concepts that simultaneously organized and confused British imperial policy. In times of armed conflict, identifying the crown's opponents as "rebels" or "savages" provided two potential, alternative justifications for suspending the operation of conventional rules of war. In moral and practical terms, however, these categories of analysis had contradictory ramifications. Rebellion implied personal responsibility — an accusation could be pursued through formal proceedings, and if any of the accused were tried and convicted they were liable to severe punishment. Savagery, by contrast, was not a crime but a characteristic ascribed to entire communities and cultures. Though the imputation of savagery did not necessarily imply personal guilt, communities identified as savage could be subjected to correction collectively, through policies of expulsion, local punitive actions —- sometimes directed against entire populations — and coercive projects aimed at advancing the process of civilization. Cumberland's officers believed they encountered both rebellion and savagery in Scotland, and, later, in the Mediterranean and in North America. They consistently asserted that everyone who resided on lands claimed by the British crown owed undivided allegiance to George II. In the Scottish Highlands and in North America they insisted that savages could be rebels. Repeatedly, however, this conviction left them uncertain whether to negotiate with their adversaries, punish them collectively, or arrest them in anticipation of prosecution. In Scotland and North America, Cumberland and his officers were often at their most violent when their classification schemes failed them and overlapping or contradictory ways of seeing the people around them left them confused over the direction of policy, without coherent guidelines to govern what they should do.
Many of the quandaries that Cumberland's officers faced may seem familiar in the early years of the twenty-first century. In Scotland and on occasion in North America, the denigration of their enemies prevented the officers from observing diplomatic protocols or treating their opponents according to the normal codes of conduct governing European warfare. At the same time, an array of pragmatic considerations made it often seem impractical, if not impossible, to apprehend their adversaries as criminals and transfer them to the custody of civilian courts. There was always an element of opportunistic, tactical calculation in the choices the officers made. They understood that in times of crisis, military action and criminal prosecution served a common function, and that the coercive imposition of governmental authority, in a criminal trial setting as well as on a battlefield, rested ultimately on the threat or application of physical violence. Nonetheless, for reasons peculiar to the circumstances of their times, they were anxious to justify their decisions by reference to specific constitutional and legal principles, accepted military traditions, and the dictates of enlightened social policy. They feared appearing arbitrary.
In March 1746, as his forces were preparing to execute punitive raids against rural communities in the Scottish Highlands, Cumberland pleaded with the ministry to define the parameters of acceptable action. He emphatically told the Duke of Newcastle, "there must be some rule and that must be closely stuck to." But Newcastle did not know with any certainty what the rules should be, and he refused to respond positively to Cumberland's request, for fear of implicating the ministry in the soldiers' decisions after they had entered wild terrain. This response frustrated Cumberland. He wanted to contrast himself to Charles Edward, whom he castigated as an outlaw, by operating only with authorization. He was also concerned to protect himself, and the army, politically and legally, within the halls of Parliament. At least since the Revolution of 1688, a powerful segment of the political nation had insisted that the survival of British liberty depended on limiting the powers of the army. Even in the spring of 1746, many political leaders in Britain supported King George II but were wary of granting power to Cumberland or his soldiers. Cumberland also wanted guidance because he was worried about indiscipline among his men. Unregulated violence undermined his effort to transform the British army into an orderly, effective military force. Furthermore, chaotic or arbitrary operations contradicted his understanding of the army's larger mission. In the Scottish Highlands and subsequently in the colonies, Cumberland and his officers sought to demonstrate that the army could impose order, establish the rule of law, and assert the authority of centralized governmental institutions. In the Scottish and the imperial contexts, they believed that the establishment of legal order was a necessary first step toward the achievement of pervasive social reform.
On none of these issues did Cumberland, or the officers around him, speak for all of Britain. They were extremely partisan and contentious men. Cumberland's position in the factious politics of Westminster shifted dramatically over his career. On occasion he alienated groups of his supporters, and considerations of political expediency forced him into temporary, pragmatic alliances with his political opponents. Nonetheless, he always believed that he was constant in his support of the old Whig cause, as he understood it, the institutional interests of the army, and the needs of his father, George II.
Recently, historians studying the politics of imperialism have devoted considerable attention to popular agitation and the emotional importance of the empire to the British people at large. Several scholars have identified the late 1730s as a turning point, when protests against the operations of Spain's Guarda-Costas in the Caribbean forced the Walpole ministry, despite its better judgment, into a colonial war. Thereafter, through the middle years of the eighteenth century, an ever-larger segment of the politically active public in England, Wales, and Scotland took pride in the empire and defined the distinctiveness of the British nation by stressing the reach of its commercial and political power overseas. The anthem "Rule Britannia" was written in the heady early months of the war with Spain. Nonetheless, concentrating on the public rallies of the 1730s, and more generally on the emotive and symbolic resonance of imperialism, obscures profound, lingering divisions among the promoters of the cause of empire. Cumberland was too young to be engaged in the debates leading up to the war in the Caribbean, but by the time he reached maturity and turned his attention to colonial projects, he counted the imperial "Patriots" who had advocated warfare in the 1730s among his political rivals. The problem was not merely that he identified them as Tories. Cumberland's vision of the empire's future — his belief that the army could conquer, regulate, and reform colonies on the edge of civilization — ran counter to the commercially oriented "blue water" vision that had been promoted by the early supporters of the Anglo-Spanish war.
In order to appreciate fully the significance of the divisions among the imperialists, it is necessary to study events on two sides of the water, in Britain and the colonies. It was overseas, for example, in the Mediterranean, where the officers of Cumberland's army most dramatically confronted their adversaries among Britain's imperialists. Disputes between the army and the navy over the fate of Minorca began years before the French seized the island from the British in 1756. Jurisdictional struggles over the government of Minorca pitted Cumberland and his officers against their long-standing opponents in Parliament and in the view of some contemporaries, resurrected issues that had arisen earlier in the context of Cumberland's campaigns in Scotland. There is much to be learned by drawing connections between events in geographically separate and distant places. Tracing the progress of Cumberland's officers from the Scottish Highlands to the colonies can teach us much about British imperial history. It can also provide insight into the ideological significance, and the practical impact, of actions taken in Scotland in 1745 and 1746.
At no time during his political career or his command of the army was Cumberland in complete control of events. Every country his army entered had its own history, and in many places the officers could barely comprehend the local political dynamics, to say nothing of overriding or redirecting long-standing trends. The level of Cumberland's political influence also fluctuated in Britain. Under these circumstances, all of his accomplishments were mixed with compromises, unintended consequences, and failures. To be sure, Charles Edward was defeated and Jacobitism faded after 1746. In the aftermath of Cumberland's campaigns in the Scottish Highlands, clanship gradually receded as a military threat. Over the ensuing decades the English language spread across the whole of Scotland, commerce increased, and the Highlands were integrated more fully into the cosmopolitan, British-imperial world. By the time Cumberland resigned his commission as captain general, the future of the British army seemed secure even in peacetime, and it had become a more coherently organized, professional force. Operating more effectively, the army had completed the conquest of French Canada by 1760, and in 1763 France formally ceded all of North America east of the Mississippi to the British Empire. Though Cumberland was no longer in command by that time, he had a hand in laying the groundwork for these events. Nonetheless it is important not to exaggerate his influence. Each of his accomplishments can be seen as an episode in a longer story, the continuation of a drama that had begun before he took the stage.
In the 1770s the British Empire would fracture again, with a rebellion in the American colonies that has often been interpreted, at least in part, as a reaction against the centralization and militarization of Britain's imperial government. These were trends that accelerated during Cumberland's command of the army in the Seven Years' War, but he should not be blamed for the breakup of the empire. Though he briefly participated in the debates over the Stamp Act in 1765, he was dead well before the imperial crisis reached its climax and the American Revolution began. This book concentrates on issues that concerned Cumberland and his contemporaries in the 1740s and 1750s, questions involving the expansion and consolidation of the imperial domain, the deployment of the army as an agency for social progress, and the rules governing the use of force against different categories of inhabitants and strangers, savages and subjects. The debates over these issues would continue for decades and eventually affect all of the English-speaking world, including the nascent and expanding United States, those parts of the empire that the British retained after the Revolution, and the colonies they continued to acquire.
Cumberland participated in a particularly significant decision in 1756, when he argued in favor of sending Highland troops to North America and, after complex political maneuvering, secured support from the ministry. It is not clear whether he anticipated the consequences of this deployment. The mobilization of manpower from the region helped transform the politics of Highland Scotland. Landlords and military recruiters, including former Jacobites and officers from Cumberland's army, cooperated in recruiting soldiers, provisioning them, and embarking them for America. The war effort established and strengthened partnerships between members of the Highland elite, the army, and the government in Westminster and eased tensions that had lingered since 1745. After the fall of Quebec in 1759, Highlanders from various social conditions took pride in their participation in the North American campaign, and once the fighting was over, emigration from the Highlands increased. The newcomers were generally welcomed in America. Only a few years earlier, in the late 1740s and early 1750s, many powerful leaders in the colonies had resisted proposals to settle Highlanders on their frontiers, but after the Highland soldiers fought for Britain in Canada, the colonists were persuaded to change their minds. Old stereotypes died hard, and wariness lingered. Charles Edward and his army were still remembered, but increasingly it seemed that he and the Highlanders who had fought for him belonged to a distant age. In North America and eventually throughout the empire, the Highlanders earned a new reputation, as useful settlers and champions of the imperial cause.