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The Battle of Killiecrankie
27th July 1689

The Pass of Killiecrankie, and the ground north of the pass where the battle was fought.

The Battle of Killiecrankie was the first Jacobite victory in the first of a series of Jacobite Risings, seeking to restore the Stewart line, which culminated in the Battle of Culloden.  The Jacobite Army, composed mostly of Highlanders was led by the Lowlander General John Graham of Claverhouse, Viscount Dundee and the Government Army, mostly Lowland Scots, commanded by Highland career soldier General Mackay. Depending upon your point of view, John Graham was either "Bonnie Dundee" or "Bluidy Clavers".  The Jacobites won the day due to Graham's use of the ground, he chose the high ground north of the pass, and put dead ground between his forces and the Government lines, so that when they put in the famous Highland Charge, using broadsword and targe, they were targets for just a moment, allowing the Government soldiers just one volley before the Highlanders fell on them.  Another disadvantage of the regular soldiers was that they were still using the plug bayonet, which could only be fitted after firing, and so the Jacobites were on them before they could arm themselves.  This was shown in Neil Oliver and Tony Pollard's "Two Men in a Trench" series episode on the battle, which also showed the positions of the opponents at the start of the battle. The succeeding rout saw the Government forces flee down the steep slope to the river, where one soldier, Donald McBane leapt 18 feet across the River Garry to safety, a place now known as the "Soldier's Leap."

The National Trust for Scotland Visitors' Centre is at the location of the retreat and rout, rather than the location of the battle.
It was only a brief victory for the Jacobites as during their charge James Graham was fatally wounded by a ball fired by one of three "
leather cannon" carried by their infantry as light artillery.  It hit him below his arm, the bullet hole in his breast plate in the museum at Blair Castle being added later, for effect. He was buried at St Bride's Chapel in the grounds of Blair Castle.

Flowers are placed at the gate to the vault each year, on the Anniversary of the death of John Graham of Claverhouse, Viscount Dundee

Shortly afterwards, the Jacobite Army was defeated at the
Battle of Dunkeld, on 21st August, and then at the Haughs of Cromdale on 1st May 1690, ending the first Jacobite Rising.


The National Trust for Scotland | Education Website | Teachers resources

UK Battlefields Resource Centre - Stuart Uprisings - The Battle of Battle of Killiecrankie

Battlefields Trust Map of the Position of the Opposing Forces at the start of the Battle


 © Photos: Iain Laird 2007