The Battle of Sheriffmuir 1715
When the regiment had finished recruiting in England, it was dispatched north to Scotland. There, it formed part of the English garrison, intimidating the Scottish population in an attempt to repress any attempts at a Jacobite rising.
When George I ascended to the English throne in 1714, the regiment’s title was once again altered, and that same year became The King’s Own Regiment of Dragoons. Shortly after his ascension, a major Jacobite uprising occurred; the regiment was amongst the English troops assembled in Scotland to bar the advance of the Jacobite forces.
The 1715 Jacobite Rebellion, sometimes referred to as the ‘Great Rebellion’, represented the third and by far most serious threat to the Government and crown since the usurpation and exile to France of James VII & II by William and Mary in the ‘Glorious Revolution’ of 1688. It did not take long for the supporters of James, who called themselves Jacobites after the Latin for that name, to take up arms in Scotland on behalf of the ‘king across the water’.
The battle of Sheriffmuir is significant as the only major engagement in Scotland during the 1715 Jacobite Rising. The battle was a chaotic affair, with the outcome very much debatable, but it was sufficient to bring an end to the rising. It also involves one of the largest Jacobite armies ever fielded in Scotland, with only Falkirk in 1746 exceeding it.
After the death of James’s eldest surviving daughter, Queen Anne, in 1714, the throne was taken by George of Hanover, leaving the House of Stuart with a weakened claim to the throne. The Earl of Mar began a renewed uprising with the raising of the Scottish standard in September 1715. After gathering their forces in Perth the Jacobites advanced southward, sending a separate force into England via Edinburgh. Mar’s army met the Government’s smaller force on the high ground to the east of Dunblane.
The Jacobite force was a mixed body of Highlanders and Lowlanders, with the main body composed of the former. Both came from different military traditions and these were to be displayed on the battlefield, with the charge by the Highlanders on the right and the delivery of volley fire by the Lowlanders on the left flank.
The Jacobite army was far larger, estimated at 807 horses with 6,290 foot. However, the quality of the troops was far lower than the seasoned veterans on the Government side. Many of these troops had no previous experience of combat. Additionally, Mar was not an experienced military commander and relied on advice from a small group of trusted senior officers, several of whom had seen service on the continent.
In contrast, the smaller Government army was relatively well-experienced and comprised both Scottish and English units, and in Argyll, they had a seasoned commander. The Government army consisted of over 3,000 men, which has been defined as 960 dragoons with 2,200 infantry.
Sources are vague on the exact details of The King’s Own Regiment of Dragoon’s involvement, but it is known that it formed part of the army’s left wing, supporting several infantry regiments.
The wing was struck by a Jacobite infantry assault, which inflicted significant casualties. Three squadrons from the regiment then charged the Jacobite infantry and forced it to retreat, allowing the English infantry to retire and reassemble without further loss.
The outcome of the battle was to be inconclusive, with both sides claiming victory. However, Mar’s failure to secure a decisive victory and take control of central Scotland meant defeat for the uprising. This was further secured the following day by the surrender of the Jacobite forces in England.
The arrival in Scotland of the deposed James Stuart in December could not turn the tide and the 1715 Rising ended with the exile of Mar and the execution of a number of key English Jacobites. Although the Jacobites were beaten, they were unbowed and the next rising happened just four years later.