The Battle of Falkirk 1746
A letter from Lt. General Hawley to Secretary
The whole army being assembled, and Cobham’s dragoons being arrived early upon the morning of the 17th, it was resolved to march the next day to attack the rebels, who by all accounts lay with their main body in the enclosures near Torwood; but by the report of several persons who were sent out to reconnoitre, they were observed to be in motion early in the morning (as they had also been the 16th) but it was not confirmed that they were in full march against us till about one in the afternoon; when they were seen at three miles distance, marching in two columns towards the South, to some rising grounds upon a moor near Falkirk; upon which out troops got under arms, and formed immediately in the front of the camp, and bent their march towards the same ground, to which it was apprehended the rebels were going, being a large mile on the left of the camp: No sooner were the troops got thither, but we saw the rebels moving up, their right extending Southwards: As there was a morass or boggy ground upon our left, we could not stretch so far as they, so that their left was pretty near opposite to our center. The dragoons were posted upon the left, our foot was formed in two lines, part upon plain ground, and the rest upon a declivity: When all was formed, and our first line within 100 yards of the rebels, orders were given for the lines to advance, and a body of dragoons to attack them sword in hand. They accordingly marched forwards, but upon the rebels giving them a fire, they gave ground, and great part of the foot of both lines did the same, after making an irregular fire, except the two regiments of Barrell and Ligonier, under the command of Brig. Cholmondeley, which rallied immediately; and being afterwards attacked by the rebels, fairly drove them back, and put them to flight. Whilst this was transacting, a body of the foot, by the care of Maj. Gen. Huske, formed at some distance in the rear of these two regiments, which the rebels seeing, durst not advance; and about the same time Brig. Mordaunt rallied the scattered battalions into their several corps, in which he was greatly assisted by the officers, and pretty near formed them.
For some time before the army moved forwards, there was a violent storm of rain and wind, to which we may in some measure impute our misfortune, for it hindered the men from seeing before them and consequently the rebels had the advantage of us greatly in that particular. Besides, as it rained also before that, many of the firelocks were so wet, that it is believed not above one in five that were attempted to be fired, went off. Our loss is very small, the greatest being that of the officers, several of whom, being left by their men, were lost. And we have reason to believe that of the rebels to be very considerable, by the report of some who were upon the field. It was a misfortune that we could not get up our artillery to us; for as it had rained heavily in the night, and on the 17th in the morning, and having a steep hill to ascend, and the horses but bad, they could not get forward; and when we returned to our camp, we found the captain of the train had abandoned it, and the drivers had run off with the horses, which obliged us to leave some pieces of cannon behind us. The grenadiers of Barrell’s regiment drew down one to the camp, and horses were found at Falkirk to bring away three of them.
The evening being excessive rainy, it was thought proper to march the troops to Linlithgow that night, and put them under cover, otherwise we should have continued in our camp, being masters of the field of battle, and Brig Mordaunt was ordered to take post there. When we came to strike our tents , we found that many of the drivers had run off with the horses, upon which the general gave orders that what tents were left, should be burnt, which was done.
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