|You could just as easily replace Randall with Tavington.|
The scene is ingrained into the consciousness of much of the English-speaking world: Barbarous red-coated soldiers, acting under the direction of their effete noble officers, brutalize or kill innocent people in an effort to spread their "law and order." Fictionalized depictions of this kind are common in the United States, Ireland, and Scotland. Usually, witnessing this type of violence cements ideological resistance to the redcoats in some hero-figure. In these narratives, red-coated barbarity is the justification for acts of rebellion and war. Compared with these fictionalized portrayals, events are somewhat less dramatic. This post argues that Scotland was relatively peaceful just before the Jacobite Rising of 1745.
|British Grenadier, Morier, 1740s/1750s|
|Outlander portrays a harsh occupation by a large British Army before 1745.|
On the eve of the '45, there were just under 4,000 British Army soldiers deployed in Scotland. Large parts of the country were entirely beyond their reach. Indeed, Scotland was one of the least militarized places in Europe, with perhaps 1 soldier per 315 civilians. By comparison, the ratios for Prussia, France, Austria, and Russia are all greater than 1 soldier per 150 civilians. The Hessian allies of the British had military to civilian ratios as high as 1:14. The British Army did indeed increase its force in Scotland after the rebellion and for 10 years almost 11,000 troops were deployed in the region.
|The number of British Garrisons|
exploded only after the rising
Samuel Johnson observed:
Those Highlanders that can speak English, commonly speak it well, with few of the words, and little of the tone by which a Scotchman is distinguished. Their language seems to have been learned in the army or the navy, or by some communication with those who could give them good examples of accent and pronunciation. By their Lowland neighbours they would not willingly be taught; for they have long considered them as a mean and degenerate race.So, if there were 4,000 British troops in Scotland in 1744-45, what was their task? In fiction, these troops are portrayed as violent butchers, conducting raids, murders, rapes, and mass executions. Once again, this is a fictional viewpoint.
|A portion of a mass-execution sequence in Outlander|
What was it doing, you ask?
Hunting smugglers. The army was indeed engaged in a low-intensity war, not against Jacobites, but smugglers. Anti-smuggling operations were quite common, and sometimes, smugglers were suspected of being Jacobites. However, it runs a bit contrary to fiction that the British Army would not have been most familiar with the highlands, but with the coastal regions traveled during anti-smuggling police work.
|A 19th-century depiction of the Porteous Riots|
|The Tay Bridge, constructed by Marshal Wade's troops in 1735, photo by|
Dr. Will Tatum
|David Morier, "Culloden"|
This lack of violence makes sense if we acknowledge the fact that there were no bloody reprisals after the most recent Jacobite risings of 1715 and 1719. Rather, after these risings:
a policy of reconciliation and had been pursued by the moderate whigs-- typified by John Drummond of Quarrel, MP, who used his extensive commercial contacts to find posts for a large number of the defeated Jacobites, and so reintegrated them into Scottish society and public life.The clemency after these uprisings resulted in a relatively peaceful Scotland for twenty-five years, but it failed to prevent the '45 itself. When viewed through this lens, the Government response to the '45 becomes more understandable, if perhaps not forgivable. The 'highland army' of '45 was rebelling not only against the King, but against the peaceful Scotland created by government clemency in the 1710s and 1720s. Describing the situation in Scotland, Norman MacLeod wrote in July of 1745 about the prospect of a renewed uprising, "I've heard nothing... but peace and quiet, I think you may entirely depend on it, that either there never was such a thing intended, or if there was, that the project is entirely defeated and blown into the air." The prospect of rebellion was so inconceivable to MacLeod as a result of the relative peace which Scotland had enjoyed for over twenty-five years.
|For all its historical and costuming flaws, Outlander drives at the generational|
differences which caused support for the '45.
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Thanks for Reading,
 Christopher Duffy, Fight for a Throne: The Jacobite '45 Reconsidered, 38-39;
Alexander Webster, Account of the Number People in Scotland in 1755.
 Duffy, The Army of Frederick the Great, 73-4.
 Duffy, The '45, 96.
 Samuel Johnson, A Journey through the Western Islands of Scotland, 75.
 Rachel Bennet, Capital Punishment and the Criminal Corpse in Scotland, 1740–1834, Chapter Two, Table 2.5.
 Victoria Henshaw, Defending the Union, 66-67, 77-78.
 Duffy, Fight for a Throne, 36.
 Victoria Henshaw, Defending the Union, 78.
 See Geoffrey Plank, Rebellion and Savagery, 6.
 Duffy, Fight for a Throne, 482.
 More Culloden Papers, Vol IV, 12.
 Duffy, Fight for a Throne, 482.