Battle of Sheriffmuir
Part of the Jacobite Rising
Battle of Sheriffmuir.jpg
Battle of Sheriffmuir
Date 13 November 1715
Location Sheriffmuir, Scotland
Result Tactically inconclusive, strategic victory for the government.
British Government forces Jacobite Rebels
Commanders and leaders
John Campbell, 2nd Duke of Argyll John Erskine, 6th Earl of Mar
6000 12000
Casualties and losses
232 killed, wounded or captured[1] 663 killed, wounded or captured[1]

Template:Campaignbox First Jacobite Rising The Battle of warning.pngThe given value was not understood. was an engagement on warning.pngThe given value was not understood. at the height of the Jacobite rebellion in England and Scotland.


John Erskine, 6th Earl of Mar, standard-bearer for the Jacobite cause in Scotland, mustered Highland chiefs, and on 6 September declared James Francis Edward Stuart (the "Old Pretender") as King of Scots. With an army of about 12,000 men Mar proceeded to take Perth, and commanded much of the northern Highlands. Following unsuccessful skirmishes against John Campbell, 2nd Duke of Argyll (based at Stirling), Mar was eventually persuaded to lead his full army south, on 10 November. Spies informed Argyll of Mar's actions, and he moved his army of about 4,000 to Sheriffmuir, near Dunblane. The two armies met on the battlefield on 13 November.

Argyll was seriously outnumbered by the Jacobite army (which was somewhat diminished from its previous numbers), and his left wing, commanded by General Whetham, was far shorter than the Jacobites' opposing right. Argyll's right wing attacked, and managed to drive the Highlanders back, but Whetham's soldiers were overpowered by a much larger force. Argyll came to the aid of Whetham's men. By evening, both armies were seriously reduced, and although Mar had a great advantage in numbers, he refused to risk the entirety of his army, allowing Argyll to withdraw.

The battle was inconclusive with both sides claiming victory. However in strategic terms Argyll had halted the Jacobite advance. Those government regiments present that were titled 'King's' were awarded the White Horse of Hanover as a badge of battle honor. The engagement only served to demoralize the Jacobite army who, with their superior numbers, felt they should have decisively won. Mar's French and Spanish supporters in particular withdrew their forces.

On 23 December, the Old Pretender, who had been exiled in France, landed at Peterhead, his cause largely lost. He met with Mar at Perth, but was unable to rouse the disheartened army. Argyll, reinforced and invigorated, soon advanced north, while the Jacobite army fled to Montrose, and the Pretender returned to France. The Army moved to Ruthven, and dispersed.

The period was fatal in the extreme to the Jacobite Pretender. The whole body of his adherents in the south had fallen into the hands of generals Willis and Carpenter at Preston, and Inverness, with all the adjacent country, had been recovered to the government, through the exertions of pro-government clans including the Earl of Sutherland, Fraser Lord Lovat, the Rosses, the Munros, and the Forbeses. [2]

The number of the slain on the side of the rebels has been stated to have been eight hundred, among whom were the John Lyon, 5th Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne and the chief of the Clan MacDonald of Clan Ranald, and several others of distinction. Panmure and Drummond of Logie were among the wounded. It meant that the Jacobite army had to withdraw to Perth. Argyll considered himself the victor and struck a medal to commemorate his feat.

Of the government army there were killed, and wounded, upwards of six hundred. Lord Forfar was the only person of eminence killed on that side. [2]

A popular Jacobite song, "Will Ye Go to Sheriffmuir", was written about the battle. As with many such songs, the battle is presented as a noble victory for the Jacobite army. The song was collected by, and perhaps written by, James Hogg in 1819.

Robert Burns and "The Battle of Sherramuir"

The Battle was the subject of "The Battle of Sherramuir", one of the most famous songs written by Robert Burns . The song was written when Burns toured the Highlands in 1787 and was first published in The Scots Musical Museum, appearing in volume III, 1790. It was written to be sung to the "Cameronian Rant".

Burns knew that the battle ended so inconclusively that it was unclear which side had won and the poem is the account of the battle by two shepherds taking contrary views. One of the shepherds believes that "the red-coat lads wi' black cockades" routed the rebels, painting a fearful picture of how they managed to "hough the Clans like nine-pin kyles". The other shepherd is just as convinced that the Jacobites "did pursue / The horsemen back to Forth, man" with the eventual result that "...mony a huntit, poor Red-coat / For fear amaist did swarf, man."

Dissatisfied with the first published version of the poem, Burns re-wrote it sometime after 1790. The revised version was published after Burns' death by his editor, James Currie MD in The Complete Poetical Works of Robert Burns: With Explanatory and Glossarial Notes; And a Life of the Author (1800).


 FatherMotherDeath dateAge at death
John Lyon, 5th Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne (1696-1715)John Lyon, 4th Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne (1663-1712)Elizabeth Stanhope (1663-1723)13 November 1715
Battle of Sheriffmuir military event 1

References and bibliography

  1. ^ a b Robinson, p. 79
  2. ^ a b John Campbell
  • Smurthwaite, David, Ordnance Survey Complete Guide to the Battlefields of Britain, Webb & Bower Ltd., 1984
  • Mileham, Patrick (2000), Difficulties Be Damned: The King's Regiment - A History of the City Regiment of Manchester and Liverpool, Fleur de Lys ISBN 1-873907-10-9
  • Robinson, Roger E. R. (1988). The Bloody Eleventh: History of the Devonshire Regiment. Volume I: 1685-1815. Exteter: The Devon and Dorset Regiment. ISBN 0-9512655-0-4. 

External links

Coordinates: 56°11′43″N 3°54′36″W / 56.19524, -3.91011

This page uses content from the English language Wikipedia. The original content was at Battle of Sheriffmuir. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with this Familypedia wiki, the content of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons License.


 FatherMotherDeath dateAge at death
John Lyon, 5th Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne (1696-1715)John Lyon, 4th Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne (1663-1712)Elizabeth Stanhope (1663-1723)13 November 1715
Battle of Sheriffmuir military event 1