Battle of Glen Shiel

The Battle of Glen Shiel (Scottish Gaelic: Blàr Ghleann Seile) took place on 10 June 1719 in the West Scottish Highlands, between a Jacobite army of Highland levies and Spanish marines and a government force of regular troops, plus a Highland Independent Company.

The most significant military action of the 1719 Jacobite Rebellion, it resulted in a government victory that ended the rebellion. Glen Shiel is also unique as the only battle in Scotland between 1689 and 1746 where the Jacobites remained on the defensive, rather than employing the Highland Charge.

The rising was backed by Spain, then engaged in the 1718 to 1720 War of the Quadruple Alliance with Britain. Intended to support a landing in South-West England, only the Scottish segment took place and the manner of its failure was widely viewed by contemporaries as having damaged the Jacobite cause.

The battlefield is included in the Inventory of Historic Battlefields in Scotland and protected by Historic Scotland under the Historic Environment (Amendment) Act 2011.[3] The mountain where the battle took place is called Sgurr na Ciste Duibhe and has a subsidiary peak named Sgurr nan Spainteach or 'Peak of the Spaniards' in honour of the Spanish marines who fought there.[4]


Spain lost its Italian possessions of Sicily and Sardinia under the 1713 Treaty of Utrecht and recovering them was a priority for Giulio Alberoni, their Chief Minister. Sardinia was reoccupied in 1717 but when they landed on Sicily in July 1718, the Royal Navy destroyed the Spanish fleet at the Battle of Cape Passaro, beginning the War of the Quadruple Alliance.

Jacobite broadside - William, Duke of Atholl, actually William Murray, Marquis of Tullibardine (d.1746)
Marquess of Tullibardine, Jacobite commander at Glen Shiel

The 1719 Rising was a Spanish-backed attempt to divert British resources from the Mediterranean; the plan was for 7,000 Spanish troops to land in South-West England, march on London and restore James Stuart. A simultaneous rising in Scotland would capture Inverness, allowing a Swedish expeditionary force to disembark; this was due to Sweden's dispute with Hanover and an example of the complexity caused by its ruler George I being British monarch.[5]

In the event, only George Keith and 300 Spanish soldiers reached Stornoway in the Isle of Lewis on board two Spanish frigates. They were joined by a group of exiles from France, including the Earl of Seaforth, James Keith, the Marquess of Tullibardine, Lord George Murray and Cameron of Lochiel. On 13 April, they learned of failure elsewhere; as commander of Jacobite land forces, Tullibardine recommended retreat, but as commander of the two frigates, Keith prevented this by ordering them back to Spain.[6]

With no other option, the main force of around 1,000 Highlanders plus the Spanish troops prepared to march on Inverness, leaving their excess stores at Eilean Donan guarded by 40 Spaniards.[7] On 10 May, a British naval squadron captured the castle, blocking any escape by sea, while Joseph Wightman's force of around 1,000 men with four Coehorn mortars advanced towards Glen Shiel. On 9 June, they reached Loch Cluanie, less than 8 miles (13 km) from the Jacobite camp.[a]

The battle of Glen Shiel

Coehorn mortar at Fort King George, Darien, GA, US
A replica of the Coehorn mortars used by Wightman's troops which the Highlanders had not encountered before

John Henry Bastide, a subaltern in Montague's regiment who had a long career as a military engineer drew a detailed plan of the battlefield and the movements of the opposing forces soon after the battle. The section detailing the battle itself is missing but it is possible to reconstruct the main elements.[8]

Tullibardine prepared a strong position near the Five Sisters hills, with the Spanish in the centre and the Highlanders on the flanks behind a series of trenches and barricades. Wightman's force arrived about 4:00 pm on 10 June and began the attack an hour later by firing their mortars at the Jacobite flanking positions. This caused few casualties but the Scots had not encountered mortars before, allowing four platoons of Clayton's and Munro's to advance up the hill to their lines, then use grenades to bomb them out of their positions.

Battle of Glen Shiel Memorial
Battle of Glen Shiel Memorial

Once the Jacobite right had been dislodged, Harrison and Montague attacked the Jacobite left under Lord Seaforth. This was strongly entrenched behind a group of rocks on the hillside but skilful use of the mortars forced Seaforth's men to give way while he himself was badly wounded. The Spanish in the centre stood their ground but had to withdraw up the mountain as their flanks gave way.[9]

The battle lasted until 9:00 pm; several accounts claim the heather caught fire and smoke combined with failing light enabled the bulk of the Scots to disappear into the night. The Spanish surrendered next morning and as regular troops were shipped home; Lord George Murray, Seaforth and Tullibardine were wounded but the Jacobite leaders also managed to escape. An analysis by historian Peter Simpson attributes Wightman's victory to skilful use of mortars, the superior firepower of his grenadiers and the aggression shown by his infantry, especially the Munro Independent Company.[10]


Jacobite casualties were hard to estimate since few bodies were left on the field and the wounded managed to escape, including Seaforth and Lord George Murray; Wightman lost 21 killed and 120 wounded. Lord Carpenter, commander in Scotland, advised London that pursuing the rebels was impractical and it was best to let them go, arguing the Rising had simply damaged the Jacobite cause.[11] Tullibardine concurred; in his letter of 16 June 1719 to the Earl of Mar he provides a description of the battle and states 'it bid fair to ruin the King's Interest and faithful subjects in these parts.'[12]

The government took Carpenter's advice and for many Jacobites, this was the end; even senior exiles like Bolingbroke, Seaforth and Lord Murray returned home, while George and James Keith both resumed their military careers in Europe and ended their lives as Prussian generals.


  1. ^ Order of Battle; Jacobite Government Order of Battle; right wing under Colonel Clayton: Left wing, south side of the river, consisted of:
    • Clayton's Regiment, commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Reading.
    • 100 men of the Independent Highland Company from the Clan Munro, under George Munro, 1st of Culcairn.
    • The Government dragoons and the four mortars remained on the road


  1. ^ Glenshiel retrieved January 14, 2017.
  2. ^ "The Inventory of Historic Battlefields – Battle of Glenshiel" (PDF). Historic Scotland. Retrieved 2 March 2019.
  3. ^ "Inventory battlefields". Historic Scotland. Retrieved 12 April 2012.
  4. ^ The Battle of Glenshiel - June 10, 1719 Retrieved January 14, 2017.
  5. ^ Thompson, Ralph. "1717 and the invasion that never was". National Archives. Retrieved 2 March 2019.
  6. ^ Lenman, Bruce (1980). The Jacobite Risings in Britain 1689-1746. Eyre Methuen. p. 192. ISBN 0413396509.
  7. ^ Lenman, Bruce (1980). The Jacobite Risings in Britain 1689-1746. Eyre Methuen. p. 193. ISBN 0413396509.
  8. ^ "Map of the Battle of Glen Shiel, 1719". Royal Collection Trust. Retrieved 4 March 2019.
  9. ^ Maggs, Stephen. "The Jacobite Rising and the Battle of Glen Shiel, 10 June, 1719" (PDF). G9. Retrieved 18 February 2018.
  10. ^ Simpson, Peter (1996). The Independent Highland Companies; 1603-1760. John Donald. p. 103. ISBN 085976432X.
  11. ^ Lenman, Bruce (1980). The Jacobite Risings in Britain 1689-1746. Eyre Methuen. p. 195. ISBN 0413396509.
  12. ^ Dickson, William Kirk. "The Jacobite Attempt of 1719; Letters of the Duke of Ormonde to Cardinal Alberoni". Retrieved 18 February 2018.


External links


1719 (MDCCXIX)

was a common year starting on Sunday of the Gregorian calendar and a common year starting on Thursday of the Julian calendar, the 1719th year of the Common Era (CE) and Anno Domini (AD) designations, the 719th year of the 2nd millennium, the 19th year of the 18th century, and the 10th and last year of the 1710s decade. As of the start of 1719, the Gregorian calendar was

11 days ahead of the Julian calendar, which remained in localized use until 1923.

1719 in Great Britain

Events from the year 1719 in Great Britain.

1719 in Scotland

Events from the year 1719 in Scotland.


Bolaño is a Hispanic surname (Spanish for "stone cannonball" or "stoneshot"). It may also refer to:

Jorge Bolaño (born 1977), Colombian footballer

Roberto Bolaño (1953–2003), Chilean writerOr to:

Amado Antonio Heredia Bolaño, mayor of Antonio Díaz Municipality

Amancio Bolaño e Isla (1896-1971), Mexican philologist

Chico Bolaño, musician friend of Leandro Díaz

Don Nicolás de Castro Bolaño, Colonel at the Battle of Glen Shiel

Luis Bolaño, boxer defeated by Juan Manuel López

Pedro de Bolaño, a Lord of Galicia (Spain)

Capture of Eilean Donan Castle

The Capture of Eilean Donan Castle was an land-based naval engagement that took place in 1719 during the Jacobite rising of that year, and the War of the Quadruple Alliance. A British naval reconnaissance force of three ships attacked the castle of Eilean Donan on the west coast of Scotland, which was held by Spanish troops. After a naval bombardment, the British government forces stormed the castle, and the defenders surrendered. The castle was subsequently destroyed with gunpowder.


A Coehorn (also spelled cohorn) was a lightweight mortar originally designed by Dutch military engineer Menno van Coehoorn.

George Munro, 1st of Culcairn

Sir George Munro of Culcairn (1685 - 1746) was a Scottish soldier of the 18th century from Ross-shire, Scotland. He commanded the 3rd Independent Highland Company from 1714 to 1716, fought at the Battle of Glen Shiel in 1719, led the 6th Company in formation of the "Black Watch" in 1725, the 8th Company of Black Watch when it was regimented in 1739 and again commanded an Independent Highland Company in 1745-46. He was shot in error in 1746.

Glen Shiel

Glen Shiel (Scottish Gaelic: Gleann Seile; also known as Glenshiel) is a glen in the Northwest Highlands of Scotland.

The glen runs approximately 9 miles from south-east to north-west, from the Cluanie Inn (216 metres) at the western end of Loch Cluanie and the start of Glenmoriston to sea level at the village of Shiel Bridge and Loch Duich. The northern side of the glen lies within the Kintail and Morvich estate owned by the National Trust for Scotland. The lower part of Glen Shiel, including both sides of the glen from the site of the Battle of Glen Shiel down to Dornie on the shores of Loch Duich, lies within the Kintail National Scenic Area, one of the forty national scenic areas in Scotland.

Jacobite rising of 1719

The Jacobite Rising of 1719 or the Nineteen was a Spanish-backed attempt to restore the exiled James Francis Edward Stuart to the throne of Great Britain.

The plan called for 7,000 Spanish troops to land in South West England, supported by a simultaneous invasion of Scotland by a Swedish expeditionary force. The Scottish rising was intended to capture Inverness and enable the Swedes to disembark.

Swedish involvement ended with the death of Charles XII of Sweden in November 1718, while the Spanish fleet was severely damaged by storms in late March 1719 and the invasion of England cancelled. Only the Scottish element took place and the Rising ended with defeat at the Battle of Glen Shiel in June.Jacobite leaders felt the revolt actively damaged the Stuart cause and over the next few years, many exiles like Bolingbroke, the Earl of Seaforth and Lord George Murray accepted pardons and returned home. Others like James Keith and George Keith took employment elsewhere; by 1737, James Stuart was reported to be "living tranquilly in Rome, having abandoned all hope of a restoration."

John Cameron of Lochiel

Sir John Cameron of Lochiel (1663–1748) was the 18th Chief of Clan Cameron and a prominent Jacobite. He was the eldest son and heir of Sir Ewen Cameron of Lochiel, a fervent Royalist and one of the first to join the 1652 Rising in favour of King Charles II, by whom he was knighted in 1681.He joined the Earl of Mar's forces in 1715 as Chief of Clan Cameron. On 27 January 1717, he was created by "King James VIII", otherwise known as the "Old Pretender" or "Old Chevalier", a "Lord and Peer of Parliament" in the Jacobite Peerage, under the title of Lord Lochiel. He fought at the Battle of Glen Shiel in 1719, and died in exile at Nieuwpoort in Flanders.

His eldest son and successor was Donald Cameron of Lochiel, known as "Gentle Lochiel", who played an important role in the Jacobite rising of 1745.

John Gordon, 16th Earl of Sutherland

John Gordon, 16th Earl of Sutherland (1661–1733) was a Scottish nobleman and army officer.

He was the only son of George Gordon, 15th Earl of Sutherland (1633–1703), and his wife, Jean Wemmyss.Upon his father's death in 1703 he succeeded as earl of Sutherland. He supported the revolution of 1688 and was a commissioner for the union of England and Scotland. He was a Scottish representative peer in four parliaments, president of the Board of Trade and manufactures, and lord-lieutenant of the eight northern counties of Scotland. In 1703 he was appointed a privy councillor by Queen Anne.He aided in putting down the Jacobite Rising of 1715. When the rebellion had been quashed, Gordon was invested by George I with the Order of the Thistle and was granted an annual pension of £1200 in recognition of his services. In 1719 he led his Regiment in the Battle of Glen Shiel, which brought to an end the third Jacobite rising.He resumed the name of Sutherland, instead of Gordon. In 1719 by decree of Lyon Court, he was thereafter recognised Chief of the Clan Sutherland.

Joseph Wightman (general)

Joseph Wightman was a British military officer of the early eighteenth century. He is best remembered for his part in the suppression of the 1715 and 1719 Jacobite rebellions.


Kintail (Scottish Gaelic: Cinn Tàile) is an area of mountains in the Northwest Highlands of Scotland, located in the Highland Council area. It consists of the mountains to the north of Glen Shiel and the A87 road between the heads of Loch Duich and Loch Cluanie; its boundaries, other than Glen Shiel, are generally taken to be the valleys of Strath Croe and Gleann Gaorsaic to the north and An Caorann Mòr to the east. Although close to the west coast the mountains lie on the main east-west watershed of Scotland, as the northern side of Kintail drains via Glen Affric to the east coast.

Kintail gives its name to the Kintail National Scenic Area, one of the forty national scenic areas in Scotland, which are defined so as to identify areas of exceptional scenery and to ensure its protection from inappropriate development. The designated area includes the mountains of Kintail proper, as well as the southern side of Glen Shiel from the site of the Battle of Glen Shiel west to the shores of Loch Duich, and extends west to as far as Dornie on the north shore of Loch Duich. The designated area covers 17,149 ha in total, of which 16,070 ha is on land, with a further 1079 ha being marine (i.e. below low tide level), consisting of the sea loch of Loch Duich. The area is considered to encapsulate the scenery of the west highlands, being composed of ridges and peaks that rise steeply from narrow glens and the sea.The main settlement within Kintail is Morvich, located to the northwest of the mountains, just off the A87 road. Morvich serves as the location of the base for Kintail Mountain Rescue Team, as well a campsite operated by The Caravan Club.

Loch Duich

Loch Duich (Scottish Gaelic: "Loch Dubhthaich") is a sea loch situated on the western coast of Scotland, in the Highlands.

Rob Roy MacGregor

Robert Roy MacGregor (Scottish Gaelic: Raibeart Ruadh MacGriogair; baptised 7 March 1671 – died 28 December 1734) was a Scottish outlaw, who later became a folk hero.

Sgùrr na Ciste Duibhe

Sgùrr na Ciste Duibhe is a Scottish mountain situated on the northern side of Glen Shiel, 27 kilometres south east of Kyle of Lochalsh in the Highland council area.

Spanish Invasion

Spanish Invasion may refer to one of the following historical invasions by Spain:

Spanish colonization of the Americas, beginning with the 1492 arrival of Christopher Columbus and continuing for over four centuries

Spanish Invasion of Britain (1719), party of Jacobites and Spanish soldiers which reached Scotland and surrendered at the Battle of Glen Shiel

Spanish invasion of Georgia, a military campaign by Spanish forces which attempted to seize and occupy disputed territory held by the British colony of Georgia

Spanish invasion of Portugal (1762), the principal military campaign of the Spanish–Portuguese War

Spanish invasion of New Granada (1815–1816), part of the Spanish American wars of independence in South America

The Saddle

The Saddle (Scottish Gaelic: An Dìollaid) is one of the great Scottish mountains; seen from the

site of the Battle of Glen Shiel it forms (with Faochag) one of the best-known views in the Highlands. It is in the Highland local government area, on the boundary between the counties of Inverness-shire and Ross and Cromarty.

The mountain provides exciting and challenging climbing. The traverse of the Forcan Ridge — in winter or summer — is one of the classic Scottish mountain expeditions. The mountain's name refers to the shape of the summit ridge when seen from Glen Shiel with the twin summits and ridge in between resembling a saddle. The mountain was originally known by its Gaelic name of An Dìollaid but this has now been lost through common usage of its English translation and it is now one of the few mountains in highland Scotland with an English name.

Clan Munro-Clan Mackenzie feud
Clan Munro-Clan Cameron feuds
Jacobite risings
and later events
Jacobite succession

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