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on 17 August 2009
Unlike everyone else, I was less than impressed when watching about 20 minutes of this film, which I have not seen for over 20 years. Perhaps it improves as it goes on, but the medley of misleading statements and facts did not go down well if we are assuming this is meant to be a serious representation of history.
Cumberland's army is referred to in different terms - as Hanoverian, British, English and royal. Which is it? Clearly not the third, as we are shown a Scot in the ranks of the redcoats, and the Jacobites would certainly have not used the term 'royal'. Likewise the Jacobite army is said to be made up of Highlanders - no mention of the Lowlanders, English, Irish and Frenchmen among its ranks.
Charles Edward Stuart, we are told, had very little military experience - true, but prior to 1745 Lord George Murray, also shown, had very little, either. In any case, how much did this matter? Hawley had been in the army for decades compared to Cumberland and the latter was much better.
We are told it was O'Sullivan who left the walls undefended, contrary to Murray's wishes, but the reverse was true.
We are told that the Jacobites almost took London before retreating, but the situation is rather more complex than that - many, including Murray, thought not.
There is a number given to those killed by pursuing dragoons - a suspiciously round 100, and I know of no source which gives this.We are told that James Ray was the first soldier to arrive at Inverness, but oddly enough he doesn't mention this in his account of the period. Pursuing fleeing enemy is seen here as if it were a war crime - but it was a regular occurrence after battles of this period (eg Naesby, Prestonpans).
A single cannon is used when we see the Royal Artillery firing. They actually fired in batteries of two guns. I know this film is low budget, but even so (the TV series Kidnapped(1979) at least managed two little guns). Since there are so few extras, this feels like a battle between a score of men on each side, rather than thousands, but at least a few cavalry appear.
Any good points? Well, the prominence given to Lochiel as a key player in the Jacobite army is good, as is the fact that we are told that the clansmen were compelled to fight, but on the other hand, some men volunteered (esp. Lowlanders)and some clansmen may have agreed with their chiefs or have gone along for plunder or adventure. We are also shown Scots on both sides.
If I manage to watch the rest of this, I will add a comment about that. My recollection is that the remainder is sourced from the Jacobite Lyon in Mourning, a rather one sided view.
This may be excellent in the terms of TV and filmmaking, but as history it should be treated with caution.