Battle of Glenshiel

On this day in Scottish History

battle of glenshiel
The Battle of Glenshiel by Peter Tillemans, 1719

On 10 June 1719, Jacobite and Spanish forces are defeated by government troops commanded by Major-General Joseph Wightman, at the battle of Glenshiel, on the steep slopes of Glen Shiel in Kintail, Scottish Highlands.

Spain was at war with Great Britain, France, the Netherlands and Austria in The War of the Quadruple Alliance (1718–1720) and sought to organize an expedition to Britain involving some 7000 men to invade England and replace George I with James Stuart, with a diversionary force landing on the west coast of Scotland. The main invasion force of England was scattered in a storm and only 300 Spanish soldiers landed in Scotland at Loch Alsh.

Wightman’s government army consisting of regular British, Dutch and Swiss infantry, dragoons, Highland companies and a battery of Coehorn mortars moves to engage the Jacobite forces in Kintail.

At around 17:00 on the 10th June, the battle of Glenshiel begins with Wightman’s mortars bombarding the Jacobite right, commanded by Lord George Murray. Munro’s Highlanders and Clayton’s regiment then storm this Jacobite position and force them into a full retreat.

The Jacobite centre then comes under attack by dismounted dragoons who are later supported by Clayton’s regiment and Munro’s Highlanders. The mortar bombardment now begins on the Spanish position, the shells setting the dry heather alight.

The main government force, including the Dutch and Swiss infantry, then move against the Jacobite left and soon the entire Jacobite army is forced into a general retreat, with the Spanish providing cover for the fleeing Jacobite clansmen.

Following the battle, the Spanish surrendered. Their part in the battle is remembered by the name of a mountain overlooking the battle site, Sgurr nan Spainnteach, or “Peak of the Spaniards”.

Further Reading:

The Battle of Glenshiel: The Jacobite Rising in 1719, (2018), Jonathan Worton, Helion and Company Ltd

Scotland and the British Army, 1700-1750: Defending the Union, (2014), Victoria Henshaw, Bloomsbury Publishing