The wrath of God would not be assuaged,
The Spaniard fleet was helpless caged
In the storm Providence waged.
From cleft to cleft and rise to rise,
All about the river dell lies,
The highland band in kilted guise.
The pibrochs blare, the chieftain cries.
The knights of James for battle array,
While James himself is still away,
That reiver Rob Roy and Lord Murray,
Broadsword to broadsword pledged to stay.
Ore’ one thousand of highland name,
Ore’ two hundred Spaniards with the same,
“Swords out!” muskets begin to flame,
For Hanoverians now came.
Beneath the slopes of Glenshiel
Murry’s clans swiftly fled the dell
Great must have been Roy’s anguished yell
When Seaforth wounded too soon fell.
Per Scriptum E. Wesley - Mackinac Center Intern
In 1320, the signers of the Scottish Declaration of Arbroath vowed, "for, as long as but a hundred of us remain alive, never will we on any conditions be brought under English rule." Ever since that time, the Scots strove to maintain their autonomy. In 1603, King James VI of Scotland became the "I" of England and Scotland. However, the Stuart kings proved too troublesome for the English, and in 1688, William and Mary took the throne. In Scotland, many remained loyal to the old Stuart line, and began to think of the new British line of royalty as usurpers. With the advent of the Hanovers in the early 18th century, the Jacobites began uprising in greater vigor. After the failure of the 1715 uprising, Swedish minister Georg Heinrich, Freiherr von Schiltz Gortz, arranged an alliance between Spain and the Jacobites such that Spain would supply an invasion army. Much like in 1588 when Spain had targeted the Protestant English with its Armada, Spanish success could have very well put an end to the right of Protestant religious freedom in England.
Spain should have learned from its earlier try back in 1588. On March 9, 1719, the 29 ship fleet, along with 5,000 men and 30,000 muskets scattered in a raging storm. However, 250 Spaniards accompanying the Earl of Marischal did arrive in Scotland ready to strike. Marischal's brother James Keith told Marischal the news that the Spanish fleet attacking England had been scattered. At Stornoway, the highland chiefs held council, and because Marischal had promised he would relinquish his command when someone of superior rank was found, Marischal reluctantly gave command of the army over to William Murray, the Earl of Tullibardine. The plan became to sail to the mainland and take the castle of Inverness, where there was only a small garrison numbering 300 soldiers. However, after landing at Loch Alsh, mustering the clans wasn't so easy, and most would not commit unless a Spanish fleet arrived. Tullibardine set up an invasion base at Eilean Donan Castle, and wasted more time arguing. Ormonde, commanding the scattered fleet, sent back word to Tullibardine that the invasion had been canceled and that the only way to continue was to muster the clans while he tried his best to send some arms. Accordingly, the Jacobites moved to the Crow of Kintail, leaving only 48 Spaniards to guard the gunpowder. By this time the Hanover English military was on the move. While the chiefs were away, three English warships swooped in and shelled the castle, forcing the Spanish to surrender. Furthermore, Inverness was reinforced with a force under Maj. Gen. Joseph Wightman. Finally, some more Highland clans joined Tullibardine's ranks; 150 Camerons from Lockaber, 400 to 500 highlanders under William McKenzie, fifth Earl of Seaforth, some men from Perthshire under Lord George Murray, and 1,000 more including Mackinnons, Mackenzies, and MacGregors. Of course, the outlaw Rob Roy came with his clan, the MacGregors. The Chisholm clan brought the news that General Wightman had already departed on June 5th from Inverness to challenge the clans with a force of 850 infantry, 120 dragoons, 200 grenadiers, 130 Whig clansmen, and 6 coehorn mortars of bronze.
Tullibardine chose his ground carefully, and decided to face these Hanoverians at Glenshiel (see above photo). David Sharp in an article published for Military History magazine describes the location:
The valley had a drover's road that crossed the Shiel River by a stone bridge. At that point the shoulder of a hill jutted into the valley, causing it to narrow into a gorge, the steep sides of which were covered by heather, bracken and birches. The road entered the valley from the flat area above the pass on a shelf on the north side between the river and the hill. The Jacobites sought to strengthen the center of their proposed line by throwing up a series of entrenchments on the contours of the hill to the north of the Shiel. They also erected a barrier across the drover's road that ran the length of the glen between the river and the entrenched hill. They held a strong position protected on the right by a rivulet and on the left by a ravine. The land in front of the entrenchments was steep and rugged.
Here, about 1,600 Jacobites took their positions across the valley floor. Fourteen-year-old Lord Murray held the right flank south of the river on high ground. To Murray's left, were some from the Spanish Regimento numero 3 La Corona marine unit under Don Nicolas Bolano. After the Spanish, from right to left, was Locheil's men, Rob Roy's MacGregors, Sir John Mackenzie of Coul and his Mackenzies, the Campbells from Ormdale and GlenDarul, clan Mackintosh, and finally Seaforth on a steep side with his men on the left flank. In the afternoon of June 10th, the Hanoverians under Wightman set up their army. The MacKays took up the left flank facing Murray, and a strong right wing set up on the north side of the river under Lt. Col. Jasper Clayton, comprising John, second Duke of Montagu's Grenadier Regiment, the 11th and 15th battalions of foot, and a Dutch troop regiment. One hundred and fifty dismounted dragoons supported the right wing flank on the road and river. A left wing with Clayton's own regiment, 80 Culcairn's clansmen under Captain George Munro, and the six mortars held the south side of the river. After some preliminary skirmishes, full fledged battle began between 5:00 and 6:00 pm. Young Murray beat back the first attack on the Jacobite right flank from 4 platoons of Clayton's regiment and some of Munro's clansmen. However, after regrouping, the Hanoverians drove Murry back to the protective high banks of the burn. From here, Murry could have counter-attacked by swooping down if only reinforcements were available. Now that Wightman had driven back the Jacobite right flank, he focused on the Jacobite left. As such, Montagu shook Seaforth's flank until Seaforth requested reinforcements. Rob Roy rushed toward Seaforth, only to find that the line had disintegrated, and Seaforth was removed being wounded in the arm. Now it was for the center! Wightman roared the mortars at the La Corona regiment, while the valiant Spaniards stood their ground despite the heather around them caught fire. Eventually the highlander Jacobites fled into the highlands, and the Spanish regiment chose to surrender to the English rather than hide up in the highlands. The Hanoverians suffered 21 dead, 121 wounded, while the Jacobites probably lost only slightly more (maybe about 40 dead and 120 wounded). Rob Roy MacGregor lurked in the hills of Glen Shira, and afterward returned to his home at Balquidder (actually, my ancestor clan, the MacLaurins, also spelled MacLaren, owned Balquidder first, before the MacGregors pillaged us out). Thus ended the Jacobite "little rising."
A few political observations of these events are in order. Scotland's only claim to the English throne was through Stuart family inheritance, and when the English decided to switch royal lines, Scotland had a hereditary right to be excluded from the domain of the new English king, being that the terms of inheritance had been violated. However, instead of fighting for their independence like Wallace and Bruce had done, the Jacobites voluntarily allied themselves with England's worst enemies, planed large-scale foreign invasions of England, and attempted to reclaim the entire British throne with a Stuart Catholic king. Catholic kings in England by this time had become socially impossible in the long run. Hence, these uprisings quickly degenerated into a zero-sum games. If England won, Scotland would have to submit, if Scotland won, England would have to submit. Providentially, all of the large-scale Catholic military invasions of England failed. The Scots would have probably found more support for their own cause if they had fought for pure independence instead of a royal line. For one thing, the Lowlands possibly would have joined the cause. However, the Western world would have to wait until the end of the 18th century, before a successful war for independence was won; this time, without a king or single figurehead other than God.
Image of Glenshiel from Wikipedia