Contemporary Depiction of Cope’s Flight to Berwick

Bonnie Prince Charlie’s landing on Scottish soil ignited a firestorm of incredible stories and willing recruits so that the myths encouraged the masses, who encouraged the myths in a cycle.

While the stories were drawing volunteers they were worrying the established powers. Sir John Cope, commanding the Hanovarians, saw the need to crush the rebellion swiftly and that Edinburgh was where he and his men should be.

He denied himself the use of the Corrieyairack Pass, however, convinced it was covered by three thousand Jacobites. It was not, and his unnecessary journey to Aberdeen to sail down to the Forth saw him disembark at Dunbar on 17 September while Prince Charles Edward was claiming Edinburgh.

Presuming the Jacobites would then challenge him from the west, Cope pitched his army at Prestonpans, near Musselburgh, where reinforcements from Berwick could reach him. Reading Cope well, Lord George Murray brought his Jacobites right around south of the government force and attacked from the east.

Reports time Murray’s victory as taking either ten or fifteen minutes. The rout of the Hanovarians meant that in the space of a month Scotland was Jacobite but for the strong, important castles of Edinburgh, Stirling and Dumbarton.