THE aftermath of the Battle of Culloden lasted a very long time. Indeed, I would argue that we are still feeling its effects today in Highland depopulation, a broken Gaelic culture, but most importantly because of the end of Scotland as we knew it before April 16, 1746.

The defeat of the Jacobites also helped create the British Empire as we knew it. For whether we are happy about it or not, after Culloden, the vast majority of Scots accepted the Union and we played a huge part in creating that Empire, being to the fore in its most expansionist phases such as the slave trade and the conquest of the Indian sub-continent.

The immediate hours after Culloden were appalling. By direct order of the Duke of Cumberland, soldiers of the Jacobite army, many of them wounded, were killed where they lay and stayed unburied at Culloden. Other wounded Jacobites were stripped and left to die of exposure.

Eyewitness accounts of those bloody atrocities were collated by Robert Forbes, Bishop of Ross and Caithness, who wrote the extraordinarily detailed book The Lyon in Mourning about this period. It remains the principal contemporary source of information about Bonnie Prince Charlie’s flight to exile which we will deal with in another Back In The Day later this year, because it is a brilliant story in itself, even if it ended in ignominy.

READ MORE: Battle begins, but the '45 ends in defeat

A Presbyterian minister of irreproachable repute, Laughlan Shaw, told Forbes of his search for his Jacobite cousin and servant who had been wounded at Culloden and were being held in a nearby house.

Forbes wrote: “As he came near, he saw an officer’s command, with the officer at their head, fire a platoon (firing squad) at 14 of the wounded Highlanders, whom they had taken all out of the house, and bring them all down at once; and when he came up he found his cousin and his servant were two of that unfortunate number.” Cumberland used the excuse that Charles had ordered “no quarter” to the Government troops – according to Lord Balmerino who was executed for his leading part in the ’45, no such order was ever given, and a written version by Lord George Murray was a doctored forgery to deflect criticism. When people from Inverness came to view the battlefield strewn with bodies, it was noted that at least 22 of the dead clansmen were seen to have been killed by multiple blows to the head – they had been clubbed to death, unable to resist because of their earlier wounds.

The National:

All around Inverness, men were murdered just for wearing Highland dress, women were raped and killed and children slaughtered – Butcher Cumberland was well named. At Cumberland’s command, a ship full of prisoners was sent south to London. On board were 157 Jacobites. So appalling were the conditions on board that just 49 were alive on reaching Tilbury, with survivors reporting inhuman treatment on board, including being whipped for talking Gaelic.

Another prisoner taken south by ship was James Bradshaw, an English Jacobite recruited at Manchester the previous year. He was sentenced to death and gave an oration on the scaffold on November 28, 1746, that utterly damned Cumberland: “After the Battle of Culloden I had the misfortune to fall into the hands of the most ungenerous enemy that I believe ever assumed the name of a soldier, I mean the pretended Duke of Cumberland, and those under his command, whose inhumanity exceeded anything I could have imagined. I was put into one of the Scotch kirks together with a great number of wounded prisoners who were stripped naked and then left to die of their wounds without the least assistance; and though we had a surgeon of our own, a prisoner in the same place, yet he was not permitted to dress their wounds, but his instruments were taken from him on purpose to prevent it; and in consequence of this many expired in the utmost agonies”.

Cumberland himself concentrated on mopping up operations in and around Inverness. Jacobite prisoners were hanged in the streets, and one account told of a blind beggar woman being whipped in the city for not knowing where the Prince was. Crofters and their families all around that part of Scotland were killed for not telling anything about the Prince. Cumberland was determined to capture his relative, because he knew that Charles alive was a threat to the Hanoverian dynasty.

What happened next is Scotland’s secret shame. For it was not just English troops under Cumberland that carried out atrocity after atrocity in the search for Charles and the remaining Jacobites, but also Scots, many of whom were Highlanders themselves. John Campbell, the 4th Earl of Loudon, along with George Munro of Culcairn, co-founder of the Black Watch regiment in 1725, led the companies of independent Highlanders – Campbells and MacDonalds – who were loyal to George II on punitive raids into Lochaber and Shiramore while English dragoons roamed far and wide, killing indiscriminately. They were led by General Hawley, the loser at the Battle of Falkirk Muir, whose fury for revenge knew no bounds – he duly earned the nickname Hangman Hawley.

Anyone suspected of harbouring the Prince was arrested, tortured, and usually hanged to save a bullet. Somehow Charles evaded the hunters, while Cumberland went south in late July and was given a rapturous welcome – the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland lionised him and in London, Handel composed See the Conqu’ring Hero Comes in his honour.

Cumberland’s butchery set the tone for how the UK dealt with the Jacobite prisoners. As Magnus Magnusson recounts in Scotland The Story of Nation: “Of the total of 3471 Jacobite prisoners, 120 were executed: most by hanging, drawing and quartering, four by beheading because they were peers of the realm -- the privilege of rank. Of the remainder, more than six hundred died in prison; 936 were transported to the West Indies to be sold as slaves [which, at that time, meant that they would almost certainly be dead of yellow fever or the like within two years], 121 were banished ‘outside our Dominions’; and 1287 were released or exchanged”

As it became clear that Charles really had escaped, the independent Highlander companies were disbanded, but their soldiering and the Jacobite successes in the ’45 gave Cumberland and the Hanoverian regime an idea which has stood the test of time – that Highlanders were among the world’s best natural soldiers and if given discipline, training and leadership would make a formidable force.

First, however, came Westminster’s genocidal treatment of the Highlanders. Numerous clan chiefs were attainted, having their titles and lands stripped of them. More importantly the Heritable Jurisdictions Act of 1746 removed all judicial powers from the chiefs, smashing the very structure of Highland society as sheriffdoms reverted to the Crown.

The Act of Proscription of 1746 banned anyone north of the Highland line from the carrying of arms and the Dress Act section banned anyone in Scotland from wearing Highland dress, especially the kilt, on pain of six months in jail – transportation was the punishment for a second offence. Also banned by extensions of the Act were the bagpipes and the speaking of Gaelic in public. In a few short years, that Act had great effect, and the repression of the Gael was almost total. Many Highlanders opted to emigrate to America and Canada in a bid to preserve their way of life that was now under assault on all sides – lowland Scottish people, it has to be said, largely backed the brutal repression of their fellow Scots.

The extent of the crackdown can be seen from this letter of Cumberland’s secretary to the magistrates of Montrose after the Duke learned of young boys in the town celebrating the birthday of James Edward Stuart: “These pernicious [harmful] principles thus carefully instilled into youth is sewing the seed of so dangerous and destructive a harvest, that his Royal Highness the Duke thinks it necessary it should, by punishment, be choked before it can come to maturity, and I have his commands to acquaint you that it is His Royal Highness’s positive orders, that... you cause those boys, be they who they will, to be whipped through the town, their parents or guardians assisting, and the cryer of the town proclaiming at proper places, what it is for.”

The only exceptions to the Dress Act were soldiers in the British Army, whom General James Wolfe, who had fought against the Jacobites, saw as ideal recruits as “it is no great mischief if they fall”.

This process of converting Highland opponents to valued soldiers was greatly assisted by Simon Fraser, Master of Lovat, 19th chief of Clan Fraser. Though he had fought for Charles and the Government in London had executed his father for treason in 1747 – the last man in Britain to be beheaded – Fraser founded his own eponymous regiment in 1757 and it joined the British Army as the 78th Fraser Highlanders. They fought with distinction in the Seven Years War, playing a vital part in the Battle of the Plains of Abraham and the capture of Quebec in 1759 where they served under General Wolfe, who was killed during the battle – he was reportedly carried from the field by grieving Frasers.

When the regiment was temporarily disbanded, about 700 Frasers returned to the Highlands and there they spread tales of the freedoms and wealth enjoyed by the inhabitants of the Americas where land was plentiful. They also spoke of service in the army being a job that was noble for Highlanders. The result was a small trickle that soon became a flood of men joining the Scottish regiments and whole families migrating abroad – the latter activity becoming so established in Highland culture that there was even a special dance at ceilidhs, the Dance to America.

The smashing of the feudal clan society and the replacement of chiefs by landowners, plus the willingness of Highlanders themselves to embrace emigration, laid the grounds for the enforced Clearances of the 19th century. Traditional Gaelic culture was ruthlessly battered down and the English language was enforced across the land by rigorous teaching – not for nothing is it said that the most correct English spoken anywhere is in Inverness. Thus old Scotland died in just a few short decades after Culloden, assisted by the fact that the Scottish economy boomed with agrarian and industrial revolutions and Scottish society as a whole progressed during the Enlightenment period of the late 18th century.

Remarkably it was Simon Fraser who became an MP and led the campaign for the repeal of the Dress Act in 1782, and Sir Walter Scott and the visit of King George IV in 1822 spun the story in favour of the Highlanders, so that we can now look back at the post-Culloden aftermath and say the British attempt at genocide was not wholly successful, though when you read of critics of Gaelic signs and house-building on Culloden you could be forgiven for thinking otherwise.

Last thoughts on the Jacobites: the most important discovery for me during my researches for this series was that both James Edward Stuart and his son Bonnie Prince Charlie strongly pledged to end the Union of Parliaments of 1707. The Jacobites are history, so now that dissolution of the Union is up to us.