The Battle of Inverurie took place on 23rd December 1745. Some accounts would call it a Combat, rather than a Battle, but the effect was the same. It was the second battle on that site, since there was an earlier one in 1308. My model of the battlefield is shown below.
The terrain is my standard 12 inch square terrain boards, which are home made over 45 years ago, as described in my Natural Terrain section. These have river or stream sections cut into every board, but both sides are painted so that, after laying out the basic river pattern, the other boards can be flipped over to create blank terrain.
The view is from the South to the North, so you can see the River Don flowing from the West around in front of Inverurie village, then down to the South. There is a junction where the River Ury flows from the North to join the Don just to the East of Inverurie. There were no bridges over the Don or Ury at this date, just fords, one over the Don as the main road reaches the river and one to the East of that over the River Ury.
Here is a closer view of Inverurie and the River junction.
Some of my terrain boards are in half size sections (12 inches x 6 inches). This allows me to create complex river junctions, as with the Don and Ury rivers above. The two fords are pieces of transparent plastic with stone chippings placed to delineate the edges. Each ford is guarded by just one figure. Just North of the river junction is the mound known as the “Bass”, which originally had a medieval castle keep on it, but that had been demolished by 1745, undoubtedly used as building materials. The Bass mound is formed from four of my small corner hill sections. Again, this hill system is described in more detail in my Natural Terrain section. Just North of the Bass can be seen the walled graveyard behind St Andrew’s Church.
The British Forces in the North of Scotland were commanded by Lord Loudoun, and comprised his newly raised 64th Highlanders, plus 18 Highland Independent Companies, raised by Duncan Forbes, Lord Culloden, as described in an earlier post.
The Jacobites had attempted to disrupt this loyalist recruiting programme by kidnapping Duncan Forbes in a raid by some 200 of Clan Fraser on Culloden House on the night of 15th-16th October 1745. This raid failed, as described in my previous post on Minor Raids during Jacobite Rebellion. By early December the Frasers were blockading Fort Augustus, so Lord Loudoun led an operation to drive them away, again as described in that same previous post. His force comprised four companies of the 64th Foot and seven of the newly raised Highland Independent Companies. Having succeeded in that he then followed this up with a raid on the 11th December 1745 on Castle Dounie, to capture Lord Lovat, the head of Clan Fraser. This again was described in that same previous post. Lord Lovat was captured, and taken to Inverness, but escaped from there, carried on the back of a manservant, since he was too fat and unfit to run, on the night of 21st December.
When Lord Loudoun had taken his expeditionary force away, he had left a smaller force under Norman MacLeod, the Chief of Clan MacLeod, to hold the line of the River Don, thus blocking any attempt of the Jacobites to advance from Aberdeen towards Inverness. Lord Loudoun did not anticipate the Jacobites going on the offensive, and expected to return in time to lead his own operation against Aberdeen. However Lord Loudoun spent far too much time pursuing Lord Lovat, which had a direct consequence on the Battle of Inverurie since, if his forces had rejoined Norman MacLeod in time, then the outcome would undoubtably have been different.
I had already modelled Norman MacLeod, and here he is. I have based this on a well known portrait of him. He was known as “The Wicked Man”, possibly because he turned his £10,000 fortune into a £50,000 debt, so having to sell off ancestral lands, perhaps because he plotted to sell some of his tenants as slaves to the Americas, but more likely since he starved his second wife to death in a dungeon. His is converted from an Imex AWI British Infantry standard bearer.
His troops were described in my post on Highland Independent Companies, and comprised his own four companies of MacLeods (raised in Skye), one company of MacLeods of Assynt (raised on the mainland), one company of Munros and the Inverness Company (the latter being the only non clan company, being raised from the town of Inverness). Various sources differ in the composition of the forces involved, but I have followed Stuart Reid’s “1745: A Military History of the Last Jacobite Rebellion”, which is more detailed, and I feel more accurate in this respect.
Norman MacLeod deployed his own four companies into Inverurie, whilst those of MacLeod of Assynt, Munro and Inverness were deployed in scattered cottages along the River Ury. At the start of the battle all of the Government troops were in houses in Inverurie village or cottages along the Ury, apart from a small piquet at each ford. Norman MacLeod himself was having dinner with local digitaries.
The Jacobite Forces were commanded by Lord Lewis Gordon, who had been a Lieutenant in the Royal Navy, and used methods similar to press gangs to raise several battalions, all of which were present at Inverurie. He had one Highland Battalion, commanded by Farquharson of Monaltrie (some sources show this as a separate Regiment) and two Lowland Battalions, Avochie’s and Stonywood’s, all of which I had previously modelled.
He also a company (some sources call this a small battalion), commanded by Crichton of Auchengoul, which I had not previously modelled but I have now done so and here it is. This had no more than 120 men and had a short independent existence prior to being incorporated into Lord Kilmarnock’s Foot Guards just before Culloden. They are all converted Airfix AWI British figures.
All of the Jacobite units mentioned so far were raised by Lord Lewis Gordon as part of his Regiment. He also had a number of other units under his command, all of which I had previously modelled. These comprised the Kinloch Battalion of Ogilvey’s Regiment, Bannerman of Elsick’s Regiment and two companies of the Royal Ecossais. His force was accompanied by between 2 to 5 guns, possibly originally naval artillery, but remounted on field carriages. These did not actually come into action.
Christopher Duffy’s books also show 200 Jacobite volunteers (in two small units), but do not mention Crighton of Auchengoul’s Company nor Bannerman of Elsick’s Regiment. Stuart Reid’s book shows the latter two units but not the volunteers. I think these are the same units, so have followed Stuart Reid’s identification of them.
Lord Lewis Gordon’s force marched out of Aberdeen and reached Inverurie on 23rd December 1745. He had split his forces into two columns, one marching up each bank of the River Don, as shown below.
The Eastern column, top of picture, comprised the two companies of Royal Ecossais, Farquharson of Monaltrie’s Battalion, Stoneywood’s Battalion, Bannerman Of Elsick’s Regiment and Crighton of Auchengoul’s company. Lord Lewis Gordon was nominally in command of this column, but in practice (as a Naval Officer) he sensibly delegated command to Major Cuthbert of the Royal Ecossais.
The Western Column, bottom of picture, comprised Avochie’s Battalion, the Kinloch Battalion of Lord Ogilvey’s Regiment and the artillery. It was led by Major Gordon of the Royal Ecossais.
The Eastern Column, led by the Royal Ecossais attacked the ford over the River Ury, sweeping aside the small Loyalist piquet on the Southern bank.
The Eastern Column now deployed on the West bank of the River Ury. The scattered Loyalist companies holding the line of the River Ury began to move forward, but realised they were outnumbered. The four MacLeod Companies in Inverurie itself, deployed to the East of the Village.
The Loyalist companies holding the line of the River Ury withdrew in disorder, and the Jacobites Eastern Column formed up to attack Inverurie.
The Jacobite Western Column now charged across the ford over the River Don.
The Jacobite Western Column split, some attacking the southern flank of the MacLeod companies and others charged up the village High Street, thus threatening the rear of the more Northern MacLeod companies.
The Loyalists collapsed in disorder and fled back through the village, then ran off to the North, pursued by the Jacobites.
Casualty figures are disputed, but it would seem that the Loyalists lost about 20 killed and wounded, plus losing some 60 as prisoners. The Jacobites probably had 30-40 casualties. One Loyalist prisoner was Donald MacCrimmon, the famous piper, and the Jacobite pipers refused to play until he was released. He was however killed at the Rout of Moy in February 1746.
One interesting feature of the battle, was that the Loyalists were all Highlanders, whereas the Jacobites were mainly Lowlanders, with a few French regulars.