Neronian Cruelties

John Seymour Lucas (1849-1923), After Culloden, Rebel Hunting, 1884; Tate Britain, London.
John Seymour Lucas (1849-1923), After Culloden, Rebel Hunting, 1884; Tate Britain, London.

Upon Thursday, the day after the battle, a party was ordered to the field of battle to put to death all the wounded they should find upon it, which accordingly they performed with the greatest despatch and the utmost exactness, carrying the wounded from the several parts of the field to two or three spots of rising ground, where they ranged them in due order, and instantly shot them dead.

Upon the day following, (Friday,) parties were ordered to go and search for the wounded in houses in the neighbourhood of the field, to carry them to the field, and there to kill them, which they did, as in the case of John Fraser and his fellow prisoners. To the honour of some particular officers (whom I could name) be it remarked, that by their clemency some few of the wounded were saved.

John MacLeod of MacLeod, junior, esquire, has had the honesty and courage to declare oftener than once, that he himself saw seventy-two killed in cold blood.

At a small distance from the field there was a hut for sheltering sheep and goats in cold and stormy weather. To this hut some of the wounded men had crawled, but were soon found out by the soldiery, who (immediately upon the discovery) made sure the door, and set fire to several parts of the hut, so that all within it perished in the flames, to the number of between thirty and forty persons, among whom were some beggars, who had been spectators of the battle in hopes of sharing in the plunder. Many people went and viewed the smothered and scorched bodies among the rubbish of the hut. Sure, the poor beggars could not be deemed rebels in any sense whatsoever.

In several parts of the Highlands in Scotland the soldiery spared neither man, woman, nor child, particularly those under the command of Major Lockhart, Caroline Scott, &c. The hoary head, the tender mother, and the weeping infant, behoved to share in the general wreck, and to fall victims to rage and cruelty by the musket, the bloody bayonet, the devouring flame, or famishing hunger and cold! In a word, the troops sported with cruelty. They marched through scenes of wo, and marked their steps with blood. Believe me, sir, this is far from exaggerating. It is in my power to condescend upon particular instances of these more than Neronian cruelties, which I am ready to do when called upon by proper authority–to bring to light, not the hidden things of darkness, but monstrous transactions, that were deliberately perpetrated in face of the sun by gentlemen, and (shall I say it?) Christians! In all I have said, I have omitted one thing, which is, that even the yet unborn babe (I tremble to relate it) felt the effects of the fury of our military butchers!

Copy of a letter from a gentleman in London to his friend at Bath, from the manuscript collection of Robert Forbes, Bishop of Ross and Caithness (Scottish Episcopal Church).

Curator: Christian Clay Columba Campbell

Christian Clay Columba Campbell is a Roman Catholic of the Anglican Use. As Senior Warden of the Cathedral of the Incarnation (Orlando, FL), he organised the process by which the parish accepted the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus, petitioning to join the Catholic Church. The Anglican Cathedral is now the Church of the Incarnation in the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter.

Personal queries should be directed to me at eccentricbliss dot com.

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