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The Battle of Culloden

William Topaz McGonagall 1825 – 1902 (Greyfriars Parish, Edinburgh)

'Twas in the year of 1746, and in April the 14th day,
That Prince Charles Stuart and his army marched on without delay,
And on the 14th of April they encamped on Culloden Moor,
But the army felt hungry, and no food could they procure.

And the calls of hunger could not brook delay,
So they resolved to have food, come what may;
They, poor men, were hungry and in sore distress,
And many of them, as well as officers, slipped off to Inverness.

The Prince gave orders to bring provisions to the field,
Because he knew without food his men would soon yield
To the pangs of hunger, besides make them feel discontent,
So some of them began to search the neighbourhood for refreshment.

And others, from exhaustion, lay down on the ground,
And soon in the arms of Morpheus they were sleeping sound;
While the Prince and some of his officers began to search for food,
And got some bread and whisky, which they thought very good.

The Highland army was drawn up in three lines in grand array,
All eager for the fray in April the 16th day,
Consisting of the Athole Brigade, who made a grand display
On the field of Culloden on that ever-memorable day.

Likewise the Camerons, Stewarts, and Macintoshes, Maclachlans and Macleans,
And John Roy Stewart's regiment, united into one, these are their names;
Besides the Macleods, Chisholms, Macdonalds of Clanranald and Glengarry,
Also the noble chieftain Keppoch, all eager the English to harry.

The second line of the Highland army formed in column on the right,
Consisting of the Gordons, under Lord Lewis Gordon, ready for the fight;
Besides the French Royal Scots, the Irish Piquets or Brigade,
Also Lord Kilmamock's Foot Guards, and a grand show they made.

Lord John Drummond's regiment and Glenbucket's were flanked on the right
By Fitz-James's Dragoons and Lord Elcho's Horse Guards, a magnificent sight;
And on the left by the Perth squadron under Lord Strathallan,
A fine body of men, and resolved to fight to a man.

And there was Pitsligo, and the Prince's body guards under Lord Balmerino,
And the third line was commanded by General Stapleton, a noble hero;
Besides, Lord Ogilvie was in command of the third line or reserve,
Consisting of the Duke of Perth's regiment and Lord Ogilvy's-- men of firm nerve.

The Prince took his station on a very small eminence,
Surrounded by a troop of Fitz-James's horse for his defence,
Where he had a complete view of the whole field of battle,
Where he could see the front line and hear the cannons rattle.

Both armies were about the distance of a mile from each other,
All ready to commence the fight, brother against brother,
Each expecting that the other would advance
To break a sword in combat, or shiver a lance.

To encourage his men the Duke of Cumberland rode along the line,
Addressing himself hurriedly to every regiment, which was really sublime;
Telling his men to use their bayonets, and allow the Highlanders to mingle with them,
And look terror to the rebel foe, and have courage, my men.

Then Colonel Belford of the Duke's army opened fire from the front line,
After the Highlanders had been firing for a short time;
The Duke ordered Colonel Belford to continue the cannonade,
To induce the Highlanders to advance, because they seemed afraid.

And with a cannon-ball the Prince's horse was shot above the knee,
So that Charles had to change him for another immediately;
And one of his servants who led the horse was killed on the spot,
Which by Prince Charles Stuart was never forgot.

'Tis said in history, before the battle began
The Macdonalds claimed the right as their due of leading the van,
And because they wouldn't be allowed, with anger their hearts did burn,
Because Bruce conferred that honour upon the Macdonalds at the Battle of Bannockburn.

And galled beyond endurance by the fire of the English that day,
Which caused the Highlanders to cry aloud to be led forward without delay,
Until at last the brave Clan Macintosh rushed forward without dismay,
While with grape-shot from a side battery hundreds were swept away.

Then the Athole Highlanders and the Camerons rushed in sword in hand,
And broke through Barrel's and Monro's regiments, a sight most grand;
After breaking through these two regiments they gave up the contest,
Until at last they had to retreat after doing their best.

Then, stung to the quick, the brave Keppoch, who was abandoned by his clan,
Boldly advanced with his drawn sword in hand, the brave man.
But, alas! he was wounded by a musket-shot, which he manfully bore,
And in the fight he rece
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Submitted on May 13, 2011

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William Topaz McGonagall

William Topaz McGonagall (March 1825 – 29 September 1902) was an Irish weaver, poet and actor who lived in Scotland. He won notoriety as an extremely bad poet who exhibited no recognition of, or concern for, his peers' opinions of his work. He wrote about 200 poems, including "The Tay Bridge Disaster" and "The Famous Tay Whale", which are widely regarded as some of the worst in English literature. Groups throughout Scotland engaged him to make recitations from his work, and contemporary descriptions of these performances indicate that many listeners were appreciating McGonagall's skill as a comic music hall character. Collections of his verse remain popular, with several volumes available today. McGonagall has been lampooned as the worst poet in British history. The chief criticisms are that he was deaf to poetic metaphor and unable to scan correctly. His only apparent understanding of poetry was his belief that it needed to rhyme. McGonagall's fame stems from the humorous effects these shortcomings are considered to generate in his work. Scholars argue that his inappropriate rhythms, weak vocabulary, and ill-advised imagery combine to make his work amongst the most unintentionally amusing dramatic poetry in the English language. His work is in a long tradition of narrative ballads and verse written and published about great events and tragedies, and widely circulated among the local population as handbills. In an age before radio and television, their voice was one way of communicating important news to an avid public. more…

All William Topaz McGonagall poems | William Topaz McGonagall Books

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    "The Battle of Culloden" Poetry.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2021. Web. 16 Jun 2021. <https://www.poetry.com/poem/41859/the-battle-of-culloden>.

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