Siege of Fort Augustus (March 1746)

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Siege of Fort Augustus
Part of the Jacobite rising of 1745
Fort Augustus (old fort).jpg
Fort Augustus
Date22 February to 1 March 1746
Result Jacobite victory
Union flag 1606 (Kings Colors).svg Kingdom of Great Britain Jacobite Standard (1745).svg Jacobites
Commanders and leaders
Union flag 1606 (Kings Colors).svg Major Hugh Wentworth Royal Standard of the King of France.svg Colonel Stapleton
Royal Standard of the King of France.svg Colonel James Grant
300 (estimated) 1,500–1,800 (estimated)
Casualties and losses
None None

The Siege of Fort Augustus took place from 22 February to 1 March 1746, during the Jacobite rising of 1745. [1] After a short siege, the government garrison surrendered to a Jacobite force, which then moved on to besiege Fort William, using artillery captured at Fort Augustus.

Jacobite rising of 1745 attempt by Charles Edward Stuart to regain the British throne for the exiled House of Stuart

The Jacobite rising of 1745, also known as the Forty-five Rebellion or simply the '45, was an attempt by Charles Edward Stuart to regain the British throne for his father, James Francis Edward Stuart. It took place during the War of the Austrian Succession, when the bulk of the British Army was fighting in mainland Europe, and proved to be the last in a series of revolts that began in 1689, with major outbreaks in 1708, 1715 and 1719.

Siege of Fort William

The Siege of Fort William took place in the Scottish Highlands during the 1745 Jacobite Rising, from 20 March to 3 April 1746.



After the 1715 rising, a line of forts was built along what is now the Caledonian Canal: the three most important were Fort George, Inverness; Fort Augustus; and Fort William. Their garrisons were reinforced when the 1745 rising began, but the defences had been neglected and were in a poor state. However, it was not until the Jacobites retreated from Stirling Castle in February 1746 that a serious effort was made to capture them. [2]

Jacobite rising of 1715 British monarchy succession dispute

The Jacobite rising of 1715, was the attempt by James Francis Edward Stuart to regain the thrones of England, Ireland and Scotland for the exiled House of Stuart.

Caledonian Canal canal

The Caledonian Canal connects the Scottish east coast at Inverness with the west coast at Corpach near Fort William in Scotland. The canal was constructed in the early nineteenth century by Scottish engineer Thomas Telford.

Fort William, Highland town in the Highlands of Scotland

Fort William is a town in Lochaber in the Scottish Highlands, located on the eastern shore of Loch Linnhe. As of the 2011 Census, Fort William had a population of 10,459, making it the second largest settlement in the Highland council area, and the second largest settlement in the whole of the Scottish Highlands — only the city of Inverness has a larger population.

Despite being well-supplied, Fort George surrendered without fighting; its governor, Major Grant, a close relative of the Jacobite Lord Lovat, was later court-martialled and dismissed. [3] The garrisons at Fort Augustus and Fort William had been raiding the surrounding countryside, much of which belonged to Lochiel and MacDonald of Keppoch. To protect their lands, they demanded that the forts be taken; on 21 February, a contingent of the French regulars under Colonel Stapleton and 1,500 Cameron and MacDonald clansmen arrived outside Fort Augustus. [4]

Simon Fraser, 11th Lord Lovat Scottish Jacobite and Chief of Clan Fraser of Lovat

Simon Fraser, 11th Lord Lovat, nicknamed 'the Fox', was a Scottish Jacobite and Chief of Clan Fraser of Lovat, known for his feuding and changes of allegiance. In 1715, he had been a supporter of the House of Hanover, but in 1745 he changed sides and supported the Stuart claim on the crown of the United Kingdom. Lovat was among the Highlanders defeated at the Battle of Culloden and convicted of treason against the Crown, following which he was sentenced to death and subsequently beheaded.

Donald Cameron of Lochiel Scottish Highland Clan Chief

Donald Cameron of Lochiel, was hereditary chief of Clan Cameron, traditionally loyal to the exiled House of Stuart. His father John was permanently exiled after the 1715 Rising and when his grandfather Sir Ewen Cameron died in 1719, Donald assumed his duties as 'Lochiel.'

Alexander Macdonald, 17th of Keppoch

Alexander Macdonald, 17th of Keppoch was a Scottish clan chief, military officer, and prominent Jacobite who took part in both the 1715 and 1745 Jacobite risings. He was killed at the Battle of Culloden leading a regiment composed largely of members of his clan, the Macdonalds of Keppoch.

The siege

Fort Augustus and Loch Ness, from military road (foreground) Fort Augustus and Loch Ness from General Wade's military road - - 19953.jpg
Fort Augustus and Loch Ness, from military road (foreground)

Fort Augustus is at the south-west end of Loch Ness, at a key junction of the military roads constructed after 1715; built in 1729, the fort replaced a barracks known as Kilwhimen Barracks. Instead of being built on high ground, it was placed on a peninsula surrounded by Loch Ness and the Rivers Oich and Tarff. [5] Cumberland felt it could not be defended for more than a few days, and wrote that Fort William was the only one of any importance. [6]

Loch Ness Lake in Scotland, United Kingdom

Loch Ness is a large, deep, freshwater loch in the Scottish Highlands extending for approximately 37 kilometres southwest of Inverness. Its surface is 16 metres above sea level. Loch Ness is best known for alleged sightings of the cryptozoological Loch Ness Monster, also known affectionately as "Nessie". It is connected at the southern end by the River Oich and a section of the Caledonian Canal to Loch Oich. At the northern end there is the Bona Narrows which opens out into Loch Dochfour, which feeds the River Ness and a further section of canal to Inverness, ultimately leading to the North Sea via the Moray Firth. It is one of a series of interconnected, murky bodies of water in Scotland; its water visibility is exceptionally low due to a high peat content in the surrounding soil.

Old military roads of Scotland list of roads in Scotland

A network of military roads, sometimes called General Wade's Military Roads, was constructed in the Scottish Highlands during the middle part of the 18th century as part of an attempt by the British Government to bring order to a part of the country which had risen up in the Jacobite rebellion of 1715.

River Oich river in Scotland

The River Oich is a short river that flows through the Great Glen in Scotland. It carries water from Loch Oich to Loch Ness and runs in parallel to a section of the Caledonian Canal for the whole of its 5.6 miles (9 km) length. The Great Glen Way runs between the two watercourses. The river's largest tributary is the Invigar Burn. The only significant settlement on the river is Fort Augustus at its NE end.

Square in plan with angled bastions on each corner, the fort was designed "more ... for ornament than strength", as a demonstration of the government presence in the Scottish Highlands. The walls were weak, while the six-pounder guns that provided defensive fire were installed on top of the four bastions, in full view of an attacking force. [4] The garrison consisted of three companies from Guise's Regiment, commanded by Major Hugh Wentworth. He lacked trained gunners and stationed one of his companies in the old Kiliwhimen Barracks, an isolated position to the south of the fort. This was quickly taken by the French regulars under Stapleton, and his engineer Grant began siege operations on 22 February 1746. [4]

Scottish Highlands Place

The Highlands is a historic region of Scotland. Culturally, the Highlands and the Lowlands diverged from the later Middle Ages into the modern period, when Lowland Scots replaced Scottish Gaelic throughout most of the Lowlands. The term is also used for the area north and west of the Highland Boundary Fault, although the exact boundaries are not clearly defined, particularly to the east. The Great Glen divides the Grampian Mountains to the southeast from the Northwest Highlands. The Scottish Gaelic name of A' Ghàidhealtachd literally means "the place of the Gaels" and traditionally, from a Gaelic-speaking point of view, includes both the Western Isles and the Highlands.

Royal Warwickshire Regiment

The Royal Warwickshire Regiment, previously titled the 6th Regiment of Foot, was a line infantry regiment of the British Army in continuous existence for 283 years. The regiment saw service in many conflicts and wars, including the Second Boer War and both the First and Second World Wars. On 1 May 1963, the regiment was re-titled, for the final time, as the Royal Warwickshire Fusiliers and became part of the Fusilier Brigade.

According to an eye witness, the Jacobites had three batteries, one opposite the main gate and two firing from the north. These had little effect, with most of the damage being done by three coehorn mortars; on the first day, a shell from one of these blew up the fort's magazine, destroying one of its bastions. A second shot caused the explosion of another magazine the next day, but firing then continued for another four days without further impact. The garrison capitulated on 1 March without any casualties, and Wentworth was considered to have surrendered too early; he was subsequently court-martialled and dismissed from the army. [7]


A Coehorn was a lightweight mortar originally designed by Dutch military engineer Menno van Coehoorn.

Magazine (artillery) Place of storage for ammunition or other explosive material

Magazine is the name for an item or place within which ammunition or other explosive material is stored. It is taken originally from the Arabic word "makhāzin" (مخازن), meaning storehouses, via Italian and Middle French.


Another drawing of the old fort c.1788 Fort Augusts (Old Fort) 2.png
Another drawing of the old fort c.1788

The Jacobites moved on to Fort William, the last government strong point along the Great Glen, a much stronger facility. The Siege of Fort William was abandoned in early April. [8]

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  1. Clark, GN (1922). "The Highland Forts in the 45" (PDF). The English Historical Review. 37: 362.
  2. Clark, pp. 362–363
  3. Clark, p. 371
  4. 1 2 3 Duffy, Christopher (2007). The '45, Bonnie Prince Charlie and Untold Story of the Jacobite Rising. p. 451. ISBN   9780753822623.
  5. "Fort Augustus". Retrieved 14 June 2019.
  6. Clark, p. 371
  7. Clark, p. 372
  8. Duffy, Christopher (2007). The '45, Bonnie Prince Charlie and Untold Story of the Jacobite Rising. p. 452. ISBN   9780753822623.