PopMatters is moving to WordPress in December. We will continue to publish on this site as we work on the move. We aim to make it a seamless experience for readers.

Television

Outlander: Season 2, Episode 10 - "Prestonpans"

Alyssa Rasmus

A few victories, infighting, and mud put Jamie and Claire's ability to change history in doubt.


Outlander

Airtime: Saturdays, 9pm
Cast: Caitriona Balfe, Sam Heughan, Tobias Menzies, Duncan Lacroix, Grant O’Rourke
Subtitle: Season 2, Episode 10 - "Prestonpans"
Network: Starz
Air date: 2016-06-11
Amazon

Ready and able men await their fated battle. The Scots sit on one side of field, the British on the other. A muddy field sits between. Both sides are itching for the other to make the first move. Prince Charlie (Andrew Gower) is troubled by the realities of the war he's fought so hard to start. His generals can't agree on a plan of attack, and the men are becoming restless unsure of how to proceed. They are as ready as they ever could be.

Claire's (Caitriona Balfe) in charge of creating a field hospital able to take in all the battered and bleeding when the time comes. She knows that this particular battle was won by the rebels, but also that it’s up to them to make that piece of history come to fruition. This minor battle did actually occur, and set up the remainder of the Jacobite Rebellion of 1745. Considering that, it might be important to break down the history and see what opportunities our characters still have to exploit to save the clans and bring about a Stuart king.

Starting from the beginning, Queen Anne was the last reigning monarch from the House of Stuart. She had no direct heirs, so the family of Bonnie Prince Charlie didn't succeed Queen Anne, and the monarchy of England went to the House of Hanover. Prince Charles and his father were both Roman Catholics, an unfavorable religion for English royals at the time, only creating further reasons as to why they should be kept off the throne.

The Jacobite's cause was based on the doctrine of the divine right of kings; ie, they believed God, not the populace, chose the king and therefore any heir in the Stuart line should be King, because God had chosen that family. When the monarchy turned to the Anglican Hanovers, the Jacobites of Scotland, who believed the Stuarts were divinely chosen, decided to fight on their behalf.

Prince Charles did indeed rage against the monarchy in support of his father and was supported by the French, as they too supported the House of Stuart. The rebellion featured within Outlander was the Rising of 1745, the last of the Jacobite rebellions.

Charles arrived in Scotland to march through the highlands collecting troops and supporters. The small army took Perth, where Claire and Jamie (Sam Heughan) met them after visiting Lord Lovat (Clive Russell) to gain support and troops. They continued to take control of cities marching towards England.

One major notable stop was Prestonpans, a city to the east of Edinburgh. The Jacobite army had found the camp of Sir John Cope of the British Army. They were led by Lord George Murray to create a surprise attack in the early morning of September 21, 1745. Because the army wasn't prepared for the attack, the Jacobites conquered the group in a short time, a victory that resonated from London to Paris. Charles wrote the King of France to gain more support for an invasion into England.

"Prestonpans" showcases the strategy behind this strategic attack on the sleeping soldiers. There may be little historical evidence to support that a local townsman led the men to an opportune road around the marsh, but this dramatization doesn’t stray much from the brutality of this battle.

Following Prestonpans, many fighting Highlanders left the cause, because having won one battle, they weren't interested in losing another. Recruiting continued as the rebel army took Edinburgh, but there was opposition from Lord Murray about whether the army should enter England.

They did eventually enter England and managed to recruit a few hundred more men for the Prince's cause. They were also joined by French and Irish troops, but the Prince's army was still suffering from desertion. Lord Murray guided the men away from British troops and they rode into Derby, the closest city to London yet.

There were two British armies closing in on them with false reports coming in that one or two more were on their trail. Only Charles voted to continue to towards London, but with winter fast approaching, limited resources, and a shortage of English support the army decided to retreat back to Scotland on December 6, 1745. By Christmas, they were in Glasgow and demanded the city to resupply the army that had worn very thin on supplies.

As winter thawed, the army had taken Fort George and Fort Augustus, but didn't take control of Fort William or Stirling Castle, leaving them partially in control of Inverness by April 1746. There was a disappointing attempt at a surprise attack on April 15th, wherein the group tried to catch the troop off-guard, similar to the Battle of Prestonpans, under the cover of darkness.

They didn't manage to reach the troop before dawn, so they turned back before they were found. On April 16th, the army, under the insistence of Prince Charles, attempted to use the element of surprise using the Highland Charge. As Outlander has shown, in "Je Suis Prest", this tactic is a favorite of Dougal's (Graham McTavish), but "Prestonpans" shows that Jamie was correct in his assertion that it only works if the surprise is guaranteed to effectively break the line of battle.

Early in the morning, due to mixed ideas about how to proceed, the difficulty in managing the marshland ground, and trying to protect the Prince while steadying the fighting hungry rebellion army, their charge fell apart. The attempt was thwarted by the troops of William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland. Partway through the quick battle, Prince Charles fled. The flanks of rebels had been spotted ahead of their charge and the British army took full advantage of the rebel's lack of control of their front line.

As the line broke, there was an attempt to establish a second line, but the weakened and exhausted men, who had rested little due to the failed raid the night before, could not manage to defeat the Brits. They were outgunned and outmanned. The gruesome fight was over in an hour.

One of the bloodiest battles, Culloden, is marked as the last of the Jacobite risings. "The Forty-Five" created a mood across the lands that the British couldn’t be defeated and the Stuarts were not to be followed. The most direct impact Culloden had, which Claire and Jamie are most passionate about stopping, is the dismantling of the Clan system and the opposing of Gaelic culture.

Mark me, James: we will win this war. Prince Charles has led our characters into battles good and bad, misguided and inspired, but all unstoppable. Claire and Jamie are now hoping against hope for a change in the future, a change to how the war ends.

The majority of the reasons for the loss at Culloden was due to the Jacobite’s being unprepared and facing off without a solid strategy. There's a window of opportunity Claire and Jamie can exploit if they manage to solve the problems from the original battle. Mark me, James: history may not repeat itself.

7

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology provider that we have until December to move off their service. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to fund the move and further development.


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Books

Is Carl Neville's 'Eminent Domain' Worth the Effort?

In Carl Neville's latest novel, Eminent Domain, he creates complexities and then shatters them into tiny narrative bits arrayed along a non-linear timeline.

Film

Horrors in the Closet: Horrifying Heteronormative Scapegoating

The artificial connection between homosexuality and communism created the popular myth of evil and undetectable gay subversives living inside 1950s American society. Film both reflected and refracted the homophobia.

Music

Johnny Nash Refused to Remember His Place

Johnny Nash, part rock era crooner, part Motown, and part reggae, was too polite for the more militant wing of the Civil Rights movement, but he also suffered at the hands of a racist music industry that wouldn't market him as a Black heartthrob. Through it all he was himself, as he continuously refused to "remember his place".

Music

John Hollenbeck Completes a Trilogy with 'Songs You Like a Lot'

The third (and final?) collaboration between a brilliant jazz composer/arranger, the Frankfurt Radio Big Band, vocalists Kate McGarry and Theo Bleckman, and the post-1950 American pop song. So great that it shivers with joy.

Music

The Return of the Rentals After Six Years Away

The Rentals release a space-themed album, Q36, with one absolute gem of a song.

Music

Matthew Murphy's Post-Wombats Project Sounds a Lot Like the Wombats (And It's a Good Thing)

While UK anxiety-pop auteurs the Wombats are currently hibernating, frontman Matthew "Murph" Murphy goes it alone with a new band, a mess of deprecating new earworms, and revived energy.

Music

The 100 Best Albums of the 2000s: 80-61

In this next segment of PopMatters' look back on the music of the 2000s, we examine works by British electronic pioneers, Americana legends, and Armenian metal provocateurs.

Music

In the Tempest's Eye: An Interview with Surfer Blood

Surfer Blood's 2010 debut put them on the map, but their critical sizzle soon faded. After a 2017 comeback of sorts, the group's new record finds them expanding their sonic by revisiting their hometown with a surprising degree of reverence.

Music

Artemis Is the Latest Jazz Supergroup

A Blue Note supergroup happens to be made up of women, exclusively. Artemis is an inconsistent outing, but it dazzles just often enough.

Books

Horrors in the Closet: A Closet Full of Monsters

A closet full of monsters is a scary place where "straight people" can safely negotiate and articulate their fascination and/or dread of "difference" in sexuality.

Music

'Wildflowers & All the Rest' Is Tom Petty's Masterpiece

Wildflowers is a masterpiece because Tom Petty was a good enough songwriter by that point to communicate exactly what was on his mind in the most devastating way possible.

Music

Jazz Composer Maria Schneider Takes on the "Data Lords" in Song

Grammy-winning jazz composer Maria Schneider released Data Lords partly as a reaction to her outrage that streaming music services are harvesting the data of listeners even as they pay musicians so little that creativity is at risk. She speaks with us about the project.

Music

The 100 Best Albums of the 2000s: 100-81

PopMatters' best albums of the 2000s begin with a series of records that span epic metal, ornate indie folk, and a terrifying work of electronic music.

Books

The Power of Restraint in Sophie Yanow, Paco Roca, and Elisa Macellari's New Graphic Novels

The magical quality that makes or breaks a graphic novel lies somewhere in that liminal space in which art and literature intersect.

Books

'People of the City' Is an Unrelenting Critique of Colonial Ideology and Praxis

Cyprian Ekwensi's People of the City is a vivid tale of class struggle and identity reclamation in the shadows of colonialism's reign.

Music

1979's 'This Heat' Remains a Lodestone for Avant-Rock Adventure

On their self-titled debut, available for the first time on digital formats, This Heat delivered an all-time classic stitched together from several years of experiments.

Film

'The Edge of Democracy' and Parallels of Political Crises

Academy Award-nominated documentary The Edge of Democracy, now streaming on Netflix, lays bare the political parallels of the rise of Bolsonaro's Brazil with Trump's America.

Music

The Pogues' 'The BBC Sessions 1984-1986' Honors Working-Class Heroes

The Pogues' BBC Sessions 1984-1986 is a welcome chapter in the musical story of these working-class heroes, who reminded listeners of the beauty and dignity of the strong, sooty backs upon which our industrialized world was built.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.