Having waved farewell to Colonel Francis Townley the Mancunian newly made Governor of Carlisle and the 380/390 men who remained with him Bonnie Prince Charlie exited Carlisle via Scotch Gate and crossed the bridge over the River Eden. Lord George Murray’s men awaited him at Stanwix.
From there the Jacobites marched eight miles to the Scottish border – into what had been the Debatable Lands. At Longtown they needed to cross the River Esk. It should have been a shallow crossing place. As it was the river was if not in full spate very close to it. Cavalry were sent down river to rescue anyone that got swept away and then the soldiers formed up into lines of twelve, locked arms and made their way across with suitable gaps between the parties of twelve men. Apparently they all made it, although Hanoverian press claimed that several camp followers and jacobite women drowned as they made the attempt – this it appears was propaganda.
Once the army had made dry land the pipers struck up and the whole army danced – from joy at being back on home soil and more practically because they needed to dry out.
This event spawned yet another heroic ballad entitled The Hundred Pipers. It was written by Lady Nairn and she seems to have become slightly confused about the chronology as in the ballad the Scots danced their way into England rather than out of it.
The army now split into two columns. One led by Lord George Murray headed in the direction of Ecclefechan whilst the other containing his princeliness headed off in the direction of Dumfries via Annan. This was perhaps to make it seem as though there was a bigger army than there actually was.
The people of Annandale weren’t terribly happy to see the Jacobites not least because they’d stolen from them when the army was heading south. In Dumfries Charlie levied a fine of £2000 and demanded 1,000 pairs of shoes within twenty-four hours. Highlanders were actually stopping people in the streets and taking their shoes from them. To make matters worse there weren’t 1,000 pairs of shoes in the district. The best they could manage having raided all the cobblers in the area was 255 pairs. Andrew Crosbie of Holm and Walter Riddell of Glenriddell were carried away the next morning as hostages to ensure that the full £2000 was paid. It was only when the Jacobites reached Glasgow – anther place that wasn’t overly pleased to see them- that the money was forthcoming and they were allowed to go home.
Johnson Beattie, David. (1928) Prince Charlie and the Borderland. Carlisle: Charles Thurnam and Sons