Soldier’s Leap at Killiecrankie, Perthshire, Scotland

This morning I met a group of soldiers at Killiecrankie in Highland Perthshire ( Central Scotland). Objective was to learn about the battles of Killiecrankie and Dunkeld using site visits. Their antecedent regiment fought at Killiecrankie.

Battle of Killiecrankie July 27th 1689-Briefing Notes.


Religion: Charles II ( tolerant of Protestantism) dies 1685. Replaced by brother James VII who is pro-Catholic. James VII deposed 1688. In turn replaced by William and Mary from Holland who were Protestants.

Charles and James from House of Stewart ( Stuart) which still retained support in Highlands. Stewart cause championed by charismatic military leader James Graham of Claverhouse¬†( ‚ÄúBonnie Dundee‚ÄĚ) who gathered together an army of Highland clansmen totalling some 2500. Supporters of Stewarts known as ‚ÄėJacobites‚Äô.

Opposing Govt army of 4000 under General Mackay ( infantry, cavalry, and dragoons).

Both armies engaged in race for strategically important site of Blair Castle  (near Killiecrankie) which Jacobites won, arriving on July 26th.

Mackay’s army marched up from Dunkeld on morning of 27th, navigating the narrow and treacherous pass of Killiecrankie. However, were not ambushed in the pass. H.Q. at Urrard House.


Jacobites advanced from high elevation. Mackay realised disadvantage and ordered troops up slope only to find another ridge and still at disadvantage. However, Dundee refused to advance because troops faced west with sun in eyes. At 8.00 pm Jacobites advanced (charged). Mackay’s battalions were deployed in extended line with a gap. Lie of land forced Jacobite charge to right exposing force to devastating fire from Mackay’s right. However, force on left took brunt of attack pitching broadswords against bayonets which resulted in some Govt forces fleeing the site. Mackay attacked but was repulsed and his remaining forces fled. Jacobites failed to pursue advantage by plundering the baggage train.


Half of Mackay’s army killed or taken prisoner. Jacobites suffered 600 casualties including leader Dundee.

Soldier’s Leap

During the flight of the government forces a soldier named Donald MacBane¬†made a spectacular escape worthy of an Olympic athlete. Chased by a group of Highlanders, MacBane made an 18 ft ( 5.5m) leap across the fast flowing River Garry. Later he wrote ” Many of our men were lost in that water”.¬† Image at top of post shows a modern soldier attempting to jump the same distance.

Approximate site of Soldier’s Leap, Killiecrankie, Scotland

Pass of Killiecrankie, Perthshire, Scotland

Group of military personnel inspecting battle site at Killiecrankie, Scotland

Dunkeld 21st August, 1689

Jacobite army of 5000 under Colonel Cannnon ( en-route to Perth) encountered Govt force of 1200 Cameronians under Lt. Colonel Cleland.

In early hours Jacobites attacked town on all four sides. Close quarter, house to house fighting ensued. Many houses deliberately burned by Govt.

Final Cameronian redoubt round twin bastions of Cathedral and Dunkeld House. Used Jacobite dead as barriers. Cleland was killed but Jacobites withdrew with loss of about 300 for 45 on Govt side.

After Dunkeld Jacobite army dispersed.

In 1690 James lost the Battle of Boyne in Ireland which ended his attempt to regain the throne.

Dunkeld Cathedral, Perthshire, Scotland

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