Murray, George (1700?-1760) (DNB00)
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Murray, George (1700-1760)
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MURRAY, Lord GEORGE (1700?–1760), Jacobite general, was the fifth son of John, second marquis and first duke of Atholl [q. v.], by Lady Catherine Hamilton, eldest daughter of Anne, duchess of Hamilton in her own right, and William Douglas, third duke of Hamilton. He is usually stated to have been born in 1705, but as in 1709 he had begun to study Horace at the school at Perth (Letter to his father in Hist. MSS. Comm. 12th Rep. App. pt. viii. p. 64), it is unlikely that he was born later than 1700. On 16 March 1710 he sent to his father a complaint against his schoolmaster for not allowing him, in accordance with a privilege conferred at Candlemas, to protect a boy who was whipped, and strongly urged that on account of the 'affront' he might be permitted to leave school (ib.) In 1712-13 he was on the continent, in somewhat delicate health (Letter from Dunkirk, 6 Jan. 1713, ib. p. 65).
During the rebellion of 1715 Murray served with the Jacobites under his brother, the Marquis of Tullibardine [see Murray, William], and at Sheriffmuir held command of a battalion (Patten, Hist. of the Rebellion, pt. ii. p. 59). Along with Tullibardine he, after Sheriffmuir, in reply to a representation from the Duke of Atholl, intimated his willingness to forsake Mar provided he had full assurance of an indemnity (Hist. MSS. Comm. 6th Rep. pp. 702-3), but the negotiation came to nothing, and after the collapse of the rebellion he escaped to the continent. In June 1716 he was at Avignon with the Earl of Mar, who states that he had not 'been well almost ever since he came' (Letter 16 June, Thorton, Stuart Dynasty, 2nd ed. p. 276). In 1719 he accompanied the expedition under Marischal and Tullibardine to the north-western highlands, and was wounded at the battle of Glenshiels on 10 June, but made his escape. After his return to the continent he was for some years an officer in the army of the king of Sardinia, where he acquired a high reputa- tion. Subsequently he obtained a pardon and returned to Scotland.
Through, the influence of his brother, the Marquis of Tullibardine, Murray was induced in 1745 to join the standard of Prince Charles. Arriving in Perth on 26 Aug. with a number of the Atholl men, he was made lieutenant-general by the prince, who had entered the city on the previous day. Although for some time he shared the command with the Duke of Perth, he was almost from the beginning, to quote Sir Walter Scott, 'the soul of the undertaking' (Diary in Lockhart's Life). But for his enthusiasm and skill it would have collapsed at least before the battle of Falkirk. He won the attachment and confidence of the clansmen as completely as did Montrose or Dundee, and had he been left untrammelled might have gained a reputation equal to theirs. His thorough knowledge of highland habits and modes of warfare enabled him to utilise the fighting power of his forces to the best advantage, and he also inspired them by his prowess with an enthusiastic confidence which was perhaps the chief secret of their victories at Prestonpans and Falkirk. Nor was he less prudent and practical than courageous. His commissariat arrangements were as perfect as circumstances would permit, and his military advice was always admirably tempered with discretion and a sane regard to possibilities. His pride and high temper led him more than once almost into altercations with the prince, but in the matter of his contentions he was unquestionably in the right. The Chevalier Johnstone asserted, and not without plausible grounds, that 'had Prince Charles slept during the whole of the expedition, and allowed Lord George Murray to act for him according to his own judgment, he would have found the crown of Great Britain on his head when he awoke' (Memoirs, ed. 1822, p. 27).
The army of the prince, after receiving large accessions from the highlands, began its march southwards from Perth on 11 Sept., and, proceeding by Stirling and Falkirk, obtained possession of Edinburgh without opposition. After resting there for three days, it advanced eastwards against Sir John Cope, who had disembarked his troops at Dunbar. Cope resolved to await the attack in a strong but cramped position at the village of Prestonpans. Murray seized the higher eminences and drew up his men on ground sloping towards the village of Tranent. He soon, however, discovered that this position would be of no advantage to the highlanders in executing their impetuous charge, since Cope's position was defended not only by houses and enclosures, but by a morass, which was almost impassable. He therefore resolved to defer the attack till Cope could be taken by surprise. In the early morning of the 21st the highlanders, crossing the morass in the darkness, with noiseless celerity, made their attack almost before Cope was able to draw up his line of battle. The right of the highlanders was led by the Duke of Perth and the left by Murray, to whose men belongs the chief credit of the victory. 'Lord George,' says the Chevalier Johnstone, 'at the head of the first line, did not give the enemy time to recover from their panic. . . . The highlanders rushed upon them sword in hand, and the cavalry was instantly thrown into confusion' (ib. p. 35). After the victory the insurgents remained for six weeks quartered round Edinburgh, partly to receive reinforcements, but chiefly because they were at a loss as to their future course of action. Ultimately the prince announced his intention to march into England, and on 30 Oct. appointed his principal officers for the expedition, the Duke of Perth to be general and Murray lieutenant-general. The march commenced on the 31st, the division under Murray proceeding by Peebles and Moffat, and the other by Lauder and Kelso. After their union at Beddings in Cumberland, Carlisle was invested, the siege being conducted by the Duke of Perth. On account of the prominence assigned to the duke during the siege, Murray resigned his command, intimating his desire henceforth to serve as a volunteer. Perth thereupon also resigned, and his resignation was accepted, it being understood that Murray, whose skill was necessary to the continuance of the enterprise, should act as general under the prince. At a council of war, held shortly after the surrender of Carlisle (18 Nov.), the prince intimated his preference for a march on London, and appealed to Murray for his opinion. Murray stated that if the prince chose to make the experiment he was persuaded that the army, small as it was (about 4,500), would follow him. The whole proposal, however, emanated from the prince, Murray simply acquiescing in what he was probably powerless to prevent. Finding on reaching Derby on 4 Dec. that they were threatened by a powerful force under the Duke of Cumberland, the hopelessness of the enterprise, in the almost total absence of recruits from England, became apparent to all except the prince. On Murray's advice they determined to retreat northwards until they could effect a junction with additional recruits from Scotland. Murray, who had previously led the advance, now undertook the charge of the rear, and it was chiefly owing to his courage and alertness that the retreat was conducted with perfect order and complete success. So silently and swiftly was it begun that the Duke of Cumberland was unaware of the movement before the highlanders were two days' march from Derby. The highlanders, by their method of marching, were almost beyond pursuit even by cavalry, when Murray, with the rear-guard, was on the 17th detained at Clifton in Cumberland by the breaking down of some baggage wagons. Next morning the advanced guard of the duke appeared on the adjoining heights, and, desiring to check the pursuit, Murray despatched a message to the prince for a reinforcement of a thousand men, his purpose being, by a midnight march, to gain the flank of the pursuers, and, according to the method adopted at Prestonpans, take them by surprise in the early morning. The prince replied by ordering him, without risking any engagement, to join the main body with all speed at Penrith. But Murray, probably deeming retreat more hazardous than attack, disregarded the order, and posted his men strongly at the village of Clifton to await the approach of the dragoons. The sun had set, but the dragoons continued their march by moonlight, and the semi-obscurity favoured the highlanders, who, led by Murray, and disregarding the enemies' fire, rushed upon them with their claymores and drove them back with great loss. Murray thereupon hastened to obey the prince's orders, and joined the main body. The check thus given to the pursuit delivered the insurgents from further danger or annoyance. The duke dared not venture into the broken and hilly country beyond Carlisle, which he contented himself with investing, and the highlanders entering Scotland on the 20th, and marching in two divisions to Glasgow, where they levied a heavy subsidy, proceeded to besiege the castle of Stirling. It was probably the refusal of the prince to send a reinforcement to Murray while in difficulties at Clifton that led Murray on 6 Jan. 1746 to present to him a memorial that he should from time to time call a council of war, and that upon sudden emergencies a discretionary power should be vested in those who had commands. To the memorial the prince replied on the 7th, refusing to adopt the advice proposed, and complaining at length of the attempt to limit his prerogative (Hist. MSS. Comm. 7th Rep. p. 704, 12th Rep. App. pt. viii. p. 73).
At Stirling the insurgents were joined by reinforcements from France and the highlands, which with their lowland allies brought up their numbers to about nine thousand. On learning of the approach towards Falkirk of the English army under General Hawley, they advanced to more favourable ground, and drew up on the Plean Moor. The battle of Falkirk took place on 17 Jan. As usual the highlanders determined to make the attack before Hawley completed his dispositions. His men had also to contend with a storm of wind and rain which beat in their faces. The right wing was led by Murray, who fought on foot, sword in hand, at the head of the Macdonalds of Keppoch. He gave orders that they should reserve their fire till within twelve paces of the enemy. This so broke the charge of the dragoons that the highlanders were able to mingle in their ranks, and engage in a hand-to-hand struggle, where their peculiar mode of fighting at once gave them the advantage. In a few seconds the dragoons were in headlong flight, and breaking through the infantry assisted to complete the confusion caused by the furious attack of the highlanders in other parts of the line. So completely panic-stricken were the English soldiers that, had the pursuit been followed up with sufficient vigour, the highland victory might have been as signal as at Prestonpans ; but the slightness of the resistance made to their onset caused the highlanders to discredit their good fortune. Dreading that the retreat might be but a feint, they hesitated to pursue until Hawley was able to withdraw safely towards Edinburgh. After his retirement the siege of Stirling was resumed, but they were unable to effect its capture before the approach of a powerful force under Cumberland compelled them after blowing up their powder stored in the church of St. Ninians to retreat northwards towards Inverness,where reinforcements were expected from France. Murray deemed such a precipitate retreat decidedly imprudent, as tending seriously to discourage the supporters of the prince in other parts of the country (Jacobite Correspondence of the Atholl Family, p. 184). He also urged that a stand should be made in Atholl, and offered to do so with two thousand men (ib. p. 185). His counsels were, however, overruled, and on reaching Crieff on 2 Feb. the army was formed in two divisions, the highlanders under the prince marching to Inverness by the direct mountain route, while the lowland regiments, led by Murray, proceeded along the eastern coast by Angus and Aberdeen. Murray joined the prince while he was investing Fort George. A small garrison had been left in it by Lord Loudoun, who for greater safety withdrew into Ross ; but Murray cleverly surmounted the difficulty of attacking him there by collecting a fleet of fishing boats, with which he crossed the Dornoch Firth. The outposts of Lord Loudoun were surprised, and he himself was compelled to retreat westwards, and finally disbanded his forces. Some time afterwards Murray learned that the Atholl country was in the hands of the government, Blair Castle, as well as the houses of the fencers, being occupied by detachments of the royal troops. To free it from the indignity he set out in March with a picked force of seven hundred men, and, on reaching Dalnaspidal on the 10th, divided them into separate detachments, assigning to each the task of capturing one of the posts of the enemy before daybreak, after which they were to rendezvous at the Bridge of Brurar, near Blair. The contrivance was attended with complete success, except in the case of Blair Inn, the party there making their escape to Blair Castle. The commander, Sir Andrew Agnew, thereupon sent out a strong force from the castle to reconnoitre, and Murray, the first at the rendezvous, accompanied with but twenty-four men, was all but surprised. His readiness of resource was, however, equal to the occasion. Placing his men at wide intervals behind a turf wall, and ordering the banners to be displayed at still wider distances, and the pipes to strike up a defiant pibroch, he so alarmed the royal soldiers that they beat a hasty retreat towards the castle. On the arrival of the different detachments of his men he proceeded to invest the castle, but when the garrison were nearly at the last extremity he was on 31 March called northwards to Inverness, owing to the approach of the Duke of Cumberland.
Murray was entirely opposed to making a stand against Cumberland at Culloden, for the simple reason that the ground, which was favourable both for cavalry and artillery, afforded no opportunity for utilising to the best advantage the highland mode of attack. He therefore advised that meanwhile a retreat should be made to the hills to await reinforcements, and when overruled in this, stipulated for a night attack as affording the only possible chance of victory. On the afternoon of 15 April 1746 the insurgents commenced their march towards the army of the duke, encamped about ten miles distant round Nairn, but their progress was so slow that Murray, who commanded the first line, took upon him during the night to discontinue the march, on finding that it would be impossible to reach the duke's camp before daylight. Convinced that it would be 'perfect madness' to attack 'what was near double their number in daylight, where they would be prepared to receive them' (Letter in Lockhart Papers, ii. 2), he advised that they should at least retire to strong ground on the other side of the water of Nairn ; but the prince reverted to his original purpose, and resolved to await the attack at Culloden. The orders issued by Murray before the battle contained the injunction that 'if any man, turn his back to run away, the next behind such man is to shoot him,' and that no quarter should be given ' to the elector's troops on any account whatsoever' (printed in Ray, History of the Rebellion, pp. 343-4). The aide-de-camp of the prince while conveying the message for the attack was shot down, and Murray, discerning the impatience of the highlanders, took upon him to issue the command. He led the right wing, and, fighting at the head of the Atholl men, broke the Duke of Cumberland's line, and captured two pieces of cannon. While advancing towards the second line he was thrown from his horse, which had become unmanageable, but ran to the rear to bring up other regiments to support the attack. So deadly, however, was the fire of the duke's forces that their second line was never reached, and in a short time the highlanders were in, full retreat.
After the battle Murray, with a number of the highland chiefs, retired to Ruthven, and Badenoch, where they had soon a force of three thousand men. On 17 April he sent a letter to the prince, in which, while regretting that the royal standard had been set up without more definite assurances of assistance from the king of France, and also 'the fatal error that had been made in the situation chosen for the battle,' he resigned his command (Hist. MSS. Comm. 12th Rep. App. pt. viii. p. 74). On learning, however, that the prince had determined to give up the contest and withdraw to France, he earnestly entreated him to remain, asserting that the highlanders 'would have made a summer's campaign without the risk of any misfortune.' As these representations failed to move the prince's resolution, Murray disbanded his forces and retired to France. According to Douglas -he arrived at Rome on 27 March 1747, where he was received with great splendour by the Pretender, who fitted up an apartment in his palace for his reception, and introduced him to the pope (Scottish Peerage, ed. Wood, i. 153). He also proposed to allow him four hundred livres per month, and endeavoured to secure for him a pension from the French court (Hist. MSS. Comm. 12th Rep. pt. viii. p. 75). There was, however, a current rumour that the prince deeply resented the terms in which he had resigned his command, and although the prince himself always professed his full approval of the manner in which Lord George had conducted himself it would appear that for some time at least he was seriously estranged from him This view is confirmed by the Chevalier's refusal to receive Lord George at Paris in July 1747 (ib. p. 74). Between December 1746 and August 1748 Murray journeyed through Germany Silesia Poland Prussia and other countries (ib. p. 75). He died at Medenblik in Holland on 2 Oct 1760 By his wife Amelia only daughter of James Murray of Glencairn and Strowan he had three sons and two daughters John third duke of Atholl James Murray of Strowan colonel of the Atholl highlanders and ultimately major general who while serving under Prince Ferdinand was wounded with a musket ball which prevented him ever afterwards lying in a recumbent position George Murray of Pitkeathly who became vice admiral of the white Amelia married first to John eighth lord Sinclair and secondly to James Farquharson of In vercauld and Charlotte who died unmarried Various letters memorandums and journals of Murray are in the archives of the Duke of Atholl A portrait by an unknown band was lent by the Duke of Atholl to the loan exhibition of national portraits (1867).
[Chevalier Johnston's Memoirs Histories of the Rebellion by Patten, Rae, Ray, Home, and Chambers; Hist. MSS. Comm 12th Rep. App. pt. viii.; Jacobite Correspondence of the Atholl Family (Bannatyne Club); Culloden Papers; Burton's Hist. of Scotland, viii. 444; Douglas's Scottish Peerage (Wood), i. 153.]