On Gladsmuir Shall the Battle Be!

The Battle of Prestonpans 1745

Arran Johnston

A study of Britain's best-documented but least studied battle, Prestonpans 1745, fought during the Jacobite Rebellion.
Publication date:
September 2017
Publisher :
Helion and Company
Series :
From Reason to Revolution
Illustration :
25 b/w ills, 13 maps
Format Available     Quantity Price
ISBN : 9781911512837

Dimensions : 234 X 156 mm
This book is temporarily out of stock.


• Detailed local knowledge combined with in-depth analysis brings the events of this battle to life with unprecedented clarity, shining a light on how a well-documented battle can be tracked in close detail in the landscape today
• A focus on the communities in which the battle was fought, how the urban and natural landscape affected the battle, and in turn how the battle affected local lives
• The battle as viewed through the eyes of its participants, piecing together the sequence of events through eye-witness testimony, to build a detailed understanding of morale factors and the movement of both units and individuals
• A summary of the previously overlooked careers and relationships of key individuals involved, revealing the impact of the battle on their lives

In the summer of 1745, a charismatic (but inexperienced) young Prince sailed to Scotland - determined to wrest the crowns of Great Britain from the head of George II. In a few short weeks, he raised an army large enough to challenge the government's forces in Scotland and, against the odds, stormed to a shocking victory over them at the Battle of Prestonpans. Celebrated ever since in song and art, Prestonpans nevertheless proved to be a false dawn on the road to defeat at the Battle of Culloden seven months later, but without his victory at Prestonpans and all the opportunities it provided, Charles Edward Stuart ('Bonnie Prince Charlie') could never have invaded England and his short uprising would then have been but a footnote in the history of Georgian Britain.

This book - the climax of years of on-site investigation and source analysis - pieces together the events of the Prestonpans campaign in unprecedented detail. Focusing on the week of the battle, the author's knowledge of the towns and villages through which the armies marched brings their motions vividly to life. Combined with eyewitness testimonies and close scrutiny of the evidence presented to the Board of Inquiry in 1746, this allows the reader to understand the build-up to the battle from an individual, as well as strategic, level. Such an understanding is revealed as critical, as the effects of morale, landscape and personality are shown to have determined the fate of the battle far more than the relative power of broadsword and bayonet.

The book opens with an exploration of the battlefield area prior to the Rising, before analysing the political and military strengths and weaknesses of the opposing causes; this includes rarely-provided information on the career of Sir John Cope. After following the opening campaign in the Highlands, the reader is then taken on a detailed day-by-day journey through the week leading to the battle. The account of the engagement itself - driven by eyewitness testimony and contemporary evidence - also incorporates the latest archaeological analysis of the site to create the most detailed and engaging presentation yet of this famous and dramatic event. Its aftermath and legacy, both on a local and national level, is then considered before the book concludes with a look at the changes which have occurred across the battlefield landscape up to the present day.

This is a study of one of Britain's best-documented, but least analysed, battles - seen from within the landscape and communities around which it was fought. No longer should the two days of events which make up the Battle of Prestonpans be viewed simply as the prologue to a future defeat; instead, they are presented as they were understood at the time: as the climax of a month-long campaign which, it seemed, would determine the fate of Scotland.


An amazing and vivid account of the Battle of Prestonpans in 1745.
Books Monthly

Even if the Jacobite wars are not your main interest, you will enjoy this book as a good example of modern military historical writing; if you are at all interested in the 'Forty-five' it should definitely be on your shelves.
Miniature Wargames - Arthur Harman

Included in MHM's round-up of the best military history titles for February 2018.
Military History Monthly

This is a very readable book and Arran writes in a style that engages the reader in the trajic story of the doomed Jacobite rebellion. The amount of research that has gone inot this book shows. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and highly recommend it to anyone who wants to learn more about the Jacobite rising.
Battlefield Magazine