Today in history, the Battle of Prestonpans took place. Here’s a look at the real battle that was used in Outlander, both book and show.
On Sept. 21, 1745, the Battle of Prestonpans took place. You’ll know all about it from Outlander, right? It was a battle that saw the Jacobites ambush the British just before dawn, giving them the tactical advantage to win the battle.
But what happened during the real battle? Is this how things really placed out? There were some slight changes to the Outlander story, both in the book and the show. I’ve talked about them in the past, but for the most part, everything worked out as it did during the real Battle of Prestonpans.
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Something the show or book, “Dragonfly in Amber,” don’t really go into is the astounding victory that it was for the Jacobites. Sure, we know that it was a success and there were plenty of celebrations shortly after. However, those celebrations were cut short with the death of Angus in the show.
The real Battle of Prestonpans saw a roaring success for the Jacobites. As the British Army fled, only around 170 of the foot soldiers got away. About 300 were killed, 400-500 were injured, and around 1,500 were captured, according to British Battles. That’s a hell of a lot more than we saw or really read about.
What’s even more impressive is that only 30 of the Jacobites were killed and 70 were injured. It’s a sad fact, but that’s still considerably less than the British soldiers faced.
The problems for the British were due to lack of training according to beliefs now. However, Jamie does at one point make a note that the British are trained well and it’s the training that helps them. We don’t get to see what happened to the British afterward since the focus is on the Jacobites, but Lord John Cope, who led the British, was ridiculed afterward for his defeat.
It was the Battle of Prestonpans that would give the rebel Stuart followers the confidence to head deep into English territory. Unfortunately, the clans wouldn’t get along and fatigue would take over. Many would turn back, leading to the Jacobites to head back to Scotland and the eventual loss at Culloden Battlefield. Had they all stuck together and headed to London, things could have been vastly different.
What did you think of the way the show and book told the story of Prestonpans? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
Outlander Season 5 premieres on Feb. 16 on STARZ.