Outlander history: Commemorating the Battle of Prestonpans

Outlander Season 2 -- Courtesy of STARZ
Outlander Season 2 -- Courtesy of STARZ /

Today marks the 275th anniversary of the Battle of Prestonpans

The Battle of Prestonpans took place on this day in history. In fact, Sept. 21, 2020 marks the 275th anniversary of the first significant success for the Jacobite army during what would become known as the ’45.

Outlander had to include the battle in the lead up to Culloden. It was a morale booster, but maybe it gave Charles a little too much false confidence and made him forget about the needs of the people fighting for him.

To commemorate the Battle of Prestonpans, we look back at how the book and show handled the event.

The downside of Dragonfly in Amber’s first-person POV

While the book does include the Battle of Prestonpans, we didn’t get a look at the actual battle. One of the downsides of the first-person POV is that we only see what Claire sees.

This did mean we saw the aftermath. We had moments of her treating patients, focusing on those she could help physically and those she would need to help into death. We also saw her grieve for fallen men, witnessing the connection she had with them, even though the book doesn’t include them all that much.

What we didn’t see was the tactics used. We only heard about what happened on the battlefield, listening to the aftermath based on the injuries Claire treated. It meant a lot about the battle was missing, encouraging many readers to do their own research into the huge success.

Showing the battle and the aftermath on the Outlander TV series

By having more allowance to do a third-person POV on the Outlander series, we did get to see the battle. We witnessed Jamie leading the men through the fog to attack at dawn. We got a look at the tactics used, and the reliance of information from a local farmer.

For a TV show, giving us the battle was necessary. We needed the action that we’d been building up to at this point. It was important to offer the intensity, not knowing if everyone would make it out alive.

After all, the show and book had changed some of the characters. Angus and Rupert were the two we looked out for, having this feeling that one of them wouldn’t make it out alive.

Sadly, one didn’t, but it wasn’t the one we expected based on the events in the battle. This episode made the Jacobite rising feel real. We grieved the loss of men and witnessed the actions of those around Claire and Jamie.

The Battle of Prestonpans is one of the Jacobite successes that you need to read more about. It’s worth taking a trip to Prestonpans to learn more about it. This was a victory for the Jacobites, but it could have led to the overconfidence from Charles, which led to the devastation that was Culloden.

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