Culloden quotes

Here are some quotes from the OUTLANDER books in honor of the anniversary of the battle of Culloden, which took place on April 16, 1746.

Major MacDonald, who fought on the English side at Culloden, sounds remarkably idealistic for a career soldier:

"And those gallant gentlemen who have flocked to our cause--and who will come to join us--bring with them both their own weapons and their courage. You, of all people, must appreciate the force of the Hieland charge!"

Jamie looked up at that, and regarded MacDonald for a long moment before replying.

"Aye, well. Ye were behind the cannon at Culloden, Donald. I was in front of them. With a sword in my hand."

(From A Breath of Snow and Ashes by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 111 ("January Twenty-First"). Copyright© 2005 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

I can't read this next quote, or even think of this, without an overwhelming sense of tragedy and impending doom.

Rations had been short when I was captured by the English a month gone; matters had plainly gone from bad to worse. The men we saw moved slowly, many of them staggering with exhaustion and starvation. But they moved stubbornly north, all the same, following their Prince's orders. Moving toward the place the Scots called Drumossie Moor. Toward Culloden.

(From Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 46 ("Timor Mortis Conturbat Me"). Copyright© 1992 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

Any soldier today who treated prisoners of war the way the English did the Highlanders at Culloden would be guilty of war crimes. Horrible.

Here and there, a small flat crack sounded on the moor. Gunshots. The coups de grace, administered by those English officers with a sense of compassion, before a tartan-clad wretch should be stacked on the pyre with his luckier fellows. When Jamie looked up, Duncan MacDonald still sat by the window, but his eyes were closed.

Next to him, Ewan Cameron crossed himself. "May we find as much mercy," he whispered.

(From Voyager by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 1 ("The Corbies' Feast"). Copyright© 1994 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

I've never been to Culloden myself, so I very much appreciate the descriptions in the books of what it looks like. (And if you haven't already seen it, take the time to read Diana's very moving account of her visit to Culloden in April 2008.)

"This is the place they call the Well of Death." Roger stopped by the small spring. Barely a foot square, it was a tiny pool of dark water, welling under a ridge of stone. "One of the Highland chieftains died here; his followers washed the blood from his face with the water from this spring. And over there are the graves of the clans."

The clan stones were large boulders of gray granite, rounded by weather and blotched with lichens. They sat on patches of smooth grass, widely scattered near the edge of the moor. Each one bore a single name, the carving so faded by weather as to be nearly illegible in some cases. MacGillivray. MacDonald. Fraser. Grant. Chisholm. MacKenzie.

(From Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 4 ("Culloden"). Copyright© 1992 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

As much as I would love to know what happened to Jamie on that fateful day, I think it's a blessing, in many ways, that he doesn't (yet?) remember.

"D'ye not recall the day, man?"

Jamie's face changed subtly, and I felt a small tremor of unease. The fact was that Jamie had almost no memory of the last day of the clans, of the slaughter that had left so many bleeding in the rain--him among them. I knew that small scenes from that day came back to him now and again in his sleep, fragments of nightmare--but whether it was from trauma, injury, or simple force of will, the Battle of Culloden was lost to him--or had been, until now. I didn't think he wanted it back.

(From The Fiery Cross by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 7 ("Shrapnel"). Copyright© 2001 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

And finally, here is the entry from the journal of Lord Melton (aka Lord John's brother, Hal) that proved that Jamie survived the battle.

I will confess that my spirit was lightened to see the man removed, still living, from the field, as I turned my own attention to the melancholy task of disposing of the bodies of his comrades. So much killing as I have seen these last two days oppresses me.

(From Voyager by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 7 ("A Faith in Documents"). Copyright© 1994 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)


Jo M said...

I still think that Culloden/Claire going through the stones/Jamie surviving the battle is one of the most moving scenes in the entire series. I cry every time I read the scene where Jamie makes Claire go back, and I don't usually cry in books! Thanks for this post.

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sarahwithbaloo said...

I visited Culloden week before last (a little early for the aniversary) it has a very strange feel to it even still like there is somthing in the air.

I did visit the Fraser stone. Others before me had placed flowers around it for the fallen.

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