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On this day: Culloden

On this day was the Battle of Culloden, the final confrontation of the Jacobite rising of 1745. On 16 April 1746, the Jacobite army of Charles Edward Stuart was decisively defeated by a British government force under William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland, on Drummossie Moor near Inverness in the Scottish Highlands. It was the last pitched battle fought on British soil. There was much loss of life, primarily on the Scottish side. It is a memory that lives fresh and new in the minds of modern Scotsmen. After much political "noise," this battle eventually led to the Highland Clearances which were the evictions of a significant number of tenants in the Scottish Highlands and Islands, mostly in the period 1750 to 1860.

This eventually led my family to immigrate to Canada in the 1860s. My ancestors lived in the highlands in County Sutherland. Most people by the name of Sutherland have taken the name from the region of Scotland in which they lived.

I have been to Culloden and seen the burials mounds. I have felt the souls of the men who sleep there.

While I will leave the writing about Culloden to authors such as Diana Gabaldon, the experience of being there as a young child imprinted on me. I stood on the battlefield with ghosts all about me. Some might say the battleground is a holy place. Certainly the emotions of the men who fought and died there remain like an ever-present veil even on a sunny day. It is a place that commands respect.

This battle, and those like it (History is full of battles) may have happened to our ancestors long past. But what has influenced our ancestors influences us. May we always remember where we came from. May we always look to where we are going. May we always remember we are one people with a shared history, no matter which side our ancestors may have been on.

Today we remember Culloden.

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