Derby’s Charles Edward Stuart Society once again celebrated the Prince’s farthest reach across England at Swarkestone Bridge on the Trent. This was where the Highlander army stood in early December 1745 as their Chiefs’ heated War Council in the Library at Exeter House ended with the fateful decision to retreat to Scotland for the winter. It was here they first posed the question: What if …?
It had been the most brilliantly executed campaign since leaving Edinburgh barely 5 weeks before, coming the whole distance without need to do further battle with the Elector of Hanover’s forces after the stunning Victory at Prestonpans. By securing Swarkestone Bridge the final 120 miles to London was open across the last great natural obstacle – the River Trent.
The annual re-enactment at the bridge continues its own factitious reality some 15 years since it was first conceived: the Highlanders are surprised by a redcoat force and withdraw, returning soon after to the swirl of pipes [the Drambuies again this year] to take all the redcoats prisoner – the Prince graciously accepts their surrender as shown below. Finally wreaths are laid at the cairn, one shown from the Prestonpans Heritage Trust by its Chairman, Gordon Baron of Prestoungrange [also shown], in gratitude for all the support Derby has given to the present campaign in Prestonpans for its Living History Centre