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  • Rebellion and Savagery: The Jacobite Rising of 1745 and the British Empire
  • William C. Lowe
Rebellion and Savagery: The Jacobite Rising of 1745 and the British Empire. By Geoffrey Plank. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2006. ISBN 0-8122-3898-2. Map. Illustrations. Notes. Index. Pp. 259. $39.95.

Happily this is not yet another account of Charles Edward Stuart's failed attempt to retrieve his family's dynastic fortunes. Instead of a rehash of the well-traveled road that led to and from Culloden, Geoffrey Plank provides a fresh take on the rising and its aftermath by integrating the part of William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland, and his army in the suppression of Jacobitism in the Scottish Highlands into the context of the mid-eighteenth century British empire, highlighting the army's role (at least in the eyes of its leaders) as a self-conscious civilizing and modernizing agent. In support, he instances the careers of five of Cumberland's officers: William Blakeney, Humphrey Bland, John Campbell, fourth Earl of Loudon, Edward Cornwallis, and James Wolfe. After describing their often harsh efforts to suppress, punish, and reform the "savage" Highlanders, Plank follows these officers through the next decade and beyond as they held a variety of important posts in Scotland, the Mediterranean, and North America and later served in the Seven Years' War. The valuable service given by Highland troops raised in the former Jacobite heartland is seen as the ultimate proof of the success of their efforts.

The book is well-researched, making effective use of Cumberland's surviving papers at Windsor Castle and a variety of other collections in the British Isles and North America. Extensive citations to secondary sources show a solid grounding in contemporary scholarship on the rising, the army, and the empire. Overall the author is successful in bringing out a cultural dimension to the army's imperial role, manifested in its frequent contact with peoples of diverse backgrounds. The leaders depicted here displayed a clear sense of performing a civilizing mission, one that went hand-in-hand with enforcing loyalty to the Hanoverian line.

The book is more suggestive than conclusive, however. Some aspects of it could be clearer. At times the author seems to equate Highlanders, Gaelic-speakers, and Jacobites, though at others he delineates divisions in Highland society and ultimately notes that the Highland troops that later fought in North America contained few former Jacobites. The group of five officers at the heart of the book seems a somewhat artificial and ex post facto construction. At least until 1757, Cumberland's position in the army and stature in the empire was such that many officers sought his patronage and identified with his leadership. Some of the duke's protégés are missing from the narrative. In particular, George Keppel, third earl of Albemarle (known as Viscount Bury until 1754) is a curious omission. After a conspicuous role at Culloden, he went on to win fame as the army commander of the expedition that captured Havana in 1762, following the victory with a brief and controversial governorship that might have been compared with those of some of the officers featured in the book. At Cumberland's death, George III appointed Albemarle his uncle's executor and entrusted him with vetting the [End Page 498] duke's papers. Overall, though, this is a useful and stimulating work that will repay the attention of those seeking a fuller appreciation of the British army as a cultural—and acculturating—force.

William C. Lowe
Ashford University
Clinton, Iowa


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pp. 498-499
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Archive Status
Archived 2010
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