Battle of Tippermuir ~ 1 September 1644

Battle of Tippermuir 1644

The Royalist Side

James Lord Graham, 1st Marquess of Montrose, 5th Earl of Kincardine, Baron of Montdieu (1612-1650): James Graham was born into a prominent Lowland family and became Earl in 1626 at only fourteen years of age. His early life was defined by his time at St. Andrew’s University, an early marriage (at age seventeen) and his three-year grand tour of the continent. He returned to Scotland in 1636 to deal with his affairs. By 1637, he was in the opposition camp to the King and on 28 February 1638 was one of four noblemen who drew up and signed the National Covenant. That same year he took and held Aberdeen for the Covenanters. When the Civil War broke out in 1639, Montrose was appointed Colonel of the Perthshire and Forfarshire Levies. Despite his strong Presbyterianism, Montrose subsequent support for the King was dictated by his politics. Although he had signed the Covenant, he became convinced that his position and the Scotland he desired required a strong King to counter the political and socio-economic changes that were taking place in Scotland – his was a desire for a constitutional monarchy and a religious freedom. To this end, his disquiet with the Covenant and many of its supporters can be dated from 1639. Nevertheless, he was the first to cross the Tweed during the attack against England. Secret meetings with Argyll and other political activity led to a five month prison sentence at Edinburgh Castle. After this Montrose gave his support to Charles I despite the King’s Episcopalian outlook. A failed attempt at a Scottish campaign preceded the six great victories of 1644-45 which placed his name firmly in the annals of military history. Charles I elevated Montrose to the position of Marquess and appointed him Lieutenant Governor of Scotland and Lieutenant General of the Royalist Army in Scotland. After the defeat of the Royalist Army at Marston Moor, Montrose travelled in disguise to Scotland accompanied by two officers (Lord Rollo and William Sibbald) with the aim of extending the scope of the civil war onto Scottish soil. He spent some time hiding in Methven Wood by Perth before meeting up with Alasdair MacColla‘s Irish Brigade at Blair Atholl (the home of the Stewarts of Atholl). Originally, a commander of Covenanter forces in the First Bishops’ War, Montrose led the Royalist forces at the Battle of Tippermuir. During the Battle of Tippermuir, he positioned himself on and commanded the Royalist Army’s right. Montrose was hanged on 21 May 1650 after the failure of a fresh invasion of Scotland. Quartered, his remains were dispatched to four the airts of Scotland, including Perth to be reassembled eleven years later and buried at St. Giles in Edinburgh. A monument to him was raised there in 1888.

Alasdair MacColla McDonnell (d. 1648): This son of Coll Ciotach MacGillespic McDonnell of Colonsay in the Western Isles the leader of the McDonnell Clan (Clan Randal South), shared the nickname of his adventurer father, Coll Ciotach (Colkitto) meaning a coll who can fight left-handed. Prior to campaigning in Scotland, MacColla an exile from the Hebrides lived in Ballypatrick, Cullfeightrim in County Antrim. His early life having been spent on Colonsay. During the Irish rebellion, MacColla had fought for both sides and was an experienced military officer who is credited with the development of the Irish Charge – what became the Highland Charge and was used to devastating effect at Tippermuir. MacColla had employed the Irish Charge very effectively at the Battle of Laney on 11 February 1644. He led a small campaign in the Western Isles in 1643-44, which gave him some understanding of what a larger expedition to Scotland might expect. Previously holding the rank of Major General, MacColla was sent to Scotland to command the mercenary army recruited by Randal I McDonnell, 2nd Earl and 1st Marquis of Antrim, determined not only to work with the Royalists in their cause but also to seek a reckoning with Clan Campbell. Commissioned a Lieutenant Colonel for Tippermuir he has been sited in many books, as the real mastermind behind Montrose’s 1644-45 campaign in Scotland. He came to Scotland under the support of the Confederates, Lord Ormonde and Randal McDonnell with the mercenary force of Irish troops with whom he landed on the west of Scotland. Lord Ormonde funded the military expedition and provided the transportation, Lord Antrim recruited the troops and the Catholic Confederacy of Kilkenny delivered up two thousand muskets, two thousand four hundred weight of powder, and supplies of match for the muskets and two hundred barrels of oatmeal. The motivation for providing this force was directly linked to the Civil War; an attempt to destroy the Edinburgh-Campbell alliance, to drive the Scots Covenanter Army of Argyll out of Ulster, support the Royalists in the west of Scotland but was also associated with Antrim’s personal desire to attack the Campbell clan who were part of a Scottish army of occupation on his Irish estates and who denied him his patrimonial lands in the Western Isles, Kintyre and Islay. More troops would have been sent but for problems providing enough arms. Nevertheless, the story of the following year is defined by the quality of these troops and not their number. MacColla commanded the centre at Tippermuir, his Irish regiments being the largest component of the Royalist Army. He is oft described as a giant of a man (estimates vary from six foot five to seven foot two) and his reputation was indeed of heroic proportion.

John Lord Graham, Lord Kilpont: The third Royalist commander at Tippermuir, Lord Kilpont as a Colonel controlled the Royalist Left, which consisted of his own Perthshire Levies and the MacDonalds of Keppoch. He was the eldest son of William Graham the Earl of Airth and Mentieth. Initially a Covenanter Lord Kilpont had been a member of the Perthshire Committee of War.

Thomas Laghtnan (d. 1645): As an officer with the rank of Major (later Colonel), Thomas Laghtnan of Connaught led Lieutenant General Alexander McDonnell’s regiment of Irish soldiers that fought at Tippermuir – Alexander McDonnell was not present at Tippermuir and his second-in-command, Lieutenant Colonel John McDonnell was ill. After the Royalist defeat at Philphaugh, Thomas Laghtnan was hanged.

James McDonnell: A second regiment of Irish troops was under the command of Colonel James McDonnell.

Manus O’Cahan (d. 1645): Colonel Manus O’Cahan (son of Giladuff O’Cahan of Dunseverick) who was also MacColla’s second-in-command led the third regiment of Irish mercenaries. It is believed that he may not have been present at Tippermuir – having been sent with dispatches to Lord Ormonde – and his regiment may consequently have been under the direction of his second-in-command, Lieutenant Colonel Donoghue O’Cahan. O’Cahan’s Regiment consisted of veteran troops of very high calibre that had served as part of Owen Roe O’Neill’s Northern Army of the Irish Confederation in early 1644. Manus O’Cahan was hanged alongside other officers captured at Philiphaugh despite the offer of quarter.

Patrick Graham of Inchbrackie: Known as Black Pate because of being facially disfigured by a gunpowder explosion, young Inchbrackie a close supporter of Montrose and Charles I, raised a small regiment of Highlanders from the Atholl area that fought at Tippermuir – Perthshire Levies. He was a cousin of the Marquis of Montrose and was married to Jean Drummond. Inchbrackie was also uncle to the Robertson chief, the 12th of Struan. He held the rank of Colonel at Tippermuir.

David, Lord Drummond, Master of Madderty (later in 1662, he became 3rd Lord Madderty): David Drummond the eldest son of John, 2nd Lord Madderty (himself a supporter of Montrose) was married to Montrose’s sister Lady Beatrix Graham. The Madderty estates were close to Perth, south of Buchanty and close to Methven Woods. As official herald (envoy) at the Battle of Tippermuir David Drummond rode one of only three horses which were in Montrose’s possession. He assisted in the raising of Lord Kilpont’s Regiment.

Sir John Drummond Knight of Logiealmond (d. 1678): John Drummond the fourth son of John, second Earl of Perth served within and helped raise Lord Kilpont’s contingent. He obtained the lands of Burnbank in Mentieth and those at Logielamond, choosing the latter as his designation.

William, Lord Rollo (Sir James Rollok of Duncrub): One of two men that accompanied Montrose as he travelled in disguise to Scotland to raise forces for the Royalist cause. He was later knighted after the Battle of Aberdeen. Montrose at Perth gave him his commission as a Lieutenant Colonel on 4 May 1639.

William Sibbald: When Montrose came to Scotland, he did so with Lord Rollo and Lieutenant Colonel William Sibbald.

Captain Dickson: Another English officer, he probably commanded a company of soldiers.

Henry Stewart: Eldest son of James Stewart of Ardvoirlich was wounded at Tippermuir and subsequently died because of these wounds.

James Stewart of Ardvoirlich: Ardvoirlich was amongst the first in Scotland to declare for Montrose and the King at the start of this campaign. He is alleged to have been responsible for bringing Lord Kilpont into the Royalist Army and served the latter as second-in-command at Tippermuir. Shortly after the battle, Ardvoirlich stabbed and killed his intimate friend Lord Kilpont. Fleeing after the murder, he joined the Covenanter Army. The cause of the quarrel that led to the murder is a matter of speculation, with opinion varying from Ardvoirlich’s dissatisfaction with the behaviour of the Irish troops on his land and Kilpont’s failure to back him up when his complaint was made to Montrose, through to allegations that the argument was that of two lovers falling out. Most books simply say that the murder related to an old family feud but given that these two men shared a tent and were close friends this version of events seems implausible.

Donald Robertson: Donald Robertson, the Tutor of Struan was responsible for the Robertson (Clan Donnachaidh) contingent within Inchbrackie’s Regiment; he held the rank of Captain.

Ewan Og MacPherson of Cluny: This member of the MacPherson clan was most likely in command of the Badenoch Battalion. He was the son of MacPherson of Cluny. MacColla obtained this battalion of soldiers from Badenoch by duress having seized the chiefs of the region.

James Muschat: It is not clear what role James Muschat played in the Royalist force but he is recorded as being present at the battle.

Irish Brigade: Three Irish infantry regiments (frequently described as Redshanks) with an excellent esprit de corps under MacColla fought at Tippermuir, Major Thomas Laghtnan’s Regiment (originally Lieutenant General Alexander McDonnell’s regiment) of 700 men, Colonel James McDonnell’s Regiment of 400 men and Colonel Manus O’Cahan’s Regiment of 400 men. They comprised the centre of the Royalist Army at Tippermuir. As a mercenary force the Irish Brigade although formally arranged in regiments was in fact composed of distinct companies of diverse nature. MacColla’s Lifeguard consisted not of Irishmen but rather three (possibly four) companies of Hebridean Scots. The other companies were predominantly Irish men from the province of Ulster, and a number of troops were Anglo-Irish Catholics from the Pale. Roughly two-thirds of the brigade were Irish and the remainder Highland Scots, Lowland Scots and English or of English origin. The three regiments were officered by very professional men from many parts of Ireland, mainly Antrim and Derry, but including Connaught and Dublin. Some had experience of the European wars, the Irish Uprising and a few had been in the Spanish Army of Flanders. Of the 73 officers listed by the Earl of Antrim as part of the Irish Brigade that left Waterford on 27 June 1644, 54 of them were Irish in origin. Accompanying the Irish regiments were many wives and children of the soldiers. All three regiments took a priest with them on the expedition. These mercenaries were armed with swords, target (this shield was also known as a buckler and consisted of a small circular wooden base covered in leather and studded with nails), dirk, muskets and short pikes. It is likely that the Irish marched under banners with similar slogan to that below:

“May God arise and his enemies be scattered”

Lieutenant General Alexander McDonnell’s (Major Thomas Laghtnan‘s) Regiment of Foot:
Regiment Structure upon leaving Ireland – Sixteen Companies of 1030 men plus officers.
1. Lieutenant General Alexander McDonnell’s Own Company – 100 men and officered by Captain, Lieutenant, Ensign and Sergeant – unknown.
2. Lieutenant Colonel John McDonnell’s Company – 100 men and officered by Lieutenant, Ensign and Sergeant – unknown.
3. Sergeant Major Thomas Laghtnan’s Company – 100 men and officered by Lieutenant, Ensign and Sergeant – unknown.
4. Alexander MacColla’s Company – 100 men and officered by Lieutenant – John Hamilton, Ensign and Sergeants – unknown.
5. James McDonnell’s Company – 50 men and officered by Lieutenant, Ensign and Sergeant – unknown.
6. Captain Henry MacHenry’s Company – 50 men and officered by Lieutenant – Congher MacHenry, Ensign – Patricke MacHenry and Sergeants – Richard MacHenry and Shane Roe MacHugh.
7. Captain Patricke MacHenry’s Company – 50 men and officered by Lieutenant, Ensign and Sergeant – unknown.
8. Captain Randal MacColla MacRandal McDonnell’s Company – 50 men and officered by Lieutenant, Ensign and Sergeant – unknown.
9. Captain Evar MacQuillan’s Company – 50 men and officered by Lieutenant, Ensign and Sergeant – unknown.
10. Captain Garrett MacQuillan’s Company – 50 men and officered by Lieutenant, Ensign and Sergeant – unknown.
11. Captain Donnell Crome MacAlster’s Company – 50 men and officered by Lieutenant – Huiston MacDaniell, Ensign and Sergeant – unknown.
12. Captain William O’Shiel’s Company – 50 men and officered by Lieutenant, Ensign and Sergeant – unknown.
13. Captain John Reli’s Company – 50 men and officered by Lieutenant, Ensign and Sergeant – unknown.
14. Captain Donnagh O’Cahan’s Company – 50 men and officered by Lieutenant, Ensign and Sergeant – unknown.
15. Captain Manus O’Cahan’s Company – 50 men and officered by Lieutenant, Ensign and Sergeant – unknown.
16. Captain Cormucke Oge O’Hara’s Company – 50 men and officered by Lieutenant, Ensign and Sergeant – unknown.
Notes: Captain Henry MacHenry was Colonel Manus O’Cahan’s brother-in-law and is known to have survived the Civil War. Alexander McDonnell was the brother of the Earl of Antrim

Colonel James McDonnell’s Regiment of Foot:
Regiment Structure upon leaving Ireland – Six Companies of 500 men plus officers.
1. Colonel James McDonnell’s Own Company – 100 men and officered by, Lieutenant – Sorly McDonnell, Ensign – John McHeaghin, Sergeants – William MacKeon and Hugh O’Kealte.
2. Lieutenant Colonel Jo. McDonnell’s Company – 100 men and officered by, Lieutenant – Arte Carragh O’Guilluire, Ensign – Donnagh O’Guilluire, and Sergeant – Donnagh McGilhany.
3. Sergeant Major Swyne’s Company – 100 men and officered by Lieutenant, Ensign and Sergeant – unknown.
4. Captain Twole O’Hara’s Company – 100 men and officered by Lieutenant – James O’Hara, Ensign – Bryne O’Hara and Sergeants – Manus O’Hara and Christopher Sherlogge.
5. Captain Hugh O’Neal’s Company – 50 men and officered by Lieutenant – Daniell O’Neal, Ensign – Laghlan MacKeon, Sergeants – Eivar O’Mullan and Henry O’Mulchallin.
6. Captain John MacCleane’s Company – 50 men and officered by Lieutenant, Ensign and Sergeant – unknown.

Colonel Manus O’Cahan’s Regiment of Foot: 
Regiment Structure upon leaving Ireland – Six Companies of 500 men plus officers.
1. Colonel Manus O’Cahan’s Own Company – 100 men and officered by, Lieutenant – Cnogher O‘Cahan, Ancient# – Dualtagh MacDuffy, Sergeants – Owen O’Cognoghor and Hugh MacCormacke.
2. Lieutenant Colonel Donoghue O’Cahan’s Company – 100 men and officered by, Lieutenant – Shane O‘Cahan, Ancient – John Cooper, and Sergeants – Bryan Oge MacCormacke and William Oge MacCormacke.
3. Sergeant Major Ledwitch’s Company – 100 men and officered by Lieutenant – James Dease, Ancient – Bartholomew Newgent and Sergeants – Tohill Moddirrt MacIllrey and John That.
4. Captain Art O’Neale’s Company – 100 men and officered by Lieutenant – Con O‘Neale, Ancient – Bryen O’Neale and Sergeants – Hugh Oge Lavery and Hary O‘Muldownie.
5. Captain John Mortimer’s Company – 50 men and officered by Lieutenant – Patricke O‘Mallen, Ancient – Phelim O‘Donnelly, Sergeants – Daniel MacDuffy and James O‘Mulhollan.
6. Captain Rowry Duffe O’Cahan’s Company – 50 men and officered by Lieutenant – John MacGuyer, Ancient – Donnagh O’Cahan and Sergeants – Edward Kelly and Terlagh MacCanna.
Notes: Sergeant Major Ledwitch‘s Company were Palesmen that came from the Devlin area of Meath and West Meath. Captain John Mortimer and John Cooper are likely to have been Lowland Scots. James Dease and Bartholomew Newgent were probably of English extraction.

Perthshire Levies: Patrick Graham’s Regiment of 500 Athollmen men was raised and commanded by Patrick Graham of Inchbrackie. They came from the Atholl estates and were in the main Stewarts, Robertsons, Camerons and Murrays. One of these men, Alexander Robertson was later given a pension by Charles II in recognition of his services. The Robertsons carried a standard at the point of which was a small stone known as the Clan-Nan-Brattich that made them invincible in battle. This regiment is considered the best of the Highland troops that fought with Montrose. They were generally less well armed than the other troops in the Royalist Army.

Badenoch Battalion: A force of 500 men under Ewan Og MacPherson that were forcibly levied in the Badenoch region. Ewan Og MacPherson himself provided three hundred of these troops. They were probably armed with pikes and muskets.

Lord Kilpont’s Perthshire Levies: Lord Kilpont’s retinue was mainly recruited from West Perthshire and Montieth and comprised some 500 troops. In fact these were troops were levied to become part of the government force assembling at Perth but were brought over to the Royalist side at the Hill of Buchanty. Many of these men were Robertsons of Struan. They were placed on the Loyalist left wing.

MacDonald’s of Keppoch: A small force of just 100 irregulars that were likely to have been armed with yew bows. These were not as well armed as the Irish regiments, some had claymores, long clubs or pikes – possibly Lochaber axes, also known as the tuagh this weapon consisted of pike, hook and blade and as such was very useful against cavalry. James Mackintosh of Strone possibly led them. They were placed on the Royalist Left wing.

Additional Notes on the Royalist Forces: Altogether Montrose brought to Tippermuir an estimated 3100 men, all of whom were infantry soldiers and many of whom were experienced professional soldiers. The core of the Royalist Army was the Irish regiments. These 1500 troops were well trained, highly motivated and officered by professionals. The Scottish troops under the Royalist Banner were of lesser quality and may not have been as well equipped as the Irish regiments. Within the Scottish units were found Appin Stewarts, Camerons, Farquharsons, Gordons, MacDonalds, MacKinnors, Macleans, Macnabs and Macphersons. Some of the Irish Brigade would undoubtedly have Half-Pikes. There may have been a few soldiers armed with broadswords within the Royalist Army.

The Covenanter Side

David, Lord Elcho (David Wemyss): Colonel and overall commander of the Government (Covenanter) Army at Tippermuir. Not really a soldier he took control of a regiment of cavalry on the Covenanter right wing. Wemyss was Lord Elcho from 1633-1649, and then the Earl of Wemyss from 1649-1679.

James, Lord Murray of Gask, 2nd Earl of Tullibardine: The centre of the Covenanter Army consisted of infantry regiments under the direction of Colonel James Murray, who became the Earl of Tullibardine on 5 September 1644. He had commanded the Perthshire Regiment at the siege of Newcastle in 1644.

Sir James Scott of Rossie (Rosyth): This colonel and veteran soldier commanded a cavalry regiment on the Covenanter Army’s left wing. He had served as a mercenary in the Venetian Army in that Republic’s war with Germany. James Scott served as the Commissioner for Clackmannanshire at the Convention of the Estates. He was also a member of the Shire’s Committee of War and of the Committee of the North. In August, he received his commission in the Covenanter Army.

James, Lord Drummond: During the First Bishop’s War of 1639, James Drummond raised a force of soldiers from his family’s Perthshire estates and served with Montrose. He was the eldest son of the Earl of Perth and later became the 3rd Earl of that county. At Tippermuir, he held the rank of Colonel and commanded the Forlorn Hope sent out by Lord Elcho at the very start of the battle. Just a few days after the disaster at Tippermuir, Lord John Drummond went over to the Royalist side.

Charles Arnott: This Lieutenant Colonel assisted Lord Echo in his command of the Covenanter Army’s right wing at Tippermuir.

David Grant: This officer with the rank of Captain commanded the small force of soldiers from the Burgh of Perth – the Perth Militia. This unit was most likely a company of musketeers. Captain Grant was killed during the battle and the majority of his unit fled away from the town.

Laird of Rires: This young landowner from Fife was killed whilst with the Forlorn Hope.

Patrick Oliphant of Bachilton: The youngest son of Bachilton was killed at Tippermuir. His family owned Pitheavlis Castle.

Alexander Ramsay: Killed at Tippermuir.

John Duff: Killed at Tippermuir.

George Haliburton Of Culross: Killed at Tippermuir.

Oliphant of Gask: A few days after the battle, Oliphant of Gask deserted and joined Montrose.

Glovers Incorporation: Fourteen Glovers marched out to the battle under the banner of their Incorporation and as part of the Perth Militia captained by David Grant. These fourteen were Thomas Dundee, Alexander Kinnaird, Alexander Nairne, George Auchenlick, William Gell, James Masone, Henry Paul, Alexander Hutton, Patrick Inglis, Andrew Mortimer, Robert Lamb, Ensign Andrew Anderson and Lieutenant Alexander Drummond.

Earl of Tullibardine’s Regiment: This regiment of regular but untried soldiers consisted of between 600 and 800 men raised in April during the Earl of Huntly‘s rising.

Lord Elcho’s Regiment: This second regiment of regular but untried soldiers was about 800 strong. These men came from Angus and Fife (the Burghs of St. Andrews, Cupar and Kirkcaldy). Most books on the battle describe Lord Elcho leading Lord Balfour of Burleigh’s Regiment at Tippermuir whilst Lord Balfour was himself at Aberdeen with Elcho’s men; the reason for this is unknown.

Levies: Two units of levies (conscript troops) served at Tippermuir. The first a group raised in Forfarshire and Dundee of 600 to 800 men and the second the local militia (trained band) from Perth. This latter formation was no more than 200 men within a company of musketeers. It was most likely made up of farmers, artisans and tradesmen from the Burgh and so was of questionable military value. Levied forces tended to wear their own clothes but with the addition of a blue bonnet or blue ribbon for identification.

Sir James Scott’s Cavalry Regiment: If the two cavalry regiments were equally split then this one consisted of about 200-300 troops – all told some 400-600 cavalry were present at Tippermuir for the Covenanter Army. These forces were raised in Clackmannanshire and Fife; they are considered a professional cavalry unit.

Lord Elcho’s Cavalry Regiment: If the two cavalry regiments were equally split then this one consisted of about 200-300 troops – all told some 400-600 cavalry were present at Tippermuir for the Covenanter Army. These forces were raised in Clackmannanshire and Fife; they are considered a professional cavalry unit.

Artillery: Historical sources conflict over the number of artillery pieces present at Tippermuir. They were placed in front of the Covenanter Army line supported by a small group of skirmishers. The figure for cannon varies between two and nine; these guns most likely fired 3lb or 5lb shot. Whatever the real number the guns played no effective role in the battle and were capture by Montrose’s men very early in the fight.

Additional Notes on the Covenanter Forces: Largely the Covenanter Army was formed at a national and regional level. Committees of War and Committees of Shires responded to the instructions of the government and set levy numbers, organised regiments and appointed officers. Typically, at this stage of the Civil War, Colonels, Captains and Lieutenants owed their commissions to status rather than military experience but Lieutenant Colonels, Majors, Ensigns and Sergeants were often professional soldiers. Local landowners who supported the Covenant established some irregular units. The Covenanter Army as a whole was made up of conscripts between the ages of 16 and 60 and generally consisted of pike-men and musketeers armed with matchlocks – the most likely have orientation of which would have been the pike-men on the wings and the musketeers in the centre. The army sent to invade England earlier in 1644 were the best Scottish troops available, consequently the units that fought at Tippermuir were second rate at best and very few had any real combat experience. The Covenanter Army at Tippermuir employed several banners and slogans, including:

“Jesus and No Quarter”
“For Religion, County, Crown and Kingdom”

The backbone of the Covenanter Army was the infantry regiments, each of which was officered by a Colonel, Lieutenant Colonel, Major, Scribe, Quartermaster, Drum Major, Surgeon, Provost Marshall and a Chaplain appointed temporarily by the Kirk. Each foot company had a Captain (a Captain Lieutenant in a Colonel’s company) who might also have held the rank of Major or Lieutenant Colonel, plus a Lieutenant, Ensign, two Sergeants and two Corporals. Each regiment had drummers and pipers and company strength was around 90-120 strong. The horse regiments had similar staff compliments but with the possible addition of a Trumpet Major. A Horse Troop’s officer corps consisted of a Routmaster, Lieutenant, Cornet, Quartermaster and 3 Corporals. Typical troop strength lay between 54-67.

The Perthshire Regiment (which was raised as part of the Army of the Solemn League and Covenant) commanded by Lord Murray of Gask had the following officers in February 1644 and some of these men might have been at Tippermuir:

Lieutenant Colonel – Lachlan Roffe
Major – Duncan Campbell
Captains – Mungo Haldane, William Murray, John Fleming, Alexander Campbell, Thomas Stewart and John Drummond
Lieutenants – Andrew Crawford, John Paterson and Andrew Drummond
Quartermaster – John Drummond Stalker
Ensign – Hugh Murray
Chaplain – Archibald Reid, David Drummond, Colin Campbell, Robert Campbell and James Graham
Surgeon – David Murray

A Selected Countdown of Events Preceding the Battle of Tippermuir:

1638: National Covenant Written and signed at Greyfriar‘s Kirk in Edinburgh..
1639-1640: First Stage of the Civil War – The Bishop‘s Wars.
20 August 1640: Montrose crosses the Tweed at the head of his regiment.
October 1641: Start of the Irish Rebellion.
1641-1646: Second Stage of the Civil War.
1643: Solemn League and Covenant signed between Scottish Covenanters and English Parliamentarians.
1644: Start of Montrose’s Campaign in Scotland.
1645: Montrose defeated at Philiphaugh.
1646: Charles I surrenders to the Scots Army at Newark in England.
1647: Moderate Covenanters and Charles I engage in discussions.
1648: Third Stage of the Civil War.
1648: Defeat of Hamilton at the Battle of Preston.
1649-54: Final Stage of the Civil War.
1649: Charles I executed.
1649: Montrose invades Scotland on behalf of Charles II; defeated at Carbisdale he is executed.
1651: Charles II crowned at Scone.


1 January: The Army of the Solemn League and Covenant assembles at Harlaw. Charles I through the Earl of Antrim seeks help from the Irish Confederates.
19 January: The Scottish Army of the Solemn League and Covenant under the Earl of Leven attacks Royalist England. It comprised 18,000 infantry, 3000 horse and almost 600 dragoons.
25 January: A Royalist Army is defeated at the Battle of Nantwich.
1 February: Montrose is commissioned Lieutenant Governor of Scotland.
29 February-21 March: Parliamentary forces lay siege to Newark until Royalist troops lift it on 21 March.
6 March 1644: Montrose becomes the 1st Marquess of Montrose.
19 March: The Marquis of Huntly leads a Royalist rebellion in the north-east of Scotland and takes Aberdeen.
24 March: Representatives from the Irish Confederacy arrive to negotiate with the King.
29 March: Battle of Cheriton sees Royalist Army defeated.
13 April: A Royalist Army consisting of English troops and Scottish mercenaries under the Marquis of Montrose marches from Carlisle into south-west Scotland (along Deeside).
15 April: Montrose and Viscount Aboyne capture Dumfries.
17 April-1 July: The Duke of Argyll operates against Royalist forces in north-east Scotland.
20 April: Montrose’s Royalist Army is forced to flee an army under the Earl of Callendar.
21 April: The town of Montrose is captured by Huntly.
22 April-2 July: Siege of York.
29 April-1 May: Huntly is forced to abandon Aberdeen and disband his regiments.
April-May: Irish troops forced to abandon the Western isles.
May-June: At the head of the Royalist Army, Montrose takes Morpeth Castle (29 May), Lumley Castle, South Shields Fort, Stockton and Hartlepool. Sunderland is attacked on 22 May but without success.
26 May: Montrose is ordered south by Prince Rupert.
23 June: Parliamentary forces capture Oswestry in Shropshire.
24 June: MacColla and his Irish regiments attempt to cross over to Scotland but bad weather forces them back.
27 June: MacColla and his Irish regiments leave from Passage and Ballahack in County Waterford aboard three ships (two Flemish and one Irish) escorted by an Irish frigate, the Harp.
29 June: Royalist victory at the Battle of Cropedy Bridge (Oxfordshire).
2 July: Prince Rupert suffers the significant defeat of Marston Moor – the greatest battle of this stage of the Civil War.
4 July: MacColla’s brigade sets anchor off the coast of Islay but fails to enlist the support of local clans.
6 July: Montrose approaches Prince Rupert who refuses his request for a thousand men for a campaign in Scotland.
7 July: Manus O’Cahan’s regiment lands at Morven and attacks Kinlochaline Castle, which surrenders quickly and is garrisoned.
8 July: The main contingent of the Irish Brigade lands at Ardnamurchan on the west of Scotland.
10 July – August: MacColla captures and garrisons the Duke of Argyll’s castle at Mingarry on the Ardnamurchan peninsula (14 July). From there, his forces march on to Inverlachy burning and ravaging the countryside as they go. He visits Ardgour, Kintail, Glen Elg, camps on the estates of the Earl of Seaforth and marches onto Glen Shiel, Glen Morriston, and Kilcumen and into the upper Speyside. Despite his efforts, Clan chiefs in the Hebrides and West Highlands still refuse to join MacColla’s campaign – emissaries sent to Sir James MacDonald of Sleat and the Earl of Seaforth come back without troops. Only in and around Badenoch does MacColla manage to increase the size of his army with 500 levies, but requires coercion to do so – on 22 August at Ballachroan near Kingussie, Montrose makes prisoners of the local leaders until they agree to supply him with soldiers for the King‘s cause. MacDonald of Keppoch brings a hundred of his men into MacColla’s force. During this time, Covenanter armies begin to encircle and close in on the Irish and their new allies. MacColla by necessity marches south to Blair Atholl.
16 July: Fall of York.
21 July-3 August: The Royalist Army achieves success at Lostwithiel.
22 July-2 September: Duke of Argyll leads his forces in the Western Isles.
9 August: Covenanter forces abandon Blair Atholl.
18 August: Montrose sends his troops south to join those of Clavering and sets out for Scotland accompanied by William Rollo and Colonel Sibbald; he disguises himself as a groom.
22 August: Montrose meets up with Patrick Graham of Inchbrackie at Tullibelton. Montrose spends some time hiding in Methven Woods and is reminded that Wallace was there too.
25 August: The Committee of Estates decrees that all fencible# men be levied and appoints Lord Murray of Gask as Colonel.
28 July-22 October: Siege of Newcastle, which results in its fall.
2-10 August: Parliamentary forces lay siege to Sheffield Castle.
26 August: Parliamentary forces take Wingfield Manor.
28 August: The Scottish Government issues orders for its forces to mass at Perth to oppose the Royalist Army.
29 August: At Atholl troops that are being organised to oppose Montrose are on the verge of attacking the Irish Brigade when Montrose arrives having travelled with Inchbrackie through the Pass of Killiekrankie and onto Lude just outside Blair Atholl. The Royal Standard (a Scarlet Lion) is raised on a knoll above the River Tilt. The Royalist Army now formed travels south and then turns west along Cochil Glen and the Sma’ Glen. On the way, they encounter a sizeable force at Buchanty Hill under Lord Kilpont and Sir John Drummond that has been assigned to join the Covenanter Army at Perth – this force agrees to come under the Royal Standard. The Royalist Army travels over the hills to Loch Tummel and onto Weem where after Menzies of Weem refuses to help they burn the village and surrounding countryside. After an unsuccessful attack on Castle Menzies, the army having dealt with the opposition of the Menzies makes its way to Perth via Aberfeldy.
31 August: The Covenanter Army marches out of Perth and camps on the south of the parish of Tippermuir. Montrose’s forces cross the Tay and continue onto Glenalmond; camp is made at Moor of Fowlis.
1 September: Battle of Tippermuir takes place just outside Perth at mid-day. A Covenanter Army under Lord Elcho is thoroughly defeated and Perth is captured.


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The Background to the Civil War

“The English revolution of 1640-60 was a great social movement like the French Revolution of 1789. The state power protecting an old power that was essentially feudal was violently overthrown, power passed into the hands of a new class, and so the freer development of capitalism was made possible. The Civil War was a class war, in which the despotism of Charles I was defended by the reactionary forces of the established Church and conservative landlords. Parliament beat the King because it could appeal to the enthusiastic support of the trading and industrial classes in town and countryside, to the yeomen and progressive gentry, and to the wider masses and the population whenever they were able by free discussion to understand what the struggle was really about.”

“The English Revolution of 1640, like the French Revolution of 1789, was a struggle for political economic, and religious power, waged by the middle class, the bourgeoisie, which grew in wealth and strength as capitalism developed.”

“The Church then defended the existing order, and it was important for the Government to maintain its control over this publicity and propaganda agency. For the same reason, those who wanted to overthrow the feudal state had to attack and seize control of the Church.”

“What men were fighting about was the whole nature and future development of English society.”
“A struggle over property.”

“As the Stuart monarchy became less useful to the bourgeoisie so it became more indispensable to the aristocracy and courtiers, their only guarantee of economic survival. That is why they were to fight for it so desperately in the Civil War.”

“The King was himself the greatest of feudal landlords and, though he was in a better position than others to get a rake off from the new capitalist wealth, he was opposed no less then any other landowner of a fundamental change from feudal to capitalist order of society.”

“Such were the difficulties the bourgeoisie experienced even at the beginning of its career; it needed the people yet feared them, and wanted to keep the monarchy as a check against democracy – if only Chatles I would act as they wanted him to, as Charles II, by and large, later did.”

The Scottish Scenario

“Scotland was a much more backward country than England economically, but politically the gentry had thrown off the control of Church, Crown and big aristocracy. Charles I wanted to reverse this achievement, His attempt to extend royal control over the Church of Scotland, and his threat to return Church lands there, created a national revolt for which there was much sympathy in England.”

“The National Covenant of 1638 can be seen as the fulcrum of the political history of the next half-century.”

“The National Covenant was written in February 1638. It had radical echoes as a nationalist statement against the provincialisation of Scotland within Charles’ Great Britain. Yet it was a conservative document. It argued that ecclesiastical innovations tended to subvert our liberties, laws and estates. The Covenant was the work of a legal, clerical and landowning alliance foreshadowing their continuing dominance of Scottish society.”

“The Confederacy allowed troops to be raised in Ireland for the King’s cause and they were dispatched to the west coast of Scotland where they captured Mingarry and Lochaline Castles. No doubt it was thought that these minor strongholds would provide depot facilities for the import of recruits and supplies from Ireland, but the ships on which said re-supply would depend were soon captured by government forces, so the Irish brigade was effectively stranded in Scotland.”

The Army of the Solemn League and Covenant that invaded England in January 1644 was one of 18 000 foot, 3000 horse and 500-600 dragoons. The second army of June 1644 was only 6800-800 strong.

The Battlefield

Several versions of the name turn up in the different sources utilised for this research. Tibbermore was used in the Charter to the Land granted by William the Lion. But, the village and parish also appear as Tibbermoria, Tybbermore, Tibbermire and Tippermuir. “The village of Tibbermore, formerly known as Annatland.”

“A small group of houses near the church and school have been given in recent years the name Tibbermore. This was always called Annatland till the post office and railway appropriated the name of the parish to this group of six houses. ”

Tippermuir a village x miles to the west of Perth. “The parish church at Tippermuir takes its name from the holy well dedicated to the Virgin Mary – Lady Well (Holy Well – Antiquity Number 02 SE 12)”

The Tibbermore Parish is 6140 acres. “Its western border is Moorish and slightly elevated, its south side is an upward slope, and its north-east a plain.”

St. Mary’s Church

Tippermuir comes from the Gaelic ‘tobair mhuire‘ meaning ‘Mary‘s Well’. This ancient well was filled in c.1900.

The present “Tibbermore Church was built in 1632, enlarged in 1810 and refurbished c. 1880 (Antiquity
Number 02 SE 13)”

Two dates can be found on the church belfry – 1632 and 1809 – both dates of extensive repairs.

There was in fact an earlier church. Mentioned in Fittis (1879) as a mansal kirk of Dunkeld: “In mediaeval times the church was in the diocese of Dunkeld and Tibbermore was the residence of several bishops of Dunkeld, particularly of Bishop Geoffrey who died here in 1249 and of Bishop Sinclair who died here in 1337.”

Today the church is no longer used – its last service was in 1984 and it is now the property of the Scottish Redundant Churches Trust.

The original bell that was present at the battle is in Perth Museum.

Tippermuir – a wide plain.

“The scene of the battle was in the southern part of the parish, and it extended into the contiguous parish of Aberdalgie.”

Two ancient exits out of Perth: “One left Perth by the High Street Port and Longcauseway, continued through Jean field (then known as Gin Field) to the high ground at Burghmuir along the Old Gallows Road to Tibbermore and Crieff.” “The other route, known as the south road to Stirling, was also the road to Dunfermline and Queensferry. From the South Street Port it followed the line of Hospital Street, Kinnoull Causeway (Low Causeway) and Earls’ Dyke then cut across what is now the Perth-Inverness railway line before joining the east end of the present Needless Road. It then climbed the hill past the house at Needless and the castle of Pitheavlis to Cherrybank.”

The battle took place: “Beside Tibbermuir, on the muirs thereof, and beside Landerran and the Burrow Muir”

Napier – “the wide plains of Tippermuir and Cultmalindy.”

“The site of the battle was Lamberkin Moor on Cultmalundie Farm, near Broxden (originally Brock’s Den).”

“The Old Statistical Account of 1796 for the parish of Tibbermuir records ‘the field of battle is perhaps as much, if not more within the parish of Aberdalgy, which at this place approaches very near to the church of Tibbermuir.”

“The battle seems to have been fought on the ridge between Tibbermore Church and what is called Cherrybank.”

[Nigel Tranter] describes the Covenant Army leaving Perth and marching westward by Burgh Muir to occupy the long low ridge of Lamberkine. Montrose’s line, he suggests, was drawn up between the Cowgask Burn on the west and Tippermallo Myre on the east. Cowgask Burn can be seen on the map just above the battle site crossed swords.

“The evidence above favours the case for the battle being fought close to the position of the map and suggest the Covenant line ran in an east west direction along the slope of Lamberkine Brae. The likely positions of the opposing forces are marked on the OS map. The photograph taken from Lamberkine Brae looks north from the Covenant position towards the Royalist line which would probably have been drawn up close to the trees at the bottom of the field. The pylon on the left of the picture almost exactly marks the crossed swords position on the map.”

“Montrose had the advantage of slightly rising ground.”

“The are was well known to Montrose for Kincardine Castle is some twelve miles south-west of the battlefield and the Graham estates of Balgowan and Inchbrackie are situated between Tibbermore and Crieff.”

The Arms & Weapons

Muskets – mostly matchlocks – Matchlock Muskets – according to Reid a trained musketeer could reload in 30 to 60 seconds

“Matchlocks were proverbially liable to misfire (whence the terms like ‘a flash in the pan’ or ‘going off at half cock).” Fifteen percent of any musket volley was effective. “Typically an entire line of infantry would be obscured by the smoke generated by its own volley.” “Therefore, in order to produce an effective weight of fire, a commander firstly required a large body of musketeers. He would then align them six ranks deep (we know that this was the favourite depth of all contending parties in Ireland) and then order the ‘Countermarch’. This involved the front rank of musketeers firing and filing round to the rear to take up position as the sixth men. The other five ranks stepped forward one pace and the second (now the first) row fired another volley. By the time the original first rank had shuffled up to the front they should in theory, have reloaded but to achieve this they had to be superbly well-drilled in order to pace reloading time (with over thirty separate movements) down to a minimum of 2 minutes or so.”

“Most of the infantry carried the musket, the remainder the pike.”

Claymore “A proportion of the Athollmen were armed with claymores, while as on the left the gaels from Lochaber carried their long axes.”

Short or Half Pikes – common Irish weapon – the Half Pike commonly known as the‘Queen of Weapons’

A few Long Pikes (Hastis Longioribus) – 18 foot long – although some men cut a few feet off this to make it easier to handle especially in windy circumstance. “A fully equipped pikeman might have a helmet, breast-plate, and tanets to protect his thighs. Worn in conjunction with a thick buff-coat the wearer enjoyed a good deal of protection.”

Pike-men are there to protect the infantry musketeer from cavalry.

Typical 360 man regiment would have an orientation of pike-men on the wings and musketeers in the centre. But, “The greater amount of space required by each musketeer to operate his weapon would mean that the ‘pike heavy’ Scottish regiments would be likely to have a smaller frontage than most ‘musket heavy’ English regiments. The Irish units seem to have had a much smaller pike element than their English and Scottish counterparts and therefore a wider frontage relative to numerical strength.”

Broadswords – carried by a few of the Royalist Hebridean Scots

A few Swords

Long Clubs – MacDonald’s men used these


Lochaber Axes – “The Lochaber men were armed with the deadly tuagh, or Lochaber axe, the pike and hook of which as well as the blade made it a useful weapon against cavalry.” Thomson talks of placing the Highlanders on the wings as their weapons “swords, Lochaber axes and long clubs” suited for dealing with cavalry.

Dirks – like a large butcher’s knife;

Bows – Highland clansmen often carried bows. Highland soldiers often carried Yew Bows.

“The clansmen who followed MacColla [Irish] were pretty poorly armed. The men in the front rank generally had swords or axes, but those behind were only armed with dirks and bows.”

Very little if any armour used by the infantry. Body armour was less common in Scots troops than in English.

Mass levies tended to wear their own clothes – perhaps with a blue bonnet or ribbon to recognise them.

Cavalry wore buff-coats and jacks. If the cavalry was confronted with infantry unprotected by pike they would often charge in with sword to scatter the enemy. Brown says of cavalry: “A controlled trot, or at best canter, which would allow the unit to cover the ground at a reasonable pace but still be slow enough to allow the worst-mounted men in the unit to keep up with the best and just as importantly to enable commanders to keep their units under control.”

“Armed with either a lance, carbine or pair of pistols … Broadswords were standard weapons.”

Lances – not clear on availability

Pistols – so poor in aim that often cavalry men would only discharge the weapon when it was in actual muzzle contact with the enemy.

In a typical regiment there would be companies of different size, with the Colonel’s company the largest. Each company would have pike-men and musketeers.

The Keppoch MacDonalds: “Some could boast a pike or claymore – many of the irregular caterans were unarmed.”

Artillery – Most likely light guns. Some accounts suggest nine guns, Reid mentions a couple – used ineffectively. Guns described as firing 5lb shot. Williams: “In front of the army Elcho placed seven of his cannon (two were left behind in Perth) together with a line of skirmishers.”

Before the Battle

The Forces


After the defeat of the Royalists at Marston Moor and with only two men William Rollo and Colonel Sibbald, Montrose in disguise made his way to Scotland to raise forces to extend the war to Scottish soil. “After hiding for a time in Methven Wood near Perth.” Montrose met up with the Irish at Blair Atholl.

“Arriving at Tullybelton, between Perth and Dunkeld, Montrose contacted MacColla to arrange a rendezvous in Atholl.” Montrose met up with Alasdair MacColla’s Irish troops and Graham’s local men at Blair – 29 August 1644. Having taken the castle at Blair Atholl they thence marched towards Perth to be confronted by an army set before them- Montrose raised the Royal Standard at Atholl since marked by a cairn

“Avoiding the road down Tay and through Killiecrankie … they crossed the hills to Loch Tummel, broke through the opposition of the Menzies clan, forded Tay on August 31, and advanced on Glen Almond.”

“Perthshire Levies (Graham of Inchbrackie) – 500 men [Athollmen]
Major Thomas Laghtnan’s (Irish) Regiment – 700 men
Colonel James McDonnell’s (Irish) Regiment – 400 men
Colonel Manus O’Cahan’s (Irish) Regiment – 400 men
Badenoch Levies – 500 men [Badenoch Battalion]
Perthshire Levies (Lord Kilpont) – 500 men [lowlanders]
MacDonalds of Keppoch – 100 men.”

Total Deployment – 3100 men (infantry – many experienced soldiers)

Half of Montrose’s force were professional Irish soldiers, “the remainder locally enlisted men with little or no training and short of arms. There was no cavalry to protect his column on the march or to conduct reconnaissance and no artillery.” “The core of the Royalist army consisted of three Irish regiments, trained soldiers with confidence in their professional experienced officers and with high esprit de corps. The Irish troops also had a powerful motivation to succeed, if they were not victorious in battle how would they ever be able to make their way home.”

The local Athollmen were Stewarts, Robertsons and Murrays.

Montrose meets up with the lowland men of West Perthshire under Kilpont at the Hill of Buchanty. “the further defection of 500 Lowland men from the government to the Royalists at nearby Buchanty.”

“Passing through Glen Almond … a large body of troop drawn up on the hill of Buchanty … men of Mentieth raised by order of the committee of estates at Edinburgh, marching to the general rendezvous at Perth, under the command of Lord Kilpont, eldest son of the Earl of Menteith … place themselves under the Royal Standard”

“Now in Badenoch … He [Alasdair MacColla] took the chiefe men and heades of the countray prisoner and forced them to provide him with 500 men. MacPherson of Cluny’s son Ewen Og brought Alasdair 300 men.”

Montrose’s army camped overnight at the Moor of Fowlis.

The Irish landed at Ardnamurch an in early August. They “captured and garrisoned Argyll’s new stronghold of Mingary Castle” headed to Inverlachy eventually meeting up with Montrose at Blair Atholl. Can consider the three Irish regiments as an Irish Brigade.

“While formally organised in three regiments the brigade [Irish] was, like most mercenary formations of the time, made up of individual companies of very diverse origins. Three of the companies were actually Hebridean Scots who formed MacColla’s Lifeguard, but the remainder were indeed Irish, chiefly recruited in Ulster but including officers and men drawn from as far apart as Connaught and Dublin and even, according to John Spalding, some veterans of the famed Spanish Army of Flanders.”

“Some were even Anglo-Irish Catholics from the Pale.”

“Native Irishmen from Ulster, many of them dependents of Antrim; while their officers, many of whom had served in the Spanish Army of Flanders or in Ireland itself, also largely originated in Counties Antrim or Londonderry.”

“The overwhelming majority of the soldiers were native Irish officered in the main by O’Hares, O’Neills, O’Haras, McQuillans, McHenrys and the like, with a few English such as Major Ledwich and Captain Dickson, and a lowland Scot, Captain Mortimer.”

“and on the left Kilpont with his bowmen.”

“The Hebridean exiles appear to have accounted for only three or four companies which generally formed MacColla’s lifeguard.”

With the Royalists: Appin Stewarts, Camerons, Farquharsons, Gordons, MacDonalds, MacKinnors, Macleans, Macnabs and Macphersons.


Four days before the battle the government of Scotland issued orders for its troops to mass at Perth.

“On 25 August 1644 the Committee of Estates ordered the levying of all fencible men of Perthshire. Tullibardine received the commission as colonel to concentrate his forces at Perth. On 1 September they marched from the burgh to Tippermuir where they formed the centre of Elcho’s army.”

Earl of Tullibardine’s Regiment – 600 men {800}
Lord Elcho’s Regiment – 500 men
Dundee and Forfar shire – 600 men {800}
Perth Trained Bands – 200 men
Sir James Scott of Rossie’s Regiment
Lord Elcho’s Regiment – combined total of 400 men.” 

Total Deployment – 2300 {2900} men (infantry and cavalry – mostly raw troops) Given that Rossie is suggested to have had 300 cavalry on the left, it seems reasonable that Elcho might have had a similar number on the right?

“Lord Kinpont’s Retinue – Kinpont member of the Perthshire Committee of War. “In late August 1644 he raised 500 Highlanders with the aid of Sir John Drummond, a son of the Earl of Perth, and the Master of Madderty, heir of Lord Madderty, from Montieth and western Perthshire. This force was stationed at the Hill of Buchanty to intercept Montrose as he descended the Sma Glen. Instead Montrose caught them unprepared and they joined his army.”

The backbone of any Covenanter army was the infantry regiment. Who typically had Colonel, Lt.-Colonel, Major, Scribe, Quartermaster, Drum Major, Surgeon, Provost Marshall and a Chaplain appointed temporarily by the Kirk. Each foot company had a captain (a captain-lieutenant in a Colonel’s company) who might also have held the rank of Major or Lieutenant-Colonel. Plus a lieutenant, ensign, 2 sergeants and 2 corporals. Each regiment had drummers and pipers and company strength around 90-120 strong. A horse regiment had similar staff compliments but with the possible addition of a trumpet major. A Horse Troop had a Routmaster, Lieutenant, Cornet, Quartermaster and 3 corporals. Typical troop strength of 54-67.

Artillery – 9 small cannon (Stuart Reid says only a couple. A Memorial of the Battle of Tippermuir states that the Royalist captured six pieces of cannon)

Lord Elcho’s men were raised in Angus and Fife. Broderick talks of Fife levies from Lord Balfour of Burleigh’s Regiment.

“While a larger number of troops were sent into England in 1644, a very substantial reserve of manpower behind that could be called out and formed into regiments either as reinforcements or for internal security duties. By and large it was these so-called ‘second line’ troops, occasionally boosted by burgh militias, who faced the veteran Irish mercenaries in the early stages of the campaign and this simple qualitative difference is alone sufficient to account for the Royalists’ initial success.”

The Covenanter cavalry is described as being trained in the old way – possibly armed with 4 pistols, a lance and a carbine – but this is not confirmed. Covenanter infantry trained by the book.

It is worth pointing out that many of the Covenanter troops were conscripted soldiers. “In Scotland, as in most feudal countries, 4o days’ military service was demanded of barons, freeholders (or heritor), and the inhabitants of the numerous Royal Burghs as a condition of tenure.”

The Covenanters “were encamped in the south of the parish the night before the battle.”

“Seven hundred professional cavalry, sent from the Lowlands.”

[On the infantry] “freshwater soldiers never before used to martial discipline – but stiffened by one regiment of trained men.”

“Of more questionable military value were the militia units, usually made up of farmers and tradesmen, fielded against Montrose in 1644-45. Lacking military training they generally responded to combat as the Battle of Tippermuir highlights, by flight.”

“We had in the field a company of musketeers (under Captain David Grant, who was killed) which for the most part fled, suspecting that the town would become prey to the enemy’s cruelty.” As spoke by two of the town clergy explaining why the town was given over to Montrose so easily.

The Highland Charge and Military Tactics

On the Highland Charge: “The charge, which probably originated with the Irish Confederate forces in Ulster, consisted of two phases: first the troops, armed with muskets, advanced to within a hundred yards and fired a single volley; then they dropped their muskets and charged their opponents with broadswords.”

“The Scottish ‘Highland Charge’ evolved to exploit the inherent limitations of volley fire. ‘If the fire is given at a distance,’ observed General Hawley shortly before his defeat at Falkirk in 1746, ‘you probably will be broke, for you may never get time to load a second cartridge …’ But, as another general defeated by the Highland Charge observed, ‘The Highlanders are of such quick motion, that if a battalion keeps up his fire till they be near to make sure of them, they are upon it…’.”

“Both Hill and Stevenson credit Alasdair MacColla MacDonald with refining the Irish charge to what would become the ‘Highland Charge’. MacColla had sided with the Ulster insurgents in 1642 and executed the charge successfully at the Battle of the Lany in February of that year. Later in 1644, MacColla led an expeditionary force to Scotland (under the aegis of the Confederates and their Covenanter allies. At this point the Redshanks (as MacColla’s men were called) were demonstrably distinct from other Confederate soldiers in that the latter increasingly adopted conventional pike/musket battle tactics.”

“The Redshank s on the other hand, relied on sword and targe.” “The sword and target (or buckler as it was called) was the main armament of infantry before the pike era.”

“Time and again in 1644-45 Covenanter armies were overwhelmed by Redshank weapons and tactics which, except for the opening volley of firearms, were similar to those of sixteenth-century Irish Kern. But the latter did not perform especially well against conventional infantry.” “The Covenanters lost, rather than the Redshanks won, because the former assembled half-trained armies which were caught in the process of transition between old and new tactics. This gave the Redshanks an opportunity to exploit the inherent limitations of volley fire and the countermarch. Yet this understates what was singular and innovative about MacColla’s Redshanks. They were better disciplined then their Kern predecessors or Irish irregulars in 1641-42. Their discipline can be especially evidenced by their ability to regroup repeatedly after unsuccessful charges and to coolly deal with enemy cavalrymen by allowing them to penetrate their ranks then closing up and annihilating them (such as Tippermuir).” “Moreover, the Redshamks did not suffer from ‘an inability to stand patiently on the defensive’ as far as one can judge from the way Manus O’Cahan patiently kept his Irish and Highlander troops motionless until the closing stages at Alford.”

“Under certain circumstances a unit might indeed fire off all its muskets at once – firing salvo – but this was only used to preface either a violent assault with swords and the butt ends of the muskets, or else to receive an attack at point-blank range. This was something the Irish mercenaries working for Montrose and later Huntly, were to make something of a trademark.”

“The ordinary formation at this time was six deep, but in an emergency the files might be reduced to three, to prevent outflanking or to obtain a broader front of fire. At first only one rank fired at a time, till Gustavus Adolphus introduced the fashion of three ranks simultaneously, the first kneeling, the second stooping, and the third standing upright.”

Brown talks about the issue of salvo firing versus the countermarch. “In an engagement between two bodies of experienced troops this difference in the concentration of fire may not have counted for much, but for the farmhands and artisan who found themselves enlisted in the fight against Montrose it might have been devastating.”

“The primitive warfare of the Gaels made the slow modernisation of the English forces more a liability than an advantage to them. The Covenanters had come to consider firearms as the primary weapons for infantry and dragoons, displacing the blade weapons of the recent past … Lowland armies were led by commanders who increasingly considered their proper place on the battlefield to be behind the front lines where they could coordinate the movement of the troops. In contrast, the Gaels considered firearms a poor second choice to the sword, thought artillery an unnecessary burden, and were led into battle by warrior-captains to whom drawing first blood was a point of honour. The old Celtic charge without refinement would have been enough to render ineffectual the Covenanting army’s relative modernism. Their firearms were too inaccurate to break the charge’s impetus and were useless in close combat. They relied too little on the blade weapons which could have given parity with the Gaels in the hand-to-hand combat that followed the charge.”

The Battle Story

Alexander Balnevis – Minister of Tibbermore from 1640. On the morning before the battle, Montrose visited the home of the Minister where he conversed with the Minister who served the marquis a glass of water. After the battle the Minister was criticised about his hospitality by the Presbytery.

Mid-day Sunday (Sabbath) 1 September 1644. Broderick suggests that “the Covenanting forces mustering on the plain at Tippermuir were equally unaware of Montrose’s presence until the time of battle.”

The rebels found the Government forces waiting for them on Tippermuir.

Cowan says that the day was hot for that time of year and that there was a slight breeze coming off the mountains.

“Montrose drew up his forces in one extended line, three deep The front rank kneeled on one knee; the second stooped; and the third composed of the tallest men stood erect. The Irish Auxiliaries, who had seen much military service, were placed in the centre, armed with muskets alone; Lord Kilpont and his contingent, who were chiefly horsemen, were placed on the left; and Montrose himself on foot, and armed with a target and spike, took his station on the right at the head of the Athollmen, who were opposed to much the strongest division of the Covenanting force.”

Reid disagrees with this – he has all the troops in six ranks except the wings that are reduced to 3 so as to avoid flanking by the enemy cavalry.

Reid also has the Badenoch men in the centre with the Irish, however, Ruthven as them on the rightwing with Montrose.

Cowan has Montrose’s men on the rising ground to the right.

“Preparations for the battle were almost complete, when the last companies had taken up their appointed positions, there was a pause, while, in the classical manner, the respective commanders addresses their troops.”

Montrose’s envoy the Master of Madderty sent to the Covenanter line under a flag of truce to ask if the battle be put off til the end of the Sabbath was captured, imprisoned and threatened with the noose. “He made the envoy prisoner and dispatched him to Perth in the custody of two Forfar lairds.”

[Montrose sent enquiry] “to inform Elcho that he had the King’s commission as Lieutenant-Governor of Scotland, and to request his obedience or at least a truce for discussion since the day was Sunday.”

“As soon as the rebels came within cannon-shot, Tullibardine sent out a forlorn hope of musketeers under Lord Drummond. MacColla responded by sending out some skirmishers of his own who tumbled Drummond’s men back in some confusion, whereupon Montrose ordered a general attack all along his line. … In other words, in the centre there was a brief but decisive firefight in which the Irish prevailed over Tullibardine ’ontryed men and fresh water should ours’ and sent them running in panic-stricken flight. … On the Royalist right wing the battle was equally brief. … As MacColla led the centre forward against Tullibardine, Montrose led the Athollmen towards some comparatively high ground in time to face Rossie’s cavalry and fire a single volley. This failed to stop the troopers and rather than waste time reloading, the Athollmen immediately came down the hill and ’with shoure of stones for want of more offensive armes, and lastly, with there swordes assailed both horse and foote men so desperately as they fell first in confusion and disordour.’ The disorder increased when a specifically charged detachment seized the cannon and turned them on their erstwhile owners.”

“The troops would array themselves in line of battle, fire a volley when within twenty or thirty paces, fling away their muskets, and then quickly deploy into clusters of twelve or fourteen men each. Each cluster would advance through the musket smoke with the new single-handed broadsword or the ancient claymore, and seek to pierce the enemy line at a particular point.”

“Montrose drove in the enemy’s skirmishers; in retiring they confused the first Covenanting line, and then, with a yell, the whole force of the Royalists charged, fired into the beards of the foe, seized the guns that did little scathe; met the advance of the Covenanters with swords, pikes, and stones picked up on the field, and drove the untried levies in wild flight. Montrose’s men racing against Scott’s for a hill, took the position, charged-down with the claymore, and cut up their opponents. The Covenanting cavalry made a vain attempt to rally, and though Montrose forbade his men to turn the captured guns on the fugitives, ‘men might have walked upon the dead corpses to the town,’ writes the Irish officer, so active was the pursuit.”

Forlorn Hope sent out maybe to lure the Irish out and attack them whilst the Irish still getting ranks together.

“It was usual to post a forlorn hope several hundred feet in advance of the infantry to soften up the opposing forces.”

Williams has the guns firing an ineffective discharge.

“The battle itself was short lived, accounts vary from 10 to 30 minutes. The Covenanters took the initiative by sending out a ‘forlorn of horse’, a small body of cavalry intended to draw the enemies fire. In this case the forlorn provoked the Royalist army into launching its main attack. The Irish fired one volley and charged. The Highland Charge broke both the military convention of the day and the ranks of the infantry. What followed was not so much a battle as a rout. The Covenant line reeled under the ferocity of the attack and within minutes began to fragment as whole companies started to throw away their weapons and run. Only the cavalry under Sir James Scott offered any resistance until they were overwhelmed by the highlanders on Montrose’s right wing and driven into the fleeing infantry.”

“Before they [the Covenanter forlorn hope] could inflict any damage, Montrose in turn sent out a forlorn which drove Drummond’s men back in confusion upon the main body, so swiftly that Drummond was afterwards accused of treachery.” Then Montrose seeing the Government Army confused ordered his won army to arask.
Wishart, George, Memoirs of James, Marquis of Montrose. 1639-1650.

“Some Fife levies, possibly from Lord Balfour of Burleigh’s Regiment were killed as they fled towards the safety of Pitheavlis Castle close to the city walls and south east of the site on the map.”

“The Irish bore down with speed and clamour on the Lowland infantry and the local levies turned tail while the professional men wavered. Elcho’s cavalry vainly tried to disorder the Irish by a flank charge, but the men of Atholl, who had no powder left, hurled stones at them until they wheeled and fled, overrunning some of their infantry.”

“A salvo fired by the government artillery did, we are assured, very little execution at such a distance, but the gunners were overrun before they could discharge a second one, which strongly argues that although the rebels were clearly outside effective musket range they were close enough to be able to cover the intervening ground in less than a minute.”


Reid says, “as the rebels moved forward though, the government forces did likewise, and it is now necessary to look at events in the centre and on the centre separately.”

And, “Both sides engaged in a firefight which the rebels won I short order, and followed with a physical assault on an already beaten and retreating enemy.” “by falling on with the butt ends of their muskets.”

“Elcho’s army had learned the ritual of war – to load, present or fire on command and to march and manoeuvre to the shouted order – but the white hot violence and the dreadful savagery of close-quarter fighting surpassed the scope of any simple practices for melee.”


“On the Government’s left-wing Rossie’s faced a rather different situation. When Tullibardine’s infantry moved forward Rossie also moved obliquely, towards some higher ground. His intention may have been not merely to deny the rebels the advantage of the slope, but also to use it himself, and perhaps even attempt to roll up their line. Whatever his intentions, they were frustrated by Montrose, who got there first with his Highlanders.”

“They too advanced but halted when Rossie’s men came within musket-shot, say about 50metres. As they stood in three ranks Montrose ordered the first to kneel, the second to stoup, and the third to fire over their heads, so that all three ranks might fire at once. However, comparatively few of them were actually armed with muskets and this volley failed to halt Rossie’s troopers but as these advanced further they came under a barrage of stones … … Rossie’s advance was checked and the highlanders thereupon fell on them sword in hand, driving them from the field.”

“It is likely that no more than 1oo musketeers fired upon Rossie’s 300 cavalry (and not all of these will have been armed with large calibre military muskets).”

“On the Covenant left alone was there any serious resistance. Where on rising ground stood Scott, the wary professional soldier, with the best of the Fife levies. But Montrose presently won the ridge, and Scott fled with the rest.”

“Sir James Scott of Rossie rallied his wavering troops and tried to gain the shelter of some ruined cottages on the higher ground.”


“Very little occurred until the centre had been routed.” “Elcho, it is suggested, was hesitant and uncertain, while on the other hand Kilpont and his officers had defected to the rebels only the previous day and may well have been equally hesitant and uncertain how to act. Although the defection may have been premeditated by some of the officers, it is impossible to judge just how much unanimity there was in the decision to go over to the rebels; but certainly the common soldiers will have had no say in the matter, and the battalion may have been rather r reluctant to fight if not downright mutinous.”

“In the circumstances therefore it is likely that Kilpont’s and Elcho’s men simply stood uneasily watching each other, and it was Elcho’s cavalry, who having failed to engage Kilpont’s Regiment, being suddenly left in the air by the rout of Tullibardine’s men, ‘strowe to rely and put themselves in better posture to renew the fight’, but were eventually caught up in the rout.”

One thing about the battle is clear Elcho failed to use his cavalry (whose existence should have been advantageous) effectively against Montrose.


Note – the village of Tibbermore was originally situated about the church.

Stobie 1783. Available in AK Bell along with several other 18th Century maps.

Some Alleged Dialogue

A Covenanter Minister – possibly Reverand Frederick Carmichael of Markinch in Fife: “If ever God, said he, spoke a word of truth out of my mouth, I promise you in his name, assured victory this day.”

When asked by Montrose if the battle could be put off until the end of the Sabbath, the Covenanters replied: “They had made choice of the Lord’s day for doing the Lord’s work.”

Madderty to the Covenanters that Montrose was, “neither covetous of honours for himself nor envious of other men’s preferment and had no designs against the lives of his countrymen.”

Covenanter Cry: “Jesus and no quarter.” Cowan alleges that the Covenanters had this slogan on a banner.

Montrose: “Be sparing of your powder, we have none to throw away. Let not a musket be fired except in the face of the enemy. Give but a single discharge, and then at them with the claymore in the name of God and the King.”

Casualties and Prisoners

Royalist losses were slight. Perhaps a few men and Henry Stewart who died as a result of wounds later.

Covenanters lost 300 men on the field, including the Laird of Rires, Patrick Oliphant of Bachilton, George Haliburton, Alexander Ramsay, John Duff, Andrew Anderson, Captain David Grant and “many brave men from Fife, the burghs of St. Andrews, Cupar, and Kirkcaldy, and other towns, and sundry from the landward parishes of the shire of Perth.” Including those killed in the flight from the field, Covenanter losses are estimated in some sources at two thousand but this is disputed by recent study.

Thomson talks of 300 killed in pursuit.

Most of the fleeing cavalry were able to save themselves.

“The bodies of the fleeing Fife levies were found in a field beside a hamlet called Needless. They had all suffered back wounds. The bodies were buried where they fell and a stone erected in the field. In later years the stone was taken from the field and fixed to the wall of a house in Needless Road.”

It is reported in many versions of the battle that towns folk that went out to view the battle were themselves caught up in the rout and were killed for their troubles.

Many were taken prisoner – 2000 according to the Statistical Account of Scotland, Volume XI of 1797 – another disputed figure.

“The deposition of the provost of Perth (January 1645) puts the prisoners at only three or four hundred.”

“The following day three or four hundred Fife soldiers were imprisoned in St. John’s Kirk.”

“When the clans faced the Lowlanders, however, especially those who would stand and fight manfully, the slaughter that followed resulted from contempt for cowardly behaviour.”

The Aftermath

“When the defeat was known in Perth, the Magistrates endeavoured to muster a force for the defence of the walls; but the attempt was utterly hopeless. Abject terror overcame both the citizens and the fugitives who escaped within its gates.”

Post-battle the Royalist forces went on to sack Perth in some form. Certainly the suburbs were plundered, and Montrose seems to have set guards in the town offering some protection to the inhabitants of the fair city. And certainly Montrose equipped his army for what it needed, including horses.

“The same nicht, at about nine hours at even, the town was rendered to the Marquis upon quarters, but [without] prejudices of the Covenants, to be free of plundering and to live as the King’s loyal subjects: his company quartered for free, fra Sunday at nicht, Monday and Tuesday, many Wednesday and Thursday; he himself remained til Wednesday.”

“The victory at Tippermuir led to the surrender of Perth that evening, though apparently the burgh militia were only restrained with some difficulty from setting their usual watches on the walls – which would argue rather against too many of them having been slain in the battle.”

“That evening Montrose received the keys of Perth from the magistrates before domiciling himself at Margaret Donaldson’s house.“

“the town was fined £60 000 … Margaret Donaldson collected £50 from the magistrates for the use of Alasdair mac Cholla.”

“Like Cromwell he [Montrose] had the ministers to dinner, and one of them. Mr. George Haliburton was afterwards taken to task by the Presbytery for saying grace at his table.”
Thomson says town find 9000 merks and ordered to give four days quarters to his men.

Within a few days of the battle Lord Drummond and Oliphant of Gask left the Covenanters and joined the Royalist forces.

Lord Kilpont was stabbed by Stewart of Ardvoirlich one of the men he brought into the Royalist ranks

Next, Montrose’s men now fully equipped with clothing, ammunition and arms marched to Aberdeen and takes the city. By now there was a price of £1500 on the head of Montrose. Cowan says £20 000. Buchan says £1600. C. Stewart Black says £1600 sterling.

“They were able to replenish their ammunition, those lacking swords doubtless took them from the dead and the prisoners, and in addition to clothing stripped from both, the Irish officers obtained £1300 worth of cloth for their men from the Perth merchants.”

Archaeology & Antiquary

“On the south side of the old Glasgow Road, at a place called Needless, about halfway between the end of Glover Street, and the Castle of Pitheavlis, stand one or two old-fashioned cottages and outhouses. Into the back wall of one of these dwellings, facing the road, has been built an ancient grave-stone, in its natural upright position, and with its front fully exposed to view. The cottage is known to have seen about two centuries, and for a long time was used as a public-house, before the change of the highway to Glasgow. But the gravestone’s original position was on the field immediately to the north, where it marked the grave of one of the Covenanting fugitives from the Battle of Tibbermuir.”

“The stone has a handsome appearance, with a pediment and frieze, and some remains of trusses bordering the inscription plate; but the basement is wanting, and the inscription – which had been partly legible about thirty years ago – had latterly become altogether obliterated.”

“In the churchyard are the graves of upwards of 300 Covenanters who fell at the battle of Tibbermuir.”

“There were indeed within these few years men alive in this parish, who well remembered that it was in their youth no uncommon thing for those engaged in trenching to find gun bullets, broken spears, and many other memorials of this disastrous battle.”

Perth Museum houses the bell from Tibbermore Kirk which is 15th Century. More importantly, it has the Glovers Incorporation Banner of 1604 which according to the Annals of the Glovers Incorporation of Perth was carried by a group of 13 glovers into the battle. Only one did not make it back to Perth alive. Of the Glovers were “a Lieutenant Alexander Drummond and Ensign Andrew Anderson part of a company of musketeers from the town commanded by a Captain Grant.”

More importantly the banner is described as employed by the Perth Militia as they marched out to meet the Royalists. “The Local Perth Militia under their captain, David Grant, who marched to Tippermuir displaying the banner of the Ancient Corporation of Glovers.”

Each company in a regiment would have had a colour.

The banner of the Covenanter infantry was the Saltire. They probably employed a motto something like, For Religion, Country, Crown and Kingdom.

The Robertsons (Athollmen) “displayed the Clan-Nan-Brattich on the point of their standard – the stone of the banner that made them invincible in the fight.”

Photograph of the Banner: HHk 41 (PAG 61) CNN 213 10/1944.

“It is believed that numbers of the Fife militia were cut down about Needless, and were afterwards buried in the field were they had fallen.”

“The bodies of the fleeing Fife levies were found in a field beside a hamlet called Needless. They had all suffered back wounds. The bodies were buried where they fell and a stone erected in the field. In later years the stone was taken from the field and fixed to the wall of a house in Needless Road.”

“Old Maps of Perth clearly show that at one time there was a property called Needless which stood near where Wilson Street joins Needless today. It was occupied until around 1904 and known locally as Maggie or Granny Peat’s Cottage.”

“There is some evidence suggesting that around 90 Fife levies are buried at Needless Road and that Tippermuir Church yard contains the unmarked grave of some 200 to 300 Covenanters.”

“Some townsmen who visited the battlefield testified that while some sixty or seventy naked corpses lay in the field, the rest had been decently buried.”

“After Montrose had run his course of warfare to the Battle of Philiphaugh, the relatives of several of the Fife victims interred at Needless, erected tombstones over their graves, with suitable inscriptions; which memorials remained until the Glover Incorporation, to whom the field belonged, ordered their removal in the interests of agricultural improvement.”

Glovers Incorporation – A Note

“In the disastrous battle of Tippermuir (1644) fourteen members of the Incorporation were present … it is further recorded that ‘they were safe’.”
“Members of the Incorporation who fought for King and Country at the battle of Tibbermuir, 1644.”

Thomas Dundee
Alexander Kinnaird
Alexander Nairne
George Auchenlick
William Gell
James Masone
Henry Paul
Alexander Hutton
Patrick Inglis
Andrew Mortimer
Robert Lamb
Andrew Anderson (Ensign)
Alexander Drummond (Lieutenant)