[1996:] On January 10, [1746,] both the government forces under General Hawley and the Jacobite army were still unsure if a battle would take place in the vicinity of Falkirk. Indeed, Hawley was so confident the Highlanders would withdraw he had taken up residence at Callander House, east of Falkirk. There he was entertained, somewhat unwillingly, by Lady Kilmarnock whose husband was serving under Prince Charles Edward Stuart.
His forces were camped to the north-east, where they had been reinforced by a number of fresh infantry companies, including those of the Black Watch, so-called because they wore the official `black' government tartan. On January 17, the Prince reviewed his men and led them south-west towards the high ground on Falkirk Muir. It was agreed they should attack the government forces as quickly as possible that day in order to maintain an element of surprise.
In strong wind and with heavy rain falling, the two armies confronted each other in the late afternoon, the Highlanders to the west with the Macdonalds on the right and the Camerons on the left. To the east, Hawley's men were drawn up with three dragoon regiments to the front and the infantry dressed in two lines behind them. Both sides numbered roughly 8,000 men.
There was a moment of confusion in the government ranks because Hawley was still not on the battlefield, but an urgent message to Callander House brought him galloping bare-headed with "the appearance of one who has abruptly left an hospitable table". The first stages of the battle began with the dragoons moving towards the Jacobite lines. Hawley clearly believed the heavily armed troopers would cause panic in the Highland army's front ranks, but a volley of sustained fire halted their charge. The rest soon discovered the Highlanders were prepared to stand and fight, and the dragoons fled in disarray, pursued by Glengarry's and Clanranald's men. The Macdonalds joined in the fray and the government forces quickly degenerated into a rabble. In fact, after only 20 minutes of combat, the Highland army had inflicted another resounding defeat on the government's forces. Hawley's infantry withdrew from the battlefield with around 400 of their number killed as opposed to the Highlanders' losses of 60 dead and 80 wounded. After the battle Falkirk fell to the Highlanders, who were pleased to discover a "great many hampers of good wine and liquors".
[...] The Chevalier de Johnstone describes the moment when the government dragoons gave up the fight. "In short the resistance of the Highlanders was so incredibly obstinate, that the English cavalry, after having been for some time in their ranks, pell mell with them, were in the end repulsed, and forced to retreat. But the Highlanders not slacking the fight, pursued them vigorously with sabre strokes, running after them as quick as their horses, and leaving them not a moment's respite in so much, that the English cavalry rushed through their own infantry in the battlefield behind them, there it immediately fell into disorder, and dragged their army with them in the rout." (Scotland on Sunday, 14 Jan)