In Paris, Jamie and Claire tried everything they could to wreck the Jacobite war effort, trying to discredit Prince Charles and trying to ruin his financial resources. But let it be the inertia of history or, as I call it, a curse, the Battle of Culloden Moor seems to be an inevitable outcome and presents itself as a Moloch (a Mesopotamian god to whom human sacrifices by fire were offered) who devour everything in its path. And the one who seems sent by the curse to annihilate Jamie and Claire’s efforts in Paris, the abominable Captain “Black Jack” Randall, however, will also be devoured by the moor of Culloden, since Claire told that he will die on April 16, 1746, day of the Battle. 

Do not begrudge me, but I wipe a tear as I finish writing this. Never a series have so much reached my heart and my deepest being, almost giving me the feeling of losing my mind. 

The day Thou Gavest , Lord, is ended ,  

The darkness falls at Thy behest;  

To thee our morning hymns ascended,  

Thy praise shall sanctify our rest. 

I feel this moment as the worst of all his existence, the one where by opening his eyes in this gigantic tomb of Culloden, he has lost everything, or at least every reason to think so. 

This vision of Claire is both beautiful and cruel, because it comes to encourage him to live, but also to signify that he has lost his reason to live. For Jamie, the long night of Culloden's curse Moor is just beginning. The sun of his days, which he had seen rising when he saw Claire in her wedding dress, has gone for the next twenty years. 

Allow me to share with you this Anglican prayer that evokes the falling night, played in the link below by the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards and that resonates in my mind as I think of Jamie's sadness after the battle  : 

I can only identify with Jamie. I am a man, Claire has all the aspects that I like in a woman, I am a former reserve captain and even if I did see combat, I identify myself with this Highlander officer who lies on the moor of Culloden. As she approaches, in the middle of this Armageddon, it seems she reaches out to me. 

Why do I want to cry, when I see her so beautiful, so pure, so sweet in this hell? Because it represents everything that Jamie loved and why he fought and yet, she is no longer there and her memory, idealized at this moment by this angelic vision of the love of his life, will never be able alone to bring the comfort he needs. 

If he wanted to die after Wentworth out of shame for not being worthy of her, he does not have any reason to live, at that moment, on the cursed heath of Culloden. All he loved is gone. Claire has gone back to Franck, Murtagh is probably dead, the British will ravage his beloved country and go after Ian and Jenny and their family,Lallybroch and Fergus, lost on the road to his home. 

Paradoxically, it is undoubtedly his torturer and rapist, Captain Randall who collapsed dead on him, who saves his life by compressing Jamie’s wound with his lifeless body, while the cold of the spring night, still prone to snowfall, slows down Jamie’s heartbeat and causeshis blood vessels to contract. He has lost a lot of blood but is alive, as coagulation occurs. 

And in the hallucinations of a suffering brain, deprived of its vital fuel, it is Claire, who just left and who lives, probably at the same time, the throes of having learned the fatal outcome of Culloden and is being taken care of in Inverness Hospital, which Jamie sees coming towards him. Her beauty, in this scene, is of a fabulous sweetness, underlined by the whiteness of the laces that coat her and that contrast with the darkness, the blood and the death that flood the mournful moor. She walks slowly and gently, which contrasts with the fury of the Highlanders charge a few hours earlier. The vision of her, in this macabre and gloomy atmosphere, is a moment of heat in the cold of the night, in snow and in death. 

Act III   : " When the Battle is over"

When the frightful battle is over and Culloden Curse takes all its sinister magnitude, Outlander offers us one of the strongest moments of the whole series and it brings me a strange mixture of deep despair, crazy hope, cruelty intolerable and haunting sweetness. 

The Battle of Culloden Moor is over and nearly 1,500 Highlanders are lying dead, dying or seriously wounded on the battlefield, after the catastrophic command of the end of the campaign and especially this battle by the Jacobite General Staff and Bonnie Prince Charlie who of course, is not there to see the disaster that his megalomaniac arrogance has caused. 

But during that time, the carnage leaves the Jacobite left flank completely empty and the Duke of Cumberland launches his troops to the assault. Lord George Murray is trying to get a French regiment to fill the line, but it is too late. The French regiment "Royal Ecossais", composed of professional and experienced soldiers, resists the British cavalry very well but they are too few and give just enough time to Prince Charles and his generals to flee. The Battle of Culloden Moor is over, and the Jacobite cause destroyed. This is the last battle to have taken place on the soil of Great Britain. 

The battle lasted 1 hour, while the battles at the time usually lasted the day. The British have between 200 and 400 killed and wounded. The Jacobites lost between 1500 and 2000 men. About 150 Jacobites are taken prisoner as well as about 200 French soldiers of the Royal Ecossais. 

The repression will indeed be fierce. Some British soldiers, of unsavory units, execute prisoners and the countryside is devastated by soldiers looking for Jacobites and their supporters. But it should be noted that the regular soldiers, like the French of the Royal Ecossais or the Irish in French uniform, will not be badly treated and will be exchanged according to the customs of war of the time against British prisoners held by France. 

Without seeking to "excuse" British brutality, it must be understood that it is the 4th Jacobite revolt in 50 years and that the British decided to break definitively any hint of rebellion. It's also a question of time. Outlander shows Dougal executing wounded British soldiers after Prestonpans, and history shows that during Nairn's unsuccessful attack preparations, Lord Murray also gave orders to slaughter the British in case of victory. 

James Alexander Malcolm MacKenzie Fraser, Laird Broch Tuarach , an seasoned and valorous soldier, an experienced officer and tactician, a totally devoted husband with a Christlike love for Claire, a man of great worth, of great discipline, all in service to those he loves, and who tried to prevent misfortune on Scotland, first by sabotaging the Jacobites, then by attempting to win their war, had no other choice to put all the beauty of his being and his value at the service of someone who is totally the opposite of him, which is the drama and the paradox of so many soldiers who bring honor, value, strength and courage serving corrupt, egocentric, self-righteous and cowardly politicians. 

And in this night of April 16 to 17, 1746, after sending Claire back to her time and giving up her to save her and protect her, he lies among his men, dead because of the Prince’s stupidity, in shock, no doubt with a damaged femoral artery. 

At the end of the charge, the final confrontation between Jamie and Captain Randall finally knows its outcome but instead of the glorious end of fairy tale, it is a sad and frustrating outcome that is emerging. Jamie is seriously injured in the leg and weakens little by little. In a last burst of will, he manages to stab "Black Jack " in the abdomen, but the time that the internal bleeding does its work in Randall, the duel continues and it is a matter of seconds that Black Jack does not kill Jamie before dying. At that moment, Jamie has no more strength and has given up. He lets Randall approach, aiming at his heart and no longer defending himself. Fortunately, Claire was right and Captain Jonathan Wolverton "Black Jack” Randall dies devoured by the Culloden Curse, collapsing on Jamie who is also dying of external haemorrhage. 

The Jacobite officers, Jamie in the lead, feel the disaster coming and Highlanders clan chiefs demand the order to charge, relying on the famous "Highland Charge" to force the outcome. But Prince Charles resists. His monarchical authoritarianism combined with his inexperience and incompetence seals the fate of the Jacobite army. The order to charge is finally given, or extorted, but several obstacles accumulate. The clans are disorganized and must bypass a swamp. Starting from the center and the left flank, they cross the battlefield diagonally to rush on the British left flank. Meanwhile, British gunners load their cannons with grape shot. Instead of firing large single balls, they fire salvos of dozens of small balls, the size of a palm of a hand. British infantry, trained and professional, firing up to two or three rounds per minute, has a real fairground in front of them when the charge begins. The Jacobites charge under an interrupted steel rain and most are killed before reaching the British lines. Some succeed but, unlike the series, the fight is very brief and totally to the advantage of the British. 

Meanwhile, the Duke of Cumberland open artillery fire on the Jacobite lines. For 30 minutes, the British cannon pound the first Jacobite line and, because of his lack of experience, Prince Charles does not react. He is waiting for British troops to come forward to know what to do, but during this time his men are under fire. There are few casualties due to marshy ground, but Jacobite troops are beginning to lose heart. Remaining stoic under a bombing is very difficult and morale is affected. In the first episode of season 3, we see Prince Charles, supported by Sullivan, waiting without moving with an arrogance that quickly turns into fear.The Prince is himself in range and he too begins to have morale and courage failing.  He becomes empty minded and silent  

Yet, and Outlander shows it very well, the Jacobites had a chance to crush Cumberland's army in Nairn by a surprise attack, like at Prestonpans and Jamie heavily insists that the Jacobite army try its luck. But precisely, the lack of discipline and homogeneity of command of the Jacobites makes this attack impossible and Lord George Murray cancels it, in the night preceding Culloden. 

The next day, April 16, 1746, at 5 o'clock in the morning, the British troops put themselves in marching order to advance on Inverness. The Jacobite sentinels get sight of them at 8:00 am and sound the alarm. The Jacobite Army assembles itself about 1.5 km from Charles' headquarters, Culloden House, in the muddy terrain of Culloden Moor. British reconnaissance informs Cumberland who directs his army on them. At 11am, the two armies are on the moor, 3km apart and in order of battle. 

8000 men, 3 infantry lines for the British, supported by 12 heavy guns and 6 mortars and cavalry on the flanks. 

7000 men, 2 lines of infantry for the Jacobites, mixture of clansmens and professional soldiers, supported by 10 light guns and some scattered elements of cavalry. 

The British attempt to take the lead, with General Hawley trying to outflank the Jacobite right flank but the Jacobites spot the maneuver and get into position. On the left flank of the Jacobites, disorder sets in and the units do not put themselves in the right position, forcing Sullivan to fill the gaps with second-line units. Which means that the Jacobites have almost a single line of combat. 

Prince Charles worries his generals by his misplaced authoritarianism and resists their advice because he is convinced that his authority comes from God himself and he does not have to share it. His generals themselves do not get along with each other. The antagonism between Sullivan and Lord Murray in Outlander illustrates the conflicts between the Irish and the Scots at Charles' headquarters, while the clan chiefs, illustrated by Jamie Fraser, and the dispute between the MacDonald and the Cameron, arrange nothing. Prestonpans, Clifton Moor and Falkirk, three battles won by the Jacobites, are however only surprise victories in very particular contexts and do not reflect at all the tactical reality of the two armies. It took only a little time for the British army to adapt to this new adversary and when it was ready and under favorable conditions, the outcome was beyond doubt. 


But unlike Cumberland and the British, the Jacobites are not at all professional. Prince Charles Stuart never fought and never commanded military forces. His army is composed of Irish, Scottish, English and French, some professional soldiers, other mercenaries and still others, the Highland Clans, totally amateurs, and there is no homogeneity in their expectations of this rebellion.  

Act II, the Battle

Prestonpans, September 21, 1745, is a brilliant victory but it does not cancel the curse of Culloden. On the contrary, it is a confirmation and Claire, Jamie and Murtagh are not fooled. They all know that it is absolutely necessary to force fate. That's why, alone in the face of the defection of generals and officers, Jamie kneels before the prince he despises at the meeting of the Jacobite Staff in England. I think it was then, when Generals Murray and Sullivan, backed by clan leaders, turn the the army back when they are only 5 days from London that Jamie makes the decision to send back Claire through the stones. 

Act I, The march towards Culloden


After trying to deter the Prince from engaging combat, he hesitates a few seconds to assassinate him at Claire’s suggestion, but everything changes with the intervention and death of Dougal. Under the eyes of Rupert who wants to denounce him, Jamie realizes that there is no hope. He is a traitor to the British and now also to the Jacobites and with the curse of Culloden on its way, he has no chance of survival and of a peaceful life with Claire. What he had decided in England becomes imperative and he begs Rupert to leave him two hours in order to keep Claire safe. He could have run away with Claire, but he cannot do that and forsake those who are going to die. Once again, he passes on Claire and his loyalty to his men and companions before himself, without ever giving up his honor and the valuable man he is.

Jamie is of a perfect love but also a perfect righteousness and for me, love and righteousness are one. Love without righteousness is only selfish and hedonistic desire. Righteousness without love is only sterile and sufficient coldness. One does not go without the other. 

I confirm an analysis that I made recently: the character of Jamie Fraser, with his body and combat bravery of a Greek hero, is also one of the most perfect illustrations of the Christian hero, sacrificing himself for love. 

What, ultimately, every Western man should tend to be. 

This event is crucial in Outlander, but we finally see very little and nothing really allows us to understand what happened. But here too, the series is rather historical, and I need to adopt a more military reflection and language to recall the battle. 

After the blowing victory of Prestonpans, in less than 30 minutes, the Jacobite army of Prince Charles Edward Stuart, 25, is hopeful while the British are in panic. The Government in London urgently recalls Prince William Augustus, 24, Duke of Cumberland, the last son of King George II and commander of the British Army in Flanders. A professional soldier in a highly disciplined professional army, the Duke of Cumberland made important preparations to face the Jacobites who marched up to a few days from London. 

Leaving the meeting, he is dark and has already understood that they have lost the war. He understands that Claire and their child will be in danger because, between death at Culloden or hanging for high treason, he will not be there to protect them as he promised to Claire at their wedding. When asked, he tells his men that he is going to bring them back to safety at Lallybroch and turns to Claire to tell him that he will get her to safety "whatever happens". For me, it's here that he decides to send her back through the stones and he confirms it in the Gaelic prayer that he offers where he asks for her to be safe for that night and all the nights to come. 

When Dougal rushes in to inform them, they are sent to Inverness, I think Jamie's surprise is not so much that he is surprised to be dismissed but because he knows as Inverness is near Culloden Moor, as well as Craigh Na Dun. Everything is set up as they feared and I deeply admire Jamie who manages to keep all this for him without worrying Claire, continuing to try to change things but preparing for Claire’s return to the twentieth century. 

His last hopes are in Nairn's surprise attack, for which he insists a lot but which is finally aborted. An angry Murtagh points out that the curse of Culloden Moor is going to take place.  

Jamie’s neutrality flies away and although he received a pardon from King George II at the request of Louis XV, with his criminal record, it is useless to hope to convince the crown of a falsification of his signature, all the more with the Duke of Sandringham, who has always played a double game, that can attest to the collusion between Jamie and the Jacobites in Paris. 

In this respect, based only on the series, it is possible to think that it’s entirely to the Duke of Sandringham that Jamie owes his reputation as a formidable Jacobite warlord, under the name of “Red Jamie”. Jamie is a nickname known only to his entourage, photos do not exist at the time and only someone who knows him could give him the nickname "Red Jamie”, because of his red hair. Moreover, at the beginning of the rebellion, Jamie is only the Lovat Fraser unit commander and becomes one of the senior officers only after Prestonpans where he is decisive. Even later, Lord Murray reminds him that he is only a junior officer under his command. The reputation of "Red Jamie” comes, for me, from the infamous Duke of Sandringham, and the trap he gives her at Belmont House tends to confirm his betrayal of Jamie. 

Back in Scotland and trying to rebuild themselves in peace, Jamie and Claire are caught again by the curse. In his authoritarian megalomania, Prince Charles Stuart forged Jamie's signature and forced him into the rebellion of 1745. This moment is terrible and, if not necessarily historic, shows the absolute vanity and arrogance of Prince Charles who, probably because of lack of support in the Highland Clans, forces the hand of Clan Fraser of Lovat by involving Jamie 

Since the first season, since the first episode, the Battle of Culloden Moor almost takes the place of a character in Outlander. Franck and Claire visit the battlefield and Claire is already noticing the stones in memory of the fallen Highlanders, including that of Clan MacKenzie . 

It’s only after she first travel through the stones and after she begins liking the members of the Clan MacKenzie that she accompanies on a tax tour that the name of Culloden Moor becomes sinister for Claire. Looking at Willie, Angus, and Rupert saddling their horses, she thinks of they will become after this terrible battle that will put an end to Jacobite hopes. While trying not to betray herself, Claire even tries to warn Ned Gowan who cannot understand. 

After her witchcraft trial, when she tells the truth to Jamie, Claire can finally openly reveal what she knows about the future and the threat to the Highlands. Avoiding the Battle of Culloden Moor becomes the goal of their time in France. But this sinister character that is the Battle of Culloden turns out to be a curse in 3 acts from which, unfortunately, Jamie and Claire will not manage to escape, and which will be for them even worse than the hell promised to the Highlands. 

By Tim Larribau 

The Culloden Curse