Cope was now keen to engage with the Jacobites, with intelligence suggesting they numbered but 2,000 but poorly armed men. His own army numbered around 4,000 and while they were mostly fresh recruits and lacked combat experience, they had cavalry and artillery in support. Meeting Charles' advance guard on September 20th, Cope decided to stand his ground and drew up his army facing south, with a boggy ditch to their front, and the park walls around Preston House protecting their right flank. It was a strong position as a frontal charge favoured by the Highlanders would flounder in the bog and be defenseless against the musket and canon fire of the government army.
The battle was a pivotal moment in the rising, handing Charles Edward Stewart a major victory and perhaps emboldening the Jacobites to strike south towards London. The defeat was a humiliating one for the government and now, taking the situation with the seriousness it deserved, they recalled their army from Europe. Consequently when the two sides met for the final time on Culloden Moor in the April of 1746, the government army would be quite different in character and experience to the one that fell apart at Prestonpans.
Our model The Jacobite Risings: The Fight for Britain's Throne explores the history of the Risings and in particular that of the 'Forty-five'. It will next be on display at the Great Western Brick Show on October 7th and 8th, why not come and see it there?