Prince Charles Edward Stuart, the Young Pretender, and his army of 5000 (mainly Highland clansmen), after victory at Prestonpans and a lengthy wait in Edinburgh, had invaded England on November 8, 1745. The army had advanced through Carlisle and Manchester to Derby, a position where they appeared to threaten London, leading the royal family to make plans to decamp to France. But in early December 1745 the Prince decided to withdraw, his position was at risk from the armies of General George Wade (in Newcastle) and of William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland, as well as the large militia formed in London.
The Jacobite forces reached Glasgow by Christmas Day and reprovisioned and were boosted by a few thousand extra men. They then clashed with the forces of General Henry Hawley near Falkirk and were victorious. However, Hanoverian forces continued to pressure Charles, and he retired northwards, losing men and failing to take Stirling Castle or Fort William but investing Inverness and Fort Augustus by early April.
The Duke of Cumberland and his army arrived at Nairn on April 14; the Jacobite forces were around ten miles away near Drummossie. The two sides met at Drummossie Moor, also known as Culloden, on April 16. The Prince had around 5000 men and the Duke 9000; Charles had also decided to take personal command of his forces. The weather was very poor, and the terrain highly advantageous to the Duke, the marshy and uneven ground making the famed highlander charge somewhat more difficult.
The Duke's forces arrayed themselves in two lines to met the Jacobite forces, and the Duke and Prince parleyed in the morning. At some point during their discussions the Prince's artillery, outnumbered some three to one, opened fire. With shots flying overhead both leaders quickly retired to their own lines.
Over the next twenty minutes the superior artillery of the Hanoverian forces contined to batter the Jacobite lines, until the Camerons finally had enough and charged on their own accord. The Highlanders advanced bravely but were constantly subjected to the heavy volley fire of the Hanoverian troops and the artillery which had switched from roundshot to grapeshot. Some Jacobites did reach the Hanoverian lines, and they fought bravely, but the Hanoverian troops stood firm for once, and in the face of the brutal gunfire, and threatened by cavalry, the Jacobites were forced to retreat. The Duke ordered in his cavalry to rout the Jacobite forces, but they stood their ground.
In a total of about 60 minutes the Duke was victorious, around 1250 Jacobites were dead and possibly 300 of the Hanoverian forces.
After their victory, Cumberland ordered his men to execute all the Jacobite wounded and prisoners, around 450 persons, and for that he was known forever afterward as "the Butcher". Certain higher-ranking prisoners did survive to be tried and executed later in Inverness. The Prince fled the battlefield and survived for five months in Scotland despite a £3030,000 reward for his capture. The Prince eventually returned to France.
The Hanoverian forces' assault on the Jacobite sympathizers continued in the coming months -- destroying the clan system, banning kilts, tartans, and the pipes, and extending their control with new roads and forts.
It is important to note that this last major clash of arms on British soil was contested between two factions rather than two nations: the British Army, not an English Army, as is commonly believed, comprised German Hanoverians, English and Scots whereas the Jacobite Army was made up predominantly of Highlanders, though also consisted of many Lowland Scots, some Irish, a few English, and several hundred French conscripts.