[336] Colonel Gardiner endeavoured to charge the advancing enemy with his dragoons; but it was in vain that he attempted to animate their craven souls by word and exampleat the first volley of the Highlanders they wheeled and fled. The same disgraceful scene took place on the left, at nearly the same moment. Hamilton's regiment of horse dispersed at the first charge of the Macdonalds, leaving the centre exposed on both its flanks. The infantry made a better stand than the cavalry; it discharged a steady and well-directed volley on the advancing Highlanders, and killed some of their best men, amongst others, a son of the famous Rob Roy. But the Highlanders did not give them time for a second volley; they were up with them, dashed aside their bayonets with their targets, burst through their ranks in numerous places, so that the whole, not being able to give way on account of the park wall of Preston, were thrown into confusion, and at the mercy of the foe. Never was a battle so instantly decidedit is said not to have lasted more than five or six minutes; never was a defeat more absolute. Sir John Cope, or Johnnie Cope, as he will be styled in Scotland to the end of time, by the assistance of the Earls of Loudon and Home, collected about four hundred and fifty of the recreant dragoons, and fled to Coldstream that night. There not feeling secure, they continued their flight till they reached Berwick, where Sir Mark Kerr received Cope with the[97] sarcastic but cruelly true remark that he believed that he was the first general on record who had carried the news of his own defeat.

Buonaparte continued the pursuit of the Allies as far as Pirna, whence, owing to indisposition, he returned to Dresden; but Vandamme, Murat, Marmont, and St. Cyr pushed forward by different ways to cut off the route of the fugitives into the mountains of Bohemia. Vandamme, however, having passed Peterswald, beyond which he had orders not to proceed, was tempted to try for T?plitz, where the Allied sovereigns lay, and take it. In doing this he was enclosed, in a deep valley near Kulm, by Ostermann and other bodies of the Allies, completely routed, and taken prisoner, with Generals Haxo and Guyot, the loss of two eagles, and seven thousand prisoners. This was on the 29th of August.