It was Tom Lehrer, taking on the voice of a protest folk-singer, who sang of the Spanish Civil War:
They may have won all the battles,
but we had all the good songs!
The same might be said of the Jacobite cause, which deserved to lose (at least in England and Scotland), and which did lose, disastrously, again and again, from the Boyne to Culodden, but which attached itself to what must have been half of the great folk-tunes of Scotland and Ireland as well as some of Carolan’s finest compositions: The White Cockade, Wha Whadna Fecht for Charlie, Twa Bonnie Maidens, Charlie is My Darlin’, The Skye Boat Song, Donald McGillivray, and the overwhelming Mo Ghile Mear. (The only thing that detracts from the glory of Mo Ghile Mear is that – like most of the rest of the surviving Jacobite corpus – it was written in praise of that world-class fool, scoundrel, and coward, Charles Edward Stuart.)
Musically speaking, aside from “Lillubellero,” the Whig/Williamite/Hanoverian side of the quarrel had nuthin’.
One of the finer Jacobite tunes is “The Haughs o’ Cromdale,” commemorating a pair of battles in the Highlands in 1690, with Montrose converting a morning defeat for the Jacobites into a crushing victory in the afternoon.
Now, I can’t pass for an expert on Scottish history, but it didn’t take much to figure out that there was something strange about the poetically wonderful final stanza:
Of twenty thousand Cromwell’s men,
five hundred fled tae Aberdeen,
the rest of them lie on the plain,
upon the Haughs o’ Cromdale.
Cromwell? Cromwell? What’s he got to do with a battle in 1690?
Now, this may seem as trivial a question to you as it is in reality, but it bothered me enough to resort to The Google. Turns out that “Cromwell” isn’t the only anachronism in the song: James Graham, “the Great Montrose,” first Marquis of Montrose, was also a figure of the Cavalier/Roundhead war of 1640-50 rather than of the Jacobite/Williamite contest of 1689-90. And the Jacobite victory celebrated in the song is entirely fictitious: the Highlanders got clobbered at Cromdale, and they stayed clobbered, putting an effective end to the struggle between James’s supporters and William’s in Scotland.
Apparently the original song, by James Hogg, was about the defeat; the rest was added later, borrowed from an account of Montrose’s rout of a Covenanter army (independent of Cromwell, but aligned with him on the anti-Royalist side) at Auldearn, in 1645.
… just in case you thought the practice of Just Making Sh!t Up had been invented by Rupert Murdoch.
Update Ooops! Left out Johnny Cope, with what may be the rudest two stanzas in the history of satiric verse:
When Johnny Cope to Dunbar cam’,
they speired at him “There’s a’ your men?”
“The De’il confound me, I dinna ken!
I left them a’ this morning.”
Why Johnny Cope, you were no p’lite,
tae leave your men in sic a strait
and come with the news o’ your ain defeat,
so early in the morning.