Fort George was Intended to serve as an impregnable base for Government soldiers, constructed in the wake of the 1745 Jacobite rebellion which had seen its predecessor, Inverness Castle, fall to the rebels. It took over 21 years to complete at a vast cost of £200,000 and was later modified for a coastal defence role. The forts state of the art defences were never tested due to the threat of more Jacobite risings having been severely crushed by the Hanoverian Government.
~ History ~
1727 ~ A new fort is built on the site of the medieval castle at Inverness which had been rebuilt as a citadel by Oliver Cromwell.
This large fortress named Fort George being capable of billeting 400 troops. Its first commanding officer is Sir Robert Munro, chief of the Highland Clan Munro and Colonel of the 42nd Royal Highlanders.
However, the Highlander’s dissatisfaction with the British Government only grows.
1745 ~ Bonnie Prince Charlie lands in the Highlands rallying the Highland clans to his cause, raising his standard in rebellion to recapture the throne for the Stuart dynasty.
The Jacobite successive victories see them push south into England, reaching as far as Derby before having to turn back fearing a much larger English Army was drawing in on them, albeit this army only existed in the false intelligence leaked to the Jacobite's by the Government who are in complete panic.
After this advance into England fails, the Prince reluctantly turns his forces north along the Great Glen towards Inverness.
1746 ~ James Drummond and John O'Sullivan, commanders of the Jacobite's forces to lay siege to Inverness and Fort George, carry out a reconnaissance and see that the fort's double layered defences are too formidable for the Jacobite's.
However, O'Sullivan notices that the foundations appear unstable, making it vulnerable to mining. That evening O'Sullivan and Colonel James Grant set their men to work in opening the mine with their cannons providing covering fire.
The defenders of the fort are powerless to stop the progress of the mine, unable to bring their own cannon to bear on the mining.
The governor of the fort, Major George Grant, fearing that the rampart will be blown up beneath him, orders the surrender of the fort to the Jacobite's the following day.
The Jacobite's plunder the ample provisions from inside the fort and Bonnie Prince Charlie orders the curtain walls to be razed and the bastions blown up, in order for the fort to be of no use if it fell back into the hands of the Government.
Following the Jacobite disaster in the Battle of Culloden which effectively brings the rebellion to an end, the Government are concerned by how easily their strongholds had fallen into rebel hands. They decide to build a new Fort George in a different, more strategic location.
1748 ~ A new site is chosen on a level spit of land at Ardersier, about 11 miles northeast of Inverness. Designed with its own harbour below the walls, so that if attacked an escape could be made by sea, or the fort could be supplied by sea in the event of a siege. The fortress is designed by Lieutenant-General William Skinner, who also serves as the first governor of Fort George.
1769 ~ The completed fort is considered one of the most impressive artillery garrisons in all of Europe, at a vast cost of £200,000, which is more than double the original budget. It is built to house 2,000 Government soldiers.
However, by the time Fort George has been completed, its original purpose, which is to provide a secure base against the Jacobite threat, is no longer relevant. However, too much money has been spent to simply abandon the fortress, so it becomes a training facility for soldiers that have been recruited to fight in the French and American Wars.