Cope's inexperienced army had wheeled round from facing south to facing east in great haste but could only fire their canons and muskets just once before the Highlanders were upon them. Then they fled despite Cope and his officers attempting to force them to charge at pistol point. Cope's army facing east to confront the Jacobites had the ditch and walls of Preston House behind them blocking their panicked retreat.
The battle was over in less than fifteen minutes with hundreds of government troops killed or wounded and 1500 taken prisoner. The Highlanders suffered less than 100 killed or wounded.
When Prince Charles finally launched his surprise attack, the fleeing troops crowded towards Preston and Bankton parks and their panic was augmented when they fell back to the tall enclosing walls of stone. Some of the dragoons made off west towards Edinburgh and a party actually galloped up the High Street and into the Castle. The rest made south by "Johnny Cope?s Way" past Bankton House.
Perhaps one of the most curious features about the events leading up to and following The Battle of Prestonpans is the circular nature of the progression of the two armies. The Government and Jacobite troops approached each other from the east and west respectively and, over the hours of the actual engagement, intertwined and looped around each other before returning to their origin.