Page:Robert the Bruce and the struggle for Scottish independence - 1909.djvu/239

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1313 A.D.]
Campaigns of Edward II.

who, in 1304, had defended Stirling so gallantly against Edward I. Bruce lay before it for six weeks, and then, having marked the shallowest part of the moat, made a feint of raising the siege, and marched away. A week later, on January 8, 1313, he returned at midnight, and, probing the way with his spear, waded through the water as high as his throat. The next to follow was a French knight, who was amazed to see the King run such risks to win "ane wrechit hamilet," and then came the escalading party with ladders. The garrison kept no watch; relying on the strength of their defences, they and the townsfolk woke to find the place in possession of the enemy. Young Malise of Strathearn was with Bruce, but his father, the earl, was of the defending force, and was made prisoner. The King gave strict orders against unnecessary slaughter, seeing that the garrison were "kind [akin] to the cuntre," that is, that they were Scots, though in English pay. But his needy followers were allowed to equip themselves from the merchandise found in the town.[1]

The next place taken, Dumfries, was one of great importance to the defence of the Western Marches. This castle had been under the command of Sir Dougal Macdouall of Galloway since 1311. He had to surrender on February 7, 1313, owing to failure of supplies, for which he had often written in vain to the keeper of stores at Carlisle, by reason of which many of his garrison had deserted.[2] The

  1. The Brus, lxxi. Barbour erroneously dates the fall of Perth and other places before the King's expedition to Argyll and Lorn.
  2. Bain, iii., 56.