Page:Robert the Bruce and the struggle for Scottish independence - 1909.djvu/253

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1314 A.D.]

The Battle of Bannockburn.


taking up his ground until the enemy was committed to one of these two lines. Had the English come by the carse, Bruce would have met them at a point where the Forth makes a bend and considerably narrows the level ground. Here the enemy would have been compelled greatly to reduce his front, thereby sacrificing his great advantage in numbers, especially for the operations of cavalry, an arm in which he was unusually strong.

As soon as it was evident that King Edward had chosen the upper route, through St. Ninians, Bruce took up the ground he had chosen to meet that contingency. This was in the park, where, from almost immemorial time, game had been preserved for the hunting of the Scottish kings. His army was in four divisions; the right being under command of Edward de Brus, the second under Randolph, Earl of Moray, and the third, on the left of the line, under Walter the Steward and Douglas; while the King himself held the fourth division in reserve. In front of the Scottish position flowed the Bannock burn, which, in summer, is but an insignificant brook. But the quick eye of Bruce had discerned its importance to his position. For less than a mile, between Parkmill on the west and Beaton's mill[1] on the east, the stream runs nearly level with its banks, affording no difficulty either to horseman or foot soldier in fording it. Beyond these points, however, the banks are precipitous, and practically impassable by cavalry.

  1. This is the mill where James III. was murdered in his flight from the battle of Sauchieburn, in 1488.