History 1643 - 1645
The Earl of Loudoun's Regiment served in the north of England as part of Alexander Leslie (1580-1661), the Earl of Leven's, Armie of the Covenant; this substantial force had marched over the border on the 19th January, in the snowy Winter of 1644, at the bequest of the English Parliament with the aim to harass, harry and destroy all Royalist forces (primarily the Marquis of Newcastle) in the North of England. Leven's force was substantial, some state as much as 25,000 troops but more realistically the figure would have been around 15,000, of with up to 3,000 horse.
It should be stressed that the army of the Covenant was a Scottish National Army, a regular force raised and recruited by the government of the northern kingdom. The Scottish polity was not split as was the case in England. The army which crossed the Tweed in 1640 and again in 1644 was not a faction, but the military might of the realm; a united, professionally lead, army. Certainly during the brief fury of the Second Bishops’ War the Scots were infinitely better prepared than the English forces seeking to oppose them. It cannot be overstated that this was very much a national army almost in the modern sense. It fought for the lawful government and was, in these early days, not riven by factions, united in faith, well disciplined and well officered – a formidable instrument of war.
The enlisted men were probably both apolitical and neutral in their religious persuasion. Whilst the Scottish system allowed scope for volunteers, the principal mode of recruitment was by conscription. Committees of War, not unlike Commissions of Array were established in each district with an agreed quota. In the early days of the Civil War this process worked well; it was not until the latter years when energies and resources waned that difficulties arose. The wild rush which arose before the First Bishops’ War when the Scottish faith system appeared under threat was less evident four years later.
By the end of July 1643 the Estates had instructed the recruitment of five foot companies and three of horse, these to be mustered by mid-September. In August the sum of £40,000 Scots was set aside to pay for the army’s equipment, additional arms and field gear. On 18 August a general mobilisation was ordered of gentry, freeholders and the citizens of Royal Burghs with each man to provide for himself according to his station. Where there was a shortfall in arms and accoutrement then it was the responsibility of landlord or feudal superior to remedy this deficiency. The Earl of Loudoun's Regiment of Foote was also known as the Chancellor's regiment, because the Earl of Loudoun, John Campbell, was Lord Chancellor of Scotland when the regiment was formed. He received his commission in late August 1643.
There is no specific detail to the deployment of the regiment but by January 28th the Scots were at Morpeth; on the 3rd February they had stormed the Shieldfield Fort; on the 19th February there was a skirmish at Corbridge and throughout March they were campaigning in and around Wearside.
Hylton, March 1644
Hylton, sometimes known as Hilton, a village in the Monk-Wearmouth parish of Durham, was the site of an engagement between the Scots and the Marquis of Newcastle's Royalist forces. It was not much more than a skirmish but with both sides propaganda adding to the scale of the event it stands out from the other engagements during the campaign. Loudoun's were present at Hylton but little is known of their role in the engagement, certainly no casualties were recorded.
Following Hylton the Marquis of Newcastle headed south. The fall of Selby in April 1644 was a major blow to the Royalist cause in northern England. It forced the Marquis of Newcastle to abandon his campaign against the Covenanter invasion in County Durham and withdraw to help defend York, the northern Royalist capital, which now came under threat from Lord Fairfax and the Yorkshire Parliamentarians. As the Marquis withdrew towards York, the Earl of Leven pursued with the Covenanter army.
Siege of York, Summer 1644
On 20 April 1644, Leven joined forces with Lord Fairfax at Wetherby. The combined "Army of Both Kingdoms" marched to besiege York, arriving before the city on 22 April. The besiegement of York was a formidable undertaking. The garrison was well supplied with provisions and was fully manned after the arrival of the Marquis of Newcastle's northern army on 18 April 1644.
The besieging armies settled around the city in a great arc, with Lord Fairfax's army to the east, the Scots to the south and west. To the north, the Marquis of Montrose and Sir Robert Clavering captured Morpeth Castle, forcing Lord Leven to send troops from the siege to secure his lines of communication with Scotland. But gradually the Allies consolidated their position.
In June 1644, the Earl of Manchester arrived at York with the army of the Eastern Association, having secured Lincolnshire for Parliament with the capture of Lincoln and Gainsborough. Manchester's arrival brought the total number of Allied troops before York to 25,000. The Eastern Association occupied the previously unguarded northern approaches to complete the encirclement of the city.
Around the same time, Sir Henry Vane arrived with orders from the Committee for Both Kingdoms for the Allied commanders to march against Prince Rupert, who was gathering a Royalist army across the Pennines in Lancashire. The generals were reluctant to split their forces, however, and Vane eventually acknowledged that they were right to continue the siege.
The first Allied artillery battery was established in Lord Fairfax's sector and began bombarding the walls of York on 5 June. Two days later, the Covenanters stormed three outlying forts that covered the western approach to the city, two of which were captured. This setback prompted the Marquis of Newcastle to open negotiations for surrender. After an exchange of correspondence with the Allied commanders, a cease-fire was arranged for 14 June when commissioners from both sides met to discuss terms. They were unable to reach agreement. The Allied leaders suspected that Newcastle was playing for time and pressed ahead with plans to carry the city by storm.
Realising that the walls of York were too strong to be breached by artillery fire, the Allies initiated mining operations at two points: in the south-east at Walmgate Bar and in the north-west near St Mary's Tower. They planned to explode the mines and assault the two breaches simultaneously. On 16 June, however, the mine at St Mary's was exploded prematurely. Major-General Crawford sent 600 Eastern Association infantry through the breach, but the attack was carried out in isolation. The Royalists counter-attacked and secured the breach. The attackers were cut off and forced to surrender before the Allies could support the assault, suffering up to 300 casualties. No further attempts were made to storm the city. Meanwhile, Prince Rupert's relief force was preparing to lift the siege of York.
However, around 19 June, Rupert received an ambiguous despatch from the King which he interpreted as ordering him not only to relieve York but also to fight the combined Scots and Parliamentarian armies that besieged it.
With an army now 15,000 strong, Prince Rupert set out on the final stage of the York March immediately after receiving the King's despatch. From Liverpool, he marched via Lathom House to Preston, arriving on 23 June 1644, and started across the Pennines. Leaving a small garrison at Clitheroe, Rupert arrived at Skipton Castle on 26 June where he halted for two days to send messengers into York and to allow his army time to prepare for battle.
Realising that he was heavily outnumbered, Rupert planned to avoid engaging the Army of Both Kingdoms until he had joined forces with the Marquis of Newcastle's infantry that was garrisoned in York. The Allied generals responded by concentrating their forces on Marston Moor in order to block Rupert's apparent line of march. However Rupert out manoeuvred them; the speed of Rupert's manoeuvre completely outwitted the Allies. The siege was raised and the defenders of York swarmed out to plunder the abandoned Scottish and Parliamentarian siege lines. Rupert rode with his advance guard to reconnoitre the positions of the three Allied armies drawn up on Marston Moor.
Marston Moor, July 1644
Marston Moor outside York was the largest battle of the whole civil war so far and was to be a decisive defeat for the King and in particular the Marquis of Newcastle.
The Armie of the Covenant provided the largest contingent in the Allied army, so Lord Leven was given overall command. The Allies occupied cornfields on the low northern slopes of Marston Hill between the villages of Long Marston and Tockwith. An area of hedged enclosures and rabbit warrens around Tockwith hampered the deployment of cavalry on the Allied left flank, which was commanded by Lieutenant-General Oliver Cromwell. The first two lines consisted of around 3,000 men of the Eastern Association horse, including Cromwell's regiment of Ironsides. They were supported by a third line of around 1,000 Scottish horse, commanded by Major-General David Leslie. The Swedish tactic of interspersing detachments of musketeers between divisions of horse to disrupt attacking cavalry was used by both sides in the battle. A force of 500 Scottish dragoons occupied the extreme left of the Allied position.
The Allied centre comprised around 11,000 foot in four lines supported by a few pieces of field artillery. In the front line, right to left, were two Scots brigades under Lt. General Baillie, a brigade of Fairfax' Army and two brigades of Manchester's Army, under Earl Crawford-Lindsay. The two Scot's Brigades were made up of four regiments of the Covenanting Army. The third line consisted of a brigade of Lord Manchester's Army and one of Scots.
As the Royalist troops prepared to settle down for the night, Lord Leven took the opportunity to launch a surprise attack. At about half past seven in the evening, as the sky darkened and a portentous thunderstorm broke over the Moor, the Allied line surged forward.
On the Allied left flank, Cromwell's Ironsides advanced towards the ditch that separated the two armies. Lord Byron is said to have received orders to stand his ground and to rely upon the ditch and the musketeers to disrupt any enemy attack, but he apparently disobeyed orders and mounted a counter-charge, with the result that his cavalry got in the line of fire of the Royalist musketeers and prevented them from disrupting Cromwell's attack. Byron's first line collapsed under the impact of the Ironsides' attack, but the second line held firm and a sustained cavalry fight developed. Prince Rupert himself brought up reinforcements to strengthen the Royalist and to threaten the Allied flank. Cromwell was wounded and briefly left the field to have his wound dressed. Major-General Leslie brought up the Scottish reserve to support the Ironsides with a flank attack that tipped the balance in favour of the Allies and resulted in the routing of the Royalist on the right wing. Prince Rupert became separated from his lifeguard and was forced to hide to avoid capture.
On the opposite wing, however, the Royalists were triumphant. Sir Thomas Fairfax's cavalry came under heavy fire from Goring's musketeers as they struggled to cross the ditch, which was a more significant obstacle on the eastern side of the battlefield. When Goring's cavalry charged, Fairfax's front line was routed with heavy losses. Colonel Lambert's second line was apparently diverted to another part of the battlefield and was unable to support Fairfax. Although Lord Eglinton's Scottish reserve resisted for some time, the Allied right wing was finally routed under the impact of a charge from Sir Marmaduke Langdale and the Northern Horse.
The Allied infantry advanced rapidly in the centre to storm the Royalist musketeers lining the ditch, driving them back and capturing some abandoned field guns. As a fire-fight developed in the centre, the second line of Royalist infantry advanced through the gaps between the front line brigades in a furious counter-attack. The front line of Allied infantry was thrown into disarray by the force of the attack; Lord Fairfax's brigade of foot and some Scots regiments broke and fled. The panic spread to the Scottish brigades in the second line, who also began to break. With the Royalist infantry pressing forward and Goring's cavalry attacking the flank, the Allied centre seemed on the point of collapse.
The Earl of Loudoun's Foote was brigaded with the Tweeddale Foote in the second line of battle, this was entirely composed of Scots under Major-General Sir James Lumsden and consisted of eight regiments of the Covenanting Army. These had seen little action however some units including Loudoun's were part of those who broke as the front line collapsed. Lumsden gives a cryptic version of what happened.
'These that ran away shew themselves most baselie. I comanding the battel was on the head of your Lordships [Loudoun's] Regiment, and Buccleuches; but they carried themselves not so as I could have wished, neither could I prevaile them: For these that fled, never came to charge with the enemie, but were so possest with ane pannick fear, that they ran for an example to others, and no enemie following them, which gave the enemie [the opportunity?] to charge them, they intended not, & they had only the losse.'
Lumsden tried hard to patch up the line where Lord Lindsay's Brigade, on the extreme right, though charged also, and with both flanks in flight, was standing firm.
It was the resolution of two Scottish regiments, the Earl of Lindsay's and Lord Maitland's, which prevented a complete rout in the Allied centre by holding firm against repeated cavalry charges. Meanwhile, Major-General Lumsden regrouped the second line troops that remained on the field.
On the Allied left wing, Cromwell and the victorious Ironsides were unaware of the extent of the disaster on the opposite side of the field until they were joined by Sir Thomas Fairfax. With Leslie in support, they led the combined cavalry right across the battlefield for a second charge. Goring and Langdale hastily rallied enough troopers to form a battle-line to face him. Goring's troops, disorganised and outnumbered, were scattered by a single charge and driven from the field.
With the defeat of both wings of Royalist cavalry, the allied cavalry joined forces with the Eastern Association foot to begin systematically overrunning the remaining Royalist infantry in the centre. As the battle-line collapsed, Newcastle's regiment of Whitecoats made a heroic stand. Refusing to surrender, they resisted repeated charges by the Allied horse and infantry until no more than 30 were left alive.
The battle of Marston Moor had lasted two hours. It is reputed to have been the biggest battle ever to be fought in Britain. No less than five armies were involved: Prince Rupert's army and the Marquis of Newcastle's northern army for the Royalists; Lord Leven's Armie of the Covenant, the Earl of Manchester's Eastern Association and Lord Fairfax's Yorkshire army for the Parliamentarian Allies. Over 4,000 Royalists were killed and around 1,500 taken prisoner. The Allies lost about 300 killed. All the Royalist ordnance, gunpowder and baggage were captured, along with 100 regimental colours. The city of York surrendered two weeks after the battle. The Marquis of Newcastle, unwilling to "endure the laughter of the Court," abandoned the King's cause and fled to the Netherlands accompanied by other senior officers. Prince Rupert rallied the survivors and retreated to Chester where he stoically set about building a new Royalist army.
Following the surrender of York the Earl of Loudoun's regiment, along with the Armie of the Covenant, returned to the Newcastle area in mid-August.
Siege of Newcastle, Autumn 1644
Newcastle had been under full siege since July 27th after another Scots force under the Earl of Callendar crossed the border in support of the main army which was heading north from Yorkshire. Under the Earl of Callender the Scots went about capturing Hartlepool and Gateshead while waiting for Leven to come up with the main field force. The siege itself settled down with Levens arrival at Elswick on 15th August. With him Leven brought the Scots artillery and it was to play its part decisively in the assault. Six batteries were set up, named after various officers. The most powerful was the General of Artillery's which contained 24 and 18lbrs. Cassilis, Gasks and Sinclairs had a mix of 24, 12 and 3lbrs. Lt General Baillie had 24 and 3lbrs while Loudouns had a brace of 18lbrs.
Newcastles medieval walls were fronted by a ditch twenty two yards wide, and between six to eight feet deep. The wall itself was some twenty five feet to the walkway and ten feet thick. Critically no berm was in place below and beyond the wall and while this assisted the defence by making the positioning of assault ladders against the wall more difficult, the berm functioned to stabilise the base of a wall from subsiding and its omission was a weakness the Scots moved immediately to capitalise on. Mines were started and artillery worked forward to battering range.
The defences had also been strengthened by temporary outworks and trenches, the most notable and severely contested was the Shieldfield Fort. Of the main gates on the town walls, Newgate and Westgate were considered the most important; Leyland described the latter as "A mightye strong thinge".
Leven, unsure of resupply spared shot where possible and placed greatest reliance on the mines. These were dug under Sandgate and White Friars and several other locations. Leven was not above reasonable persuasion and in a conflict in which all forces -in the early stages anyway- claimed they were fighting for the King or his best interests in one way or another, he also included the use of propaganda pamphlets flung over the walls signed by "A well wisher". Leven however continued to work on all fronts and in one particularly short but effective retaliatory bombardment following sniping at the Scots, a length of wall was rapidly blown in around St Andrews section. The defenders suffered dreadfully while manfully trying to block this up and prevent an immediate escalade by the besiegers.
Unfortunately the Scots allies - the English Parliament - were endeavouring to play down the efficiency of the Armie of the Covenant - less than 2 months after Marston Moor!- though this was merely mischief making to enable them to stop making the agreed payments to the Scots for their service which the bankrupt English Parliament could no longer afford to make. The argument was nonsense of course, the Covenanters had cleared the north of England, made a major contribution in destroying the largest English Royalist field army and would eventually take Newcastle - a town never before taken by siege. London - staunchly Parliamentarian relied on Newcastle coal, and as winter threatened, the Scots were easy targets for malicious slander and were criticised for being deemed to be moving the siege forward too slowly.
The Royalists however on the other hand claimed; "All Scots are trully evil" and propaganda pamphlets proliferated full of fictitious stories of attacks beaten back with Scots casualties of biblical proportions.
Ignoring such political manoeuvring the Scots progressed their mining preparations and on the 14th of October, with two complete mines in place Leven sent a final demand for the surrender of the town. The terms were reasonable but the stubborn behaviour of the town Mayor Marley condemned the town and the forces on both sides to endure a storming.
Knowing the end was near the defenders quit the few remaining outworks not already in Scots hands -notably the Shieldfield fort- and early on the morning of the 19th of October the Scots prepared for the final attack; the officers throwing dice on drumheads to determine the honour of who should lead which section of the attack.
The mines were duly sprung and breaches blown in the defences by battering ordnance; at Closegate, the assault was by the 1st Brigade comprising of the Earl of Loudoun's Foote and Tweedale Foot regiments. As soon as the dust cleared the Scots assault troops advanced into the breeches and beyond while others scaled the walls with ladders at various parts of the defence.
The Royalist defenders were quickly swept off the walls near the breaches, the survivors falling back in street to street fighting and some holed up in towers and gate structure sniping at the assault troops. In the town the surviving defenders maintained a short but spirited defence but were bloodily overwhelmed with the town secured in Scots hands in less than two hours after the springing of the mines.
Regimental returns report modest casualties in most regiments, The Galloways Foot appear to have taken more casualties than other regiments. They were however still mustering 569 men in November and without any opportunity for recruiting, this suggests small loss at Newcastle, not the apocalyptic losses hyped by the Royalists at the time.
Royalist casualties are unrecorded during the siege or in the aftermath, the garrison is however unheard of again after the assault and final capitulation, records of a board of parole would tend to suggest the survivors were too few to pose a threat and were leniently set free.
The relief in London as coal supplies resumed was such that a day of public thanks giving was proclaimed on November 5th. England's Parliament's thanks however would not last long.
Ultimately several Scots regiments and substantial elements of the Scots horse would head back to Scotland to deal with Montrose and his Royalist coalition after his demolition of a series of small Scots conscript forces. The main army remained in the north of England while Leven nurtured his supply line from Scotland - and kept control of the "tap" that controlled London's coal. Tynemouth castle fell a matter of days after Newcastle, an event which merely served to infect the Scots army with typhus. Carlisle capitulated to David Leslie in mid-1645 and within days of Montrose's defeat at Philiphaugh on the 13th of September the main Scots field force settled down to decide the outcome of the first civil war at Newark, where King Charles eventually surrendered to them.
As of the 31st of January 1645 the Earl of Loudoun's regiment mustered 895 men and officers. By March the unit returned to Scotland leaving two companies which remained in England until the army evacuated the country in early 1647.
BACK IN SCOTLAND
Eight companies of Loudoun's served in Scotland from the 15th of March 1645 to February 1647, in this time they served under Lieutenant General Baillie and Major General Hurry.
After his victory over the Marquis of Argyll and the Campbell clan at Inverlochy, the Marquis of Montrose marched into north-eastern Scotland to rally support for the King. By the end of March 1645, he was able to field an army of over 3,000 men. He was joined not only by Highlanders but also by Lowlanders, notably the Strathbogie regiment recruited from the Marquis of Huntly's lands in Aberdeenshire. The Irish companies brought to Scotland by Alasdair MacColla that were the nucleus of Montrose's army now formed less than a third of his total force. He also had a substantial force of cavalry after the defection of Lord Gordon and his regiment of horse from the Covenanters. In response to the threat posed by Montrose, a Covenanter force under the command of Lieutenant-General Baillie was detached from Lord Leven's army in England and sent back into Scotland. During March 1645, Baillie and Montrose manoeuvred in the foothills of the Grampian Mountains, each trying to gain an advantage over the other before committing to battle.
Covering the routes south to prevent Montrose from threatening Edinburgh, Baillie sent his second-in-command Major-General Hurry into the north-east with two regiments of foot and a cavalry detachment to ravage the lands of the Royalist Gordons. When Montrose gathered his forces and marched northwards to support the Gordons, Hurry withdrew towards Inverness, luring Montrose into hostile territory and gaining reinforcements from local levies recruited by Covenanter lairds. Meanwhile, Baillie was marching up from the south, burning and plundering Royalist territory as he went, intending to catch Montrose between the two Covenanter armies.
In May 1645 the Earl of Loudoun's Regiment marched out and joined with General Hurry (Urry) outside Inverness making up a total force of 3000 foot and 300 horse to march against Montrose's army encamped at Auldearn.
Auldearn, May 1645
On 8 May 1645, Montrose's army was camped around the village of Auldearn near Nairn. Auldearn itself was occupied by some Irishmen, the Highlanders of Alasdair MacColla's lifeguard and William Gordon of Moneymore's newly-raised regiment. The rest of the Royalist army was scattered over a wide area to the east, seeking shelter from heavy rain in cottages and barns.
Major-General Hurry made a rapid night march intending to catch Montrose in a surprise dawn attack on 9 May and they very nearly succeeded but for the skill and tenacity of MacColla's Irishmen. By this time, Hurry's force comprised around 3,000 foot and 300 horse. His two regular infantry regiments (Lothian's and the Earl of Loudoun's) had been joined by the Earl of Findlater's regiment and two more from the Inverness garrison: Campbell of Lawers' and the Laird of Buchanan's. The Earls of Seaforth and Sutherland had each raised a regiment of Highland levies, which were joined by several hastily-assembled local companies.
It was fortunate for the Royalists that Hurry's soldiers fired their muskets to clear damp powder as they approached Auldearn along the Inverness road, thus alerting the sentries to their approach. Alasdair MacColla quickly mustered every man he could find in Auldearn and advanced to occupy Garlic Hill, a low hill about half-a-mile south-west of the village, from where he could see the Covenanter army as it deployed. Although heavily outnumbered, MacColla prepared to hold off the Covenanter advance while Montrose assembled the rest of the scattered Royalist army.
In the opening stage of the battle, MacColla's position on Garlic Hill was attacked by the veteran foot regiment of Sir Mungo Campbell of Lawers, which had recently been recalled from service in Ireland, with two troops of horse in support. An intense firefight developed, during which MacColla's men were steadily driven from the hill and back into Auldearn village, where they took up new defensive positions among the buildings and cottages. The Covenanters re-grouped and Lawers pressed his attack, only to become bogged down in marshy ground at the foot of the sloping approach to the village. Meanwhile, Moneymore's regiment took up a strong defensive position on Castle Hill at the north end of the village and maintained a deadly enfilading fire into the left flank of the advancing Covenanters. As the momentum of the Covenanter attack broke down, MacColla led a counter-attack from the village. This has traditionally been represented as a wild Highland charge that failed because it was premature and disorganised, but it is more likely to have been a disciplined tactical advance that initially forced Lawers' regiment to retreat to Garlic Hill. However, Lawers regrouped once again and led a second attack with two infantry regiments supported by horse and by bowmen of Lord Seaforth's Highlanders. Unable to sustain his advance, MacColla fell back into the village. The Covenanters pressed their attack and succeeded in forcing their way into Auldearn, where fierce hand-to-hand fighting broke out among the cottages as MacColla's men struggled to hold the position.
Meanwhile, Montrose and his officers had mustered most of the main Royalist force behind the village, apparently unobserved by Major-General Hurry, whose attention was focused on the struggle for Auldearn itself. Montrose divided his cavalry into two separate wings and sent one wing around the north end of the village and the other around the south. Lord Aboyne led the first charge from the south against the right flank of the Covenanters advancing towards the village. A troop of Covenanter horse had been stationed to cover the flank but, startled by Aboyne's surprise attack, their commander Major Drummond ordered his men to wheel in the wrong direction, which caused them to collide with the Covenanter infantry. As Aboyne's troopers ploughed through the disordered ranks, Lawers broke off the attack on Auldearn and began to fall back to Garlic Hill. As he did so, Lord Gordon's cavalry appeared to the north behind Castle Hill and charged into the Covenanters' left wing to complete the rout of Lawers' brigade.
With the attack on Auldearn broken by the Gordon horse, the final stage of the battle was a fierce fight on Garlic Hill as the Royalist infantry surged forward in a general advance. The remaining regular Covenanter units were steadily overwhelmed in heavy hand-to-hand fighting.
The Royalist reserve (Strathbogie's) when brought into play directly clashed with Lothian's and Loudoun's foot which had yet to deploy having not yet fired a shot. They clashed with a thunderous and bloody exchange of fire before the pike and muskets at club collided. Though veterans of Marston Moor and other bloody engagements they could not withstand the royalist onslaught. The line broke and a full rout developed with the triumphant royalists in pursuit; some 2000 covenanters perished that day, Lothian's and Loudoun's were decimated. By late afternoon, they were in full retreat. Major-General Hurry and the remnants of his army eventually crossed the River Nairn and escaped to the safety of Inverness.
The Earl of Loudoun's Regiment had escaped but with heavy losses. In August the Estates ordered that 800 men should be raised to replace the regiment's losses, these were not forthcoming before Kilsyth.
Kilsyth, August 1645
Montrose's aims had been to raise Scotland for the king and to cause such uproar in so doing, that the Scottish Government would be forced to draw off troops from Leslie's army in England to cope with him, thus relieving the pressure on the King. A year and five battles later, he had succeeded in nearly all these objectives and was now poised for the final blow, which would give him control of Scotland. In August, 1645 the Royalist infantry comprised around 3,000 men, including the Strathbogie regiment, the regiments of James Farquharson of Inverey, William Gordon of Moneymore, MacColla's lifeguard and the surviving Irishmen that had accompanied MacColla to Scotland the previous year. Montrose also commanded around 500 horse, with regiments led by Lord Aboyne, Colonel Nathaniel Gordon and Lord Airlie, and two companies of dragoons. After raiding for supplies in the north-east, the Royalist army advanced southwards towards Perth and established a base at Dunkeld.
The Scottish Estates - driven from Edinburgh by a virulent outbreak of plague to Stirling and then to Perth - resolved to concentrate all available forces against Montrose. New levies were raised in Fife, the borders and south-western Scotland. Early in August 1645, Montrose marched from Dunkeld to cross the River Forth and into the hills south of Stirling. With the Royalists now threatening the Lowlands, the Scottish Estates ordered an immediate pursuit.
The main Covenanter army was commanded by Lieutenant-General William Baillie, pending the arrival of Major-General Monro from Ireland, who was due to replace him. Baillie was at Perth attending the meeting of the Scottish Estates. He had been given an army of some 6,000 foot and 800 horse; these were four regular infantry regiments (the Marquis of Argyll's, Lord Crawford-Lindsey's, Robert Home's and the Earl of Lauderdale's) and a composite regiment under Colonel Kennedy made up of surviving veterans from various regiments that had fought at Auldearn and Alford; these included survivors from the Earl of Loudoun's Regiment.
A further three regiments of inexperienced levies from Fife, of which he though very little, brought the total number of Covenanter infantry up to 3,500 men. Baillie's two cavalry regiments were commanded by Lord Balcarres and Colonel Barclay. The cavalry was mainly regular dragoons. In addition to these troops, the Earl of Lanark had raised a levy of 1,000 infantry and 500 cavalry from his brother, Hamilton's estate in Clydesdale, and was en-route north to join the main body.
When Montrose learned of this, he resolved to insert his own army between the other two. Marching from Dunkeld with the speed that characterised all his movements, he slipped past Baillie and travelling via Kinross, Glenfarg and Alloa, he crossed the Forth by the Fords of Frew above Stirling, circumnavigating the fortress town and crossed the Carron by a ford (now Carron Bridge), marching south on the drove road. Montrose knew that the Earl of Lanark was mustering Covenanter reinforcements around Glasgow and the south-west, so he turned to challenge Baillie before the two armies could join forces. The Royalists halted near the village of Kilsyth between Glasgow and Stirling and drew up on a high meadow overlooking the Glasgow road. By nightfall on the 14th August, the army was camped in a meadow near Colzium (now covered by Townhead Reservoir).
It was not long before Baillie learned of Montrose's advance, but it took a little time for its purpose to become apparent. Realising that his opponent had gained an advantage and that Lanark was in some considerable danger, he moved in haste and, taking the chord of Montrose's arc, reached Stirling. On the same night as Montrose reached Colzium, Baillie was only three miles off at Hollinbush (Hollinbush, Banknock). He arrived late and his men had little rest. Montrose intended to ambush the Covenanter army but Baillie turned his forces off the road.
Ballie was well served by his scouts and local people, thus he knew exactly where the Royalists lay. At dawn the next morning his troops were on the move and, marching directly across country, reached a point close to, and just south of, the modern village of Banton.
Concealed by a reverse slope, the Covenanters struck northwards across the hills towards the high ground of the Auchinrivoch ridges above Montrose's position. Baillie's line of march outflanked the Royalists, but the rough terrain prevented him from exploiting his advantage with an immediate attack. However the Covenanters were on the higher ground around the eastern rim of the hollow occupied by the Royalist infantry. It was a fine summer morning, already warm, with the promise of great heat to come.
The Highland troops were clearly visible, leisurely cooking their breakfast around hundreds of little bivouac fires, obviously not in the least disturbed by the arrival of the main army of their enemies. Having a healthy respect for them, and appreciating that his own forces were already hot, dusty and somewhat tired, Baillie decided to take post where he was and wait events. If and when Lanark appeared, he had Montrose between two fires, and if the general decided to attack Lanark, being the weaker force, then Baille could take him from the rear. Likewise, if Montrose attacked him, Lanark could provide support.
Although that was Baille's sound decision, he was not allowed to adhere to it. With him was a substantial body of the Committee of Estates, well-seasoned with black-robed Calvinistic ministers of the Scottish Kirk. These gentlemen considered themselves to be the Elect of God and therefore better able to conduct a battle than their general. They were afraid that Montrose might escape to the Highlands, and they wanted to effect a junction with Lanark.
The result was an order to Baille to march his army around the northern perimeter of the high ground flanking Montrose's position, to the area of Colzium Castle. A flank march is a difficult and very dangerous manoeuvre at the best of times but, in this case, in full view of an alert and active foe such as Montrose's Highlanders, it had been a suicidal one. Baille, a seasoned commander, had protested vigorously, but was over-ruled and told to re-assemble his army in column and move accordingly. The force set off, the cavalry leading, and made a circuit of Banton Burn and then followed the line of the Drum Burn.
Baillie ordered Major Haldane to hurry ahead of the main column with a battalion of musketeers to secure the high ground before the Royalists could dispute it. However, Haldane's detachment became involved in a skirmish with a company of Maclean Highlanders occupying some farm buildings and enclosures. Montrose had sent the body of MacLean infantry to seize the farm steadings of Auchinvalley, lying between his main body and the Covenanting centre. The skirmish escalated when Alasdair MacColla moved up to support the Macleans with a contingent of MacDonald Highlanders, pinning down the Covenanter detachment, he stopped the column's advance with the first attack and broke it with the second.
Although Baillie ordered Colonel Home's regiment to advance on the original objective, Home apparently felt compelled to go to Haldane's assistance instead. The Earl of Loudoun's regiment, mustering only around 100 men (as a result of earlier losses at Auldearn), held the left of the front line adjacent to Home's Foote. The two regiments were ordered to hold their ground; instead they advanced against the MacLeans positioned opposite them. They wasted much shot, but eventually they came to grip with the royalists. The MacDonalds were reinforcing the MacLeans, and both charged the Covenanters. The fiercest fighting of the battle took place here before the two Covenanter regiments broke and fled.
Baillie struggled to re-deploy his forces in battle order as forces from both sides were drawn piecemeal into the fight around the farm buildings.
Meanwhile, Lord Balcarres led his cavalry regiment north in an attempt to gain the high ground and outflank the Royalist right wing. Despite being heavily outnumbered, Captain-Adjutant Gordon led his troop of horse in a gallant charge that briefly stalled Balcarres' advance. A fierce fight developed but weight of numbers soon began to tell, and Gordon's troop was in danger of becoming surrounded and overwhelmed. Lord Aboyne saw Gordon's danger from the opposite end of the Royalist line and charged with his lifeguard the full length of the battlefield under fire from Covenanter musketeers to reinforce him. However, Balcarres' troopers held firm and forced Aboyne back. The Covenanter advance was finally halted when Montrose ordered Nathaniel Gordon and Lord Airlie to counter-attack with the main body of the Royalist horse. Exhausted and outnumbered, Balcarres' cavalry were thrown back down from the high ground they had gained.
The routing of Balcarres' cavalry exposed the right flank of the Covenanter infantry to attack by the victorious Royalist horse and encouraged MacColla's Highlanders to renew their frontal assault. The Highlanders surged up the slopes about them in seconds and found the Covenanting army already broken and in retreat.
Under extreme pressure, the regular Covenanter regiments had begun to retreat. The retreat became a rout, a terrible slaughter, some three-quarters of the troops perished dismally on the field under the Highland broadswords. The inexperienced Fifeshire levies, which had been left in reserve, fled in panic as the Covenanter line collapsed. Baillie's efforts to rally his men were in vain and he finally retreated with his officers. He fled south with an escort of cavalry, but was caught in the notorious Dullatur Bog, a deep and treacherous marshy area lying between the head waters of the Kelvin and the Bonny. More than a hundred years later, during the cutting of the Forth and Clyde Canal, the bodies of several troopers, one still seated on a horse, were recovered from the Bog. Baillie managed to win clear eventually, though leaving most of his escort behind. He reached his cousin's house at Castle Cary, and then went on to greater safety at Stirling Castle.
Most of the Covenanter regulars escaped the battlefield in good order, but the panic-stricken levies were pursued for miles by the Highlanders and hundreds were ruthlessly slaughtered. Lanark's forces were told of the disaster and scattered for home at once.
After the defeat of the Covenanters at Kilsyth, the Committee of Estates fled across the border to Berwick. The Earl of Lanark abandoned his newly-raised levies and joined them there. Lieutenant-General Baillie was unable to rally the survivors of the battle. With no Covenanter army left to oppose him, Montrose was the master of Scotland. He marched in triumph into Glasgow on 18 August 1645. Unable to advance to Edinburgh because of plague in the city, he issued a proclamation at Glasgow to summon a new Parliament in the King's name. However it was all too late for the King; Naseby had been fought and his cause was in ruins. A month after Kilsyth, the Scots army in England came marching home and took Montrose by surprise at Philiphaugh in the Borders. Montrose just managed to escape, but is rule was over and the Covenanters were once more in control.
What became of Loudoun's Regiment?
The losses suffered at Kilsyth effectively destroyed the regiment. Although 1200 recruits were ordered for the regiment it would appear from ordnance papers to have mustered only two companies after Kilsyth.
Nothing was heard of it again until January 1646 when the officers petitioned the Estates for five months' pay. On the 4th of February 1647 the Estates issued an order for all save one company (which was reserved for the General of Artillery's foote in the New Model Army) to disband on the 9th of February 1647.
Bibliography and Sources
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