Stung with this reproach, Surrey weakly submitted his better judgment to the rashness of this churchman, and commanded the army to defile over the bridge. Sir Marmaduke Twenge, a knight of great experience and courage, along with Cressingham himself, led the van; and when nearly the half of the army had passed the bridge, perceiving that the Scots kept their strong ground on the heights, Twenge, with chivalrous impetuosity, gave orders for a charge, and made the heavyarmed cavalry spur their horses up the hill. The consequence of this precipitate movement was fatal to the English. A part of the Scottish army had by this time made a circuit and possessed themselves of the foot of the bridge; and Wallace, the moment that he saw the commuaication between the van arid the rear of the English force thus cut off, and all retreat impossible, rushed rapidly down from the high ground, and attacking Twenge and Cressingham, before they had time to form, threw them into inextricable disorder.
In an instant all was tumult and confusion. Many were slain, multitudes of the heavy-armed horse plunged into the river, and were drowned in making a vain effort to rejoin Surrey, who kept on the other side, a spectator of the discomfiture of the flower of his army. In the meantime, the standard-bearers of the king, and of the earl, with another part of the army, passed over, and shared the fate of their companions, being instantly cut to pieces. A spirited scene now took place. Sir Marmaduke Twenge, on looking round, perceived that the Scots had seized the bridge, and that he and his soldiers were cut off from the rest of the army. A knight advised, in this perilous crisis, that they should throw themselves into the river, and swim their horses to the opposite bank. "What," cried Twenge, "volunteer to drown myself, when I can cut my way through the midst of them, back to the bridge? Never let such foul slander fall on us!" So saying he put spurs to his horse, and driving him into the midst of the enemy, hewed a passage for himself through the thickest of the Scottish columns, and rejoined his friends, with his nephew and his armour-bearer, in perfect safety.
Meanwhile the Scots committed a dreadful slaughter. It is the remark of the historian Hemingford, who describes this victory of Stirling from the information of eye-witnesses, that in all Scotland there could not be found a place better fitted for the defeat of a powerful army by a handful of men, than the ground which Wallace had chosen. Multitudes perished in the river; and as the confusion and slaughter increased, and the entire defeat of the English became inevitable, the Earl of Lennox and the Steward of Scotland, who, although allies of the King of England, were secretly in treaty with Wallace, threw off the mask, and led a body of their followers to destroy and plunder the flying English.
Surrey, on being joined by Sir Marmaduke Twenge, remained no longer on the field; but having hastily ordered him to occupy the castle of Stirling, which he promised to relieve in ten days, he rode, without drawing bridle, to Berwick: a clear proof of the total defeat of the powerful army which he had led into Scotland. From Berwick he proceeded to join the Prince of Wales in the south, and left the country which had been intrusted to him, exposed to ravage and desolation. Although the English historians restrict the loss of soldiers in this fatal and important battle to five thousand foot, and a hundred heavy-armed horse,"f it is probable that nearly one half of the English army was cut to pieces, and Cressingham the treasurer was amongst the first who fell. Hemingford allows, that the plunder which fell into the hands of the Scots was very great, and that waggons were filled with the spoils.