Timeline of Scottish History

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Critical situation of the English Army

In the meantime, the besiegers were relieved from the extremities of want, by the arrival of three ships with provisions; and the bishop, on receiving the king's message, took advantage of the renewed strength and spirits of his soldiers, to order an assault, which was successful; the garrison having stipulated, before surrender, that their lives should be spared. Edward, when at Kirkliston, had raised some of the young squires in his army to the rank of knighthood; and these new knights were sent to gain their spurs, by taking the other two fortalices. On coming before them, however, they found that the Scots had abandoned them to the enemy; and having destroyed them, they rejoined the main army.

These transactions occupied a month, and the army began again to suffer severely from the scarcity of provisions. The fleet from Berwick was anxiously looked for, and Edward foresaw, that in the event of its arrival being protracted a few days longer, he should be compelled to retreat. At last a few ships were seen off the coast, which brought a small supply; but the great body of the fleet was still detained by contrary winds, and a dangerous mutiny broke out in the camp. The Welsh troops had suffered much from famine; and a present of wine having been sent to them by the king, their soldiers, in a paroxysm of intoxication and national antipathy, attacked the English quarters in the night, and inhumanly murdered eighteen priests.

Upon this the English cavalry hastily ran to their weapons, and breaking in upon the Welsh, slew eighty men. In the morning the Welsh, of whom there were forty thousand in the army, exasperated at the death of their companions, threatened to join the Scots. "Let them do so," said Edward, with his usual cool courage; "let them go over to my enemies: I hope soon to see the day when I shall chastise them both." This day, however, was, to all appearance, distant. The distress for provisions now amounted to an absolute famine. No intelligence had been received of the Scottish army. As the English advanced, the country had been wasted by an invisible foe; and Edward, wearied out, was at length compelled to issue orders for a retreat to Edinburgh, hoping to meet with his fleet at Leith, and thereafter to recommence operations against the enemy.