BATTLE OF STIRLING BRIDGE and BATTLE OF FALKIRK
BATTLE OF STIRLING BRIDGE
At Stirling Bridge, Scotland William Wallace and Edward Longshanks, the King of England, engaged in their first historically acknowledged battle. This battle occurred as a result of Wallace’s destruction in the previous months to Longshanks outposts through out Scotland. Wallace's army was mainly of low social status and most of their weapons were hand made. The Scottish army amounted to only 5,000 men with 100 knights. While the English army consisted of 50,000 foot soldiers, 4000 archers and 1000 heavy calvary. Although Wallace was greatly outnumbered, he did have a small advantage. He had the high ground and knew the area much better than his adversaries General Cressingham and General Surrey. Wallace had created a plan that would demise the English army quicker that any one could have ever imagined.
On September 11, 1297, the day of the battle Wallace and the Scottish knight Andrew De Moray, one of the few Scottish trained soldiers to take part in the liberation, marched their small volunteer army to Stirling Bridge and waited very impatiently for the enormous English army. Wallace's brilliant plan was to let the majority of the English army cross the aged wooden bridge and then cut the supports, splitting their forces and killing the men still on the old structure. Now with the English's forces split in half the Scottish had gained a major advantage, the English were in disarray and they were waiting patiently for Wallace's command. Another advantage the Scots had was the ground on the side the
English were now on was very wet, almost like a marsh, making it nearly impossible for the English's mighty war horses to have any effect on the Scots. When the call was sounded the Scots fearlessly charged down from the steep slopes of the Abbey Craig screaming ferociously swinging their weapons with out thought it was just an act of pure reaction. The English were being slain almost effortlessly when the Scots finally reached the battlefield. Wallace now had the greatest army in Christendom trapped in the bend of the river with no hope of aid from their allies except for their archers, which at this point had a better chance of hitting one of their own than the Scots. The archers did wound some Scots, but not enough to change the out come of the battle. The English soldiers were being killed unmercifully, pulled from their horses and with their throats slit were left to die.
The Scots slaughtered every last Englishman that stood on the battlefield that day. Even Cressingham and Surrey were killed, but the Scots too felt the aftermath of the battle with the death of Andrew de Moray a little over a month after the dust had settled at Stirling. The loss of Moray would come back to haunt Wallace when only ten months later Edward Longshanks personally came to Scotland to end the rebellion.
Battle of Falkirk
After his victory at Stirling Bridge, Wallace and his men raged through the northern English counties with his campaign of guerilla warfare throughout 1297. During this the Scots lost their support from the French and were left short of men. However, Wallace was not discouraged as he had been recruiting peasants to fight for him. Including these peasants Wallace’s army had reached a count of around 10,000 men.
Finally on July 21, 1298 Wallace led his men forward to meet the English at Falkirk. In order to lesson the strain that England’s horsemen would put on his army Wallace armed his first line of soldiers with schiltron units, or12’ long spears. This would keep the horsemen from getting to close. During the first charge of the English the forces the Scots’ archers opened fire. This scattered the English but they regrouped and charged again. As the English kept charging Wallace probably began to realize that this could be the end. The Scots were outnumbered and had no natural cover (trees, rivers, woods) to work with. The English kept coming and the Scots began to scatter and their defense weakened. Then the English sent their foot soldiers into the fight. Wallace’s archers kept firing, but they were not as affective against the armored foot soldiers.
A turning point in the battle was when “Red,” John Comyn withdrew his soldiers from Wallace’s army and left the battlefield. This cut William’s forces almost in half. It is not known why John Comyn and his forces withdrew, but some think that Edward I may have had been responsible for the betrayal. Soon all that was left of William Wallace’s army were his infantry. This left Wallace with little firepower and with the English army being stronger than ever he had little chance of leaving the battlefield victorious. At this time Longshanks sent his calvary back into the battle one last time. The calvary charged the fight and crushed many Scots beneath the hooves of their horses and hacking the rest of the survivors down one by one. At last William Wallace was forced to flee while his army and his hopes of finally liberating Scotland died.
(William Wallace at the Batlle of Falkirk) ( Edward I, king of England)
Pictures from the movie "Braveheart".