Page:Robert the Bruce and the struggle for Scottish independence - 1909.djvu/122

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Robert the Bruce.

[1296 A.D.-

men-at-arms could ride on it abreast. De Lundin offered to show the way over a ford, whereby the Scots might be taken in flank and rear, the main body of English meanwhile keeping them engaged in front. But his strategy was not approved, perhaps because so recent a recruit had not yet secured the confidence of the English commanders. De Cressingham, Treasurer of Scotland, led the way across the fatal bridge, with Sir Marmaduke de Twenge in command of the heavy cavalry. Progress was very slow: it was midday before the English vanguard had formed upon the north bank, and hitherto Wallace had made no sign. But his time had now come. Sending flanking parties along the river banks, he advanced against the front of the enemy and attacked them with fury. Greatly outnumbered, de Cressingham's force was thrown into confusion by this sudden assault, and utterly routed with terrible slaughter. Sir Thomas Gray, whose father, if he was not actually present on that day, knew the ground thoroughly, and, as a soldier, would furnish the chronicler with a trustworthy account of the battle, says that Wallace broke down the bridge which he had allowed the English vanguard to cross, thus separating the enemy into two bodies. De Cressingham, their commander, was slain, and, according to Hemingburgh, flayed, and his skin divided among the victors—erat enim pulcher et grossus nimis "for he was comely, and too fat." On the other hand, the Scots suffered deplorable loss in the death of young Andrew de Moray.

The main body of English, witnessing the disaster