Page:Robert the Bruce and the struggle for Scottish independence - 1909.djvu/213

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1313 A.D.]
165
Death of Edward I.

loping wildly back along the ridge, threw into confusion the columns of the main body.

It is difficult to account for what followed, because de Valence, even if he found himself unable to carry the position at once by assault, had enough troops to invest it closely. However, the fact remains beyond question that before night the English were in full retreat, and Bruce remained in possession of the field. It is said that the Scots even pursued the fugitives for some distance.

Barbour mentions Douglas as taking part in this action, and nothing would seem more likely than that he should have done so, were it not for a remarkable passage in a letter written from Carlisle five days after the battle, to the effect that James de Douglas had sent messengers to beg that he might be received to King Edward's peace, but that when he saw the English retreating, he changed his mind. If this be true, it shows how hopeless seemed the cause of Bruce in the judgment of his best friends; but the writer adds that what they hear one day is contradicted the next. He also describes King Edward's fury at the defeat of his viceroy, and mentions that he had sent to London for his tents, being resolved to move to Dumfries after Midsummer. Meanwhile, his cavalry, decked with leaves, had marched past before him at Pentecost, which made him pleased and very merry.[1]

The battle of Loudon Hill marked the crisis in the fortunes of Robert de Brus. It was the first

  1. National MSS. of Scotland, vol. ii., No. 13.