Page:Robert the Bruce and the struggle for Scottish independence - 1909.djvu/252

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[1314 A.D.
Robert the Bruce.

equipment. To this task he devoted himself, and no one can appreciate the sagacity with which he accomplished it, without going carefully over the ground which he chose. But besides the technical part of his office as commander-in-chief, there was the hardly less important duty of rousing the spirit and patriotic ardour of his soldiers. None understood better than the Bruce how this was to be done. He went incessantly among his troops, advising and encouraging them, and personally superintended the execution of the works he ordered to be done. Nor did he neglect the aid of religion; for, doubly excommunicate though he was, he directed the vigil of St. John (Sunday, June 23d) to be kept as a solemn fast.

News was brought by scouts on Saturday, June 22d, that the English army had lain overnight at Edinburgh,[1] and was advancing by way of Falkirk. Upon this King Robert moved out upon the position which he had already chosen with great care, on some gently swelling hills, about two miles south of Stirling, with his front facing south by east. The English had the alternative of two lines of advance—by the old Roman highway, leading through the village of St. Ninians, or farther to the east, by the "carse" or plain beside the river Forth, across patches of cultivation and shallow pools of water. The King of Scots was prepared to oppose them whichever way they came, and, with great prudence, refrained from

  1. Edinburgh Castle had been dismantled after its capture by Randolph the previous summer.—The Brus, lxxxv., 17; Lanercost, 223.