Page:Robert the Bruce and the struggle for Scottish independence - 1909.djvu/271

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1314 A.D.]
217
The Battle of Bannockburn.

lish in archery, also extended their bowmen; but these were quickly driven in.[1]

The brunt of the fighting was borne by Edward de Brus's division on the right. While he was resisting the repeated charges of English heavy cavalry in front, the archers swarmed into the broken ground on his right, and poured a galling fire upon his flank. The position was critical. Behind the cavalry, the whole weight of the English columns was pressing forward, though greatly hampered by want of room. In vain the gallant Gloucester strove to break that iron "schiltrome." His horse fell disembowelled by the cruel pikes, and, according to some accounts, it was here this brave knight met a soldier's death. The English could not deploy to their right, because of Halbert's Bog, which protected the Scottish centre; Randolph, therefore, was free to take ground to his right and thereby support Edward de Brus. Still, the Scots were falling fast under the fire of archers; and the moment had come for King Robert to make masterly use of his small body of cavalry under Sir Robert de Keith. He sent that knight with his whole force of 500 horse round the right rear, to take the English archers in flank. Keith was completely successful.[2] He charged the sharp-shooters with great spirit, scattered them like chaff, and Edward de Brus was free to concentrate his attention on the enemy in front.

  1. Lannercost, 225.
  2. Lord Hailes pronounces Keith's charge to have been decisive of the battle.