APART from the Hazelrig and Ormsby episodes, the
chroniclers plant Wallace at Stirling Bridge almost as if he had just
started from the ground, or come down from the clouds, ready to command an
army in the field. Yet they call him brigand, public robber, cut-throat, and
other suchlike names, strangely inadequate as explanation of his command of
the Scots against a mighty English host. Wallace's leadership really has to
be accounted for on some more rational principle.
Now, Harry is the main guide up to the Hazeirig
episode; and Harry has been grievously discredited. As the criticism of his
poem stands, each reader must be left free to make his own deductions; but
at least it may be claimed for Harry that each episode be judged on its
merits, not by the jeers of Lord Hailes or an echo thereof. In any case, it
is beyond all question that Wallace must have gone through some such
experience as Harry details. Stirling Bridge was not an historical miracle.
OCCASIONAL EARLY ADVENTURES.
It might be possible to refer some of the earlier
exploits of Wallace, as recorded by Harry, to 1292, without much more
violence than is involved in the like reference of the Selby episode. But
there is no similar necessity. They all imply the presence of Sir Henry de
Percy in the Ayr district, and Percy was appointed Warden of Galloway and
Ayr and Castellan of Ayr, Wigton, Cruggelton, and Buittle on September 8,
1296, though he did not reach his post till well into October. It is excess
of stringency to bind Harry definitely to particular months.
What Wallace had been doing in the gap between 1292
and 1296 remains unknown. It seems hopeless to connect him in any way with
the events of March and April 1296, at Berwick and Dunbar; and it is likely
enough that Sir Richard Wallace sedulously kept him out of mischief and
danger, at Riccarton, till the fresh occupation of Galloway and Ayr by the
English in October 1296. On the assumption, however, of his marriage with
Marion Bradfute, which cannot easily be placed later than the first months
of 1296, there must have been considerable intermissions of his restraint.
Sir Reginald Crawford had duly submitted to Edward, who confirmed him in the
Sheriffdom of Ayr on May 14 at Roxburgh.
fresh involvement of Wallace with the English is ascribed by Harry to an
accidental conflict with five men of Percy's train at the Water of Irvine.
Wallace was fishing as Percy passed, and the men proceeded to appropriate
his takings. He killed three of the five. Sir Richard was distracted.
Plainly, Wallace could not remain longer at Riccarton. Taking a youth as his
sole attendant, he rode straight to Wallace of Auchincruive, and sought
shelter in Laglane Wood, where his relative secretly supplied him with
Wallace, however, chafed in
inaction. He would see what was doing in Ayr. At the market-cross he fell in
with a champion, who was offering English soldiers and others a stroke on
his back with a rough bucket-pole for a groat. Wallace gave him three groats,
delivered his stroke, and broke the man's backbone. The English at once
attacked him, and he had to slay five of them before he could escape to his
horse, which he had left with his man at the edge of the wood. Further
pursuit was in vain.
This affair having blown
over, Wallace would again visit Ayr. It was market-day. Sir Reginald's
servant had bought fish, when Percy's steward insultingly demanded them; and
on Wallace's interposing a gentle remonstrance, the steward in choler struck
him with his hunting-staff. Wallace instantly collared him, and stabbed him
to the heart: 'caterer thereafter, sure, he was no more.' Some fourscore
men-at-arms had been told off to keep order on market-day, and Wallace was
at once assailed. After a fierce struggle, with many casualties, he was
borne down and taken prisoner—'to pine him more' than forthright death. Cast
into an ugsome cell, and badly fed, he fell very ill; and when the gaoler
was sent down to bring him up for judgment, he found his prisoner apparently
dead, and so reported. In the result, Wallace's body was tossed over the
wall into 'a draft midden,' presumably lifeless. Hearing of this, his old
nurse, who lived in the New Town of Ayr, begged leave to take the body away
for burial; and, her request being contemptuously granted, she had it
carried to her house. Her tendance revived Wallace, but she kept up the
outward pretence that he was dead. It argues a good nurse and a good
constitution if he made recovery within the limits of time indicated by
At this period the famous Thomas the
Rimer happened to be on a visit at the neighbouring monastery of Faile (St.
Mary's). He felt deep concern for Wallace's fate. The 'Minister' of the
house despatched a messenger to ascertain the truth privately. On hearing
that Wallace was really alive,
Thomas said: "For sooth, ere he decease,
Shall many thousands in the
field make end.
From Scotland he shall forth the Southron send,
Scotland thrice he shall bring to the peace.
So good of hand again shall
ne'er be kenned."
A similar prophecy is
mentioned by Harry as lying heavy on the mind of Percy—a prophecy that a
Wallace should turn the English out of Scotland. 'Wise men,' said Percy,
'the sooth by his escape may see.' The same view, according to Harry, took a
strong hold of the popular mind.
benefactress and her family to his mother at Eldcrslie, Wallace got hold of
a rusty sword, and set out for Riccarton. On the way he encountered an
English squire named Longcastell (Lancaster), with two men, who insisted on
taking him to Ayr. Wallace pleaded to be let alone, for he was sick.
Longcastell pronounced him a sturdy knave, and drew his sword. Wallace at
once struck him dead with his rusty weapon, and then killed the two
followers. Taking the spoils, he hurried to Riccarton. There came Sir
Reginald and Wallace's mother and many friends, and great was the rejoicing.
GUERRILLA IN THE WEST.
Wallace, however, was eager to avenge him on his enemies. He would not rest
at Riccarton. Accordingly, he was furnished forth, and was accompanied by
several lads of spirit, his relatives and friends. Adam Wallace, Sir
Richard's eldest son, now eighteen, Robert Boyd, Kneland, 'near cousin to
Wallace,' Edward Little, 'his sister's son,' and Gray and Kerly, with some
attendants, bound them to ride with him to Mauchline Moor. Learning there
that an English convoy from Carlisle to Ayr was approaching, Wallace rode to
Loudon Hill and lay in wait. The convoy came in sight. It was conducted by
Fenwick, the officer that had commanded the English in the recent combat
here, when Wallace's father was slain. This concurrence of circumstances
exalted Wallace's spirit, and steeled his mind to a resolute revenge. He had
but 50 men against 18o; and his men fought on foot. By throwing up a rough
dyke of stones, he had narrowed the approach of the harnessed English horse,
whose riders fancied they had no more to do than to trample their enemies
down. Wallace promptly disabused their minds of that time- honoured
superciliousness. His men plied them first with spears and then with swords,
keeping close order, and defying the horsemen's efforts to scatter them.
Wallace himself in fury struck Fenwick from his horse, Boyd giving the
finishing blow; and a hundred of the English lay dead on the field. The
superstition of the invincibility of armed horse by footmen was exploded by
Wallace's tactics and fierce resolution. The victors carried off Percy's
convoy to the depths of the forest of Clydesdale, whence they freely
distributed 'stuff and horses' privately to friendly neighbours. The success
of this daring effort tended to corroborate the prophecy of True Thomas and
spread the fame of Wallace.
Hill exploit came under the cognisance of Percy in council at Glasgow. Sir
Reginald was taken bound for the culprit's good behaviour, and, in order to
shield the Sheriff, Wallace's comrades induced him to consent to a peace for
ten months—a peace limited to Percy's jurisdiction. Presently Wallace would
yet again see Ayr, and went to Ayr with fifteen men. Invited by an English
buckler-player to try his sword, Wallace cut through buckler, hand, and
brain down to the shoulders. At once a fight ensued, at great odds, and the
Scots had to retire, Wallace protecting the rear. Harry says 29 out of 120
English, including three of Percy's near kin, were slain. Percy, however,
recognised that Wallace was not the aggressor, and contented himself with
binding Sir Reginald to keep him from market-town and fair and like resorts.
So for a week or two Wallace stayed at Crosby.
Another Council was now summoned at Glasgow, 'to
statute the country.' Sir Reginald, as Sheriff, obeyed the summons, taking
Wallace with him. Wallace rode ahead, overtaking the Sheriff's baggage,
which soon came up on Percy's. Percy's horse was tired, and Percy's
conductor insolently appropriated Sir Reginald's fresher beast, despite
Wallace's remonstrance. 'Reason him ruled,' and he returned to Sir Reginald,
who took it very calmly. Wallace, however, fired up, and swore that, peace
or no peace, please the Sheriff or otherwise, he would exact amends for the
wrong. Spurring forward again in high dudgeon, with Gray and Kerly by his
side, he quickly overtook Percy's baggage east of Cathcart, slew the five
attendants, and took the spoil. Then said Wallace, 'At some strength would I
The Council promptly outlawed Wallace,
and made Sir Reginald swear to hold no friendly communication with him
without leave. Meantime Wallace, with his two men, had passed to the Lennox.
Harry sends him to Earl Malcolm, who proposed to make him 'master of his
household.' The Earl had, in fact, already sworn fealty to Edward, not once,
but twice (March 14 and August 28), though Harry says, 'he had not then made
band'; but that consideration would be open to easy interpretation in the
remote fastnesses of Dumbartonshire. In any case, Wallace is said to have
declined the offer, his mind being set upon wreaking revenge on the English.
He was joined by about sixty men, some of them Irish exiles, and all of them
pretty rough. Two of them must be signalised: Fawdon, a big dour fellow; and
Steven of Ireland, a most valuable recruit, who soon became a great friend
what man would come him till;
The bodily oath they made him with good
Before the Earl, all with a good accord,
And him received as
captain and their lord.'
Gray and Kerly, who
had been with him at Loudon Hill, he instructed to keep near his person,
knowing them 'right hardy, wise, and true.' The field of action was closed
against him in the west. He would therefore strike to the north.
GUERRILLA IN THE NORTH.
With his sixty men, Wallace started through the
Lennox. He was well provided from the spoil of Percy's baggage, and he
liberally distributed the good Earl's gifts among his followers. The first
exploit of the campaign was the capture of the peel of Gargunnock, a little
west of Stirling. Wallace sent two spies at midnight to find out how the
place was defended; and their report was that everything betokened
heedlessness—sentry asleep, bridge down, labourers going in without
question. Hurrying up his men with due precaution, Wallace entered without
hindrance. The peel door he found guarded with a stubborn bar, which, to the
marvel of his men, he wrenched out with his hands, bringing three yards'
breadth of the wall with it. Next moment, he burst in the door with his
foot. The watchman, wakened up suddenly, struck at him with 'a felon staff
of steel,' which Wallace wrested out of his hands and brained him with. The
captain, Thirlwall, with the aroused garrison at his heels, came forward,
only to be battered to death with the same steel mace. Not a single
fighting-man and there were twenty-two of them—was spared; but women and
children, according to Wallace's invariable rule, were protected. Having
gathered the spoils, Wallace and his men hastened on their way.
Crossing the Forth, they headed north to the Teith,
where Wallace gave Kerly custody of the useful mace of steel; and, having
passed the Teith, they held on, by one 'strength' and another, to Strathearn,
religiously slaying every Englishman they fell in with. At Blackford, for
instance, they encountered five riding to Doune, and killed and spoiled
them, and put the bodies 'out of sight.' They then crossed the Earn, and
made for Methven Wood, where they found 'a land of great abundance.'
Wallace, however, did not enjoy the fat of the forest
in idleness. He longed to see St. Johnston. Appointing Steven of Ireland,
who had done good service as guide after Gargunnock, to command in his
absence, Wallace took seven men and fared to the town. 'What is your name?'
inquired the provost (mayor). 'Will Malcolm- son,' replied Wallace, 'from
Ettrick Forest; and I want to find a better dwelling in this north land.'
The provost explained his inquiry by reciting the rumours that were rife
about Wallace, the outlaw. 'I hear speak of that man,' said Wallace, 'but
tidings of him can I tell you none.' Sir Gerard Heron was captain, and
'under-captain' was Sir John Butler, son of Sir James Butler of Kinclaven,
who then happened to be in St. Johnston. Harry recounts Wallace's nightly
regrets that he had not force enough to take the town. He discovered,
however, the strength and distribution of the enemy in these parts; and,
having learnt when Sir James Butler was to return to Kinclaven, he at once
set out again for Methven Wood, where the blast of his well- known horn
quickly assembled his men.
Kinclaven, on the right bank of the Tay a little above the junction of the
Isla, Wallace ambushed his men near the castle in a thickly-wooded hollow.
In the early afternoon his scouts brought him the news that three
fore-riders had passed, but he did not move till Butler and his train came
up so as to make sure of their exact strength. There were ninety good men in
harness on horseback. When Wallace showed himself, these warriors
contemptuously imagined they could simply ride down him and his footmen, but
they were promptly taught the lesson of Loudon Hill. Wallace and his men
stood shoulder to shoulder, and plied their swords with dire effect. Wallace
himself was conspicuous where his brand was most needed, and at length he
reached Sir James Butler, and clove him to the teeth. Steven of Ireland and
Kerly 'with his good staff of steel' especially distinguished themselves.
Three score of Butler's men were slain, and the remnant fled to the castle,
hotly pursued by the Scots. The bridge was lowered and the gates cast open
to the fugitives; but Wallace followed so fast that he got command of the
gate, and his men entered with the flying enemy. Not a fighting-man was left
alive in the place; only Lady Butler and her women, two priests, and the
children were spared. Only five Scots were killed. Having plundered,
dismantled, and burnt the castle, Wallace drew off into Shortwood Shaw.
When the country folk, seeing the smoke, hastened to
Kinclaven Castle, they found 'but walls and stone.' Lady Butler herself
carried the news to St Johnston. At once Sir Gerard Heron ordered 1000 men
'harnessed on horse into their armour clear,' to pursue Wallace. The force
was disposed in six equal companies, five to surround the wood; the sixth,
led by Sir John Butler, to make the direct attack. Wallace had taken up a
strong position, which he fortified by cross bars of trees except on one
side, whence he could issue to the open ground. This 'strength,' he
determined, must be held to the last. Butler had 140 archers, said to be
Lancashire men, with 8o spears in support. Wallace had only 20 archers, and
'few of them were sikker of archery'; they were more familiar with spear and
sword. Wallace himself had a bow of Ulysses: 'no man was there that Wallace'
bow might draw.' He was short of arrows, however; for, when he had shot
fifteen, his stock was exhausted. The English, on the other hand, were
plentifully supplied. The odds were overwhelmingly in their favour. Wallace
did his utmost to shelter his men, 'and cast all ways to save them from the
death.' With his own hand he dealt death to many of the foe in sudden
sallies. Here he had a very narrow escape. Observing his tactics, an English
archer lay in wait for him, and shot him:
'Under the chin, through a collar of steel,
left side, and hurt his neck some deal.'
is curious to note that the alleged French description of Wallace preserved
by Harry mentions 'a wen' or scar in this very spot. Wallace instantly made
for his assailant at all hazards, and killed him in sight of friends and
In the course of the afternoon the
English were reinforced by the arrival of Sir William de Loraine from Gowrie
with 300 men to avenge the death of his uncle, Sir James Butler. 'Here is no
choice,' said Wallace, 'but either do or die.' A combined assault was made
on his position by Butler and Loraine; and he had only 50 to withstand 500.
The battle raged fiercely, and in spite of his most arduous efforts with his
'burly brand,' Wallace was compelled to evacuate and to seek shelter in the
thickest part of the wood. At last he cut his way through Butler's company,
and established himself in another 'strength.' The English stuck close to
him, however. In the mêlée, he struck hard at Butler, who was saved from
death by the interposition of the bough of a tree, which Wallace brought
down upon him. By this time Loraine had come up, and Wallace, making
straight at him, cut him down, but did not regain the 'strength' without a
worthy Scots right nobly did that day
About Wallace, till he was won
Still Wallace held his 'strength.' Sir
Gerard Heron, however, on hearing of the death of Loraine, moved all his
troops simultaneously against the position; whereupon Wallace and his men
issued at the north side of the wood in retreat, 'thanking great God' that
they got off on such terms. The Scots had lost seven men killed; the
Wallace took refuge in Cargill
Wood. The English, deeming it fruitless to pursue him, set about seeking
where the plunder of Kinclaven had been deposited in the forest; but they
found nothing except Sir James's horse. They then returned to St. Johnston,
more dispirited than elated. The second night, the Scots returned cautiously
to Shortwood Shaw, and carried away the hidden spoils. By sunrise they
reached Methven Wood, and three days afterwards they established themselves
in a strength in Elcho Park. They had eluded the vigilance of their enemies.
Thanks to the temerity of Wallace, however, they were
soon discovered. According to Harry, he returned to St. Johnston in the
disguise of a priest, in prosecution of an amour commenced on his first
visit. He was recognised and watched; and the woman is said to have
disclosed the date of the next appointment. He was accordingly waylaid; but,
on her confession, he threw aside his own disguise and arrayed himself in
her dress, and, dissembling his countenance and his voice, passed safely out
at the gate. As he increased his pace, two of the guards, thinking him 'a
stalwart quean,' hastened after him. In a few minutes they lay dead on the
South Inch, and Wallace was hurrying to Elcho Park. This story of Harry's is
unusually clumsy, or the eyes of the guards must have been peculiarly
The two men being found slain on the
South Inch, Sir Gerard Heron set out in pursuit of Wallace with 600 men. He
took with him also a sleuth-hound of the best Border breed. Heron with half
his force surrounded the wood where Wallace was posted, and Butler made the
attack with the rest, 300 against 40. In the first ruthless onset, the Scots
killed forty, but lost fifteen. Finding their ground untenable, they cut
their way through the enemy to the banks of the Tay, intending to cross; but
the water was deep, and one-half of them could not swim. They had no
alternative, therefore, but to face Butler's men again; and after a severe
struggle, in which Steven and Kerly, as well as Wallace, performed doughty
deeds, they again cut through the English, killing sixty and losing nine.
Already Wallace had lost more than half his men, twenty-four out of forty,
and sixteen was a mere handful against hundreds. As Butler was re-forming
his men, Wallace took the opportunity to dash through between him and Heron,
and made for Gask Wood.
The approach of night
was in his favour. But the way was uphill and rough, and when they were yet
east of Dupplin, a considerable distance from the anticipated shelter,
Fawdon broke down, and would not be persuaded to hurry on. Having exhausted
argument and entreaty, Wallace in anger struck off his head. Harry justifies
the act. It might stop the sleuth-hound. Fawdon was suspected of treachery;
he was 'right stark' and had gone but a short distance. If he was false, he
would join the enemy; if he was true, the enemy would kill him. 'Might he do
aught but lose him as it was?' On the alleged facts, probably there is
little more to be said. The succeeding narrative shows plainly enough that
Wallace felt himself in a most painful dilemma.
While Wallace hastened forward, Steven and Kerly
stayed behind in a bushy hollow till Heron came up, and then cautiously
mixed with the English as they were speculating on Fawdon's fate. The hound
had stopped, and as Heron was inspecting Fawdon, Kerly suddenly struck him
dead. Kerly and Steven at once dashed off towards the Earn. Butler
despatched an escort with Heron's body to St. Johnston, and pushed on to
Dalreoch. Meantime Wallace had occupied Gask Hall— Baroness Nairne's 'Bonny
'an unco tow'r,
sae stern an' auld'
with his remnant of
fourteen, and was painfully anxious about Steven and Kerly, and vexed about
the death of Fawdon. In the circumstances of his mental excitement and
bodily fatigue, the story of the apparition of Fawdon, which Harry works up
so elaborately, finds a very natural basis. Whether or not Wallace sent out
his men in relays to discover the meaning of the strange horn- blowing, and
so forth, and then sallied out alone under the urgency of the apparition, he
appears to have now lost all touch with his men.
Passing along Earn side all alone, Wallace fell in
with Sir John Butler, who was patrolling the fords. Butler, suspecting his
explanation of his business, drew upon him; whereupon Wallace killed him,
seized his horse, and rode away, pursued hotly by the English. In the
running fight he killed some twenty of them; but at Blackford his horse
broke down, and he was obliged to take to the heather on foot. Struggling to
the Forth, he swam the cold river and hastened to the Torwood, where he got
shelter in a widow's hut. Sending out messengers to repass the way he came
and get news of his men, he retired to a deep thicket to rest, watched by
two of the widow's sons, while a third went to apprise the priest of
Dunipace of his arrival.
The priest came.
Wallace was still suffering severely from fatigue as well as excitement.
'What I have had in war before this day— Prison and
pain—to this night was but play. . I moan far more the losing of my men Than
for myself, had I ten times such pain.'
priest, however ardent for freedom in the abstract, could not but recognise
the hopelessness of Wallace's position. His men were lost; more would not
rise with him in their place; it was useless for him to throw away his life.
Let him seek honourable terms with Edward. The old man may have been
overpowered by Wallace's disastrous condition; he may have been testing his
said Wallace, "of such words no more.
This is but eking of my trouble
Better I like to see the Southron dee
Than land or gold that
they can give to me.
Believe right well, from war I will not cease
Till time that I bring Scotland into peace,
Or die therefor: that
Such was the
indomitable resolution of Wallace in these hopeless circumstances. Presently
he was cheered by the arrival of Steven and Kerly, who were overjoyed to
find him alive. 'For perfect joy they wept with all their een.' Wallace was
eager to move. The widow gave him 'part of silver bright' and two of her
sons. She would have given the third but that he was too young. The priest
provided Wallace with horses and outfit; but 'wae he was his mind was all in
war.' And so Wallace passed on to Dundaff Moor. Though the northern campaign
had closed with the annihilation of his force, it had spread the rumour and
inflamed the spirit of resistance.
THE CAPTURE OF LOCHMABEN
Wallace with his four followers rode to Dundaff, a
hilly tract in Stirlingshire. The lord of Dundaff, according to Harry, was
Sir John the Graham, 'an aged knight,' who paid tribute for a quiet life.
Abercrombie, however, following Sympson, says he belonged not to the Dundaff,
but to the Abercorn family; and, on the strength of a charter in the
possession of the Duke of Montrose, he states that Dundaff was then held by
Sir David de Graham. A Sir David de Graham, brother of the gallant Sir
Patrick, was taken prisoner at Dunbar, and relegated to St. Briavell's
Castle. Anyhow, this knight of Dundaff had a son, also named Sir John, 'both
wise, worthy, and wight,' and
'On a broad shield his father gart him swear
would be true to Wallace in all thing,
And he to him while life might in
them ryng (reign).'
Young Sir John prepared
to ride with Wallace, but Wallace would not take him then.
'A plain part yet I will not take on me.
I have lost men through my o'er-reckless deed:
burnt child will the fire more sorely dread.'
He would try to raise his friends in Clydesdale, and
give Sir John notice. Sir John eventually became his most illustrious
So Wallace passed on to Bothwell
Moor, to one Crawford, no doubt a relative; and next day he went to Gilbank,
which was held on tribute by Auchinleck, a youth of nineteen, closely
related to him by marriage. Here he is said to have remained over Christmas.
The English in these parts had heard of his doings in the north, but he had
disappeared in Strathearn, and so went out of their minds. Wallace, though
lying quiet, was not inactive. He despatched the trusty Kerly to Sir
Reginald, Boyd, Blair, and Adam of Riccarton. Blair at once visited him.
From all his friends reinforcements poured into his exchequer.
'All true Scots then great favour to him gave:
What good they had he needed not to crave.'
Starting from Gilbank after Christmas, Wallace with his four men rode to
Corheid in Annandale. Here he was joined by Tom Halliday and Edward Little,
who were delighted to find that there was no truth in the report that he had
been slain in Strathearn. Wallace was now sixteen. He longed to see
Lochmaben town. So he set out with Halliday, Edward, and Kerly, leaving the
rest in the Knock Wood. While they were hearing mass, Clifford, Percy's
nephew, with four men, came to their hostelry and spitefully cut off the
tails of their horses. Wallace killed them all. The English quickly pursued,
about io strong. Wallace reached his men in the Knock Wood, but his horses
were failing through loss of blood, and he was caught up before gaining
Corheid. Returning desperately, he killed fifteen of the foremost, and
compelled the survivors to fall back on the main body, but did not pursue,
Halliday having descried some 200 in ambush. The English again pressed the
Scots retreat. Wallace cut down the redoubtable Sir Hugh de Morland, and,
mounting Morland's 'courser wight,' again compelled the advanced guard to
retire with the loss of twenty men. Sir John de Graystock, the English
leader, was furious. Meantime Wallace hurried on, himself and Halliday
stoutly guarding the rear.
Wallace was happily reinforced by Sir John the Graham with thirty men, and
by Kirkpatrick of Torthorwald, who had been holding out in Eskdale Wood,
with twenty men. The Scots thereupon charged through the English, scattering
them in flight; but 100 held together, and Wallace, with brusque directness,
recalled Sir John and ordered him to break up this body. The rout was
complete, and at the Knock Head Sir John killed Graystock. The valour of Sir
John, Kirkpatrick, and Halliday had been conspicuous. Harry remarks a
delicate courtesy of Wallace's in apologising to Sir John for the
brusqueness of his order in the heat of the pursuit; and no less generous
was Sir John's answer. In this engagement the Scots did not lose a single
The victorious Scots now held a council,
and unanimously adopted Wallace's proposal to take Lochmaben Castle, the
seat of the Bruce. The possession of Lochmaben would establish a strong
footing against the English; and perhaps they might also link with it
Carlaverock Castle, if this could be wrested from Sir Herbert de Maxwell. In
the dusk of the evening, Halliday, taking with him John Watson, both of them
having special local knowledge, rode to the gate. The porter, who knew
Watson well, unsuspiciously opened the gate, on his information that the
captain was coming, and was instantly killed by Halliday, Watson taking his
keys. Wallace then came up and entered, finding only women and a couple of
men-servants. The women he spared, but the men he killed. As the Knock Head
fugitives returned, Watson let them in, and Wallace's men immediately slew
them. 'No man left there that was of England born.' Johnstone, the husband
of Halliday's second daughter—probably the Johnstone of Eskdale mentioned
later by Harry—was made captain. Lochmaben was thus the first castle that
Wallace attempted to hold.
The short campaign
in Annandale was over. Halliday settled down again in the Corhall, and
Kirkpatrick returned to Eskdale Wood. Wallace and Sir John, with forty men,
passed north into Lanarkshire, and having captured and dismantled Crawford
Castle, proceeded straight to Dundaff.
short and sharp campaigns of the west and the north—whether as detailed by
Harry or not—had placed Wallace before his countrymen as the foremost
champion of the liberties of Scotland.