English Forces Hammer The Scots At Pinkie Cleugh

Today on September 10, 1547, English forces hammer the Scots at the Battle of Pinkie Cleugh.

The Battle of Pinkie Cleugh is considered by many historians to be the first modern battle on the British Isles. It was also significant in that it was the last major pitched battle between England and Scotland. The conflict took place on the Banks of the River Esk in Scotland. Although outnumbering the enemy by almost two-to-one, the Scots ultimately were dealt a decisive defeat. The superior training and equipment of the English soldiers carried the day. Under the command of the Duke of Somerset, the English Army was also supported by a fleet of nearly thirty warships. Somerset spent months preparing his invasion force and recruited arquebus mercenaries from Germany, Italy, and Spain.

The Scots were led by James Hamilton, Earl of Arran, who served as a regent for the young Mary Stuart (Mary Queen of Scots). He hastily prepared to defend Scotland by raising an army of pikeman and highland archers. As Somerset advanced along the eastern coast, he stayed close to the fleet for resupplying his army. The Scots entrenched themselves along the slopes of the west bank of the River Esk. Some fortifications were constructed with cannons to keep the warships at a safe distance. On September 10, Hamilton tried to lure the English into a close combat fight, knowing he was heavily outmatched by artillery. The English maintained their composure and opened fired on the Scot's left flank with their warships. Next, they simultaneously charged their left flank with heavy cavalry and opened fire on the center with archers and arquebusiers.

The Scots simply had no answer the English barrage. Hamilton’s army quickly broke out into a disorderly panic and fled the field. Contemporary accounts suggest anywhere from 6,000 to 15,000 Scottish casualties. The defeat was so devastating that the Scots still remember the Battle of Pinkie Cleugh as “Black Saturday”. Despite the clear and resounding defeat, the Scottish government refused to submit to the southern neighbors. The Scots had the infant Queen Mary smuggled to France, where she would eventually marry the Dauphin.

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