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Battles Solway Moss

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The Battle of Solway Moss

The invading motives of the Scottish troops towards the defensive English forces under the direction of Sir Thomas Wharton as the commanding leader, initiated the eruption of the Battle of the Solway Moss (Sollom Moss) on November 24th, 1542. The aftermath brought frustration and failure to the Scottish and was noted as the most shameful and overwhelming defeats that they had undergone and sustained in the hands of their enemies.

Association between two dynasties of England and Scotland had been moderately degenerating ever since King Henry VIII of England had finally made up his mind to a resolve and judgment to deal with the Pope, and had become in exceptional danger when King James V of Scotland performed ineffectively to turn up for an agreed acquaintance at York in 1541.

This resulted in the minor sudden assault of borderlines. The English made a counter attack when the Scots raided Northumberland. East March English Deputy Warden, Robert Bowes, directed an attack to Teviotdate but they were unexpectedly assaulted by the Earl of Huntly and were overwhelmed at the Battle of Haddon Rig on August 24th, 1542.

Another group of English forces with a total of a 20,000 strong army commanded by the Duke of Norfolk were sent on October of the same year to destroy and burn some communities including Kelso and Eccles but after four days of assaulting they ran out of beverages and food supplies that forced them to go back home to Berwick on Tweed.

On the other hand, King James V had already built his own newly formed army forces with corresponding leaders at Fala Muir since his old commanders took advantage of Norfolk’s defeat as their hint to break, disperse and go home. Most of the people who belonged in the noble classes had become detached and could not be influenced by the king to get involved in any battles and encounters.

The dissolution of the army forces built by the Scottish at the east march activated King James V to test his fortune in the west direction. Different forces of army were formed and put beneath the commanding ability of Admiral of Scotland, 4th Lord Maxwell and Robert Maxwell through the provision and assistance of the Earl of Moray and Cardinal David Beaton, with the purpose of initiating an unexpected attack.

On November 22nd, 1542, King James V stayed at the castle of Lochmaben while Robert Maxwell, together with his nearly18,000 army of men, was at the Langholm Castle. On the other hand, Deputy Warden of the West March, Thomas Wharton was the English in function of Maxwell had merely 3,200 men at his deployment for his obligation of protecting his country in contrast with the hostile invasion and entrance of the northern troops.

Wharton clearly needed to exceed the number of his enemy since he was also capably informed of the fixed position, volume, and purpose of the Scot forces. Being a commander or a fighting leader full of wiles with broad knowledge and experience of boundary struggle, he was fully assured in his quality to overwhelm the Scot forces. Wharton initiated the attack at Middlebie while Maxwell was still resting at the castle of Langholm, planned intentionally to bewilder the Scots concerning the final tendency of the English and convinced them to intersect the Esk River at Arthuret somewhat than to go by the road of Gretna and Solway Sands, which is their first and final plan. On November 23, Wharton went back to Carlisle and found out that the Scots had in fact started to build its way crosswise the Esk River at Sandyforde not far with Arthuret the next morning.

The river was flowing high since it was in the month of November and the road above the shallow river was comparable to a wet and spongy path and made it difficult for Wharton to attain and accomplish its first goal in changing the direction of the Scots towards a tract of land where it would be more difficult for them to spread out their numerous leaders and armies.

Wharton positioned his own forces at the hill of the Hopesyke in the middle of Hallbum stream and grassy wet land, waiting for the forward securities of the Scots army to find out his location. With him were the 200 archers of Kendal commanded by Walter Strikland who properly relayed the fire bursting arrows when the security armies of Scots came rushing forward. By the time great damage had been caused by the longbow men, Wharton would continue to attack the forces of Scots with Border Horse troops led by William Musgrave. This series of schemes appear visibly to have conveyed the forward securities to surrender.

When Thomas Wharton was positioned at the hill of Hopesyke, he set six principles with the purpose of making the Scots confident that there was a large existence of English armies. But it came out that he was the one who was shocked how speedily the Scots horsemen occupied the newly vacated infantry and went back to the major body. In order to overrun the Scots, it would take Wharton almost half an hour to prepare and arrange his forces. He controlled his time by marching forward, not sure enough how the Scots would perform to his occurrence. He also took into consideration Border Horses of Musgrave to start a series of responsibility in contrast with the principal Scottish forces that were making its path crosswise the grassy and wet ground above the shallow river of the Esk.

It was at this point also when Maxwell was planning to organise and gather his men again when Oliver Sinclair appeared and proclaimed that King James V had designated him to take charge his position on the Scottish forces. This quick and unexpected transformation in direction of commanding added to the disorder of the Scots leader especially since most of them declined to adapt to Sinclair's power.

Insufficient force and lack of direction from the Scottish convinced them to surrender over the English. Unmistakably, persuading them that on its way was an extremely powerful English army that made them weak and fearful to get caught in the wet land on the erroneous side of the Esk River as they started to outbreak and the withdrawal resulted into an overwhelming retreat. The Scottish forces quickly lost its intactness and solidness into a struggling mass of men crushingly stampeding with each other on the ground in their rush to slip away.

Less fortunate for the overwhelmed Scots because the water at the river was so high and the flow was too little of breadth to provide the number of armies trying to intersect, many of them were carried out by the water and drowned in the river. Some took the most cognizant solution by simply retreating. Indeed, Lord Maxwell and Oliver Sinclair were put into prison together with the captivity of other Scottish leaders, the battle was completely over. In reality, the Battle of the Solway Moss was not considered as a battle itself but was a little bit of real combat. It was also estimated that the equivalent of six English armies of men were killed and one was wounded.

No one can surely conclude how many Scots were found dead on the battle field but it is probably known that many of them drowned in the river and many trampled to death in the following order of panic compared to those who were slain by English in the battle. Wharton brought 1,200 Scottish into his custody including leaders, commanders, earls and Lords.  

With regards to the balance of soldier forces between England and Scotland, war was of no importance compared with today nevertheless; the mental effect of the many Scot forces functionally ruined by the quantity of English troops is not to be undervalued. It was also reported that it was the violent collision of surrender at the same time with the frustration of the daughter of King James V who was born six days earlier before the death of the king on December 14, 1542 at the age of 30.

He departed leaving his six weeks old daughter, Mary, Queen of the Scots. The child's closest blood connection was her great uncle, Henry VIII. Following his death King Henry VIII decided to liberate the Scottish noble prisoners based on the agreement that they will help in the encouragement and arrangement of young Queen Mary's marriage to his son and successor Prince Edward. The popularity of the English Lords was used to convince the newly proclaimed James Hamilton, Regent of Scotland and the 2nd Earl of Arran to mark the Greenwich Agreement as a counterpart. The result happened to be the never-ending solution to the questioned matter of Anglo-Scottish connection either as the Rough Wooing would be established in the near future.

By dishonouring the Scots, Thomas Wharton accepted his merit and promoted to 1st Baron Wharton in 1544, initiating his family in their way to become duchy. Lately, unity through wedlock of both young Queen Mary of Scotland and Prince Edward of England were arranged and succeeded. 

Original Authors: Phil Post
Edit Update Authors: M.A.Harris
Updated On: 15/07/2008

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