Saturday, July 2, 2011

Battle of Alford

‘After some marching and counter-marching, the armies again found themselves in the neighbourhood of each other, near to the village of Alford. 

Montrose occupied a strong position on a hill, and it was said that the cautious Baillie would have avoided the encounter, had it not been that, having crossed the river Don, in the belief that Montrose was in full retreat, he only discovered his purpose of giving battle when it was too late to decline it. The number of infantry was about two thousand in each army. But Baillie had more than double his opponent's number of cavalry. Montrose's, indeed, were gentlemen, and therefore in the day of battle were more to be relied on than mere hirelings. The Gordons dispersed the Covenanting horse on the first shock; and the musketeers, throwing down their muskets and mingling in the tumult with their swords drawn, prevented the cavalry from rallying. But as Lord Gordon threw himself, for the second time, into the heat of the fight, he fell from his horse, mortally wounded by a shot from one of the fugitives. This accident, which gave the greatest distress to Montrose, suspended the exertions of the cavalry, who, chiefly friends, kinsmen, and vassals of the deceased, flocked around him to lament the general loss. But the veterans of Montrose, charging in columns of six and ten men deep, along a line of three men only, broke that of the Covenanters on various points, and utterly destroyed the remnant of Baillie's army, though they defended themselves bravely.’

The Battle of Alford took place on July 2, 1645, with James Graham and George Gordon leading a Royalist victory over Covenanting forces under General William Baillie.  The text above is found in Sir Walter Scott’s “Tales of a Grandfather”.

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