Cussedness Corner

"My work may be garbage but it's good garbage." Mickey Spillane

The Battle of Bannockburn


The Scots under Robert the Bruce defeated a greater and better armed force under Edward II.

A lot of writers don’t realize that there is a marked difference between destriers and coursers. The former were ponderous and huge to carry a knight in full armor and were often “barded” (armored). The coursers were tall, lean and fast, but could not carry as much weight. Coursers gave the Scots more maneuverability and in the end proved a better addition to mounted troops.

The Scots had pit traps on their side of the Bannockburn fords, making it impossible for the mounted English knights to get at their flank by crossing it. Then the English knights tried to make an UPhill charge at the Scots archers. Dumb. Dumb. Dumb.

The English bill men had a looser formation compared to the Scots schiltroms. The schiltroms’ close formations made mince of the English cavalry by going for the horses. The Scots cavalry, mounted on faster horses, made mince of the English archers. Finally they packed the English into a limited area where their heavy cavalry could not get sufficient room to maneuver. The terrain worked to the Scots’ advantage. It was hard to make a good charge on heavy destriers across the muddy ground around the Bannockburn. Edward II fled with 500 of his knights and were harried the entire way.

The big prize for the Scots was capturing the entire English baggage train, which was worth about ₤100,000.

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8 comments on “The Battle of Bannockburn

  1. SirOtter
    September 25, 2008

    One of my ancestors was on one of those Scottish coursers at Bannockburn.

  2. CritGit
    September 25, 2008

    It’s pretty basic in essence. A solid formation of armed men defeat a cavalry charge if they stand. Horses won’t charge into them, and often cavalry couldn’t actually charge full pelt.

    Fortunately us English learned fast. A solid formation meant easy targets for our bowmen, and we later employed the same tactics in France. Their knights fell to swarms of arrows and solid formations, with even knights being dismounted to strengthen the lines.

  3. cussedness
    September 25, 2008

    The English bows were better than those used by the Scots. Although they were both longbows, the English made theirs from yew; while the Scots were using elm which was not as flexible.

  4. 50 Foot Ant
    September 25, 2008

    The big win on the Scottish side was the fact that the English were stupid enough to let the Scots choose the battlefield, a field they already had control of and had prepared so that the Scots could use it to its maximum efficiency.

    Control of the battlefield is paramount. Without it, you WILL be defeated, and the attrition rate will probably not even be worth it.

    And you NEVER NEVER charge uphill into entrenched positions, unless you have no choice (IE: Iwo Jima) unless you are prepared to pay a monstrous butcher’s bill (IE: Iwo Jima) in order to take the objective.

  5. CritGit
    September 25, 2008

    Ahem, the welsh in me must point out that they got the longbow going and the ‘english’ archers were often mainly welsh.

    Have to admit to being a bit of a Wellington when playing the strategy games (addicted to Total War ones). I spend ages finding the right place to sit my army, making sure it is solid.
    If I attack, I always try to move around the enemy and out position them. If I can’t gain the better position, best not to attack at all.
    Mind you, I do love a good mad charge!

  6. cussedness
    September 25, 2008

    Just don’t forget to bring the nails to spike the cannons and don’t forget to bring some infantry along after your mad charge. *Ahem* General Ney?

  7. khazar
    September 27, 2008

    L$100,000 was worth more than $300,000.

    At the time it would have been closer to several million $. It’s hard to calculate the actual value because we’re dealing with an agrarian economy that had no concept of GDP. But if we recall that L sterling meant just that–an actual pound of silver–we get a little closer to the mark.

  8. cussedness
    September 27, 2008

    That had to be an impressive capture. A lot of people don’t realize that the baggage trains could be up to four miles long.

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This entry was posted on September 25, 2008 by in Janrae Frank, writing, dark fantasy, horror, science fiction and tagged , .

Janrae Frank

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