Flodden Battle ExhibitionA brief Guide to the Battle

Guest post by Armchair General

The Scots launched their first attack against the English when troops under the command of Home and Huntley attacked the relatively weak English right  which was commanded by Edmund Howard. The English were heavily pressed by this attack and held their line only when  cavalry under command of Lord Dacre joined the melee and halted the Scots.

At this point, the Scots centre, commanded by Errol, Crawford and Montrose, advanced in an attempt to reassert pressure on the English and to regain the initiative. These forces were not armed with the Scots’ traditional weapons of swords and polearms but, having recently been trained in modern French tactics, carried (30-foot) long pikes instead. Tactically, pikes require a densely packed close order formation so that the points of the pikes are impenetrable to the enemy whilst keeping opponents at bay so that the pikemen are out of reach of the enemy’s weapons whilst still being able to inflict casualties. Unfortunately, the battlefield was both muddy and slippery. Therefore, under deadly fire from English longbowmen and not fully accustomed to the maintaining the kind of tight formation needed to use pikes effectively, the Scottish pike formations lost cohesion as men struggled to keep their footing. The Earl of Sussex, commanding the English, saw his opportunity and unleashed his soldiers against the now disorganised and vulnerable Scots.

Unable to capitalise on the longer reach of their pikes, the Scots were soon in difficulty at which point King James IV committed his troops in a desperate last effort to defeat the English and secure victory. The English overcame this new threat and somewhere in the melee King James was cut down. Circumstances meant that the Scottish pikemen were unable to withstand the English attacks and a great many were slaughtered in the mud alongside their King.

***Index to my posts on Flodden.***

11 Comments CherryPie on Oct 29th 2009

11 Responses to “Flodden Field Battle Trail – Part 7”

  1. jameshigham says:

    the Scottish pike formations lost cohesion

    Story of Scotland. :)

  2. This has been an excellent series Cherie

  3. jameshigham says:

    Always seems to happen to the poor Scots.

  4. Claudia says:

    Great historical, fascinating posts. Thank you, CherryPie.

  5. Phidelm says:

    It always seems to boil down to equipment, one way or another. Strangely topical. Great series, Cherie – thank you very much.

  6. [...] Flodden Field Battle Trail – Part 7 – A brief description of the battle. [...]