ScotWars - Scottish Military History and Re-enactment
Battle of Stirling, 1648
The Battle of Stirling took place on the 12th September 1648, after the earlier destruction of the Scots army at Preston at the hands of Cromwell. The Earl of Lanerick (Lanark) left to defend Scotland by the Scots Parliament, found himself opposed to the great Scots Machiavelli the Marquis of Argyll, now, since it suited him politically, in open rebellion against the Parliament.
Argyll had been trying to raise troops from his own domains, but these had been so ravaged by the campaigns of Montrose that he was obliged to collect what small elements of support were available elsewhere on his march South.

With his nucleus of 300 men he headed for Stirling, collecting 400 en route, gathered another 200 from Dunbartonshire and was joined by a further 300 Stirling Militia when he entered that town on the morning of September 12th. Argyll was first and foremost a political leader, and his behaviour in the ensuing action can only be described as typical. Assigning some men to guard various parts of the town, he led his main force to the Deer Park (now King's Park), and then left them, to dine with the Earl of Mar at his town residence.

He had barely begun his meal when word came that the advance elements of Lanerick's army were pouring through the gate into the Park, and this news was all he needed to convince him that he would be safer elsewhere. Taking a horse, he galloped over Stirling Bridge for Queensferry, and safety, surviving fire from the Castle directed against him. (The Governor of the Castle had not surrendered to Argyll, and was now flying the King's Colours from the battlements.)

Sir George Munro, one of Lanerick's commanders, had learned that Argyll was in Stirling and had moved towards the town on his own initiative in a bid to capture his hated enemy, and had actually succeeded in entering that place before any of Argyll's commanders were aware of his presence.

More of a skirmish than a regular battle Argyll's surprised leaderless men broke after some initial stubborn resistance, losing about 200 killed and 400 prisoners, while many more were killed in flight or drowned trying to swim across the River Forth to safety.

Lanerick had a total force of some 4,000 horse and 6,000 foot, about one third of them being veterans, while the Covenanter general David Leslie commanded about 3,000 horse and 8,000 foot - most of whom were untrained levies. Both commanders were within easy marching distance of Stirling on the night of 11th September, and it is interesting to speculate on what sort of battle might have been fought but for Munro's initiative on the morning of the 12th, and Argyll's discretion.

As it transpired, Munro urged Lanerick to attack Leslie on the 12th, but was over-ruled, and instead negotiations for peace ensued on the 15th, both sides agreeing to disband their forces by the 29th September.

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