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Redeemed Sinner. Deep Roots. Southern Heart.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Portrait of a Man: Sir Robert Boyd, Part 2

June 24, 1314

The day dawned cool and clear. Robert walked briskly through the woods to his commander's tent. Edward Bruce ordered him to ready his men on the Scottish left. The Scots were to be arranged in three hollow squares, to best defend against cavalry. Battle was about to be joined....

As the minutes ticked away and both sides braced themselves, a pastor walked the length of the Scottish line praying for the men. As he passed, the Scots knelt in reverence. King Edward II, commander of the English army, cried, "see, they beg for mercy!" One of his experienced generals replied, "yes, but they ask it from God, not from us...these men will conquer or die on the field".
The battle began when King Edward ordered his archers to fire a devastating volley of arrows into the ranks of the Scottish spear men. But King Robert brilliantly countered by sending his small group of cavalry against the English archers. Their sole purpose was to put the English archers out of commission... and that's what they did. This relieved the tremendous buildup of pressure on the infantry. The English commander then ordered his pride and joy into the fight- 2,000 heavy cavalry. But the flower of English chivalry broke against the Scottish line again and again, failing to pierce it. Realizing that the cavalry had been thrown in confusion, Robert Bruce ordered an all out attack and the English were driven precipitously from the field.

Robert Boyd went on to distinguish himself as one of Bruce's noblest knights, although one of the least well known. After the English sued for peace, Bruce granted Robert a large tract of land around Ayr, including Kilmarnock castle.
After Bruce's death, Boyd continued to serve in the military but his days were numbered. The English invaded Scotland again and the two armies met on Halidon Hill. Against the counsel of Boyd and more experienced commanders, the Scottish regent, Archibald Douglas, attacked the English in a bad location and was disastrously routed. Boyd was captured and would later die in an English prison but his heroic legacy as a freedom fighter left a memorable impression on his clan, who lived on the property he had won with them for the next 400 years.

Author's note: Sir Robert Boyd was one of my grandfathers.

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Blogger mcferrill said...

Weren't those hollow squares actually skiltrons? and wasn't there the one especially attached to the Bruce as a reserve? Also, you made no mention of the Ghillies and the legend of their being campfollowers (in that last assault). Great post though, my favorite kind of history.

June 24, 2008 at 4:33 PM  
Blogger Stephen Boyd said...

Thanks for the comment!

For the sake of briefness, I didn't go into all the small details, I merely wished to tell the part my ancestor played.

You are right about the name for the hollow squares but I was of the opinion that Bruce had no reserves.

June 24, 2008 at 4:42 PM  
Blogger crazylotrfan said...

This is very interesting Stephen! Well written too. Someone should make a movie about your ancestors with you as the narrator telling their story! Keep it coming!


June 24, 2008 at 5:40 PM  
Blogger Stephen Boyd said...

Thanks, Chris!

I have often imagined making a movie about my ancestors, but really, everyone is descended from some person who was brave enough to "stand when no one else stood". Robert Boyd was not the only one who stood....but he was one of many, and he was willing to die for a cause worth dying for.

June 24, 2008 at 7:18 PM  
Blogger Gravelbelly said...

Really good pair of posts. Historical info, individual focus, personal connection. It works very well.

June 26, 2008 at 11:46 PM  
Blogger Stephen Boyd said...


June 27, 2008 at 12:32 PM  

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