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Battle of Sark
Part of the Anglo-Scottish Border Wars
Date 23 October 1448
Location Gretna, Dumfries and Galloway
grid reference NY314662 [1]
Coordinates: 54°59′10″N 3°4′19″W / 54.98611°N 3.07194°W / 54.98611; -3.07194
Result Decisive Scottish victory
Belligerents
Scotland Scotland England England
Commanders
Hugh Douglas, Earl of Ormonde Henry Percy, 2nd Earl of Northumberland
Strength
ca.4,000 ca.6,000+
Casualties and losses
up to 600 1500 killed, 500 drowned

The Battle of Sark (alternatively called the Battle of Lochmaben Stone) was fought between England and Scotland in October 1448. A large battle, it was the first significant Scottish victory over the English in over half a century, following the Battle of Otterburn of 1388. It placed the Scots in a position of strength against the English for over a decade, until Edward IV ascended the English throne, and it brought Clan Douglas to greater prominence in Scotland.

Precursors

After the 14th century Wars of Scottish Independence, England and Scotland continued to battle periodically along their borders. In 1448, hostilities escalated. Henry Percy, son of the Earl of Northumberland, destroyed Dunbar in May, and in June the Earl of Salisbury, Lord Warden of the March destroyed Dumfries. In reaction, William Douglas, 8th Earl of Douglas mustered a force with the support of the earls of Ormonde, Angus and Orkney, destroying Warkworth and Alnwick. When the Scots advanced further into Cumberland and Northumberland, Henry VI authorized the Percies to retaliate.

Engagement

The stage for the battle was set when, in October, the Earl of Northumberland led a troop of 6,000 men into Scotland, where they made camp near the Lochmaben Stone. Their location proved poorly chosen, as they settled in a tidal waterway between the River Sark and Kirtle Water. Among the Scots, Hugh Douglas, Earl of Ormonde, mustered a force of 4,000 from Annandale and Nithsdale, marching against Northumberland on 23 October, 1448. Northumberland took the lead in organizing his troops into three wings, which arrangement Ormonde mirrored. In spite of superior numbers and the advantage of the English longbow, the English were soon driven backwards by Scottish spearmen, where they found the peril of the incoming tide. The number of Scots who lost their lives in the engagement varies by source from as few as 26 to as many as 600, but the Auchinleck Chronicle is specific in the number of English deaths: 1,500 killed in battle; 500 drowned[2].

References

  1. ^ Site Record for Battle Of Sark; Lochmaben Stone; Old Graitney; Stormont, Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland, http://canmore.rcahms.gov.uk/en/site/67439/  
  2. ^ Auchinleck Chronicle, Thomas Thomson (ed), Edinburgh 1819 pp.18-19 http://www.archive.org/stream/auchinleckchron00thomgoog#page/n44/mode/1up
  • The Auchinleck Chronicle, ed. T. Thomson, 1819.
  • Griffiths, R. A., The Reign of Henry VI, 1981.
  • Hodgkin, T., The Warden of the Northern Marches, 1908.
  • Neilson, G., The Battle of Sark, in Transactions of the Dumfriesshire and Galloway Antiquarian and Natural History Society, vol. 13 1898.
  • Paterson, Raymond Campbell, My Wound is Deep: History of the Anglo-Scottish Wars, 1380-1560, 1997.
  • Pittscottie, Robert Lindsay of, The History and Chronicles of Scotland, 1899.
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