Child's, The English And Scottish Ballads

Volume 7 of 8 from 1860 edition - online book

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separated by the river Ettrick from the town of Sel­kirk, and extending in an easterly direction from a wooded hill, called the Harehead-wood, to a high ground which forms the banks of the river Tweed. Here the infantry were very conveniently disposed, while the general took up his quarters with all his cavalry at Selkirk, thus interposing a river between his horse and foot. This extraordinary error, whether rashness or oversight, was destined to be severely expiated. The very next morning, the Covenanters, under General David Lesly, recalled from England by the danger threatened their cause by the victories of Montrose, crossed the Ettrick and fell on the encamp­ment of the infantry, unperceived by a single scout. A hopeless discomfiture was the natural consequence. Montrose, roused by the firing, arrived with a few of his cavalry too late to redeem the day, and beheld his army slaughtered, or scattered in a retreat in which he was himself fain to join. The fruit of all his victories was lost in this defeat, and he was never again able to make head in Scotland against the Covenanters.
The following ballad was first printed by Sir Walter Scott, with prefatory remarks which we have here abridged. It is preserved by tradition in Selkirk­shire, and coincides closely with historical fact.
On Philiphaugh a fray began, At Hairhead-wood it ended;
The Scots out o'er the Grsemes they ran, Sae merrily they bended.