Battle of Nesbit Moor (1355)
|Battle of Nesbit Moor|
|Part of Anglo-Scottish Wars|
|Kingdom of Scotland||Kingdom of England|
|Commanders and leaders|
| Patrick, Earl of Dunbar and March
William, Lord of Douglas
|Sir Thomas de Grey
|Casualties and losses|
Hostilities broke out in early 1355, following the end of a truce, and breakdown of negotiations for the release of David II from English captivity. The English pre-emptively raided into Scotland, and burnt the lands of Patrick V, Earl of March.
Raid at Norham
The Earl in retaliation, with William, Lord of Douglas, with their contingents, supplemented by a force of sixty French knights marched to the Merse in August. Douglas sent Sir William Ramsay of Dalhousie, and a force of men to despoliate and raid the country around Norham Castle, captained by Sir Thomas Grey. Douglas' ploy was to encourage Grey into an ambush.
Ramsay called on Grey and his garrison to come out of the castle and fight them. Grey, suspicious of other marauding Scots forces, sent scouts to look for evidence of them, but kept behind the stout walls of the castle. Ramsay's men burnt the village, and drove off the chattels and beasts. The scouts returned with nothing to report and incensed at Ramsay's depredations, Grey with Lord Dacre led a force of men-at-arms, to give chase to the Scots and to recover their stolen gear and livestock.
March and Douglas meanwhile had hidden themselves in woods to the south of Duns, Ramsay abandoned the livestock, and rode north to inform the Earls of Grey's imminent arrival. Grey left the cattle to be collected later, pursued Ramsay, and led his men directly into the trap. Douglas and March's main force then cut off any chance of Grey's retreat, by moving their men between them and the border. As soon as Grey saw the Banners of March and Douglas, chivalric honour forbade him to escape, and battle was joined. The Englishmen rushed the Scots but soon the superior Scottish numbers began to tell. The Scots won the day and took many prisoners, including Dacre, Grey, and his newly knighted son Sir Thomas Grey, and losing very few of their own, excepting John Haliburton of Dirleton.
The important English prisoners were taken away into captivity, whereas most of the common soldiery were bought by one of the French knights, and massacred in revenge for the death of his father by the English, giving rise to a local landmark known as "Slaughter Hill". The garrison at Berwick on hearing of the fight marched on Norham expecting it to be under siege. March, Douglas and Thomas Stewart, 2nd Earl of Angus counter-attacked and laid siege to Berwick. Unable to take the Castle March ordered a massacre of English civilians in the town and set it ablaze. The Scots retreated following news of a large army advancing under Edward III of England, who then proceeded into Scotland and laid waste to Lothian, in an episode that would be remembered as the Burnt Candlemas.
- Fordun, John of, Chronica Gentis Scotorum, ed. Skene. Edinburgh 1872. 
- Fraser, Sir William, The Douglas Book IV vols. Edinburgh 1885. 
- Maxwell, Sir Herbert. A History of the House of Douglas II. Freemantle. London, 1902