The "Engagement"  and Mauchline Moor - 12 June 1648

The skirmish at Mauchline Moor was an important event in the Covenanter story because it was a tangible and evident expression of the people  against both support for the King and, curiously, opposition to the growing power of Oliver Cromwell. It was these Covenanters of the west of Scotland and their military wing - the `Western Association`, who would later march on Edinburgh to seize power. 

Mauchline Moor

The Engagement was greatly resented by the smaller land owners and tenants, the rural landless and poor, and by the ministers. They wanted the full Solemn League and Covenant implemented including the introduction of Presbyterianism in England and Ireland. The Engagement forced a split from the English Parliamentarians and led to more civil war and required levies to be raised. Many Scots went to Ulster to avoid military service and a gathering of some 2000 protesters at Mauchline Moor in Ayrshire, 12 June 1648 , was broken up by troops from Glasgow under the command of the Earl of Middleton who, with his ally Hurry, was wounded.

The scale of the skirmish was relatively small as the meeting was breaking up anyway when attacked, but the implications were great. The readiness for armed resistance by the Western Association was followed by the Whiggamore Raid   in September 1648. This was the march on Edinburgh and capture of the Castle, that displaced the Engagers from power and made way for the two year rule of the Kirk.

Present at Mauchline Moor were some leading figures of the Covenanters including John Nevay and his patron the Earl of Loudon and William Guthrie. The attack on the gathering, who were celebrating the Communion ( according to Sir James Turner "with swords in their hands"), was by the Earl of Callender and Major General Middleton who were bent on harassing the Covenanters for opposing the Engagement. The Earl of Loudon obtained the word of Middleton to allow the gathering to disperse peacefully but on the Monday morning he attacked them. Also present was Captain John Paton who was less trusting of the Engagers, and had with him his people from Fenwick who were armed. A stout defence was put up with Paton himself credited with killing eighteen of the Engager forces.

The principal Covenanter battles:

Rullion Green 28 November 1666

Drumclog  1 June 1679

Bothwell Brig 22 June 1679

Ayrs Moss 22 July 1680


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