Philiphaugh 13 Sept 1645 

After the battle at
Kilsyth James Graham, Marquis of
Montrose, was in virtual command of Scotland and was
recognised by many as the King`s Viceroy, Edinburgh had
released prisoners and Glasgow had opened its gates to
him. But fate struck hard as he alienated his Highlanders
by forbidding any plundering of Glasgow. Alasdair MacColl
(McDonald) was rewarded with a knighthood but preferred to
return to the west and continue his war against the
Campbells. The Gordons road off in a jealous huff and were
seen no more; and there were no replacements coming
forward from the Lowlands. Thus denuded, his army was
caught by surprise in the early morning mists on 13
September at Philiphaugh near Selkirk. 

Montrose had camped his forces
on the plain of Philiphaugh in what seemed a good
defensive position. The haugh ( a low lying area near a
river) was about a mile long and half a mile wide in the
valley of the river  Etterick. There was higher
ground to the west which provided a good defensive
position if needed, and the woodlands of Harehead to the
south protected  his forces from cavalry. Feeling
secure the officers had retired to their quarters in
Selkirk. Meanwhile David Leslie and his army  of some
4000 horse and infantry had rapidly marched from Hereford
and had arrived via Gala Water and the Etterick valley at
Selkirk on the night of 12 September.

James Hogg, the Etterick
Shepherd, wrote a poem called “Wat Pringle o` the Yair”
which relates that Wat Pringle on his gallant steed, led 
2000 troops  up Phillhope, over at the Fowlshiels
Swire, and then by a narrow  and difficult path 
through the Harehead Wood. By this manoeuvre  they
achieved complete surprise.

No doubt Montrose and his
small army were feeling confident after their year of
successes and relaxed their guard to some extent, but that
was no excuse for not putting out sentries or outriders to
ascertain how far away was the Covenanter Army. They were
after all, in hostile territory and would have received
little help and even less reliable information about the
Covenanter forces from the local people. It was also
uncharacteristic of Montrose to separate himself from his
troops and take quarters across the other side of the
river. In the early morning mist Leslie`s forces advanced

through Melrose and crossed the Ettrick at
achieve complete surprise. Montrose, awoken by gunfire,
hurried from his bed but was unable to reach his troops
and organise them into previously successful 
formations. The Irish troops and the horsemen under Airlie
and Gordon were soon overcome by the disciplined cavalry
of Leslie. Montrose was not helped by some 1200
`gentlemen` who withdrew to a safe position from where
they were later to join with the victors. Montrose himself
fought his way out, first saving the standards, but his
cause was at an end. Though he tried to re muster in the
Highlands, no support was forthcoming from the Gordons nor
the Irish and in May 1646 the King sent word to abandon a
hopeless cause. Broken, Montrose went into exile – for a

David Leslie`s cavalry hacked
and butchered their enemy in an orgy of retaliation for
the defeat and murders at Kilsyth. Although greatly
outnumbered the 300 Irishmen fought to the bitter end with
some 250 of them killed before quarter was given.
Philiphaugh is remembered also as the scene of the
dreadful slaughter of the camp followers, wives, children,
wounded etc of whom 300 were butchered like animals,
without concern, in the courtyard of Newark Castle,
overlooking the river Yarrow. Hewison in The
explains that this must have been done
with the cognisance of the Council of War – Argyll,
Crawford-Lindsay, Buccleuch, Lauderdale, Lanark, Yester,
Barganie , Rutherford, Forrester and Scot. The massacres
did not stop there as some fifty men who had been given
quarter were executed; and on the way to Edinburgh about
eighty women and children were thrown into the river Avon
near Linlithgow and drowned.

 The captured Irish leaders
O`Cahan and M`Lachlan were executed in Edinburgh. Sir
Philip Nisbet, Sir William Rollo  and Alexander
Ogilvy were beheaded in Glasgow. Lord Ogilvy escaped from
prison in a dramatic way disguised in his sisters clothes.
Lord Johnston of Hartfell, a kinsman of Lord Warriston,
was pardoned. Spottiswood, the Lord President was tried
and executed at St Andrews on 20 January 1646 along with
Nathaniel Gordon and Captain Andrew Guthrie, son of the
Bishop of Moray. It is told that David Dickson, professor
of  Divinity in Glasgow University  commented on
the executions “The work goes bonnily on.”.

 It is highly likely that the
hatred of the Irish stemmed from the 1641 rebellion in
which some of the Irish officers had been involved in the
atrocities. The Estates, however, were determined on
vengeance and  ordered all prisoners taken at or
after Philiphaugh to be executed `without any assize or
process` which included six Irish women who were held in
Selkirk gaol.