The Battle of Kilsyth

by Ellen Castelow

Fought between a Scottish Covenanter army allied with the English Parliament, and the Royalist forces of Charles I under the command of the Marquis of Montrose, the Battle of Kilsyth took place on the 15th August 1645.

With limited resources at his disposal, Montrose had already secured a series of victories over Covenanter forces across the Highlands of Scotland.

On hearing of two separate troop movements against him, Montrose decided to face them individually, and so advanced quickly to intercept the two forces.

MontroseMarquis of Montrose

The larger of the two Covenanter forces under the command of Lieutenant-General William Baillie had occupied a strong defensive position on high ground near to the village of Banton and now waited for the arrival of the reinforcements. However, just as had happened several weeks earlier at the Battle of Alford, Baillie’s sound and solid military decision was overruled.

Travelling with Baillie yet again was a contingent from the ruling Covenanter Committee, who had no intention of allowing Montrose an opportunity to escape and ordered an advance towards enemy.

Before either army had fully deployed, sporadic fighting broke out between various elements of the two forces. Acting without orders, more and more troops from both sides were committed to the fray.

Whilst still trying to deploy from the march, Baillie’s army soon broke and ran from the field with the Royalists in hot pursuit.

By the end of the day, the Covenanter army had been all but decimated, with almost two-thirds of their 3,500 men killed. Although almost caught himself, Baillie made good his escape to Stirling Castle.

Montrose would later learn that it had all been for naught; the Battle of Naseby had already been lost and Royalist cause was now in tatters.

Click here for a Battlefield Map

Key Facts:

Date: 15th August, 1645

War: Wars of the Three Kingdoms

Location: Kilsyth, near Stirling

Belligerents: Royalists, Scots Covenanters

Victors: Royalists

Numbers: Royalists around 3,000 foot and 600 horse, Scots Covenanters around 3,500 foot and 350 horse.

Casualties: Royalists unknown, Scots Covenanters heavy

Commanders: Marquess of Montrose (Royalists), William Baillie (Scottish Covenanters)

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