With eighty of his men Archie took up a position one hundred yards back from the stream. With great exertions some of the smaller boulders were removed, and rocks and stones were piled to make a wall on either flank of the ground, which, standing two deep, he occupied. The remaining seventy men he divided equally, placing one company under the command of each of his two faithful lieutenants, Andrew Macpherson and William Orr. These took post near the river, one on each side of the ford, and at a distance of about one hundred yards therefrom. Orr’s company were hidden among some bushes growing by the river. Macpherson’s lay down among the stones and boulders, and were scarce likely to attract the attention of the English, which would naturally be fixed upon the little body drawn up to oppose them in front. The preparations were scarcely completed when the English were seen approaching. They made no halt at the river, but at once commenced crossing at the ford, confident in their power to overwhelm the little body of Scots, whose number had, it seemed to them, been exaggerated by the fears of the country people. As soon as a hundred of the men-at-arms had passed, their leader marshalled them in line, and with level spears charged up the slopes against Archie’s force. The great boulders broke their ranks, and it was but in straggling order that they reached the narrow line of Scottish spears. These they in vain endeavoured to break through. Their numbers were of no avail to them, as, being on horseback, but twenty men at a time could attack the double row of spearmen. While the conflict was at its height Archie’s trumpet was sounded, for he saw that another hundred men had now crossed the ford.
At the signal the two hidden parties leapt to their feet, and with levelled pikes rushed towards the ford. The English had no force there to resist the attack, for as the men-at-arms had passed, each had ridden on to join the fray in front. The head of the ford was therefore seized with but little difficulty. Orr, with twenty men, remained here to hold it and prevent others from crossing, while Macpherson, with fifty, ran up the hill and fell upon the rear of the confused masses of cavalry, who were striving in vain to break the lines of Archie’s spears.
The attack was decisive; the English, surprised and confused by the sudden attack, were unable to offer any effectual resistance to Macpherson’s pikemen, and at the same moment that these fell upon the rear, Archie gave the word and his men rushed forward upon the struggling mass of cavalry. The shock was irresistible; men and horses fell in numbers under the Scottish spears, and in a few minutes those who could manage to extricate themselves from the struggling mass rode off in various directions. These, however, were few in number, for ninety were killed and seventy taken prisoners. St. John himself succeeded in cutting his way through the spearmen, and, swimming the river below the ford, rejoined his followers, who had in vain endeavoured to force the passage of the ford. With these he rapidly retired.