The Battle of Langside

’Twas in the year 1558 and on the 13th of May,
Queen Mary saw the Regent’s army advancing in grand array,
With their pennons fluttering in the breeze, and their proud horses prancing,
While the claymores of Mary’s troops were in the sunshine glancing.

To the south of Glasgow the suburbs of Langside stand upon a hill,
And on a summer day the fragrance of the flowers the air does fill;
And Langside stands upon a height commanding the valley,
Which Argyll resolved to take possession of immediately.

Mary was attended by George Douglas and Walter Ker,
Both trustworthy gentlemen, who loved her most dear,
And Mary knowing their dispositions she assigned the parts they were to play,
Commanding Douglas to advance with the cavalry, and bring her news of the fray.

“And do you, my dear friend Walter, keep near me,
To comfort and protect me if need be;”
Then both the young men bowed to her commands,
While Mary bade them goodbye, and with them shook hands.

On the top of a knoll, from the battlefield about a mile,
Queen Mary took up her position, and remained there all the while,
With Walter Ker and Lady Livingstone by her side,
And one or two others, resolved to watch the struggle whatever did betide.

The May Sun shine bright in the heavens afar,
But the song of the birds would soon be drowned by the clamours of war;
And the face of Nature’s carpet that looked beautiful and green,
Would soon be dyed red with blood, most ghastly to be seen.

All at once there was a bright flash of flame,
Which told that from Argyll’s cannon it quickly came,
And Mary started at the sound, and her face turned pale
When she saw the havoc wrought by the cannonading, and loudly did bewail.

The Lord Arbroath was ordered to advance upon Langside,
And attack the Regent’s army which did them deride,
Then the fight began from the roofs of houses and from behind walls,
While Mary’s men for a Douglas and a Hamilton loudly call.

Then the Regent’s hagbutters poured a deadly volley into the foe,
Which filled the ill-starred Queen’s heart with woe,
When she saw her brave men falling under the enemy’s fire,
She cried “Oh! My brave fellows, you will have to retire.”

“See! see! They fall, and are wounded for my unworthy sake,
God pity me, why did I leave Loch Leven? My poor heart will break.”
“Gracious Madam,” said Walter Ker, “they count it joy to die for you,
And rest assured, dear madam, every man will prove true.”

Meantime the clash of war rose and fell like the waves of the sea,
And the Queen’s men fought with the Regent’s men most fiercely;
Each man with frantic hate glowing in his eyes,
While the blood of wounded men the green sward dyes.

The spearmen drove at each other with all their might,
While their lances entered the joints of their armour, a most exciting sight,
And by pulling hard, the lances from the armour were torn,
And as Queen Mary looked on she seemed sad and forlorn.

It soon became known the day was going against the Queen,
Which was to Mary Stuart a very sad scene,
To see here royal army beaten by the rebels that day,
Which will be long remembered, the 13th of May.

Argyll’s men were borne back right steadily,
And their line was broken and they were forced to flee,
Then the fight was over and the Queen’s troops ill-requited,
And the hope that Mary built on them hopelessly blighted.

When Mary saw troops beaten, she cried, “God pity me!”
Then Lord Herries rode up, and cried, “To horse, to horse immediately,
For soon Murray’s cavalry will be here to seize your Majesty,
Which, believe me, madam I would be sorry to see.”

Without a word Mary suffered herself to be lifted to her horse,
While the ill-fated Queen looked pale and ashen as a corpse;
Then Mary and Lord Herries galloped off with all their might,
And poor Mary reached the house of Lord Herries, and refuge for the night.

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