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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. V


SKIRMISH AT HAWKHILL. ?75 Leith.] defend the town ?to the last of their blood and breath.? At their head was Pictro Strozzi, Lord of Epernay, a Florentine, who had been made a marshal of France five years before, and whose two brothers served in these Scottish wars-Gaspare, who was killed at Inchkeith, and Leon, who was prior of Capua and general of the galleys of France at the capture of St. Andrews. Under Mardchal Strozzi were Monsieur Octavius, brother of the Marquis d?Elbceuff, a peer of the house of Lorraine, who led into Scotland some of ,the old Bandes Franpises, or Free Companies ; the IConite de Martigues (aftenvards Duc d?Estampes), a young noble of the house of Luxembourg ; Captain the Sieur Jacques de la Brosse, one of the hundred knights of St. Michael ; General d?Oisel, a d many ather French officers of high family and the highest spirit. In those days the use of fire-arnis had led to a great many alterations in military equipment ; breastplates were made thicker, in order to be bullet proof, and the tassettes attached to these were .of one plate each; and many of the morions worn by the French and Italians were beautifully embossed; and carbines, petronels, and dragons (hence dragoons) are frequently mentioned as among the fire-arms in use at this time ; while the pike was still considered the (( queen of weapons ? for horse and foot. Mardchal Strozzi ordered the tower of St. Anthony?s Preceptory? near the Kirkgate, to be armed ; cannon were accordingly swayed up to its summit. Holinshed says the English raised a mound, which they naged Mount Pelham, on the south-east side of the town, and armed it with a battery of guns. Another to the south of this was named Mount Somerset, and both of them remain till the present day; and when the young grass is sprouting in spring, the zig-zags that led therefrom to the walls can often be distinctly traced in the Links. Before Lord Grey got his men comfortably encamped at Restalrig, ?( in halls, huts, and pavilions,? Strozzi had despatched go0 arquebusiers against him to check his advance. Marching across the Links, this force took possession of the wooded eminence named Hawkhill, and a sharp conflict at once ensued with the English. For several hours the French fought gallantly, but were compelled, after severe loss, to fall back upon Leith, while the English took possession of Hawkhill, planted guns upon it, and advancing with caution and care under a cannonade, occupied all the rising ground mending to Hermitage Hill, which completely commands town and Links on the east. After this repulse, and before the siege formally commenced, the French resorted to a little treachery by sending a special messenger to Lord Grey requesting a brief truce, which he readily granted. On this, great numbers of them, previously instructed, issued from Leith, and thronged about the English camp at Restalrig, the Hawkhill, and elsewhere, as if merely actuated by curiosity. Ere long they became offensive in manner, and began to pick quarrels with English sentinels, who were not slow in retorting, and Lord Grey eventually ordered them instantly to retire. On this, they demanded whence came his right to order them off the ground of their mistress the Queen Regent of Scotlznd. They were told that if the truce had not been granted at their own request they would have been compelled to keep at a distance. On this the French fired their carbines and petronels into the faces of those nearest them; volleys of oaths and outcries followed, and several Frenchmen who had been in concealment came to aid the pretended loungers in the m 2 , and soldiers were seen rushing to arms in all directions, without comprehending what the uproar was about ; at last the French were again driven in, but with the loss of one hundred and forty men killed and seventeen taken prisoners. The loss of the English is not stated ; but it was probably greater than that of the French, as they were taken by surprise. The next event was a sally made by the Comte de Martigues on the English trenches, when, according to Keith, he spiked three pieces of cannon, put 600 men to the sword, and took Sir Maurice Berkeley prisoner. Frequent and sanguinary sallies were thus made by the French to scour the trenches and retard their progress, till the English, instead of waiting patiently within them to repel such assaults, now resolved to become the aggressors, and whenever the French were seen to issue from the town, an equal force met them with sword and pike on the Links ; and the bitterness and fury of these encounters were increased by the knowledge of those engaged that they were overlooked on either side by their respective comrades and commanders Elizzbeth having despatched reinforcements to the allied camp-for such it was-before Leith, Lord Grey determined to press the siege with greater vigour, the more so as the town was already beginning to suffer from famine. On the 4th of May he set fire to the water-mills, and destroyed them, notwithstanding all the efforts of the French
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176 OLD AND NEW EDINBURGH. [Leith. to extinguish the flames. On the same daya grand assault was to be made. By this time the batteries against the town were all in full play. Mount Pelham was distant 1,200 feet from the eastern curtain ; Mount Somerset was distant only 600 feet ; a third mound, Mount Falcon, near the river, and southeast of St. Nicholas?s called the Schole of Warre,? which is full of curious details, and was published at London in 1565. The detailed orders issued by Lord Grey for the assault on the 4th of May are very curious; they are preserved among the Talbot Papers, and. contain the names of some of the earliest ofticers. in the English army, and old Bands of Berwick, PLAN OF LEITH, SHOWING THE EASTERN FORTIFICATIONS. (XacsimiZe ufter GrrmwiZk CoZZid ? GrEat Britaids Coaating Pilot,? London, 1693.) church, was 300 feet distant from the fifth bastion, near where King Street is now. After several days? cannonade from eight guns on Mount Somerset (now familiar to the children of Leith as the Giant?s Brae), the steeple of St. Anthony, with its cannon and defenders, fell with a mighty crash, to the great exultation of the English, who contemplated the effects of their skill with silent wonder ; and meanwhile Admiral Winter, having crept close in-shore, bombarded the town, by which many of the luckless inhabitants perished with the defenders. Thomas Churchyard, who accompanied the English in this expedition, wrote a poem called ? The Siege of Leith, more often ?May 4th, 1560, vppone Saturday in themornyng, at thri of the clock, God willinge, we shal be in readyness to give the assalte, in order as followithe, if other ympedyinent than we knowe not of hyndre us not.? For the first assault (i.e., column of stormers), Captain Rede, with 300 men ; Captains Markham, Taxley, Sutton, Fairfax, Mallorye, the Provost Marshall, Captains Astone, Conway, Drury (afterwards Sir Tlrilliam and Marshal of Berwick), Berkley, and Fitzwilliams, each with zoo men, and 500 arquebusiers, to be furnished by the Scots. Thus 3,000 men fornied the first column. For the second were Captains Wade, Dackare,
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