As stated, in yesterday’s post the launching of the “Northern Campaign” saw a new phase in the War, two aspects of which I would like to discuss.
The first was the change in the strategy and tactics employed, and these would remain central to the Scottish war effort for the duration of the war.
The second which I will look at in a later post, was the fact that this phase of the war was pretty much a “Scottish” affair, and amounted to a short but violent civil war.
Till now the war had had a depressing predictability;
Scottish defiance, accompanied with some success which was followed by a massive English response resulting in the defeat of the Scottish field army and the capture and garrisoning of the Scottish castles.
Warfare at this time was dominated by two things, the castle and the mounted knight, neither of which Robert possessed in any numbers, or quality. Whether he contemplated these factors whilst watching the spider, it is not clear, but by the time of the campaign in the south west, he appears to have perfected a mobile style of warfare, where like the modern guerrilla he declined engagement unless circumstances were heavily in his favour.
As he moved north he continued this highly mobile style of warfare which seems to have intimidated his opponents into accepting truces. To this he added the strategy of destroying the castles as they fell into his hands.
The effect of this was twofold, firstly it did not dilute the mobile force by the need leave a garrison, which would be easily overwhelmed in the event of an enemy response. Secondly it denied the enemy a base of operations. The medieval castle was somewhat like a modern carrier battle group, just by existing it could “project power” and dominate its surrounding area.
So by a mixture of intimidation, skillful maneuvering, and the destruction of the enemy’s means of persecuting the war Robert would bring about the conditions for a decisive engagement on his terms.
This would continue to be his method of operation throughout the war, and when he did bring on a major engagement, he was always decisive, aggressive and victorious.