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The Battle of Harlaw (2) As I cam in by Dunidier And doon by Netherha', There were fifty thoosand Hieland men Cam mairchin' tae Harlaw. Wi' a dree dree dradie drumtie dree A dree dree drumtie dra. As I cam on and further on And doon and by Harlaw, They fell fu' close on ilka side; Sic fun ye never saw. They fell fu' close on ilka side; Sic fun ye never saw, For Hieland swords gied clash for clash At the battle o' Harlaw. Brave Forbes tae his brither did say, "Noo brither, dinna ye see? They beat us back on ilka side, And we'll be forced tae flee." "O no, o no, my brither dear, That thing maun never be; Tak ye your gude sword in your hand And come your wa's wi' me." Then back tae back the brithers twa Gaed in amang the thrang, And they hewed doon the Hieland men Wi' swords baith sharp and lang. MacDonal, he was young and stout, Had on his coat o' mail, And he has gane oot through them a' Tae try his hand himsel'. The first ae strake that Forbes strack, He gart MacDonal reel; The niest ae strake that Forbes strack, The great MacDonal fell. On Monaday, at mornin', The battle it began; On Saturday, at gloamin', Ye'd scarce ken wha had wan. Gin onybody spier at ye For them ye took awa', Ye may tell their wives and bairnies They're sleepin' at Harlaw. ----------------------------------------------------------- Child #163 This version, based on the text used by Max Dunbar on the record "Songs and Ballads of the Scottish Wars," is less than half the length of Child's "A" text; it contains roughly the equivalent of Child's stanzas 1, 9, 10, 12, 13, 17-19, 23, 25. This leaves out much of the background of the battle (though in fact the background given in the song was largely inaccurate). The battle of "Red" Harlaw was fought on July 24, 1411. Donald MacDonald, Lord of the Isles, raised a Highland army to gain control of the Earldom of Ross (to which he had a solid claim). The lowlanders, not wanting a Gaelic chieftain to rule so much of their territory, opposed his claim. MacDonald, with an army estimated at ten thousand men, set out to ravage Aberdeen and take over his earldom. The lowland forces, led by the Earl of Mar and the Sheriff of Angus, raised troops to stop him. The resulting battle was not technically decisive; both armies survived. But MacDonald, having suffered somewhat more casualties, gave up his attack on Aberdeen. There is no record of a Forbes being involved in the battle. Walter Scott published a poem about Harlaw; it bear resemblance to the piece given here. We have record of a piece called "The Battel of Hayrlau" from 1549, but that may not be the same as this ballad. RW Glossary: a': all ae: one (here used as an interjection) amang: among awa': away bairnies: children baith: both brither: brother cam: came dinna: don't doon: down fu': full gaed: went gane: gone gied: gave gin: if gloamin': twilight gude: good Hieland: Highland ilka: every ken: know mairchin': marching niest: next noo: now onybody: anybody oot: out sic: such spoer at: ask of strake: stroke strack: struck tae: to tak: take thoosand: thousand thrang: throng twa: two wa's: ways wan: won wha: who wi': with RW
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