The army was indeed one of the best that ever Scotland had brought together, but it was ill commanded: for all that had made defection from their cause, or that were thought indifferent as to either side, which they called detestable neutrality, were put out of commission. The preachers thought it an army of saints, and seemed well assured of success.
They drew near Cromwell, who being pressed by them retired towards Dunbar, where his ships and provisions lay. The Scots followed him, and were posted on a hill about a mile from thence, where there was no attacking them. Cromwell was then in great distress, and looked on himself as undone. There was no marching towards Berwick, the ground was too narrow: nor could he come back into the country without being separated from his ships and starving his army. The least evil seemed to be to kill his horses, and put his army on board, and sail back to Newcastle; which, in the disposition that England was in at that time, would have been all their destruction, for it would have occasioned a universal insurrection for the king.
They had not above three days' forage for their horses. So Cromwell called his officers to a day of seeking the Lord, in their style. He loved to talk much of that matter all his life, long afterwards: he said, he felt such an enlargement of heart in prayer, and such quiet upon it, that he bade all about him take heart, for God had certainly heard them, and would appear for them. After prayer they walked in the earl of Roxburgh's gardens, that lie under the hill: and by perspective glasses they discerned a great motion in the Scottish camp: upon which Cromwell said, God is delivering them into our hands, they are coming down to us.
Leslie was in the chief command: but he had a committee of the states with him to give him his orders, among whom Warriston was one. These were weary of lying in the fields, and thought that Leslie made not haste enough to destroy those sectaries; for so they loved to call them.
He told them, by lying there all was sure, but that by engaging into action with gallant and desperate men all might be lost: yet they still called on him to fall on. Many have thought that all this was treachery, done on design to deliver up our army to Cromwell; some laying it upon Leslie, and others upon my uncle.
I am persuaded there was no treachery in it: only Warriston was too hot, and Leslie was too cold, and yielded too easily to their humours, which he ought not to have done.
They were all the night employed in coming down the hill: and in the morning, before they were put in order, Cromwell fell upon them.
Two regiments stood their ground, and were almost all killed in their ranks: the rest did run in a most shameful manner: so that both their artillery and baggage, and with these a great many prisoners, were taken, some thousands in all. Cromwell upon this advanced to Edinburgh, where he was received without any opposition; and the castle, that might have made a long resistance, did capitulate.
So all the southern part of Scotland came under contribution to Cromwell. Stirling was the advanced garrison on the king's side; he himself retired to St. Johnston. A parliament was called that sat for some time at Stirling, and for some time at St. Johnston, in which a full indemnity was passed, not in the language of a pardon, but of an act of approbation: all that joined with Cromwell were declared traitors. But now the ways of raising a new army were to be thought on.