The Covenanters who had fought at Drumclog decided to stay together. They tried to attack Glasgow, but failed, so they set up their camp at Bothwell Bridge, near Hamilton. Here, many others joined them. However they did not have many weapons, and they had strong disagreements over things such as whether they should completely separate themselves from those ministers who had accepted the Indulgences. In the middle of these arguments, the Covenanters were attacked by government forces. It was 10,000 troops against 5,000 Covenanters, and the Covenanters were completely defeated. About 400 Covenanters were killed as they fled, and 1,200 were taken prisoner. The prisoners were kept in Greyfriars churchyard in Edinburgh, the same place where the National Covenant had been signed in 1638. After being kept there for a number of months, they were offered their freedom if they would promise not to take up weapons in rebellion again. Many agreed to this, but some managed to escape rather than sign it, and some had already died because of the terrible conditions and harsh treatment. The 258 prisoners who had still refused to accept the governments demands after five months were put on a ship to be transported as prisoners to Barbados. However the ship sank off the island of Orkney. As the ship was breaking up, the captain locked down the hatches so the prisoners couldn’t get out, and those who did manage to escape were pushed back into the water by the soldiers. Only 50 survived.
J. G. Vos, The Scottish Covenanters (Edinburgh, 1998 ), pp 104-5.
E. N. Moore, Our Covenant Heritage: The Covenanters’ struggle for unity in truth (Ross-shire, 2000), pp 73-87.
J. D. Douglas, Light in the North: the story of the Scottish Covenanters (Exeter, 1964), pp 141-3.
Ian B. Cowan, The Scottish Covenanters 1660-1688 (London, 1976), pp 98-102.
DSCHT: Bothwell Bridge
Robert Wodrow, History of the Sufferings of the Church of Scotland, ed. Robert Burns (4 vols, Glasgow, 1828-30), iv, 123-32