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Battle of Otterburn, 5th August 1388
Otterburn, a Scots response to an English Raid, is remembered as the battle where "A dead man won the field".
The Battle took place just across the Border in Northumberland , the Scots led by James Douglas, 2nd Earl of Douglas, against Henry Percy and his followers. John Sinclair and his cousin, another Sir John Sinclair of Hermandston were in the Scots force. Early in the battle Douglas was mortally wounded. He ordered his officers to hide him in a bush so that news of his injuries would not influence the fight.
"My wonnd is deep; I fain would sleep;
Tak the vanguard o' the three,
And bide me by the bracken bush,
That grows on yonder lea.
O bury me by the bracken bush,
Beneath the blooming breer;
Let never living mortal ken
That a kindly Scot lies here."
John Sinclair took up Douglas's Banner and gave the Douglas war cry, and the fighting continued until Percy recognised defeat, and asked to whom he should surrender.
"Whom shall I yield to, said Percy,
Since I see it must be so?
Then shalt not yield to lord nor loin,
Nor shalt thou yield to me;
But yield thee to the bracken bush
That grows on yonder lea"
Though Douglas was dead, the Sinclairs, very much alive, had contributed to the Scots victory.
These days Otterburn is an Army Training Area. I carried out a successful fighting patrol there in 1980, sadly oblivious to our ancestor's gallantry on that ground.