[MR] Wikipedia: Battle of the Herrings, 1429
Garth Groff and Sally Sanford
mallardlodge1000 at gmail.com
Fri Feb 12 03:13:07 PST 2021
On this date in 1429, the Battle of Rouvray, better known as "The Battle
of the Herrings", was fought in France. This was a minor skirmish between
the English and a Franco-Scottish army, and is directly connected with the
Siege of Orléans. Although strategically unimportant, the battle had
several unique features besides its unusual nickname.
The English knight Sir John Fastolf was charged with escorting a caravan of
some 300 wagons from Paris to the English army besieging Orléans. The
wagons carried military supplies and a large shipment of herrings in
barrels. Fastolf had about 1,600 men under his command, many of them
When the French cavalry and Scottish infantry were spotted, Fastolf quickly
arranged his wagons into a circle, as we all know so well from too many
trite wild west movies. Sharpened stakes were also driven into the ground
to keep the French horses at bay, as had been successfully used to protect
archers since Agincourt in 1415. The English probably had the stakes with
them, since the battle took place on a flat and featureless plain. It is
possible that Fastolf had already planned to use his wagons for a makeshift
fortress well before the attack.
The brief battle was a debacle for the French and Scots, even though their
combined force numbered around 4,000. An initial charge by the French
cavalry was repulsed. Far more damage was done by a French artillery
bombardment. Then acting against orders, Scottish commander John Stewart of
Darnley threw his small force of 400 Scots against the wagons. They were
nearly wiped out by the English archers. A counter-attack by the English
put the French to flight and the brief battle was over.
This was the last battle for an official Scottish army in the Hundred
Years' War. The majority of the Scottish army had been wiped out five years
earlier at the Battle of Verneuil. Unofficial independent Scottish
companies continued to fight alongside the French for many years. For
example, Scottish archers and infantry formed part of Joan of Arc's
vanguard when she finally raised the Siege of Orléans.
Fastolf resumed his journey and successfully delivered the herrings to the
English at Orléans. While the supplies may have prolonged the siege, the
town was relieved by Joan of Arc's forces on 8 May.
You can read more about this battle at
Lord Mungo Napier, Laird of Mallard Lodge
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