The defeat of the Scottish army at Dunbar caused a great deal of soul searching among the Covenanter assembly of the Kirk. The more extreme Covenanters believed that the defeat of the army may have been due to the fact that the purging of the army had not been drastic enough. Fueled by rumours that Charles II had fallen on his knees to give thanks that the Scottish army had met defeat upon hearing of Dunbar, many of the Covenanters felt that they had been premature in their decision to invite the prince back to Scotland to be crowned their king. They began to think that their alliance with Charles II had, in effect, poisoned the ideals of the Covenant.

  Five distinct groups, which were linked to basic geographic divisions of the country, could be seen to emerge out of the discussions that followed the defeat at Dunbar.

  The Northern Highlands were primarily Royalist. The clans which held sway in the Highlands had supported Charles I and continued their support of his son.

  The center and northeast region, which included Stirling and Fife, was held by the Kirk, the extremist Covenanter faction which, by the Whiggamore Raid under the direction of Archibald Campbell, Earl of Argyll, had come into power in 1648. The Kirk Covenanters still controlled the Scots Parliament, the General Assembly and the Committee of Estates.

  The region south of Edinburgh, and bordering on England, which had been captured by Cromwell, consisted primarily of sympathizers to the English Parliament. As the English army moved northward, the Scots who opposed them also moved northward out of this region.

  The southwest was controlled by the conservative Covenanters who advocated adhering to the resolutions passed by the Committee of Estates and the Kirk, and were therefore known as the Resolutioners. They wanted to continue on the course that had been set on 30 January, 1649 with the execution of their beloved King by the English regicides. The extreme nature of the Remonstrants unwittingly forced many undecided Covenanters toward the side of the Resolutioners and more of the Resolutioners to embrace the Royalist ideals.

  The west was under the control of the Western Association Remonstrants. A large number of Covenanters from the western shires of Argyll, Ayr, Bute, Dunbarton, Kirkcudbright. Lanark, Renfrew and Wigtown had formed the Western Association in 1648 to oppose the Engagers. Originally led by Archibald Campbell, Earl of Argyll, the Association consisted of men who felt that the Engagers were selling Scotland to the King, and therefore needed to be removed from power. The ousting of the conservative Engagers took place in the event known as the Whiggamore Raid. The faction led by Argyll that came into power, as noted above, comprised the basis for the political entity known as the Kirk. But there were some members of the Kirk who were adamant in their desire that Scotland be a purely Presbyterian nation; it was they who now re-activated the Western Association. It should be noted, though, that the Earl of Argyll痴 native shire of Argyll, along with that of Bute and Dunbarton, which had participated in the Western Association in its first incarnation, refused to join with the others this time around. Perhaps Argyll found the new Western Association too extreme for his liking, or perhaps he saw it as a threat to his own personal ambitions.

Archibald Campbell, Earl Of Argyll
~ Source unknown.

  The Remonstrants felt that the Kirk was failing Scotland, and insisted that the National Covenant be strictly followed and adhered to. They were the most vocal of all the factions in regard to the idea that Charles II was a danger to the health of the Covenant. The name of the group, Remonstrants, was derived from the presentation on 22 October to the Committee of Estates of the Western Remonstrance:(2.34)

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  Despite having been introduced on 22 October, the Western Remonstrance did not come up for discussion before the Committee of Estates until 14 November. By that time, the Kirk had made agreements with the Royalists, effectively negating any chance of the document making any difference in the political affairs of the country.

  The direction in which the Scottish General Assembly was going can be seen in a act of the General Assembly passed on 14 December by the Kirk and Resolutioner majority. The act repealed the Act of Classes, and stated that those individuals who had been barred from public service because they had been identified previously as enemies of the Covenant would be permitted to once more enter into public service. The repeal of the Act of Classes, while viewed as a defeat by the more extreme Covenanter proponents, allowed for more men to be recruited into the army. By the summer of 1651, David Leslie would assemble a rather sizeable army due, in no small part, to the repeal of the Act of Classes.

  The Remonstrants mustered an army out of the western shires and Colonel Archibald Straughon (variously Strachan), Colonel Gilbert Ker and Sir John Chiesly were given its command. The Committee of Estates had met in an emergency session and made the decision to have Straughon and Ker in charge of the Western Association army in order to separate them from Leslie; they were the most vocal opponents of Leslie following the disaster at Dunbar. Straughon and Ker were not wholeheartedly welcomed by the troops in the west. In fact, certain captains, including the Earl of Eglinton disbanded their companies rather than serve under the appointed colonels.