ScotWars - Scottish Military History and Re-enactment
Extract from 'Cromwell' on 17th Century Warfare, John Buchan
"To understand the practice of seventeenth-century armies we must accustom our minds to a primitive and rudimentary technique.The infantry had advanced in prestige since the fifteenth century,.......Its weapons were the pike and the musket, and 1642 the proportion of musketeers to pikemen was about two to one. The pike was regarded as the more honourable weapon, and when a gentleman served in the ranks he usually trailed a pike; the pikeman too was the bigger and finer fellow and wore the heavier defensive armour. His pike was eighteen feet long, and he also carried a sword .....His value was in close hand-to-hand fighting, and the issue was often decided by 'push of pike'. The musketeer had no defensive armour, and no defensive arms against cavalry except the clumsy 'Swedish feathers', five foot stakes which he stuck in the ground before him. His weapon was still mainly the matchlock; which fired a bullet weighing a little over an ounce; his powder was made up in little cartouches of tin or leather, which he carried in a bandolier worn over his left shoulder. Everything about his equipment was cumbrous-the heavy weapon, the coils of match which he had often to carry lighted, and which were at the mercy of ill weather. Presently the matchlock was replaced by the snaphance or flintlock, for the cavalry, and for the foot companies which guarded the artillery and ammunition. The musket was effective at about 400 yards, but owing to patchy training there was little real markmanship, except amongst royalist verderers and Gamekeepers.
.......At first the battle formation was ten deep, each rank firing and then falling back to the rear to reload; but Gustav had taught quicker loading, and had made the files six deep, and this was now the formation generally adopted in England; three deep was even used when it was necessary to prevent outflanking. Also the Swedish custom of the 'salvee' was coming in, by which the six ranks fired at once, a use adopted by Montrose in Scotland and followed by the New Model. The usual handling of infantry was that a 'forlorn hope' skirmished ahead, fired, and fell back; the musketeers then delivered their volleys and retired to the shelter of the pikemen, who charged home. The pikemen were usually in the centre......The destruction of the King's foot at Marston Moor lost him the north, and the same disaster at Naseby meant the loss of England."

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