Of Pike, Musket & Uniforms

Of Pike

An iron-headed spear point, mounted upon an ash shaft between 15 and 16 feet long (4.7m), ‘strong, straight, yet nimble’, which in 1632 cost 4 shillings and 6 pence, and in 1645 cost between 3 shillings 10 pence and 4 shillings 2 pence.

Pikemen were the defensive arm of the troops. They were primarily used on the battle field to give protection (against cavalry), to the musketeers, drummers. ensigns and officers. Armour of pikemen consisted of back and breastplate, morion helmet, and a tuck (short sword).

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Of Musket

During the English Civil War, two basic patterns were in use: the ordinary musket with a barrel length of 54 inches (137cm), and the lighter ‘caliver‘ with a barrel length of 42 inches (106cm). There was no standardization of bore.

Musketeers were the offensive arm of the troops. Muskets were principally of the matchlock pattern, in which ignition of the powder charge was achieved by plunging a smouldering length of ‘match’ (combustible cord) into the priming pan, the match being held in a coil spring loaded metal jaw attached internally to the trigger. The cost of a new musket with fittings was set in 1632 at 15 shillings and 6 pence, and 10 pence for the musket rest; though in 1645 the New Model Army was buying muskets at 10 shillings each. Also in use were: wheel locks, which were expensive and difficult to maintain. The flintlock (also known as ‘snaphance’, ‘dog lock’ or firelocks’), were more expensive, but infinitely better.

Of Uniforms

One of the most deeply rooted misconceptions concerning the Civil War is that military uniforms did not exist until the creation of the New Model Army, and that they were the first to wear the traditional British red coat. In actual fact, it had long been the custom for Companies or Regiments to be clothed in a uniform manner, though the colouring was at the discretion of the commander or proprietor there was little standardization.

Provision of clothing was undertaken by the central command or at the Regimental or unit level. For example, on 6 March 1642, Thomas Bushell undertook to procure ‘for the King’s Souldiers Cassocks, Breeches, Stockings, and Capps at reasonable rates’, presumably the ‘suites, stockings, shoes and mounteroes’ for the ‘Liefe Guard and three regiments more’ noted three months later. In January 1643 tailors in the Oxford area were ordered to produce 5,000 coats, so that in July ‘all common soldiers then at Oxford were new apparelled, some all in red, coates, breeches, & mounteers’. ‘Uniform’ usually consisted of a coat and sometimes matching breeches, though frequently the latter might be a different colour, or even provided by the individual. Uniform colouring was governed by the availability of material, or the colonel’s preference, or his livery. Colour mattered more than style, and colonels endeavoured to keep their troops uniformly clad. As may be imagined, similarly coloured uniforms on both sides led to great confusion! Officers uniforms were provided individually and thus based on civilian styles of the day, though some uniformity in colouring may have been attempted. Some of these uniforms and armour were very fine, including prodigious amounts of lace.

Coats were probably mostly of the short skirted variety, as described by the contracted books of the New Model Army, though frequent mention is made of the ‘cassock’, which may describe the ordinary skirted coat (as distinct from the doublet) or a longer coat. The cassock is noted as early as 1599, worn by troops in Ireland, ‘of Kentish broad cloth,  ‘lined with cotton, and trimmed with buttons and loops’, or ‘of broad cloth with bays, and trimmed with silk lace’, for officers; this was probably the greatcoat-like garment used in winter, which originally could be transformed into a cloak with open, hanging sleeves. Hats were not always of the broad-brimmed, ‘cavalier’ style. Two varieties of cap were used extensively, the ‘Monmouth’ and the ‘montero’. The former a knitted woollen cap; the montero is enigmatic, probably similar to the peaked cloth cap used in France around 1625. Caps were regarded as much an item of uniform as coats, and may have been in matching colours. ‘Linen’ consisted of the loose shirt and its appendages, with elaborate lace cuffs (for officers). The white linen collar or ‘falling band’ was usually loose and tied on with strings, though knotted neck cloths seem to have been popular, both to prevent the armour or buff coat chaffing the skin and as added protection. ‘Stockings’ were frequently worn two pairs at a time, the inner pair (often of finer material) being drawn up and the outer or ‘rowling’ pair, which protected the inner, rolled down or drawn only partway up the calf.

Coloured sashes were restricted largely to officers and cavalry troopers. Royalists wore red or ‘rose’ sashes, and Parliamentarians wore orange-tawny sashes (of the Earl of Essex’s army).

King’s Lifeguard Regimental Uniform:

White linen shirt (suitable 17th C style), ‘Oxford Army red’ Woolcloth Doublet lined in linen (coat/jacket) and Woolcloth Breeches lined in linen (loose fitting knee length legwear tied at the knee), White/off white hose (over the knee length sock), White/off white-natural long Wool socks (‘boot length’), Latchet shoes or ‘start-up’ boots, ‘Oxford Army red’ Montero cap, or suitable wide brimmed wool felt hat.

Ffoxes/King’s Lifeguard has a woolcloth for our kit, dyed specifically to the regiment’s requirement from historical research, which cannot be found at any of the reenactors markets or on ‘traders row’. You can however purchase it through the regiment if you wish to make your own kit to our patterns. We also have members that offer a full doublet, breeches and montero kit making service.

For new members we always recommend that you ask for advice from a current Company member (such as the Company Goodwife or Company 2 i/c) when purchasing  any form of kit or accessories regarding your role you have chosen.

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