10/07/2016

Regimental Roles

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The above photo is an example of a musketeer in Gell’s Regiment. Musketeer’s clothing consists of a regimental coloured woollen coat, a linen shirt, woollen breeches (either tied at the knee or left open), woollen hose and leather shoes called latchets. A felt or woollen hat would be worn also. A musketeer’s equipment consists of: a musket (either matchlock or flintlock), bandoliers (these carry the gunpowder charges), a water flask, a bag containing wadding, and finally a powder flask. A musketeer may also carry a sword on the battlefield once they have passed the societies sword test. This musketeer is holding a length of cord in his left hand called match, this is what he would use to ignite the powder in the musket pan.

To own or fire a matchlock musket you will need to acquire both shotgun and blackpowder licences/certificates.

Historically musketeers outnumbered the pike by a 2-1 ratio, they fought in a block usually six deep and flanked the pike block on either side. A musket block could fire accurately up to 50 yards, but their main strength was delivering punishing blows by firing mass volleys with an effective killing range of 125 yards. Once they had used all their musket balls or powder, the musketeers could turn around the musket and use it as a club type weapon to engage the enemy in hand to hand combat, this was often preferred (and often more effective) to using the basic sword.

(see below a video of how to fire a matchlock musket)

Credit to the Earl of Manchesters Regiment for the video.

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DRUMMER:

The above photo is an example of a drummer in Gell’s Regiment. The Drummer’s clothing consists of a regimental coloured woollen coat, with slashed or buttoned sleeves for ease of playing, a linen shirt, woollen breeches (either tied at the knee or left open), woollen hose and leather shoes called latchets. A felt or woollen hat is also worn. A drummer would need to equip themselves with a 17th Century style drum and may also carry a sword on the battlefield once they have passed the societies sword test.

Historically, the drums were used to beat out the pace whilst marching, but more importantly, they were also the voice of the regimental officers and used to relay orders to the rank and file men, so in many respects the drums were the 17th Century equivalent of the walkie-talkie. In the noise and chaos of a battlefield environment, the human voice could not carry far, but the deep resonance of the big field drums carried by every company of foote certainly did.

Drums did not just beat out the marching pace, they relayed every other order of importance on the battlefield through the “Calls of War”, regulating company and regimental movements and tactics.

Drummers were generally educated, experienced soldiers and were considered officers of the regiment. They were often used to carry messages and communicate with the enemy during parleys. There is little evidence to suggest if there was any set “uniform” for drummers – probably not. A soldier’s coat or doublet would most likely be worn, or perhaps a more fancy one paid for by the colonel. However, it’s probable that drummers tried to look a little more “upmarket” than the common soldiers in order to demonstrate their higher status. Drums were worn quite high up on the left side, suspended by a scarf (sash) or leather belt over the right shoulder

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PIKEMAN

The above photo is an example of a pikeman in Gell’s Regiment. Pikemen’s clothing consists of a regimental coloured woollen coat, a linen shirt, woollen breeches (either tied at the knee or left open), woollen hose, gloves/gauntlets and either leather shoes called latchets or agricultural boots called startups. A woollen hat could be worn for general wear but a protective steel helmet is needed for battlefield wear. A pikeman’s equipment consists of the steel helmet (morion), an optional back and breast plate (armour) and a 14 feet long pike, (issued by the regiment on the day).

Historically pikemen were outnumbered by musketeers at a 2-1 ratio, they fought in blocks often six deep numbering up to 30 at company strength but up to 300 when formed up as a regiment. Pikemen were equipped with a pike, an ash pole between 16 and 18 feet long topped with a steel spike. Quite often a pikeman would have cut two feet off the end of his pike to make it lighter to carry and easier to manoeuvre. At the start of the war they were issued steel helmets, a gorget to protect the throat, a back and breast plate with tassets. (tassets protect the groin and thighs) as the war progressed the gorget and tassets were cast away due to weight and awkwardness on the march. Eventually as muskets started dominating the battlefields the back and breast plate became more redundant too, although they offered protection against pistol shot, they were pretty inneffective against close range musket fire. Pikemen were also issued with cheap quality swords but when pike came close in a push of pike, daggers were more useful than a sword.

Pikes were used mainly as a defensive weapon to protect musketeers, drums, colours etc from cavalry. The pikemen could form a protective circle with their pikes angled out at horse height, whilst musketeers sheltered amongst the pikes and fired out at the cavalry. Officers, drums etc could shelter in the center of the  protective circle until the cavalry withdrew.

Sometimes pikemen would engage with other pike and musket and would fight at point of pike, (pikes held out horizontally at shoulder height to stab the enemy) however to add a little competiveness and fun the re-enacters engage at push of pike, (pikes held upright for safety)  this can look similar to a rugby scrum type of formation and use it to gain ground on the battlefield against the enemy.

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WATER CARRIER/LIVING HISTORY

If you don’t fancy the idea of a combat role there is still a role for you in the regiment. You could choose to be a water carrier and take to the battlefield in a supporting role, following the pike or musket blocks and providing water when called upon. The physical aspect of the fighting coupled with woollen clothing and protective armour make dehydration a serious problem, so water carriers fill an important role in keeping the combatants safe and rehydrated. Water carriers, whether male or female, dress as  soldiers to blend in with the combatants, but obviously carry water bottles rather than weapons, they usually carry a shoulder bag with spare leather thonging in to repair helmet straps or broken boot laces, and the bag is usually home to soldiers glasses, keys , wallets, inhalers and countless other bits and pieces that soldiers have forgotten to leave in their tents 🙂

The Living History Camp is the authentic camping area which is open to the public. Some members prefer to stay on the living history camp rather than taking to the battlefield. Here members portray 17th century life, they sleep in authentic tents, cook on open fires, carry out chores or demonstrate skills or trades, practice military skills, play games or simply stand around talking about our period to the general public. Authenticity is much stricter on the living history camp due to the close proximity of the public so your clothing would need to be accurate and correctly worn and no modern items visible. Talking in a 17th century style isn’t necessary and you don’t need to remain in character (although some do) but if you enjoy talking to people and want to share your knowledge and enthusiasm of the period with others then this could be the perfect role for you.