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Posted on May 4, 2005 in Front Page Features, Stuff We Like

The Battle For Basing House – An English Civil War Re-Enactment

Armchair General

THE TROOPS

With the watching crowds assembled behind the safety ropes, it was time for the two sides to fight it out. Whilst the Parliamentarian forces began their march from some distance away, the defending Royalists assembled on the battlefield. To the beat of the drum they marched behind us, colours flying in the breeze and looking most resplendent in their uniforms.

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With the troops assembled, we were treated to a practical demonstration of each of the formations and how they would have fought. First up were the Pikemen. With each soldier carrying a Pike some 17 feet in length, a formation of these soldiers was a fearsome prospect. Pikemen were very useful in defending against Cavalry charges. Here you can see a team of Pikemen in a defensive formation. With Musketeers in the centre, the Pikemen would defend against charging horses whilst the guns fired. A well-drilled team of Pikemen could easily best any Cavalry charge, as well as mount charges of their own against enemy positions.

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Next up we have the Musketeers. Well-drilled Musketeers could fire up to three rounds a minute and fire was usually directed at the enemy in salvoes to maximise the effect. However accuracy was poor, most Muskets could only accurately fire at 20 paces. But Musketeers were also well-trained in the art of hand to hand combat, and when the order was given they would either use their Muskets as clubs or, more usually, draw their swords on the enemy.

Often overlooked on the field of battle, the drummers were a vital component in any military formation of the era. Not only would the sound of beating drums raise the morale of the troops, but the drumbeats would also be used to time the drills. Pikemen would wield their weapons to the time of the drums to ensure maximum effectiveness as the men moved in unison.

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Last but not least, the Colours, as held by an Ensign, would provide a rallying point for troop formations, and were also a point of honour for the men. Regiments that lost their Colours in battle would not be allowed to raise new Colours until they had captured the Colours of an enemy Regiment.

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