The armies that fought on another in Great Britain between 1639 and 1651 represent a patchwork of techniques and traditions ranging from medieval siege to contemporary tactics and drill lately evolved during the Thirty Years War under such leaders as Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden. A British army, such as, did not yet exist. One finds, however, the continuing pre-eminence of pikemen dedicated to repulsing heavily armored cavalry (soon to decline in importance), the evolution of the musketeer as the primary infantry soldier, the close coordination of cavalry with infantry deployment, the lingering use of the longbow, the employment of Scottish lancers and Highlanders with their particular brand of warfare.
During the Outbreak of war in 1642, the King's standing army consisted of a troop of horse and the Yeomen of the Guard (halberdiers), so the nucleus of his army developed from volunteers comprising all social classes. Experienced soldiers who served the King or Parliament came from European wars with fresh ideas of military organization and warfare. The trained bands of London and various counties provided men and armor to both sides as well. Despite whatever causes soldiers fought for, they were often underfed, ill-clothed and seldom paid. They undertook exhausting marches, found their billets among unwilling and hostile civilians and, when injured, received, at best, rudimentary medical attention.
The armies which fought in the Civil Wars, whether Royalist, Parliamentarian, Scottish or Irish, were organized along the same lines and contained roughly the same sort of troops. An army consisted of regiments of foot, numbering up to 1200 pikemen and musketeers plus officers, regiments of horse, numbering 500 troops and officers and regimentas of dragoons (or mounted musketeers) numbering up to 1000 dragoons plus officers. The "baggage trayne" accompanied any regiment and included sutlers, campfollowers and others who cooked and laundered for soldiers, upon whom any army heavily depended.
The regiments were further divided into troops of horse and companies of foot including dragoons. A regiment bore the name of its colonel and similarly each troop was known by its commander's name. The King and Parliament to each granted their colonels the power to recruit for and commission their own regiments, plus maintain it and pay their soldier's wages.
Each troop or company had its own flag: a cornet for a troop of horse, a color for a company of foot and a guidon for a company of dragoons. Regimental colors, as we know them today, were unknown in the seventeenth century.
A troop of horse theoretically numbered between 60 and 80 men plus officers and compaies of foot or dragoons an 100 men plus officers, except for companies of a colonel, lt. colonel and sgt. Major in a regiment that numbered 200, 160 and 140 men plus officers respectively. In the field, however, few regiments managed to maintain anything approaching full strength and not uncommonly a regiment, particularly a Royalist one, fielded fewer than 50 men and horse.
An army of 15,000 men on the march proved to be a noisy, dusty, but impressive sight. When drawn up for battle, a front line of nearly two miles was presented. An army's speed of march was governed by the the rate at which its traynes could move, or about ten miles per day. A commander drew up his army for battle according to the practices described in the many drill books written by professional soldiers before and during the wars. The horse, the commander's most flexible arm, would form the "wings" of the army, hoping their shock attack to wheel the enemies battle line or even put it to flight. Protected by thick leather buffcoats of treated hides and steel armor and armed with flintlock or wheellock pistols, broadswords and sometimes a flintlock or snaphaunce carbine, the cavalry trooper became an increasingly important in deciding the outcome of an action.
Musketeers and pikemen formed the main body of the army, the musketeers armed with matchlock muskets, swords but with no armor. Musketeers fired volleys at short range (40 yards or less), and if well controlled, inflicted numerous casualties on an enemy, augmented by skillful use of artillery pieces and part of the cannonade fired by heavier artillery behind the lines. Musketeers protected pikemen, a vestigial military unit which evolved through the medieval times to oppose cavalry. Pikemen, wielding twelve to eighteen foot, iron tipped ash pikes, wearing buffcoats or back and breast armor, plus an armored apron of interlocking plates called tassets, and carrying a sword, formed a defensive wall against cavalry and opposed with "charged pike". The battle rages until one army wore down the resistance of its opponent, the good morale of the loser degenerating into panic and confusion.
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