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Cuirassier equipment (engraving bv N C Goodnight a he« Cruso s Militarte Instructions f ayain, being loaded with cuirassier's arms"7". When in 1639 Sir Edmund Verney was expected to take the field in cuirassier armour he refused, 'for it will kill a man to serve in a whole Curass. I am resolved to use nothing hut back, brest and gauntlet; if I had a Pou for the Head that were Pis toll proofe it maye bee I would use it if it were light' *Ironically, Verney seems to have had a premonition of death before Edgehill and was killed wearing neither armour nor buff-coat: Sir George Lisle at Second Newbury shed his armour and charged in his shirt for a different reason, to hearten his men. Because of the expense ofarirassier equipment £4 tos. in 1629', 'these men ought to be of the best degree, because, the meanest in one of those troops, is ever by his place a gentleman'T-, but its efficacy is proven by Richard Atkyns* description of his fight at Round way Down with Sir Arthur Haselrig himself. Haseirig. wearing armour like his 'regiment of Lobsters', resisted every shot and blow aimed at him: three point-blank pistol shots 'but a flea-biting to him", and numerous sword cuts. After his horse was killed, I laselrig tried to surrender, delaying whilst he attempted to free the sword tied to his wrist, but whilst 'fumbling a great deal' with the knot, he was rescued. The story was related to Charles I, who made a rare ioke out of it. saying, "Had he been victualled as well as fortified, he might have endured a siege of seven years'!'3. The Earl of Northampton when slain at Hopton Heath 1643: was so armoured that his enemies had to remove his helmet to kill him. The armoured cuirassier was sufficiently rare, however, for Monck to ignore them altogether, 'because there are not many Countries that do afford Horses fit for the Service of Cuirassiers' "4.

The cuirassier in Europe was armed with a lance, but this weapon was almost redundant long before the Civil Wars, largely because of the difficulties of finding suitable horses and of using the lance, 'a thing of much labour and industry to learn" The only lances known to have been used in the Civil Wars were in the hands of Scottish lighi cavalry, who employed them with some skill. "I"hc universal weapon was the sword, usually a heavy-bladed 'broadsword' with a semi-basket hill, or a 'stiff Tuck' with a strong but lighter blade: the traditional 'gentleman's' weapon, the rapier. Turner says, 'In the time of the late Troubles in England ... were used for a while, and then laid aside'The poleaxe or polchammer noted by Clarendon does not seem to have been used extensively, but w as the symbol of the Royal bodyguard of Gentlemen-Pensioners which served as a unit apparently only at Edgehill; Gentleman-Pensioner Mathews used his to despatch a Parliamentary cuirassier who had attempted to attack the Prince of Wales, but whose armour was impervious to sword blows.

The firearms used by horse consisted of pistols, carbines, and harquebuses: the two latter may be considered together, both having 2^-foot 76-centimeire barrels and being suspended from a shoulder belt by

Onc.ANt/.ATios, Equipment and Tactics

Onc.ANt/.ATios, Equipment and Tactics

Close Helmet

English close helmet with open face and fixed nasal bar {Wallis Et Wallis)

means of a swivel, the former having bullets of 24 to the pound 53 per kilogramme and the harquebus 1 7 per pound (37 per kilogramme ), according to Cruso , though Markham classes them together as having 39-inch (99-centimetrei barrels and 20 balls to the pound 44 per kilogramme 1. The numbers of troops thus armed is unknown, but was certainly a minority of horse: in 1645, for example, the New Model bought only 1,502 carbines to 7,650 pairs of pistols. Both wheel and firelock mechanisms were used for cavalry firearms the matchlock being largely unmanageable on horseback)* with the firelock the most popular due to its simple mechanism and cheap cost. Many pistols were of the wheel lock type, either small 'dags' which 'sparked fire much like a match lighted with gunpowder'1" as the wheel sparked against the pyrites, or longer, with barrels 'two foot for the longest, sixteen inches for the shortest'1*; Cruso recommended 18-ineh 46-centimetre barrels with bullets 20 to the pound 44 per kilogramme:, whilst Markham preferred 26-inch 66-

Horseman Engraving

Ancient Dragoon': in aciuat fact, a trooper of horse with haiquebusiei equipment (engraving by N C Goodnight)

centimetre barrels and 36 bullets to (he pound 79 r*r kilogramme )T and both state (.hat although a horseman should be able to loud his firearms from his Husk, 31 least six prepared cartridges should he earned for convenience. The complexity of the wheel lock is reflected by the cost: in 1631 a pairof wheel locks cost £3. against ¿"2 for snaphanccs or tire locks, hut even the latter could be broken easily, ihe Scottish army for example requesting in May 164.) t ,000 pairs, 'because our horsemen's armes do davtie become unuseful or are lost'sn. Other horse firearms included those of a troop of Walloons in Essex in 164K. 'armed with Blunderbasse Pistols, each of which could carry seven Bui lets*81.

In ihe early stages, equipment was usually provided by the individual or troop commander; Richard Atkyns' iroop, 60 strong in January 1641, for example, were 'almost all of them well armed. Master liutton giving me 30 steel backs, breasts and head pieces, and two men and horses completely armed'"1. In July 1642 the Committee of Lords and Commons for the Safety of the

Kingdom ordered that each troop commander should receive £280 for the provision of horses, arms and equipment. Many Royalist troops were equipped at their commanders' expense; for example, in October 1642 Prince Rupert ordered '30 tie: paire of your best holster and as many of your best spanners and as many of your best flasks as also one hundred weight of pistol! shot.., for ye arming of mine ownc Troop*8J.

The ideal cavalry horse was 'of sufficient stature and strength, nimble of joynts, and sure of foot... to pace, trot, gallop, or runne in full careere'""'. but was not always to be found. The 'Great Horse' or "Black Horse', the massive mount of armoured knights which was well over 16 hands, is shown in Civil War portraits but was probably very rare and costiy. explaining in part the decline of the cuirassier: Cromwell offered *6o pieces* for 'A Black won in battle' as against 20 pieces for a dragoon eob i8'. Most cavalry was mounted upon lighter horses of'tall stature and lean proportions' according to Mark ham, though the Scots in particular were always deficient in good horses, as Lord Save noted, 'light hul weak nags.,. never able to stand a charge or endure the shock of the enemy's horse'"". A man enlisting might have provided his own horse, or a man might have provided either a horse and rider or just a horse, for which he received from Parliament, which favoured this system) 2s. 6d. or is, 4d. per diem respectively. The value of the horse was assessed and regarded as a loan, repayment being promised at eight per cent: the system developed into a forced loan, districts being assessed to provide the requisite quantity of mounts. By 1645, however. the majority of horses were bought outright remounts ¿7 10s. each and dragoon mounts ¿4 1, other methods having broken down. The Royalists used purchase and impressment, the latter a confiscation by one faction of horses belonging to the other: in 1643, for example, the commander of the Parliamentary horse ai Leek was ordered 'to take so many horses of the papists, delinquents, or malignants. as to horse the said troopers* When troop commanders came from the landed classes, they frequently mounted their men at their own expense.

Theoretically a regiment of horse would comprise 500 men. but was seldom at full strength except when a popular leader was the commander. Normally a regiment comprised six troops, which often fought in three squadrons or "divisions*, and though mosi had their full complement of officers, were often very weak in troopers, partly due to desertion and casualties but also because many troop commanders found it beyond their means to arm and mount the correct number. Not all the 'other ranks' of a troop might be troopers, especially in the Royal forces; when Atkyns raised his troop, for example, he had 60 troopers and 20 'gentlemen that bore arms'"8. Among such 'gentlemen volunteers' in the Royalist armies were included many of the highest estate, such as the Secretary of State Lord Falkland,

Organization-, Equipment and Tactics

Musketeer Wheellock Pistol

Shabraque and holster cover, probably dating from the Civil War eia

Present b give Fire': cuirassier discharging wheel lock pistol, held with lock uppermost 10 assist transmission of spaik through touchhole into barrel (engraving after Cruso's Militarw Instructions)

killed at Hirst Newbury whilst riding with Hymn's Horse. Typical troop composition was: one troop commander icaptain or field officer), one lieutenant, one cornet ¿standard bearer), one quartermaster (commissioned officer1, three corporals, two trumpeters, one farrier, and 60 troopers. Royalist regiments usually had three field officers and Parliamentary1 regiments had two, a colonel and a major, with the colonel's troop being commanded by a'captain-lieutenant'. In the early part of the war at least, troops would often serve independently, the process of regimentation not being universal. A few examples may be quoted to show how widely divergent organization of horse could be. At Edgchill. Royalist regiments varied from eight troops to three, with totals from 500 to 150; troop strength ranged from 150 uhe two troops of Lifeguard) to only 15 [Major Legge's troop of Prince Rupert's regiment), Parliamentary' troops seem to have averaged about 50, save Essex's Lifeguard which was too strong. In Fairfax's army in the Marston Moor campaign, troops seem to have averaged only 2s men each, whilst the proportion of troopers to officers was sometimes 3s low as six; in mid 1644, for example. Colonel John llalbier's regiment comprised four troops, totalling 43 officers and 267 men.

Shabraque and holster cover, probably dating from the Civil War eia

A few regiments kept up their strength remarkably: in I>ccember 1642 Prince Rupen's comprised 465 men and 630 horses (including Rupert's Lifeguard, which soon after became independent' in seven troops; in March 1644 tt had to troops, was 500 strong at Marston Moor, and 400 in eight troops in May 1645, doubtless maintaining its strength beeausc of the popularity of its commander. In the Eastern Association strengths varied from Sir John Norwich's three troops to Manchester's it and Cromwell's 14: Cromwell's 'double regiment* {i.e. double-strengthj became two regiments upon the formation of the New Model, those of Sir Thomas Fairfax and Edward Whalley. In September 1644 the Eastern Association had 40 troops of horse ¿including one of Teformadoes'. officers without regiments ) in five regiments, averaging 99 per troop. Organization of Scottish horse was similar to that ofihe English, except that eight troops per regiment was usual, and like the Royalists their regiments had lieutenant-colonels, plus sometimes additional staff such as adjutant and scrivener.

The tactics of horse were based on two styles, Dutch and Swedish, The former, or Retter tactic, consisted of a regiment advancing in about six ranks towards their enemy and each successive rank halting to fire their pistols or carbines, then retiring for the next rank to do the same and so on until the enemy was sufficiently broken for a final charge with the sword. The Swedish fashion consisted of charging home with the sword in about three ranks, reserving fire for the pursuit, and was the style used increasingly throughout the war under the influence of Rupert and others; as early as Edgehill he instructed his horse to reserve their fire until in melee. Later experience altered the tactic of receiving a charge with lire to countercharging at 'a good round trot', as in one description: 'we stood and moved not till

Horseshoe Creek Battlefield Geometry

Deployment of regiments of horse (fiom Sprigge's plan of Naseby)

Monck Regiment Horse

they had fired, which made Gerrard swear (God damn him), "The rogues will not stir". Upon those words we elapped spurs to our horses, and gave him such a charge ... routed him and pursued him and made him fly .. The madcap charge, leaving all disorganized, which has been associated with Rupert, is sometimes exaggerated, for he was a skilled leader; nevertheless, the less-disciplined regiments including many of the Royalist corps composed of gentlemen-volunteers who could hardly be expected to submit to discipline , would make a wild dash which carried them out of the action and

Pistol exercise on horseback, showing cuirassiers (engraving after Cruso's Mi/itarie Instructions)

perhaps took days to reorganize. On the day following Edgehill, for example, the Royal horse was so disordered that there were no regiments or troops, only a vast body incapable of ordering itself and totally indisciplined.

Dragoons were mounted infantry: 'their service is on foot, and is no other than that of Musketeers*'0, and were thus equipped as foot, with firelocks and swords. They were regarded as foot soldiers made mobile by riding, and companies of foot w'ere often converted to dragoons; yet they were 'reckon'd as part of the Cavalry' and could even charge as such, as did Okey's regiment at Naseby, though their mounts ponies of about t-i hands) were invariably of the poorest quality and least price, the use thereof being but to expedite his march, allighting to do his service' *l. Organization was in companies and regiments, though exact establishments arc uncertain until the New Model's dragoon regiment of t ,000 men into campanies was set up; but as dragoons had existed in the militia for some time iCambridge and Ely mustered as many dragoons as horse in 1628, for example), there were also independent companies, sometimes attached to regiments of horse.

Organization, Equipment and Tactics

Roundhead Cuirassier
Cuirassier loading his ptsiol. holding bait in mouth until inserting it in barrel Note fabric interior of holsters, which could be drawn closed over mouth of holster, protecting pistol from dampness (engiaving after Cruso's Militarw Instructions)

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  • anna
    Is aileek in the navy?
    8 years ago

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