(Left and below) Under the orders of a sergeant at the far end of the ranks, the Tower Hamlets men (to judge from their colours in the background, from the second captain's company - see page 32) make ready to fire. As with the pike, technical treatises included dozens of drill postures each with its own word of command, giving an impression of complexity. In wartime practice the handling of the weapon would be learned as a logical sequence and the number of separate commands would be reduced to the minimum necessary for safety and the effective delivery of fire in battle: ambitious enough objectives, when working with recruits many of whom would never have held a gun in their lives.
(Left) Tower Hamlets shot drawn up in two ranks; the mix of muskets used with and without rests is probably authentic. Before re-enactors who use rests close with the enemy in hand-to-hand combat they drop their rests - the spiked ferrule could be dangerous; they also discard any pieces of lighted match for the same reason - young "powder monkeys" follow up the regiment to collect them. Note large brass and small leather-covered powder flasks, and spare matches.
The essential stages of reloading a matchlock musket; these actions must be repeated before each shot.
(Left) A green-coated musketeer of Carr's Regiment, SK, at Carew Castle. He has removed the smouldering match from the spring jaws of the "serpent" and holds it safely out of the way between the fingers of his left hand. With his right he selects and opens a charge bottle, and prepares to pour powder into the muzzle.
(Right) Men of Bright1 s and Hampden's Regiments, Crawford's Brigade, ECWS, at Gosport. The ball was then dropped into the muzzle after the powder, with or without a paper wad; these men now ram home their (blank) charges. In the excitement and confusion of battle it is surprisingly easy to fire a musket with the ramrod still in the barrel, with dangerous consequences. The explicit order to "secure your scouring stick" is always given before the order to fire, and musketeers learn the habit of feeling for it under the barrel.
(Below left) A musketeer of Devercux's, ECWS, at Basing House. The swivelling cover is now swung off the priming pan; "touch" powder is poured in; and the pan is re-covered.
(Below centre) After any spilt priming powder is carefully blown off the outside of the lock the match is replaced in the serpent.
(Below right) The musketeer has to adjust the length of his match every few moments as it burns away, or the smouldering tip will no longer fall squarely on the powder in the priming pan when he finally pulls the trigger. He also has to blow on the match to remove the fine ash and keep the tip glowing hot.
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