Wheellock Carbine

(Left) Member of Sir Edward Hungerford's Regiment of Horse, ECWS, at Basing House. He wears the classic "lobster pot" helmet, which is found differing widely in quality and details of design. Single visor bars are associated with Dutch-made imports (probably more likely to be used by Royalist troops), and triple bars with English-made helmets (and thus, Parliamentarian supplies). The steel body armour was often claimed to be proof against pistol balls, but seems to have varied widely in degree of protection -and the thicker the metal, the heavier and more exhausting it was to wear. (A proofing mark, a dent supposedly showing that the maker had tested the plate with a pistol, can be seen at right above the sash in the photo below.)

A reproduction helmet today costs about £65; back-and-breast plates, £65-£80; and a cavalry sword, about £75. Hungerford's do not use firearms, but our subject poses here with a superb long-barrelled wheellock carbine-pistol.

(Right) Detail of the wheellock pistol. Because it was impossible to handle matchlock weapons on horseback, the pairs of pistols normally carried holstered at the saddlebow by Civil War cavalrymen were flintlocks or wheellocks (the latter seem to have figured significantly among Royalist imports from France). The wheellock, set off by a spark struck by a clockwork spring revolving a serrated steel wheel against a piece of iron pyrites, shared the main advantages of the flintlock. It could be wound up in advance (with a "spanner" like a large Allen key), and fired when needed. But it was complex, expensive to buy and maintain, and rather fragile for field conditions, often jamming or breaking.

Pistols came in many designs, usually between 16 and 24ins. long, with bores of between 20 and 36 balls to the pound weight. They were fired held on their side with the priming pan upwards, to ensure a good contact between the priming and the touch-hole. Tests with a large calibre wheellock pistol made in about 1620 have given impressive results - an 85% chance of hitting a man-sized target, and penetration of 2mm of steel plate, at 30 yards (though under perfect range conditions). Most Civil

War use seems to have been at point-blank range.

Reproduction wheellocks used by re-enactors can cost around £1,000 a pair. Since neither wheellocks nor the cheaper flintlocks can easily be reloaded in the saddle some re-enactors carry one dummy with a blank-firing device built in, which allows repeated shots.

It is not known how widely carbines were issued to Civil War cavalry; but contemporary purchase accounts do include the m in large numbers, and several survive in collections. Carbines seem to have had a barrel length of 2ft.-2ft.6ins., and were carried from a baldric by a spring clip and ring-and-bracket arrangement. Bores seem to have varied between 24 balls to the pound (i.e. about .4in.) to full musket bore or even slightly larger.

Dutch Baldric
Royalists Officer

(Left) Cavalry officer, Bright's Regiment, ECWS, at Clifford's Tower, York; the red sash was not exclusively a Royalist officer's insignia. The sword worn here from an oil-tanned leather baldric is a swept-hilt rapier: typical of the personal weapons which the gentry would have taken to war in 1642, but rather light for a cavalryman's battle weapon. He also carries an all-purpose dirk in his square-toed, straight-cut, high-top boot. (The legs of this style were made from a single piece of hide; strictly, the term "bucket-top" should only apply to those which had an extra, flared section sewn on above the knee.) Cavalry re-enactors who wish to avoid the cost (£250-300) of made-to-measure reproduction boots sometimes use naval surplus deck boots with added extensions.

The buff coat is of an ornate style appropriate for a well-to-do officer, and was copied by Mark Beabey from that in a famous portrait of Nathaniel Fiennes. Unlike the coat illustrated on page 37, made with four full-length body sections, the Fiennes coat has four torso and four flared skirt sections. Its most noticeable feature is the double construction of the sleeves, the thick, protective outer sleeve with a scalloped cutaway in the elbow to allow easier movement of the arm in the thinner, full-length inner sleeve. There is evidence that some coats were completely "doubled" - i.e. there were two complete bodies, the thick outer one with shorter cut-away sleeves sewn over a thinner coat with full-length sleeves.

(Right) Detail of the "Fiennes" buff coat, which weighs over 271bs. Note the construction, with butt-stitching rather than overlapped seams. Such coats would be made to measure for their owners. Museum examples are usually lined, or partly so, with woollen, linen or silk material. Fastening varies from simple leather laces, to leather buttons, to metal hooks-and-eyes. A fine reproduction of, e.g., the coat on page 37 costs today from £400 unlined, £650 lined; one like this would be nearer £850. Re-enactors who have invested in them report that it can take two years' use to get them fairly pliable, and that the arms can never straighten fully as the sleeves are cut on the curve. Buff coats are also sensitive to temperature, and as stiff as a board in very cold weather; weighing as much as a Vietnam helicopter pilot's ceramic body armour, they are exhausting and overheating to wear for more than a couple of hours at a stretch.

Matchlock OrnateBattle Powick Bridge Civil War

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