(Right) "Give fire!" - Goring's Regiment, King's Army, tCWS, at the Gosport muster. When the trigger was pulled the serpent snapped down and back, pressing the glowing tip of the match into the priming powder. A simpler way, sometimes used in extremis, was to ignore the serpent and simply to hold a length of match in the right hand, "popping" it directly into the priming at the order to fire; the reduction in accuracy was not too important at very close ranges. Either way, the "hang-fire" before the priming sets off the main charge in the barrel can seem surprisingly long.

(Above) The tension of waiting: a Sealed Knot musketeer awaits the enemy during a muster at Northampton.

(Right) Men of a mixed ECWS formation stand steady in their ranks, the front rank in the "present" position, with priming pans uncovered, straining for the order to fire. Since he has no match the foreground man seems to be a trainee musketeer serving out his safety apprenticeship with an unloaded musket.

Matchlock Musketeer

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