In general there was a great deal of inertia in the Trained Bands, and it took a national emergency or very enthusiastic officers to overcome it. The Crown made a significant attempt in 1623 to revitalise it and form a perfect or 'Exact Militia'. A new drill manual—Instructions for Musters and Armes, And the use thereof: By order from the Lords of His Majesties most Honourable Privy Counsayle—was produced and circulated, but the influence of the voluntary associations in London had greater effect, and this only because military exercises became fashionable.

The Trained Bands in the Civil War

The support of the Trained Bands may have seemed a doubtful advantage; but as relations between king and Parliament worsened both sides were conscious that they were the only formed bodies of armed men in the country. Control of the Militia, and particularly the appointment of their officers, became a critical issue as both sides hoped to use these soldiers as the basis of new armies. These arguments reckoned without the feelings of the Trained Bandsmen themselves as local interest, or self-interest, outweighed support for king or Parliament. King Charles appealed for the support of the Trained Bands when he raised his standard at Nottingham but, finding that they refused to serve outside the county, made the fateful decision to disarm them instead, a practice he then continued in other counties. Clarendon claimed this was done with 'wariness and caution', but in fact it was regarded with grave suspicion and lent credence to Parliament propaganda that the king aimed to disarm true Protestant Englishmen on the eve of invasion from Ireland. In fact Parliament also seized Trained Band arsenals but enjoyed more sympathetic press reports.

Trained Band soldiers did serve during the Civil War, sometimes forcibly impressed in field armies, but more usually in defence of their county or, particularly, in the defence of their homes during sieges of their towns or cities. In general, whoever controlled the county or the town could call out the Trained Bands if it was felt to be worth the trouble. Only two groups made a significant impact on the Civil War itself: the Cornish for the king, and the London Trained Bands for Parliament. The Cornish did so through sheer tenacity, but even they would not serve outside county boundaries. London was a special case.

The London Trained Bands.

At the beginning of 1642 the Trained Bands of the City of London consisted of four regiments totalling 6,000 men, half being musketeers and half pikemen. On 12 February a re-organisation was authorised to increase the total to 8,000, organised in 40 companies of 200 men each. These new companies were divided amongst six regiments known as the Red, White, Yellow, Blue, Green and Orange Trained Bands after the colour of their ensigns. The first four regiments had seven companies each and the last two only six. The following year the City of London together with the City of Westminster, the Borough of Southwark and the Tower Hamlets were surrounded by a series of earthworks

A file of pikemen from John Bingham's The Tactiks of Aelian, showing how the pikeheads of several ranks could project past the file leader to face the enemy. A depth of 16 men is shown, rather than the ten normal in 1616, because it illustrates the style of a Macedonian phalanx as a model for modern war. The figures are dressed as 17th century pikemen.


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Muster of the London Trained Bands: 26 September 1643

Musketeers Pikemen Officers Total

Musketeers Pikemen Officers Total

White Regiment City of London 600 520 about 70

Orange Regiment City of London 630 408 about 63 1,101

Yellow Regiment City of London 506 448 about 70 1,024

Tower Hamlets Trained Bands 819

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