For much of the Civil War, an army would consist of larger numbers of musketeers than of any other soldier. By 1645, a Regiment of Foote would look to recruit 2/3 of its soldiers to join the Divisions of ‘Shotte’, where they were armed with the ‘Matchlock Musket’ and trained to inflict leaden death upon their enemies…
The matchlock musket was a heavy, sometimes clumsy weapon to use, and had to be reloaded each time after firing; three shots a minute was considered fast shooting. We have records showing that before leading the regiment to Basing House in July 1643, Marmaduke Rawdon issued Musket Rests to his regiment, which would help support the weapons as they were fired. Muskets would have an accurate range of about 100 yards, and the lead ball they fired was about 1 ounce (8 grams) in weight. This could do terrible damage if someone was hit. The ‘Match’ was a cord that when lit could ignite the gunpowder and fire the weapon.
Musketeers fought in large groups known as ‘Divisions’ or ‘Sleeves’ of Shotte, and each rank would fire in turn as they advanced or retreated, in order to maintain a continuous fire upon the enemy. Increasingly, musketeers would also be used for decisive assaults by ordering the Shotte to fire as one in a devastating ‘Salvee’, followed up by the soldiers surging forward - in close combat, musketeers could use swords or daggers, but often they simply reversed their muskets to use them as clubs against enemy soldiers.
The regiment today has one of the largest Musket Divisions within the English Civil War Society, and makes a real impact on the Battlefield and at our other Displays. We are keen to welcome additional musketeers, and we support new recruits by loaning uniforms and muskets and by providing plenty of help and assistance. All our musketeers are well trained in the safe handling of the weapons, and the Officer and Corporals are on hand to ensure that everyone is safe when we are shooting.