Tuesday, March 26, 2019

English Civil War cavalry notes..

Your troopers are most of them old decayed servingmen and tapsters; and their troopers are gentlemen's sons, younger sons and persons of quality; do you think that the spirits of such base and mean fellows will ever be able to encounter gentlemen that have honour and courage and resolution in them?
Cromwell in a letter to John Hampden after Edgehill

Time for another of my informal and occasional notes/articles, this time on the cavalry of the English Civil War. Before we start there will be a couple of exceptions/omissions - I won't cover Dragoons (as they are basically just mounted infantry, and I'll do a separate research article on them), it also doesn't cover Lancers as they were primarily used by the Scots, and they weren't present at Edgehill...

  • Cavalry were organised in troops - a similar organisational grouping as an infantry company.
  • A troop was commanded by a captain and had somewhere in the region of thirty to one hundred men. The senior/leading troops would have been lead by the colonel of the regiment, and a major (his second in command)
  • Cavalry troops could operate independently, but usually they were grouped into a regiment of around six troops under the command of a colonel (when I was doing my research on Fielding's regiment at Edgehill, I read that an independent troop under Sir Samuel Luke served with the regiment for the battle, and afterwards until 1643).


By far the most common cavalry type, though the descriptor 'harquebusier' [clicky] is not very well known/used (at least to me )..

In summary, and mostly from the very excellent British Civil wars wiki, but with other bits and pieces added from other sources...
  • Originally, a harquebusier was a foot soldier armed with the arquebus (or harquebus), but  during the French religious wars of the 16th century, they became mounted (I wonder if originally that was a dragoon role), and by the early 17th century, they had evolved into the standard light cavalry of western Europe (though I would be more inclined to call them medium due to the equipment they wore, and their style of fighting).
  • originally they were armed with a carbine/harquebus, a pair of pistols and a sword but during the civil wars, the carbine was likely to be carried by officers only.
  • defensive armour consisted of a light breast- and back-plate and pot helmet, sometimes with a "gorget" to protect the throat. A thick leather buff-coat was usually worn underneath the armour, and often replaced it altogether. A distinctive feature of the English cavalry was the three-bar pot helmet with articulated neck-guard - it is entirely possible that the cavalry would wear a soft hat with an iron "secrete" (helmet liner) underneath to give protection (8 and 9 in the picture left in the following)

Found on Pinterest but clearly copyright Osprey


Comparatively rare/scarce (expensive to maintain, and they required a heavier/stronger horse to carry the weight) - the best examples in the English Civil War were probably Haselrig's Lobsters [clicky], and perhaps Charles's Lifeguards (just a troop strong) and the Lifeguard of the Earl of Essex - either way, they were rare and classed as heavy cavalry.

Cuirassiers wore a suit of articulated plate armour reaching from the head to the knee. A long boot protected the lower leg and the back of the thigh.

Originally armed with the lance, they became increasingly through the 16th Century and into the 17th re-armed (after the wheel lock pistol was invented) with the pistol/carbine and of course the sword - later on the pistols would be early model flint lock.

Also found on Pinterest but clearly copyright Osprey


Positioned on each side of the infantry were the cavalry, with a right-wing led by the lieutenant-general, and a left-wing by the commissary general; the main goal of the cavalry was to rout the opponent's cavalry and then turn and overpower their infantry.

Two main tactics
  • the Dutch style - to advance at a quick trot until in range of the enemy. The men in the front fired, then wheeled away. In their second charge they advanced at full gallop using either a short sword or cutlass.
  • attributed to the Swedish under Gustavus - his cavalry would charge at full speed into the opponent's infantry firing their pistols either just before impact, or in the melee.

"at the start of the wars the Royalists (generally) adopted the Swedish style and the Parliamentarians the Dutch style. But by 1645 they were all working, to a greater or lesser extent, on the former" (Lipscombe - link below).

In the early years of the war at least Parliamentary cavalry tended to receive charges at the stand - depending on their fire power to disrupt the attack (the Dutch model - described in more detail in the Wanklyn book - "Deployed 6 ranks deep.. Dutch cavalry did not charge the enemy they waited for the enemy to charge them relying on firepower to disrupt them... if they were disrupted they would counter charge but at a trot rather than gallop... if the enemy wasn't disrupted then the 6 rank depth would absorb shock and the casualties inflicted on the enemy would give them the benefit in the ensuing melee")

Royalist cavalry tended to charge home directly with the sword, not using firearms until the melee. The Parliamentarian cavalry retained the use of firearms in the charge until later in the Civil War, but by the time of the New Model Army, had largely adopted the direct charge with the sword.

Royalists, under Prince Rupert's direction, began the Civil War using the Swedish three ranks-deep formation but the Parliamentarians retained a six-deep formation until late 1643 or early 1644 when they also moved to the shallower formation.

..from the Wanklyn book...
A cavalry unit drawn up in a shallow/Swedish formation would outflank a similar sized unit arrayed in a deep formation, a considerable tactical advantage.

Royalist cavaliers usually charged at speed, the English Parliamentarian Ironsides (later war then)  charged at a slower pace, troopers keeping together knee-to-knee, in order to retain their formation.

Basically thick firepower, versus thin fast shock then..


"Combined Arms Tactics in the English Civil War" - Nick Lipscombe
"A Military History of the English Civil War: 1642-1649" By Malcolm Wanklyn, Frank Jones

Friday, March 22, 2019

An "army" review - ECW progress so far..

One step at a time but I am quietly pleased with the progress so far..   all of these painted this year.

Parliament top, Royalist bottom...

Are those Royalists in a Swedish formation?? 

Pleased with the appearance and effect..

Onwards and upwards...!

Monday, March 18, 2019

Lord Fielding’s Regiment of Horse..

The man himself.. picture courtesy Wiki..
The first cavalry joins the ranks...  while sorting through the Marlburian lead pile for officers suitable to be used for the English Civil War project, I happened to notice that I had a couple of bags of cuirassiers left over - my reader may remember I was using Peter Pig cavalry as the source for the pot helmeted cuirassiers used by Bavaria and Austria..  aha! Quoth I, "waste not, want not", and so they were out together under-coated, and have become my first cavalry in the project..

For no other reason than that they were in the OOB list near the top, these have been designated as Lord Fielding's Regiment, a Parliamentary cavalry unit at Edgehill.

Not a lot of detail on the regiment, but a certain amount on their colonel (picture of him top left).

As ever my first point of call was the BCW wiki page for the regiment [clicky] that reveals there was no known coat colour for the regiment, or a known standard, except for one carried by a single troop under Sir Samuel Luke who served with the regiment until 1643. Given that the figures I had did not include command this isn't an issue - the lack of coat colour is an opportunity, and given I had done red's, blue's, tawny's, and white's already, I went with a particularly lovely green (it's a Vallejo colour and really pops out)

Fielding was educated at Emmanuel College, Cambridge (same as his father who by the by fought on the other side at Edgehill - this war divided families very painfully...)

He served in the House of Lords as Baron Fielding in March 1629, and after military service in the Netherlands, Charles sent him to Venice as ambassador 1634 - he ended up being there for 5 years.

When the English Civil War broke out Fielding declared for Parliament - the only one of his family to do so (I'd love to know why - given his presence in the House of Lords and the role Charles gave him in Venice you would have thought he might be inclined to join the King??)

He became Earl of Denbigh in April 1643, and was made commander-in-chief of the Parliamentary army in Warwickshire and the neighbouring counties, and lord-lieutenant of Warwickshire.

According to Scott, Turton and von Arni ("Edgehill: The Battle Reinterpreted") the regiment fielded 360 men in six troops on the day - they served on the right wing of the Parliamentary army (so on the wing not facing Rupert), in the second row - behind Balfour's and the Lord General's. It was not an optimal flank for cavalry (poor terrain..  hedges and marshy ground) and Parliament had massed most of theirs on the other wing facing Rupert - these were the only three regiments of cavalry on the right wing..

Their position in reserve was not to save them - while Balfour's and the Lord General's were withdrawn behind the Parliamentary foot, Fielding's were left in place and then swept away by Wilmot's Royalist horse in the opening moves of the battle..

8 figures - Peter Pig - painted March 2019..  next up sir Henry Cholmley's Regiment of Foot, and I think an army review of progress so far

Friday, March 15, 2019

English Civil War artillery notes..

The inimitable Rick Scollins, naturally..
Hello, what's your name? MY NAME IS BOB RIVERS! Where are stationed, Bob? I'M IN ARTILLERY! Well, can we play something for you? ANYTHING! JUST PLAY IT LOUD O.K.?
Good Morning Vietnam (RIP Robin) 

...by way of another in an occasional series as I expand on my knowledge of the period...  this time the artillery.. 


NB. This is a precis/summation of a Stephen Ede-Borrett article (full link below) which I found fascinating, and well/persuasively argued
  1. Guns were widely spaced and their effectiveness reduced by having no overall fire control.
    There are no (surviving, or otherwise) regulations from the 17th century for artillery placement but we do know that in the 18th century, before the advent of a new level of artillery doctrine during the Napoleonic Wars, the normal frontage for guns was 19 yards. This frontage fits well with what we know of English Civil War infantry deployments when there are references to a pair of guns being placed between battalions.  No wheel to wheel grand batteries, then....!

  2. Guns are positional - once positioned they didn't move... They were taken to the lines, unlimbered, all of the supplies are dumped around them and the horses are taken back to somewhere safe. A12pdr gun was allocated nine horses for movement (plus any more required for the ammunition and equipment), these would be an obstacle to a second line looking to move up through the guns, and also horses in that number make a target and horses were considerably more valuable to an army than men.

  3. Gunners and artillery crew did not fight hand-to-hand - they were poorly armed, few in number, and pretty isolated (see point 1.) - they had case shot, but with the separation distance of guns and the width of an attacking unit and their ability to get off maybe only one round it was VERY unlikely to be an 'attack stopper'. They were more likely to run, often it seems in good time, and without trying to get off a last round…

  4. Ammunition was not plentiful. In May 1643 the Royalists organised an artillery train for the forthcoming campaign with 19 guns - they were allocated only 50 rounds of ball and 20 rounds of case each - if we take that a gun could fire two rounds a minute without effort (and three if rushed), then they could have fired off all of their ammunition in less than 25 minutes - for the whole campaign. This implies that the contemporary concept was for only a very small amount of artillery fire in the opening minutes of an action and even then must have been at selected targets.
Food for thought!

Types (and this was the main reason for me reading up on it):

So basically guns can be divided into three broad types:
  1. Siege guns (Cannon royal to Culverin);
  2. Field pieces (demi-culverins, sakers and minions), and
  3. Light pieces (falcons-robinets and galloper guns, and also multi-barrelled 'leather guns' the Scots were fond of). 
NB. The lighter pieces were sometimes attached on a semi-permanent basis to regiments of Foot. Galloper guns had a split trail between which a horse could be harnessed, with others in front of it. Wilmot had a couple of these with him at Roundway Down in what was largely a Royalist cavalry force so they were clearly mobile..

Calibre (inches) Weight (lb) Length of Piece (ft) Weight of Shot (lb)
Cannon Royal 8 8000 8 63
Cannon 7 7000 10 47
Demi-cannon 6 6000 12 27
Culverin 5 4000 11 15
Demi-culverin 4.5 3600 10 9
Saker 3.5 2500 9.5 5.25
Minion 3 1500 8 4
Falcon 2.75 700 6 2.25
Falconet 2 210 4 1.25
Robinet 1.25 120 3  0.75
Source: Hall

By way of a comment - a Napoleonic 12pd'er weighed 2400lb's - the equivalent English Civil War period gun is almost twice that - which puts weight (did you see what I did there..) to point 2/. above...

Ignoring the siege size guns then, we have the following of interest - I've largely ignored ranges^ as all of these would have comfortably covered a typical battlefield:
  1. Demi-culverin - bordering on siege weapon size but classed as a medium cannon - typically  firing an 9-pound round shot (though there were variants firing 8-pound or 10-pound). Much prized for it's accuracy and hitting power - 9 horses or more to pull it
  2. Saker - slightly smaller - typically fired a 5.25 pound shot with a maximum range 7,400 ft- required 6 horses to pull it. The most common type of battlefield gun.
  3. Minion - from the French word for 'cute' (bet you never knew that!) - primarily an anti personnel weapon firing predominantly case
^ Having said that Rogers has the saker and falcon with point-blank ranges of 360 and 320 yards, and 2,170 and 1,920 yards extreme ranges respectively..

All sides used what they could find, of whatever size and age.

They may have had pre-made cartridges, but more likely not. That meant powder barrel and ladle close to smoking match and one of the reasons for arming the artillery train guard with early pattern flintlocks

17th Century Falconet - Firepower Museum of the Royal Artillery
Logistically, the Train of Artillery was regarded as a sponge that soaked up money. Horse teams were large (7-9 horses), and needed a lot of feed, and the guns used a lot of powder. Gun crews were also large, although they probably only had a couple of skilled gunners to each piece. The Train needed a special guard unit, armed with flintlocks rather than matchlocks, which added to the expense. With all that though these armies did not drag guns around for the fun of it - clearly there was a morale effect even if the attack effect was limited..

Enough to get me going I think..!

Sealed Knot re-enactors...  think they are Robinets - almost a large shotgun on wheels

Friday, March 08, 2019

Sir Lewis Dyve’s Regiment of Foote..

Time for the next regiment in the project - these are Sir Lewis Dyve’s Regiment of Foote who were brigaded with Sir Charles Gerard's regiment in the brigade commanded by the same...

From the truly excellent BCW wiki page [clicky] - which is now become my 'go to' for all matters English Civil War we find the following interesting snippet...

"Dyve's regiment were clothed by Thomas Bushell. Coat colour deduced to be white by Peachey and Prince but not confirmed. Dyve's regiment carried yellow flags differenced by red balls in April 1644" 

So two years after Edgehill we have a standard described as above, too late for me but that is what I have gone for for this regiment in light of no other facts to disprove it...  There's also no date on the fact about white clothing, or when they were issued it, but that is also good enough for me..

From the same source we also learn that Sir Lewis also raised a regiment of horse of the same name...

The aforementioned Sir Lewis was an interesting fellow, and a bit of a "lad" by all accounts - I'm not sure there was any way he was ever going to be for Parliament given the little snippets of his life that I've found...

Lewis Dyve Frontispiece to the
Bedfordshire Historical Record
courtesy Wikipedia
So, Sir Lewis was an MP and early on was caught up in the attainder of the the Earl of Strafford (his half brother was Digby who gave a speech against it, and he either printed it or was one of the recipients of a number of Digby's treasonous letters), for which Parliament ordered his appearance to answer questions - I have read different sources saying he was either exonerated, or put under arrest (in absence) - more likely the latter...

At the outbreak of the war he was part of a plan to let the forces of the King into Hull (April '42) for which his arrest was also ordered - enough was enough, and he escaped to the Continent.

He was back in England later the same year, appointed Colonel of a regiment of foot in August (when the King raised his standard at Nottingham), but commanded the troop of horse, and was wounded at the cavalry action at Powick Bridge near Worcester in the September.

In 1643, the House of Commons voted for his impeachment for High Treason for raising money for the King and for referring to Parliament as "The Pretended Parliament"

He served with Prince Rupert at the relief of Newark in 1644, and was then appointed sergeant-major-general in Dorset.

In 1645 he succeeded in storming Weymouth, but could not take neighbouring Melcombe Regis, and when the Parliamentary garrison in Melcombe succeeded in seizing the baggage train that Goring had sent to Dyve they were able to recapture Weymouth.

Dyve was captured at the siege of Sherborne, and imprisoned in the Tower of London from 1645 to 1647 when he escaped but was recaptured at Preston.

Imprisoned in Whitehall he escaped once more, according to his own account on the very day he was to have been executed, by "leaping down out of a jakes [toilet] two stories high into the Thames at high water, in the coldest of winter, and at night; so as by swimming he got to a boat that attended for him, though he was guarded by six musketeers."

Dyve went to Ireland where he once more served with the Royal forces

In 1650 he published an account of events in that country during the previous two years.

He lost much of his fortune through his loyalty to the Crown, but also in part due to heavy gambling: in 1668, the year before he died, Samuel Pepys called him disapprovingly "a great gamester"...  I think I might have enjoyed a beer with him..  

He married in 1624 Howarda, daughter of Sir John Strangways of Melbury House, Melbury Sampford, Dorset, and widow of Edward Rogers, by whom he had three sons and a daughter.

...once I get to three a side then it may be time for a little game..

24 figures - Peter Pig - painted March 2019

More here:


Lastly, found this in my research...  those old schoo'lers amongst us will remember Bluebear Jeff... a much missed presence..

If white and off white coats were good enough for Bluebear Jeff then they'll do for me - RIP Jeff...

Monday, March 04, 2019

English Civil War flag notes..

Regimental flag of Sir John Gell - more on it here [clicky]
... “ought to have all the Colours of his Regiment alike, both in colour and fashion to avoide confusion so that the souldiers may discerne their owne Regiment from the other Troopes; likewise, every particular Captaine of his Regiment may have some small distinction in their Colours; as their Armes, or some Embleme, or the like, so that one Company may be discerned from another”... Ward's "Animadversions of Warre" (1639)

More notes on what was to me a fairly complicated old system until I started doing my research...  

Infantry first...

So as we know from the previous post on tactics and drill, infantry regiments of the Civil War period were organised with six to twelve companies, usually ten, each of these had it's own standard or colour..

They tended to be about 6 foot/6 foot 6 inches square..  usually made of silk or taffeta -  very delicate - they would have had a short shelf life in the field and on campaign..

There was little or no conformity over what colour the standard, or standards, were, as uniformity of facing and regimental colour were still a far off in terms of a standard military system/regulation... so a regiment referred to as the "red regiment" in the history of the time might confusingly be referring to either the flag or the coat colour of the regiment ..

The colours could, or more likely would not, then have a relation to the uniform of the regiment... as the regiments would get new clothing on a yearly basis (if they were lucky), and if they were really lucky the uniforms might be all the same colour, and if they were even luckier they might be the same colour as the one's they were exchanging - there was no guarantee it would be the same uniform colour as before, so the same is also true of standards

There were some basics, though, that seem to have applied across the board....  I think the following is known as the Venn System (named after and described by Captain Thomas Venn in his book "Military Observations or The Tacticke put into Practice", published in 1672).
  • The colour of the Colonel's Company was usually plain, but could be charged with his heraldic badge or a motto (we already have one exception to that, as Gerard's was not plain but quartered diagonally, and I've only painted 3 foot regiments in the project so far!)). 
  • The Cross of St. George seems to have been common on all the other regimental colours - but not the colonels - whatever the system used.
  • The colour of the Lieutenant-Colonel's Company (2nd in seniority) displayed the Cross of St. George only
  • The colour of the Major's Company  (3rd in seniority) was the same but with the addition of a "stream blazant", also known in heraldic terms as a "wavy pile", think a wavy lightning bolt - issuing from the lower corner of the canton - this is an example:
  • The colours of the captains' companies (4th in seniority onward) were made unique by adding additional symbols, in varying numbers (as there was no set way of doing this) Typically, or perhaps ideally, the first captain would have one symbol on his flag, and for each additional company another symbol was added. These could be simple shapes such as balls, stars, circles, lozenges or crescents (more popular in Parliamentarian regiments). In some cases heraldic devices might be used (lions,etc) but these were rarer - presumably because they were more difficult to make, and would be more likely in a Royalist regiment.
Venn system illustrated - from the awesome Warflag.com website
There were alternatives.... in the main one, some regiments ignored the lightning bolt/wavy pile and had one symbol for the majors company and then increased by one for each one device for the Major's Company, two for the First Captain's Company and so on (apparently this system was common for the regiments of the London Trained Bands).

Some regiments used differing numbers of 'stream blazant'/'wavy pile': one for the Major's Company, two for the First Captain's Company, etc.

A few Royalist regiments differentiated by diagonal divisions of the field of the colour - this is an example:

Picture courtesy http://tmg110.tripod.com/british9.htm
It was also not unusual for regiments to have entirely different flags per company, that is with no common differentiation at all.. towards the end of the First Civil War this was fairly common amongst Royalist regiments. There are accounts of regiments being furnished with colours captured from the other side so it is extremely unlikely they would have any resemblance to existing flags in the regiment, or even each other.

This is why the trooping of the colour would have been so important in those days - with regular change, due to officers dying, standards being replaced through damage and general wear and tear, etc., it was important that a soldier got to recognise his own companies flag, but also the flags for the other companies in his regiment - in a battle it could be critical..  the context of the trooping of the colour was not something I'd thought about before...  it's not just ceremonial, there is an underlying purpose that isn't quite so obvious in more modern times..

The other thing I read, is that it is entirely conceivable that the regiments on either side might very well have very similar flags - in the smoke and noise of battle that is going to cause an issue at some point in time or another - troops could conceivably rally to the standard of one of their opponents, or even another regiment on the same side - one of the reasons that some regiments used the diagonal divisions system apparently as it was less likely to be copied or similar to anyone else..  interesting possibilities...

Those of the cavalry are far less standardised (ha... see what I did there..!)...  they would tend to have one per squadron of horse..  usually about 2 foot square and they varied widely in design, many displaying the heraldic devices of their commanders, religious motto's, or political (and other!) slogans. The following is going to have to appear at some time...  

Attributed to Sir Horatio Cary’s (Royalist) Regiment of Horse - picture courtesy BCW wiki site [clicky]
Dragoon standards would have been the same size but usually had a swallow tail and would more likely follow the same style as infantry standards..

Further reading: