Colonel Devereux's Regiment - Regimental Roles

The Pike division

The Pike division is the heart of the regiment and forms the central part of the unit of the battlefield. The pike division performs two main functions. They were the offensive arm of the company or regiment and would bring the battle to the enemy by assault. They also provide a defensive bastion to protect the musketeers whilst loading. Fighting at the closest order a body of pikes moving forward can present a wall of lethally sharp spearheads that can fight off the most determined of enemies. The regiment supplies the pikes and armour to the men of the pike division.

The Equipment of the Pike division
Devereux’s are equipped with two types of pike. A metal tipped version we use in drills and living history events and a ‘battle pike’ with a shaped wooden end, that we use in our battle re-enactments. Both, like the originals are around 16-18 eighteen-foot long, and made of ash. The pike featured on the left is the only known original 17th century pike with the ash pole (or what is left of it) attached. The spear head is secured to the ash pole by langettes. These are two steel strips secured by nails that run down the side of the pike. The langettes secured the spearhead to the pole and protected the pike from damage.

Armour and Equipment
Ideally a pike man would have been equipped with a helmet, back and breast plate and a set of tassets. The tassets were metal plates fixed to the breast plate that protected the thighs and groin of the wearer, whilst the back and breast plate protected the torso and chest. The armour was secured by shoulder straps and a waist belt. The pike man’s armour was complemented with a helmet, called a Morion, although often referred to as a ‘pike mans’s pot’ As the war developed and armies started to fight on longer campaigns, the pikemans armour tended to be discarded to improve mobility. The increasing use, efficiency and reliance on musketry only served to hasten its demise. Slightly predating the Civil War, this period drawing shows the ideal for equipping the pike man. The final piece of equipment that the pike man could hope to be issued with was his sword or ‘Tuck’. This was a poorly made mass-produced weapon, with limited effect in combat. Many contemporary writers said that the soldiers were better of being issued with axes.

A file of pike drill with the metal edged drill weapons
The musket division
By the 1640’s the musket, was fast becoming the dominant battlefield weapon. Its flexibility, ease of training and manoeuvre coupled with the ability to inflict casualties on the enemy at a distance, ensured its superiority over the pike. To load a matchlock musket, the burning slow match was held in the left hand, which also held the musket at the point of balance. Then a small quantity of powder was put in the priming pan and the pan-cover closed. The main charge was then poured down the barrel, followed by a musket ball and some paper wadding. This was then firmly rammed down to the bottom of the barrel with the rammer, or scouring stick as it was sometimes called. To fire the musket one end of the burning match was placed in the jaws of the serpent, the pan was opened and the trigger pulled. This would lower the match into the pan, ignite the priming powder and then the main charge. Gunpowder produces large clouds of white smoke and when a lot of guns were firing it was often difficult to see. Musketeers made up about two thirds of the infantry and, unlike the pike men, they wore no armour. The muskets, which cost about 10/- each, weighed about 7kg and were muzzle loading, which means that the gunpowder and the lead musket ball had to be loaded down the barrel from the muzzle end. The gunpowder was carried in small wooden cylindrical boxes that hung from a bandoleer or crossbelt. One box held enough powder for one shot and there were usually twelve on a bandoleer.
An original mid-17th century set of charges from the collection at the Royal Armories
A trained musketeer could expect to get anything up to 3 shots a minute, and whilst ineffective and inaccurate fired individually, used en masse and at close range they could be devastating. Like the pike man, the musketeer could expect to carry a small ‘tuck’s word too.
Devereux’s musket division prepares to give fire by salvo.

TNA SP28/122 Folio.50
The pay warrant for Major Thomas Smith’s company of Hardress Wallers regiment, signed by Thomas Rainsborrow the 1st of August 1645. The document breaks down the company into three divisions, 1st division of musket with 39 soldiers a 2nd division of musket with 36 soldiers and a division of pike with 28 soldiers. Thus giving the company a ratio of 1 pike to 2.6 musket

The baggage train
The conflict had a huge impact on the people of the British Isles. A proportionally greater part of the population died during this period than that of the Great War. It has been suggested that as much as 10% of the housing stock was destroyed during the Civil Wars. The lives of the people changed dramatically, both soldier and civilian. Communities, friends and families were divided as sides were chosen, often with great reluctance. As the soldiers were recruited to fight, many families chose to follow them rather than face the financial hardships at home.

Devereux’s, whilst an infantry regiment, also have a dedicated group that portrays the civilian element of the army too. The families and others who followed the men of the army were to play a vital role in the 17th century armed forces, in seeing to the welfare of the soldiers.

During the 17th century, the civilian element of the army was to play a vital role in the welfare and upkeep of the soldiers. It was the families of the men who followed them on campaign that fed them, tended to their wounds and washing and general wellbeing. Devereux’s has a comprehensive ‘baggage train’, cooking for the rank and file and the officers and runs the ‘beer shoppe’. Whilst at a living history weekend the regimental sutelry and cooking tent is very much the heart of the military camp and provides food for soldiers and officers alike. Other civilian activities include carry out laundry and the helping the soldiers with the production of match cord and musket balls.