Help support TMP

"Individual frontages in the ECW and Thirty Years War" Topic

22 Posts

All members in good standing are free to post here. Opinions expressed here are solely those of the posters, and have not been cleared with nor are they endorsed by The Miniatures Page.

Please don't call someone a Nazi unless they really are a Nazi.

For more information, see the TMP FAQ.

Back to the Renaissance Discussion Message Board

Back to the English Civil War Message Board

Areas of Interest


Featured Hobby News Article

Featured Recent Link

Top-Rated Ruleset


Rating: gold star gold star gold star gold star gold star gold star gold star 

Featured Showcase Article

Fighting 15's Teutonic Order Command 1410

Command figures for the 1410 Teutonics.

Featured Profile Article

First Look: Barrage's 28mm Streets & Sidewalks

Personal logo Editor in Chief Bill The Editor of TMP Fezian looks at some new terrain products, which use space age technology!

Featured Book Review

3,042 hits since 4 Jun 2015
©1994-2024 Bill Armintrout
Comments or corrections?

Personal logo BigRedBat Sponsoring Member of TMP04 Jun 2015 2:07 a.m. PST

Can anyone kindly point me to any information about the individual frontage occupied by pikemen, musketeers and cavalry in these periods?

I'm keen to use these to get an idea about the relative width of units, so I'd also be interested in these if available.

Thanks, Simon

Jeff of SaxeBearstein04 Jun 2015 3:22 a.m. PST

I would like to know that as well, Simon, but I am not sure that any such info is available . . . and units were of such variable sizes as well.

For foot, my opinion is that contrary to most basing systems, the pike would have been in a more dense formation than the shot. Not only are pikes a "close order" type of weapon but matchlocks (with burning matches) needed to be farther apart for safety reasons.


Above you can see how I have based my Sir Edward Stradling's troops. There are five pikemen (ala the pips of a "5" die) and three 28mm shot on 50mm square bases. I feel that it is more correct than four figures per base AND I like the way it looks.

-- Jeff

Personal logo BigRedBat Sponsoring Member of TMP04 Jun 2015 3:41 a.m. PST

Yes Jeff, the unit size might be very variable but if I could find the frontage per man then that would be a great start! Nice looking minis BTW.

Best, Simon

Mollinary04 Jun 2015 3:42 a.m. PST

Hi Simon,

I would recommend a look at Glenn Foard's masterly "Naseby, the Decisive Campaign. He devotes a chapter to the size of formations in both armies, and the space they would cover, which I think does just what you re looking for. There is similar work in the Book Edgehill: The Battle Reinterpreted, by Scott, Turton, and von Armi. More generic, and with some useful illustrations, is the Osprey Elite 179 "Pike and Shot Tactics 1590-1660 by Keith Roberts.

Hope this helps.


HarryB196104 Jun 2015 3:45 a.m. PST

My IT skills are rubbish so i don't know to put a direct link up for you, But if you google 'moving 17th century soldiers' you will find a fantastically useful web page by Barry Siler which has all the answers you require plus all sorts of information ive never seen elsewhere. It is amazingly useful !

Personal logo BigRedBat Sponsoring Member of TMP04 Jun 2015 4:00 a.m. PST

Thanks very much! I've ordered the Naseby book, and the Barry Syler site looks really excellent and will answer a lot of my questions (although it doesn't appear to address cavalry).

Timmo uk04 Jun 2015 5:25 a.m. PST

The Naseby book is excellent.

Personal logo BigRedBat Sponsoring Member of TMP04 Jun 2015 5:31 a.m. PST

ps Mollinary I have the Osprey, which is great; I'll buy the Edghill, too.

Wargames Designs04 Jun 2015 6:40 a.m. PST

Hi Simon,

First off, great rules! I love my copy. Next, I hope this means an ECW variant is coming soon. And finally frontages per man.

As a rule of thumb from what I have read from various sources over the past 30 years or so the following are typical:

Pikemen 1 yard per man frontage x 6 ranks
Muskets 1.5 yards per man frontage x 3 ranks
Cavalry 1.5 2 yards per man frontage x 3 ranks

This can also be easily worked out from frontages of units for battles such as Naseby or Marston Moor.

I totally agree with Jeff that deep pike blocks of 4 ranks of figures are wrong when the shot is in 2 ranks as they should have the same depth. Cavalry should be in 1 rank if using 2 ranks in your pike & shot regiments, again looking at the frontages of the wings of cavalry at Naseby etc. will bear this out.

I am already working on using 'To the Strongest' for my ECW armies and will probably just straddle two 6 inch squares with my units which are 9 inch.


Regiment of foot


Dragoons, but Horse are the same.

Wargames Designs04 Jun 2015 6:48 a.m. PST

Hi Jeff, Lovely figures and flags! And I do like the way you based them.

Mollinary04 Jun 2015 8:12 a.m. PST

For what it is worth (which may not be much!) when I started my collection nearly twenty years ago I set out to do the forces for Edgehill at 1:10 in 10mm. I can only vaguely remember my research, but I think it worked out that both pike and shot deployed six deep, but that pike would be in closer order as the musketeers needed more space for their match. Health and safety even then! I also got the impression that when approaching for action musketeers often closed up to form three ranks for a salvo prior to charging in with the musket butt. So, I ended up deciding my individual models would represent one and a half ranks. So my pike, on 1 1/2" squares, are sixteen men four deep. On a similar sized base I have ten musketeers in two ranks. My horse are on the same size bases, with five or occasionally six, figures. There was a rationale, however flawed, for all this back then, but I am blowed if I can remember it all now! And ground scale? I think it may have been intended to be 20yds to the inch. Or thereabouts!


Personal logo BigRedBat Sponsoring Member of TMP04 Jun 2015 9:37 a.m. PST

Hi Steve,

Thanks! As you have gathered, I'm considering a possible adaptation of To the Strongest!" for Pike and Shot. It is very early days, though, and I have a great deal of reading to do as I am less familiar with the period than I am with ancients.

Regarding your "same depth" comment above, do you mean that the six ranks of pikemen occupy the same depth as the three of muskets? That seems similar to Mollinary's and Jeff's approach to basing. Nice looking units BTW!

I'll need to decide whether units occupy one or two boxes; if the latter the mechanics will need to be changed, somewhat.

Thanks Mollinary, that is helpful. Big armies at 1:10!

Best, Simon

Wargames Designs04 Jun 2015 9:59 a.m. PST

Hi Simon,

From everything that I have read over the years regiment as a whole would occupy the same depth, six ranks. NOT as I put earlier, three ranks, that was a typo, so sorry for the confusion.

Whilst standing around and letting the muskets do their job the pikes would be in 'order' and when threatened or ready to launch an attack they would contract their frontage and depth.

The three rank formation for muskets was a later development and useable only by troops using flintlocks really.

So, Pike & shot both in 6 ranks, cavalry three ranks.

Cavalry that used a 'caracole' to stand and receive a charge used a deeper 5-6 rank formation but that was very early in the war and quickly dropped as it was a disastrous tactic.

Personal logo BigRedBat Sponsoring Member of TMP04 Jun 2015 10:10 a.m. PST

Thanks Steve, so the depth is broadly the same but the pikes are on a narrower frontage than the shot, I understand now.

Mollinary04 Jun 2015 11:34 a.m. PST

I agree with Steve regarding the standard formation being 6 deep. The main reason I chose to show the musketeers two deep (representing 3) and the pikemen four deep (representing 6), and to justify it by saying it represented them crowding forward into three ranks to fire a salvo before charging, was twofold. Firstly, the 10mm figures I was using were AIM (now available from Minifigs/Caliver), and they only have a firing figure for musketeers, although they have commendable variety in their pikemen. I thought two ranks was the maximum number of firing figures that would look OK. The second reason was it allowed me to have pike and musket bases the same size, which seemed sensible.


Daniel S04 Jun 2015 12:57 p.m. PST

A pre-War document from the archive of Dutch military reformer Johan von Nassau-Siegen details the space needed to form up an entire army in the 'Dutch style'
Each infantry battalion (500 men) required 75 feet of space to deploy it's pikemen:
250 men (25 files wide, 10 ranks deep) with 3 feet of frontage for each file.
Each wing of shot (125 men) required 54 feet of space:
36 feet for the 12 files of shot
18 feet for the gaps between the sub-units of shot and the gap between the shot and pike. (6 feet for each gap)
This drawing by another Dutch reformer, Simon Stevin illustrates the formation and might be easier to understand than the text.


The cavalry was to form up in cornets of 75 men. Each cornet deployed in 15 files (i.e 5 ranks deep) with a frontage of 45 feet. (3 feet for each trooper, a very tight formation). A cavalry squadron had 3 to 5 cornets and deployed with 50 feet gaps between each squadron in order for the cornets to be able to wheel and turn as required without colliding with each other.
Again Simon Stevin has illustrated this kind of formation.


An interesting fact is that the infantry battalion and cavalry squadron took up the the same space in depth. The infantry was formed up 50 feet deep. (10 ranks x 5 feet) while the cavalry also required 50 feet in depth (5 ranks x 10 feet)

Writing in the early 1640's Montecuccoli described how each infantryman took up a space of 3 feet in combat but that the pikemen would often contract their formation so that each man occupied only 1,5 feet as tight formations were more able to give and resist blows in combat.

The cavalry formed up with 4 feet of frontage for each trooper and occupied 10 feet of depth for each rank but according to Montecuccoli the cavalry would not keep nice and tidy ranks in combat but rather press together as a single mass. Another diffrence from the early Dutch style formations is that cavalry squadrons were now formed with 200-300 men fighting as a single body of men without spacing between the companies. The depth was varied with the Imperials using files 4 or 5 deep while the Swedes fought 3 deep.

Baccus 6mm04 Jun 2015 2:17 p.m. PST

By the time of the ECW, musketeers and pikemen both form at order between files. This is the spacing used by Bariffe throughout his very influential drill book. This gives about three foot per soldier. Pikemen need elbow room to move their long bit of wood around efficiently. Competent musketeers have plenty of room to handle their weapon efficiently and safely at order.

Some of the confusion with frontages per musketeer comes from the methods of giving fire. The older fire by 'Introduction' saw the front rank of musketeers firing then doing a sharp turn to their right and moving to the rear of the body walking between the files. Such a system required the files to be moved to 'open order' (six feet frontage per man'. However this had fallen into disuse by the time of the ECW in favour of giving fire 'by Rank' whereby the entire rank turned the their right and filed off down the side of the body in the interval between the formations. This was not only quicker than introduction fire but also meant that the bodies were more compact and therefore could concentrate more fire in a smaller area.

The depth between ranks varied for both musketeers and pikemen depending on circumstances. For most of the time it was open order (six feet), but closed to order when the shot were giving fire and when the pikemen were closing for combat with advanced or charged pike.

In all circumstances, both arms were ordered with equal ranks. The number could vary with time and circumstance but was always an even number ie four, six or eight. The only time I can think where you would get an odd number of ranks was when a six deep formation which doubled to three ranks in order to give a salvo.

cplcampisi05 Jun 2015 3:56 p.m. PST

I've translated (with help) a section of a 1595 Spanish manual, which specified the spacing.

The tricky thing is they specified it in a strange "inclusive" way. So the frontage for each pikeman was listed as three feet. But the explanation makes it clear that it's a little bit different than what we would expect:

Basically the man occupied one foot, and there was a one foot gap to either side. Those one foot gaps, overlapped with the next file's gap. So there was a one-foot gap between each man. In other words, if measured from "center-to-center" the spacing between files was only two feet.

The depth is measured in the same strange way -- seven feet. Three feet from the man in front, three feet from the man behind, and the soldier is assumed to occupy one foot of depth. So the spacing from center-to-center between ranks is 3.5 feet.

It's a perfectly logical way of describing it if you are physically putting soldiers in formation (keep a foot between you and the man next to you). But it's a bit weird when it comes to describing "frontages."

Russell12012005 Jun 2015 7:30 p.m. PST

Mollinary – thank you for the book recommendations. And others for the very interesting information.

Personal logo BigRedBat Sponsoring Member of TMP06 Jun 2015 1:56 a.m. PST

Thanks very much all! Very useful information, and one's heart goes out to Johan von Nassau-Siegen for his thoughtful assistance to the wargamers of the future!

Daniel, do you happen to know how wide the gaps between the Dutch battalions might have been?

Best Simon

Daniel S06 Jun 2015 4:13 a.m. PST

The Nassau-Siegen's military archive is a real treasure trove and it is sad that it so underused as a source.

While usually connected with Maurice of Nassau the Dutch military reforms was actually the result of the joint work of Maurice and his cousins William Louis of Nassau-Dillenburg and Johann of Nassau-Siegen. They in turn were supported by followers such as the academic Justus Lipsius who did the translation of the old Roman military texts and the mathematician and military engineer Simon Stevin (Stevin began his service as a tutor to the young Maurice and ended it as quartermaster-general of the army of the States-General) Stevin is the source of the wonderfull water colour drawings of military formations I've illustrated these posts with

The distance between battalions was set at 100 feet but we have to remember that the Dutch did not deploy in a fully linear form at the time but rather used a sort of lozenge shaped deployment that was sometimes replaced with a triangular one.


And that in those deployments the shot was often not divided into two equal "wings" but rather was massed on a single side. (Not to mention that it frequently was deployed behind the pikes when not engaging the enemy)



Personal logo BigRedBat Sponsoring Member of TMP06 Jun 2015 7:51 a.m. PST

Thanks Daniel! So the Bn appear to be 183' wide when deployed in line, with a 100' gap between them. That's really useful.

Such lovely diagrams and handwriting…

Sorry - only verified members can post on the forums.