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"Position of Ensigns in Battalia and Commanded Shot" Topic

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mollinary08 Nov 2016 1:18 p.m. PST

Well, having had my first try hijacked by the bug, here goes again!
This is a two part question. I had always thought that in battalia of mixed pike and shot that all the ensigns were positioned with the pike. However, I see on various blogs some beautifully painted figures with the ensigns spread equally with the shot as well as the pikes. Does anyone know of any sources which describe this practice? Secondly but connected. In a number of battles quite large numbers of shot were detached as 'Commanded shot' to perform a particular task. Cheriton is the prime example of this of which I am aware. Does anyone know of any evidence one way or the other as to whether such bodies carried colours? Many thanks in advance for any help,


Timbo W08 Nov 2016 1:34 p.m. PST

Afaik the colours stayed with the pike, but would be interested to hear if not. Although there were occasional all- musket units apparently, so presuming they had colours they would have to be with the shot.

smolders08 Nov 2016 8:25 p.m. PST

In Ospreys Elite series 25 'Soldiers of the English Civil War 1 Infantry' on page 16 under the heading "Ensigns" it says "…every company of foot carried its own flag…" and on page 39 plate F it clearly shows a foot regiment of musketeers The Westminster Trained Band 1643 at Basing house with an ensign.
I grant you the plate is not a contemporary image, but I choose to believe the artists for these images strive to be accurate. Hope that helps

mollinary09 Nov 2016 4:35 a.m. PST

Thanks Smolders,

It is true that the colours were a company, rather than a regimental thing. However, each company contained both musketeers and pikemen, so that is not really conclusive, as it is possible that the colours went with the pikes into the central block. I agree the illustration is interesting, but also not entirely conclusive. I am sure the artist was trying as far as possible to be accurate, but he may have been more concerned with the uniforms and equipment, rather than formation? I am really looking for contemporary references if possible, but am grateful for you taking the trouble to find this.


Mac163810 Nov 2016 4:41 a.m. PST

Late on in the war some regiment where down to 200 men but they would still have a full compliment of officers, if there is 7 company's it works out less than 30 in each company, I think they would rarely operate on their own, but in Battalia.

Another thought why on all contemporary installations can you see the colours poking out the tops of the pike blocks,they never been seen (7 to 8 foot colour pole 16 foot pikes.
In battle where the colours attached to a pike ? Did the Ensign carry the pike or did he command the pike block using the colour pole and the colours left in the hands of a senior pikeman ?

Supercilius Maximus Supporting Member of TMP11 Nov 2016 3:53 p.m. PST

I would imagine artistic licence is the reason for that.

Elenderil14 Nov 2016 2:55 p.m. PST

Standards (Colours) were carried on short staffs about 7 or 8 feet long. These were carried with the butt end on the hip. I have seen some discussions of drill manual instructions to carry them in different ways one of which could be interpreted as the butt being higher on the body or as the colour being carried shouldered in the same way that a musket or pike was shouldered. Sorry but I don't have the discussion to hand.

The colours were issued one per company but most period drill books show them concentrated at the centre of the pike block when the regiment was deployed for action.

mollinary15 Nov 2016 1:44 p.m. PST

Stephen Ede-Borrett and Simon Marsh on the Pike and Shot Society Yahoo group have confirmed my initial suspicions. They know of no manuals or contemporary accounts that place flags any where else on a battlefield but with the pikes. So no flags for musket sleeves or bodies of commanded shot. That is certainly good enough for me. Thanks to all who have taken the time to contribute to this thread.


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