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"ECW pike and shot file intervals." Topic


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21 Jan 2017 10:31 p.m. PST
by Editor in Chief Bill

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589 hits since 29 Dec 2016
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Comments or corrections?

Personal logo BigRedBat Sponsoring Member of TMP29 Dec 2016 8:04 a.m. PST

I'll shortly be basing my first ECW minis, and find myself wondering whether the intervals between the files of pike might have been narrower than those between the files of shot. It occurs to me that the pike would be more effective, close together, whereas the shot wouldn't want be too close to each other on account of the potentially explosive combination in loading.

Was such a practise ever described?

Thanks, Simon

Personal logo Baccus 6mm Sponsoring Member of TMP29 Dec 2016 8:50 a.m. PST

Three feet between both. No difference.

Timmo uk29 Dec 2016 10:31 a.m. PST

@Baccus I've always had some confusion over this as I understood the 3' when the soldiers are at order but that they could and did close ranks for close combat or when firing a volley.

I'm fairly sure I've read that after every sixth file of musketeers there was a wider gap left so that having fired a rank could turn and march to the rear of the formation to begin reloading.

I've gone back to basing my 25mm figures to the WRG standard so pike are on 15mm frontage and musket 20mm. I have the command figures as a separate vignette style base. I base all my cavalry on 20mm frontage as I think they look better on tighter bases. YMMV. Since I have both sides and have tightened both the infantry and cavalry basing it all works out OK.

Within reason I wouldn't worry too much about exact historical frontages but instead go for what looks the best to you. For example I have a third rank of pikemen as I think they look good. In reality both pike and musket would usually be the same six ranks deep.

Big Red Supporting Member of TMP29 Dec 2016 4:13 p.m. PST

I base mine like Timmo uk.

Personal logo Baccus 6mm Sponsoring Member of TMP30 Dec 2016 2:16 a.m. PST

Hi Timmo, both pikemen and musketeers could alter their order between both rank and file depending on circumstances. For example, while at March, order between ranks would extend to six feet, and should pikemen be instructed to adopt the cumbersome 'Charge for horse' posture they would be expected to move to their closest order between files. However, for all practical purposes and for the majority of the time three feet between rank and file was the norm.

For musketeers giving fire by rank or by file was used as default. Yes, you could double for the purposes of giving a salvee , but this was a singular event, and once delivered the unit was left with very limited options flee, fight or reload. The first two had very unpredictable outcomes but the third would be done by reforming the body as it was before, ie in its original ranks in its original order.

Pikemen in combat are harder to pin down as what they actually did is not clear cut. There seems to be two schools of thought. One is the fencing theory where two bodies stood off each other and jabbed vigorously. In this case, retaining order between files makes sense as fencing with a pike requires lateral movement by the fencer and closer order would hamper that. The other option of a reenactor style spiky rugby scrum would require a very close order, but I'd suggest strongly that this would have only happened just prior to contact, and that should the units back off an reform, again this would have been at order.


With regards to gaps in bodies, you have to think of an ECW battalia not as a single block but as a number of companies/squadrons/bodies working in concert. For example a wing of 150 musketeers could work as three distinct units. There would be a six foot interval between each of them. This would then leave a lane for each unit's musketeers to walk down having given fire.


Does that make sense?

Personal logo BigRedBat Sponsoring Member of TMP30 Dec 2016 4:52 a.m. PST

Thanks Baccus- that's very helpful. I'll go with a more regular order, then, for most units.

Timmo uk30 Dec 2016 9:06 a.m. PST

Yes, excellent thank you.

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