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"How did pike protect shot in the 1630's - 1640's?" Topic

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©1994-2024 Bill Armintrout
Comments or corrections?

huevans01126 Apr 2024 4:50 a.m. PST

Given the fact that pike was only 1/3 of the regiment and formed a block in the middle with the shot (the other 2/3's of the regiment) on either side, how did the pike protect the shot from cavalry?

Is it simply that the cavalry would not charge home at all if there was a pike block somewhere in the opposing array?

Is it all a moot point because muskets had improved to the point that cavalry waited to do a flank or rear attack, like at Marston Moor or Lutzen?

If the latter, why have pike at all and not simply 100% shot?

Personal logo Herkybird Supporting Member of TMP26 Apr 2024 4:58 a.m. PST

I think when Cavalry approached a mixed formation, the musketeers contracted to a 2-3 deep ring around the Pikes, who had formed a circle. This allowed the Musketeers to keep firing from under the levelled Pikes.

DeRuyter26 Apr 2024 10:25 a.m. PST

Don't forget that muskets at this point did not have bayonets and most were still matchlocks. Cavalry could charge a 100% musket unit like a forlorn hope were it not for the pikes. Pikes were phased out at the end of the 17th century after the introduction of first the plug bayonet and then the socket bayonet.

In the big battles like Marston Moor the horse was arrayed on the wings to first fight the enemy horse and then turn on the flank.

KeepYourPowderDry27 Apr 2024 1:32 a.m. PST

The Osprey Pike and Shot Tactics book is very good and explains how p&S components worked together. I don't know of a decent online explanation.

To explain you really need pictures.

Regiments of foot didn't just stay in pike block with wings of shot. They changed formation depending upon situation akin to British Napoleonic infantry attacking in line, defending in square (yes I know a vast oversimplification).

Stoppage27 Apr 2024 8:33 a.m. PST
huevans01119 May 2024 9:42 a.m. PST

Thanks, Stoppage.

Is there a comparable drill manual for horse?

Elenderil02 Jun 2024 3:11 p.m. PST

There are period drill manuals online that cover cavalry. Try Vernon or the 1680's edition of Elton but beware, the terminology used can be confusing.

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