Cavaliers - General
The Cavalier
de Sandras
The Three
Other Players
The Iron Mask
Cavaliers in England
English Civil War
Cavaliers in Battle
ECW: A Timeline
The 'Poets'
Charles II

Other 'Cavaliers'

Other 17th
Century Interests
Royal Navy
Architecture - Eng.
Architecture - Fr.
About the Site




The English Civil War and the Cavalier Army

Muskets and Musketeers

Given the topic of my page, it is only logical that I should cover the musket first. Of course the first thing I must inevitably say and you will hear from people who study the history of this time is - It just isn't that 'glorious'. More often than not, the muskets for which musketeers are names were slow, inaccurate, and more often used for their sharp blunt ends in melee combat. The technology for firearms, were may times, to say honestly, as dangerous to the person using the weapon as the target they were intended to hit.


A real English musketeer

Where did these problems stem from? Musketry was a very volatile art of war - literally. If a soldier did not follow the loading procedures for these weapons carefully - quite often the gunpowder might ignite before the musket was even fired - injuring the soldier or those around him. Even the best trained musketeers could rarely fire more than once a minute. Gun technology had still not advanced far enough to keep the barrel size of the gun remotely fitted to the size of the bullet. Hence, the accuracy of the musket rarely exceeded 50 yards. In addition, the most commonly used musket was the matchlock which presented an extra disadvantage during battle as the light would giveaway the position of the person firing the weapon. An early version of the flintlock, the firelock came into use at this time as well which reduced the dangerous misfire possibilities of the matchlock. These muskets were so rare that they were usually used to guard the artillery.


The favored unit in an English Civil War army was the cavalry. The leading reason for the popularity of cavalry during the wars? The lands of England during that time were open and suitable for the movement of large units of mounted units. Cavalrymen usually carried pistols and swords. Yet, as in most other areas of the military units during this time, the sword often became the staple weapon due to the inefficient nature of the firearms of the time. Cavalrymen tended to be more heavily grouped in battle than the would be in later times. Although the standard for number of soldiers on horse was quoted to be 500 per regiment - this was certainly above the general average for the English Civil Wars. It was difficult, especially for the Royalist Army, to find not only a man trained to handle horses, but also knew how to fight.


As troubled as musketry was - the use of cannon as a weapon was equally troubled. Cannon, large and bulky to begin with, were VERY slow firing and, understandably, the misfires were many times more dangerous that a misfire of a musket. Cannon fire could rarely be completed more than one time every three minutes. The infancy of the cannon technology decreased its usefulness and it would not be until over a century later than the true benefits of this type of artillery would come to fruition.


Although there is a recorded structure for a typical regiment of soldiers in the English Civil War - quite often, especially for the Royalist side, the numbers and structure varied due to the number (or lack thereof) of men who were available to fight. Not to mention, that, as in any war, the unfortunate toll on human life would take its due.

Commanding Officers The "standard regiment" of soldiers was about 1300 and typically divided into 10 companies. The captains, seven in number according to the standard, each had about 100 men. The colonel would command 200, lieutenant-colonel, 160, and the majors would usually have 140.

A dragoon

Other components of the Regiment Each regiment would also usually have a chaplain, quartermaster, gentleman-of-the-arms (a typically Royalist position due to the scarce nature of arms supplies to the Royalist side), a surgeon, a carriage-master, and a drum-major. The Parliamentarian Armies also had what was called a provst-marshall. Pikemen and musketeers varied in number from regiment to regiment. Typically, musketeers outnumbered pikemen, but in one case, where then numbers were thought even - it was believed it gave an advantage to the Royalist Army where such an equality was said to exist.

Dress Soldiers during the English Civil War had not yet taken on the painstakingly cloned look of later English Armies - most notably the Armies of King George IV. Very little is known about the majority of the coat colors of many regiments and it is also said that many commanding officers basically wore what they chose. Red was present in both armies, predominantly Royalist although there were records of blue, yellow, grey, white black, green, orange, russet, and purple.

Typical Formations and Order of Attack As in almost any war, as some might say of a 'civilized' nature, there were general formations and orders of attack. The foot and guns were usually placed towards the center with the cavalry on the flanks. If Dragoons were present, then they typically lay on the wings of the cavalry. Smaller guns, "drakes, were placed in pair between the foot soldiers and larger guns were placed further back. A reserve was usually present as well.

Roundhead Victory at York

It is important to mention, however, that if there is one thing consistent about the English Civil Wars is that inconsistency was the rule. Nevertheless:

  1. Battles usually began with the commanding officer rallying his men. Both sides often participated in prayer before commencement and in at least one case of the Parliamentarian Armies a psalm.
  2. A usually futile preliminary bombardment occurred first
  3. The general advance - If cavalry and Dragoons were present, this phase became the time in which to eliminate as much of the opponents horse as possible
  4. Pursuit - Most of the time, most casualties took place during the retreat phase of the battle.