The Musketeer

Read about the role of the musketeer during the English Civil War and what the role does within the group

Posted on April 19, 2022

The musket soon became the dominant infantry weapon during the Civil War. Musketeers could move and react faster than the Pikeman in their heavy armour. They were easier to train and the musket could kill and maim the enemy up to 200 paces away. If you could keep your enemy at this distance you didn't have to close to hand to hand combat.

The Role

The role of musketeer is more technical than that of the pikeman. As a musketeer within the group, you will be using a replica period matchlock musket, and when appropriate, carrying a set of bandoliers, holding the required amount of gunpowder to fire it. You will be trained to use the musket safely, using postures taken from period drill manuals. The group will supply the muskets, bandoliers and all necessary equipment to get your started.

At small events, musketeers will join in the drill displays for the public, and in the living history area, help support the living history display.

At larger events the musketeers may still be involved in the above, but in addition will take the field with pikemen, artillery and cavalry, and engage in a scripted skirmish or battle. Where as a musketeer, you will be firing off ‘several’ shots, as a body. Creating lots of noise and smoke.

The Musket

The most common musket carried during the Civil War was called the "Matchlock" due to it's method of ignition. Usually between 5 and 6 feet in length it fired a ball of lead weighing an ounce and a quarter. Other forms of musket such as the "Firelock" or "Wheel lock" were appearing during the war but the matchlock saw service right through the war and on into the the late 17th century due to it's impressive reliability. Musketeers usually have a rate of fire between 2 and 3 shots a minute, this is because their muskets are muzzle loaded and it takes time to prime the pan and load the powder then place the ball and wadding down the barrel for each shot.

The Equipment

Musketeers carried their ammunition in a bandolier. This consisted of a leather belt worn over the shoulder with 10-14 wooden bottles or flasks attached each containing a single charge of powder sufficient for a single shot. Another method of carrying ammunition was a belt bag of charges or "cartridges" which are a paper tube filled with a single charge. To use these cartridges you would bite off the end of the tube, pour the powder down the barrel followed by the ball and then empty the cartridge as wadding to hold the contents of the barrel in place. The musket balls were usually carried in a pouch at the lowest point on the bandolier or in a pouch on his belt. Sometimes the musketeer held several balls in his mouth spitting them one at a time in to the barrel as the musket was loaded.

Each time the musket is loaded it has to be done in a prescribed order and in a safe and conscientious manner. If the musketeer were to get confused and place his ball in the barrel before his powder or were to fire his scouring stick he would render his weapon useless for the rest of the battle.

The musket is then fired by using a hemp or linen cord soaked in a solution of saltpetre or a mix of gunpowder and vinegar and then dried. This allows the match to burn slowly and evenly whilst being hot enough to ignite the priming powder in the pan.

Get in touch

If the noise and smoke of a musketeers life sounds great then you can get in touch by clicking on the link below. We look forward to welcoming you to our group!

Contact Us

Not sure yet? Then read more about the what we do and what you'll need to get started on our joining the group page.