Photograph: John Beardsworth

The Musket

The musketeer is armed with either a matchlock or, occasionally, a doglock musket (an early form of flintlock). In a Civil War regiment of foot, the musketeers tended to comprise approximately two-thirds of the regiment’s total strength. They were usually formed in the Dutch style with a wing of shot placed on either side of the pikemen.

Muskets were muzzle loading weapons which fired a 3/4 oz lead ball. The injuries inflicted by these projectiles were terrible; as one London Trained Band observer noted at the first battle of Newbury:

It was somewhat dreadful … to wipe the brains and bowels from our faces as we advanced …

The drill manuals at the time encouraged the soldiers to work hard at their drill:

I shall farther desire the Souldiers (especially those that be of low Stature) to handle and take delight in the use of the Musket; for it is an exceeding great honour for him so to handle his Musket, as that he doth it with ease and in a comely manner, and he shall become expert therein … he that will take the pains to be a good Muskettier certainly cannot be idle, but hath gained something more to make him capable of such praise.

Richard Elton, The Compleat Body of the Art Militarie, 1659

Training and Licences

Handling a musket correctly requires even more care and training than a pike, because you are carrying a replica firearm, musket rest, lit match, and gunpowder. To become a musketeer, you will have to pass a test to prove you are competent in musket firing procedures and safety before being allowed to take the musket onto the field of battle. Before you will be able to purchase a musket, you will also need to obtain a shotgun certificate from your local police force and an Acquire Only licence for gunpowder. Do not be put off by this! The regiment has a large musket block and each of us has gone though these procedures in our turn. We will be on hand to offer whatever help and assistance you need.

Photo: John Beardsworth

Basic Equipment

After you have acquired your basic linen shirt, regimental doublet, breeches, hose, and shoes, there are other items required to fulfil your role as a musketeer:

  • Bandoliers: 12 wooden flasks containing a measured amount of blackpowder
  • Powder Flask: To hold the finer gunpowder needed to prime the musket pan
  • Musket: Usually a matchlock, the prevalent firearm of the period (some experienced musketeers have also purchased doglock muskets, however matchlocks are the staple of the regiment’s division of shotte)
  • Musket Rest: To support the weight of the musket when firing and an essential part of a musketeer’s equipment

Several members of the regiment have spare muskets which can be lent to new members until they purchase their own, but please remember these are expensive items and you will be responsible for looking after the musket and cleaning it after a battle! We can direct you to the better arms suppliers and you may be able to buy one second hand to keep costs down.

Important Note: There is an element of risk involved in using gunpowder. If you wish to purchase any of the above equipment, then please ensure it is in good condition. This is especially important if you purchase a second hand equipment. If you are in any way uncertain, do not buy without first seeking advice from one of the regimental officers or more experienced musketeers.