Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Decline of the pike

While we're talking of infantry organisation I thought it might be worth looking at the decline of the pike in the English army. In 1702 pikes were still present in a ratio of 1 to every 5 musketeers. The tallest men were selected and given half-a-crown for every pike they could break on the parade ground 'to induce a brisk and smart motion in charging'. As far as I remember the captured colours from Blenheim were brought back to London by the pikemen of the various regiments. However by February 1704 Lord Portmore wrote to the Duke of Somerset on the subject of troops bound for Portugal
'I have the honour of receiving an order from your Grace directing the storekeeper to deliver 450 firelocks, in lieu of the like number of pikes which some of the regiments which come from Holland have, as they say, left behind, by his Grace, the Duke of Marlborough's allowance'.

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