Sunday, 26 November 2017

Reproducing ECW infantry formations.

As I continue to paint through Regiment of Foot number Ten I have been pondering the question of what constitutes an accurate reproduction of period formation. Pleased as I am with the Kings Lifeguard, there is no question looking at the photos in the previous post that the depth of the pike block should be matched by the depth of the musket wings if they are to look like contemporary illustrations such as the famous 'Naseby' image (below).


It has started to bother me that my pike blocks are three figures deep, plus an additional rear command rank, while my musket wings are just two deep. This was discussed in a couple of comments on the last post, 'Big Andy' pointing out that he thought it odd that Peter Gilders original Kings Lifeguard - which he now owns - had the deep pike block and shallow musket wings, and suggested this was because that's the way WRG rules are set up, you get a melee bonus for additional pike ranks 'Each supporting rank of pikes 2nd to 6th +1' while musketeers can only fire the first two ranks. Thus, if I was to add a third rank of muskets, the units would appear more historically accurate but there would be no advantage in terms of game play, something of a dilemma given the number of additional figures I would need to paint!

A quick Google search for Andy's 'Gilder' unit produced this wonderful image, and it actually shows the musketeers deployed three deep! There is no doubt in my mind that this looks far better than my own shallow musket wings.

Note the additional rank of musketeers at 'present'. Beautifully painted by Peter Gilder himself in 1978?

So what to do then? Rob suggested in a comment that by simply doubling up my musket bases for the King's Guard it would produce a far more authentic look, and I agree with this, however, my own inclination is to add a third rank to all of my musket bases to give depth and at the same time to standardise the muskets wings at 3 ranks of 4 figures per wing. I would need to re-base some of the musketeer bases to make this work and to paint approximately 60 additional musketeers in the 'present' pose. What I would end up with after a couple of weeks intensive painting work would be 10 Regiments of Foot of 12 pike and 24 muskets, plus command figures, 39/40 figures per unit! The main thing is that they would look not only impressive in terms of numbers but much more like the contemporary engravings.

As suggested by Rob, looks much better, but I think just 3 ranks of 4 muskets will do the job.

Does look so much more like the engravings/ woodcuts with the massed Battalia drawn up in equal depth.

Lord Brooke's Regiment will be the first to get this treatment, just 6 musketeers painted so far but I have all the figures for the full unit on order from Ian Hind. I'll order all of the additional musketeers I will need and then get stuck in to re working the other units.

Psychedelic Warlords - an old Hawkwind favourite of mine! Lord Brooke's Purplecoats.



On a side note I painted the Essex Command figure that I mounted on a Hinchliffe Horse and he really does scale in rather well with my Hinchliffes, slightly larger face but nothing that will bother me so I might do a few more down the line.





I would appreciate any comments/opinions on the above formation issue?



12 comments:

  1. The 4 ranks of each option looks good but when I look at the illustration the pike portion looks denser to my eye than the musket portions and the regiments are considerably wonder than deep, so.... I actually think 3 rank shot wings on 4 deep pike blocks would look best.

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    1. Hi Ross, always a pleasure to hear from you. Some rules do indeed base pikes in closer order than the muskets and it does look realistic. I'm going to go with musketeers 4 files wide x 3 ranks deep which should give a reasonable approximation to contemporary deployment.

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  2. Ah! You seem to have spotted the elementary error in my calculations - I actually talked about them going 4-deep and at the same time being 4-wide, which needs 16 figures not 12 - D'oh! If only I'd thought before I'd typed - what I meant (but didn't say) was that going 4-wide makes the shot and pike bodies the same width (4-wide). To do this requires no extra figures (for this unit anyway, and the Blue unit recently featured would only need four) and if they're not as deep as the pike it's only because of the command figures and anyway being 'gentlemen' they would be offended to be considered part of the rank and file. Having the pike and shot the same width allows for the unit to go into column or line quite nicely / neatly. Also if you base the rank of command figure separately their placing could be used to indicate what the unit is doing, e.g.:
    In front & facing the same way (as the troops) = unit advancing.
    Behind & facing the same way = unit standing /in melee.
    In front & facing the opposite way = retiring (officers trying to rally them?).
    Behind & facing opposite way = ... well make it up depending on your rules.
    Hope this helps - I never meant to criticise as we all have different preferences for how we like our troops to be and all are valid.

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    1. Hi Rob, I agree that 4 files wide x 3 ranks deep will work well with the pikes, and as you say looks neat and tidy when in column with the pikes in the centre. My reasons for basing the command figures at the rear of the block was because with the units with pikes at 'charge your pike' it was impossible to arrange them at the front as I would have preferred. I recently saw an ECW blog where the command were based on a circular base that could be positioned anywhere, I liked that but would mean a lot of rebasing. That said I do want to get this right so would not rule it out yet!

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  3. Taking the engraving to one side, what would be the tactical benefit of deep ranks of musket? Did the front rank fire and retire to the rear to re-load? or was depth necessary to absorb shock?

    Here is a link to a form post that has some interesting bits, a short way down there is a link to a PDF about formations, produced by the Sealed Knot Society.

    http://theminiaturespage.com/boards/msg.mv?id=415501

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    1. The additional ranks do allow them to be cycled through allowing more time to reload and increasing the number of volleys available as each man typically only has 12 shots in their bandoliers. Greater depth also provides more resilience to casualties and helps morale as does always having some loaded muskets to hand.

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    2. Hi Norm, thanks for that link, got me scratching my head somewhat now but a good read. My own understanding of the deep musket formations was to allow the tactic of firing by either 'Introduction' ie rolling forward, or 'Extraduction' when firing on the retreat, I'm guessing the slow reloading time was the reason for 6 ranks to make it work? Now as Tony -'Prometheus in Aspic' blog - pointed out to me recently having pike and musket in two ranks, as is very common, equates to several ranks deep, it's only when one makes the pike block deeper than the muskets, usually for aesthetic effect, that it looks wrong. Bit of a dilemma, think I'll sleep on it. I actually woke up the other morning at 4am thinking about this, took me ages to get back off to sleep :)

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  4. Just to be clear the 3rd rank of sghot are not from the original unit but were added once I owned it the rear rank - although close to the same painting style and bought at the same time from DC the previous owner are not in any of Gilder photos but only in that one- which I took myself soon after I came into possession of the collection. My own personal ideal for my ECW armies is 4 ranks deep for both pike and shot . My "modern" ECW units - of Old Glory figure mostly are based this way with- unlike WRG basing both pikes and shot on 20mm frontage per figure

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    1. Hi Andy, many thanks for the clarification, I'll amend the caption, should have run it by you first really. Re second comment below I know PG used lots of painters, an old comment from DC led me to believe the Kings Guard may have been his own work, which is a bit of a shame but does not detract from the quality of the unit :)

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  5. Equally the figure may have been painted by Tony Runkee rather than Peter himself. Tony tells me he certainly did many of Peters ECW for him.

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  6. Psychedelic warlords dissappear in smoke! As sung by Lord Brock I guess, I like the deep bases of shot, I guess as the war goes on you should have a higher proportion of shot but that just complicates matters! The Essex riders work well with the hinchcliffe horses as well.
    Best Iain

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    1. Ah yes Iain, one of my favourite bands of all time and Dave Brock is still going strong :) As for the units I have decided to bite the bullet and order another 60 musketeers + officers to create a third rank for my units! Luckily the Hinchliffes are way cheaper than the average 28mm metal figure so it wont break the bank but it will mean a lot of painting over coming weeks.

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