THE MUSKET















History and Formation

The Company of Musket is named after Sir Charles Compton, second son of the 2nd Earl of Northampton Spencer Compton. Sir Charles Compton served as a Cornet in his father's Troop of Horse at the battle of Edgehill, and following this was knighted along with his elder brother James. You can see the personal standard of Sir Charles Compton in the page about the Regiment, a replica of which the current Regiment carries.

The Company is divided into three squadrons, each named after a notable figure in the Northampton's 17th Century Regiment:
- Captain Flamock Colbourne's Squadron: a veteran of Edgehill, was taken prisoner at Rowton Heath on 24th September 1645.
- Captain John Moore's Squadron: was a Captain of the Banbury garrison and famous for waylaying a Parliamentarian baggage trayne bound for Warwick. Bolts of red cloth were liberated from the baggage by Captain Moore which the Earl then used to clothe his soldiers - hence the red breeches our Regiment wears today.
- Captain John Clark's Squadron: killed at Hopton Heath 19th March 1643 with the 2nd Earl Spencer Compton.

Musketeers were foot soldiers and would generally outnumber the Pike two to one. The musket itself could be up to 48 inches in length. It fired a small ball and as the barrel was smooth bored, i.e. not rifled, it was not accurate. Therefore from a distance they would fire by ranks giving more chance of the target being hit. Early muskets would need a rest to support the musket when firing, but later in the war shorter, lighter muskets became more popular so the rest was not needed. Musketeers also carried a bandolier across the body with wooden apostles strung from it, each containing a charge of black powder. Early muskets were fired using a piece of slow burning 'match' cord. Later in the Civil War flintlocks were more in use which produced sparks with a piece of flint instead. We have a combination of both in the Company.

Equipment and Training

Musketeers carry swords, providing they have passed their sword test, which is essential for safety. Other necessary equipment other than regimental dress are powder horn, leather gloves and authentic leather shoes: either latchets or startups. We encourage members to buy their own muskets and swords, so there can be more of a financial investment when joining the Musket Company. However, we do have limited amounts of dress, swords and muskets which we can lend new members until they are able to buy their own.

We encourage everyone who joins the Musket Company to get appropriate licences, which will enable them to draw black powder and fire a musket. We offer full training in both musket and sword, as you will not be able to use either on the field without passing a Sealed Knot test. New members can however take a 'dummy' musket on the field so they can familiarise themselves with the drill and firing procedure. Safety is paramount and we take pride in our level of training and skill at arms that we achieve. We use proper 17th Century drill in order to have the highest standards of authenticity.

Action in the Company of Musket

The Musket Company starts work early in the battle with skirmishing action and ambushing on foot. We may then rejoin the main army and fire mass volleys with the rest of the infantry into the opposing army. When the enemy is closer we work with the Pike Company who protect the shot whilst we are loading, and also 'charge for horse' to protect us and the rest of the regiment when we are attacked by cavalry. When we can see the whites of their eyes, we draw our swords, 'club' our muskets and fall on! Some members enjoy this part more than volley firing, whilst others prefer the skirmishing and firing action. However everyone is expected to participate in all aspects of the Musket Company, so we now have one of the largest live firing blocks in the Sealed Knot.

How the Musket Company works with the rest of the Regiment

As well as the Pike Company we also work closely with other companies in the Regiment to produce an enjoyable display:
- The Baggage Trayne provide water carriers and match holders or 'mattross' who collect and distribute burning match to the live firers. Members of the Trayne also work with the Company on cameos such as pilfering the dead (you always get your weapons back afterwards!)
- The Artillery support us on the field and are able to run the smaller guns about the field alongside the Company, providing us with even more fire power.
- Drums and Colours (flags) lead us onto the battlefield and stay with us during the battle. The drums can convey orders, keep us marching together and generally keep up morale! The Colours are used as a rallying point for the Company when reforming into rank and file.
Our Company Commander is a Lieutenant, and he is supported by a Sergeant who ensures no-one runs away in the face of the enemy, and four Corporals responsible for training, discipline and order within the ranks.

Colonel Sir Charles Compton's Company of Musket is the largest fighting company in the regiment. It currently has 26 members, usually with up to 20 regularly turning out for musters. Ages range from 20 to 60 and we have both men and women in the Musket Company, each playing an equal role. Members come from all walks of life from students, civil servants and consultants to retirees! We are a lively, enthusiastic and friendly group of people who have fun both on and off the field. So if you fancy some swashbuckling action, Colonel Sir Charles Compton's Company of Musket needs you!

Contact

If you are interested in joining Colonel Sir Charles Compton's Company of Musket please contact the Company Commander:
Alf Thompson
Tel. 01745 888580

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Above: A musketeer wearing full kit including a bandolier of 'apostles', a separate powder horn, a pouch for wadding, and sword.


Above: The 'apostles' are turned from wood, and each contains a measured charge of powder ready to tip into the musket barrel. The powder horn (which is made from an animal horn) is used to fill the priming pan on the side of the barrel. Additional pouches contain the wadding and, if live-firing, musketballs.


Above: This musketeer is priming the pan on his matchlock musket from his powder horn. The pan has a sliding cover, which will be opened for firing, when the burning match will strike down upon it.


Above and below: Bullets for muskets and carbines are made by melting lead, then swiftly pouring it into a mould. The example above is a single bullet mould that a musketeer could keep for himself, but larger examples exist for making several at once. Below you can see the bullet fresh out of the mould. The 'flash' at the top of it is then cut off and thrown back into the melting pot.


Above: Musketeers holding their muskets at the "rest" position. These are loaded and ready to fire when the troops are in position facing the enemy. However occasionally the musket may have to be held loaded at "rest" for some time, which can be quite tiring on the arms.