Moving 17th Century Soldiers

Firing by Extraduction

several in sequence, the first being: "Musketeers, first rank! Face right, then march forth to place yourselves before the pike division.*"  After that first rank has fired, the next rank is commanded to follow them.  Animation is below.

Colonel Barriffe comments: "That of all firings (defensive or offensive)... it is the best and safest against the Horse that yet I know of; each armes becoming the absolute security of the other, and may be usefull either in small or greater Bodies."

The enemy is close enough to warrant the first two or three ranks of pikemen having their pikes either in the Port posture or Charge, and the commander has placed the musketeers behind the pike division to protect them. In order to make use of their firepower, though, the musketeers come to the front of the pike division one rank at a time. Led by the rightmost soldier in their rank, the first rank of musketeers goes out as a single file to the right, then to the front along the right side of the pike division. Once in front, they turn left. Meanwhile, the other ranks of musketeers shift forward to fill the space vacated by the first rank.

When taking their positions in front of the first rank of pikemen, the musketeers may have to crouch to get under the pikes. There, they fire their volley, then turn left and retire as one line to the rear along the left side of the pike division. Still led by the same musketeer, they next turn left to assume their file positions behind the last rank of musketeers.

While the first rank is either at the front or is beginning to retire, the second rank of musketeers follows them. By the time the second rank is at the front or beginning to retire, the third rank is moving up while the first rank has already placed itself as the rearmost rank of musketeers. Two sets of musketeers may be in motion at the same time. In this way, ranks of musketeers can rotate their positions and their fire, keeping pressure on the enemy as they protect themselves while reloading behind the pike.

*Oh, dear, again Colonel Barriffe does not provide specific commands,
so this and others in the animation must be assumed.  Refer to Chapt. 80.


Sergeant Subtlelus says:
Firing by extraduction works particularly well if the unit's flanks are secured by being in a passageway or other companies holding steadfast there.  The commander and soldiers then need concern themselves only with the front.