By the time of the Civil Wars the musket was becoming the dominant weapon on the
A musket barrel would have been around 4 1/2 feet (1.4 metres) long and would fire
a lead ‘bullet’ weighing around an ounce.
With an accurate range of only around 50 yards and a slow and complex re-loading
procedure the musket was only militarily decisive when used in mass formations.
Typically musketeers would outnumber pikemen, who were there to defend them, by two
The impact of receiving musket fire would have been devastating as the heavy, low
velocity lead balls tore in to the densely packed ranks of pikemen or musket blocks.
The drill for reloading was slow and complicated. Gunpowder was poured down the barrel.
The ball was dropped in and rammed home with a piece of wadding or cloth to keep
it in place. The priming pan at the breech was filled with a finer-grain gunpowder
and covered with a swivelling lid. The smouldering match cord, held in place by a
serpent shaped arm was held in front of the priming pan. Pull the trigger, the pan
cover opened; the match dropped igniting the priming powder, sending a spark through
the touch-hole to fire the main charge and propelling the ‘bullet’ out of the barrel.
Then start the whole process over again. Simple? Stay focused, concentrate and ignore
the cavalry bearing down on you; the enemy musket block preparing to fire at you;
and the enraged faces of the advancing pike block whose comrades lay dead or wounded
from your volley.