A weapon that in one shape or form had dominated battlefields since Alexander the
Great’s phalanx, the pike was considered to be the most honorable weapon and fit
for gentlemen to carry.
Not that many gentlemen would have carried one. Carrying a 16-18ft ash pike, with
its tip and sheaths of steel or iron, both in battle and on the march, required the
strongest and sturdiest of men.
Pikemen were formed into dense pike blocks whose defensive role was to protect the
slow loading musketeers, especially from fast moving cavalry.
In offense the pike were used to break the enemy’s formation, engaging first at the
‘charge’ with pikes leveled against each other. Then they would close to ‘push of
pike’ as pike blocks literally rammed into each other (somewhat like a modern rugby
scrum). Sheer strength and courage determined who was driven back and broke first.
To protect them pikemen wore a helmet and back and breast armour. As the Civil war
went on armour was discarded in favour of mobility and manoeuvrability.