Friday, 10 April 2015

Once More Into The Breeches

Thanks to those who keep visiting and commenting. Much appreciated.
Just managed a couple of hours at The International Living History Fair, at Bruntingthorpe. 
Went along to buy a couple of bits n bobs, and came away with another pair of breeches!
 How did that happen? 17th century shopp(e)ing is far more interesting and addictive than the modern version.
Also nice to bump into Dave Ryan of Caliver books, and Dave Lanchester of Lance & Longbow Soc, manning their book stands, and to "chew the fat" in an alternative context to the usual wargames shows. 
I imagine the event will be packed tomorrow, so glad to have done it on Friday instead.
Next week, back to work in earnest. However, very much looking forward to a busy couple of months on the reenactment front.
Next stop is Newark on 2-4 May...

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Debut Action - Basing House

Yesterday was the big day, and we set off early for Basing House, in order to arrive in plenty of time for Keith and Bob to draw powder (I'm not yet licensed to fire.... "licensed to kill", maybe!). We also wanted to have a little drill session before lunch and before getting onto the field of action.

With just the three of us from our regiment attending, the intention was to join the musket block of one of the larger units, and so it was that we found ourselves defending the earthworks atop the hill along with Newcastle's Whitecoats, and Tillier's regt. We also had Rawdon's and Godolphin's as allies in fighting for the King.

Ranged against us...
... were various Royalist regiments acting as Parliament for the event (this was a Royalist training weekend muster, so all Royalist units at this one), chiefly Prince Rupert's bluecoats, and sundry others.

We played to the script...
... fired off a few shots, whilst the pike blocks mashed each other and shoved and huffed and puffed all across the hill top position. We did a bit of hand-to-hand stuff, and then fell back, before we all played dead, allowing the Rebels to repeat history (to a few boos from the crowd, which was encouraging!).

All in all, great fun. And the weather couldn't have been better... any warmer, and it would have made life quite uncomfortable in the woollen coats and breeches.

Now, what did I learn?
From a wargaming perspective, very interesting.
1. Clarity of commands above the noise is essential, and therefore junior officer/ NCO level control is critical, even at this low level action (there were probably only 300 participants).
2. Once it "kicks off", your awareness of what is happening beyond your own unit is VERY limited (apart from the units immediately to your front). At one point, one of our adjacent musket blocks moved away to take up a new position, and I had been so engrossed in what our little block was doing that I didn't even notice till some 10 minutes later.
3. Once in hand-to-hand combat, it really is fog of war, and awareness of the rest of the field, even of your own unit officers, drops to zero.
4. If unit officers and NCOs get embroiled in the hand-to-hand action, they completely lose control of the unit, and understandably their focus zones in to just their individual combat with the person opposite.

and other lessons:
5. There's nothing like fresh air, a warm day, and the smell of black powder, to bring on a healthy ale-thirst!!
6. The SK are a good bunch of guys, everyone is very friendly, and safety and the enjoyment of all participants is paramount.
7. It's a spectacle that can draw a crowd - it interests and informs the public, who are very encouraging and genuinely keen to know more.

And so, to a few pictures..

Above: Keith and Bob unloading from the back of my car - a horse called "Shogun". OK, so it's not like we're real dragoons dismounting before entering the fray!
Below: the queue starts to form for the issue of powder. 
Above: yours truly, during the pre-match warm up/ drill session.
Below; the three of us, posing (ready to loose off a "Swedish salvo") for a passer-by to take pictures... I've switched to a Montero cap for this shot (this picture, courtesy of Keith Foster ).

Roll on next time...

Friday, 3 April 2015

About The Regiment

Now, I know a number of readers and blog visitors are eagerly awaiting photos of me in kit (some are merely wanting to "take the mick", but...), and that may soon happen, when I get ready on Monday for the first muster of the season. However, in the meantime, I thought it would be appropriate to give a little background to Prince Maurice's Dragoon regiment. Note; like Rupert, Prince Maurice raised 3 units... one foot, one horse regiment, and one dragoon regiment. It's the latter we are referring to here.

Prince Maurice's Dragoons was originally raised in early September 1642 by Colonel James Ussher in the South Midlands, it's officers and men being primarily drawn from Leicestershire, Warwickshire, and Worcestershire.
It is possible that it was present at the first action of the war, Powick Bridge.
What is certain is that the regiment played a significant part on the Royalist right wing at Edgehill where they cleared the enclosures and hedgerows to their front of Parliamentarian commanded musketeers, and secured that wing to allow Prince Rupert to launch his famed sweeping cavalry attack.

The regiment is often referred to as Washington's Dragoons (Lt Col Henry Washington taking full command following Colonel Ussher's demise at Lichfield in April 1643).

The regiment was active throughout the first civil war. In fact, it stoutly defended Worcester during its 2-month siege at the end (Washington surrendered that city on 23 July 1645), making the regiment the longest serving unit in the war.

For more information on the regiment, both the historical unit (including uniform and flag details as well as service history) and the re-enactment version, see the Prince Maurice website in the links on the right.

Right, better get warmed up for Monday's muster!
Have a happy Easter!!

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Getting Kitted Out

Firstly. Thank you to those who commented on the first post and those who joined the blog by following! I really appreciate this. And if my experiences, shared here, can encourage anyone who fancies a go at re-enacting to do so, then that's great.

So, on with the story so far...

As luck would have it, I live only a few miles from the venue of TORM (The Original Re-enactors Market) which took place on 13-15th of March this year.

Well, what an array of stuff!... and despite the good, sensible, and sound advice of my regimental colleagues, that I shouldn't dive headlong into buying too much gear at this early stage, I got stuck right in!!
I think Keith and Bob were quite taken aback at my "all in" approach to kit buying.

In short, I came away with:
singlet (waistcoat),
red soldiers coat,
Montero hat,
and bucket-top boots (I'm playing the Dragoon card here),
along with belt and leather pouch (for keeping wallet, iPhone and other valuables in!). 
And, I treated myself to a cloak, for those cold evenings down at the pub after a hard day's mustering.

Since I have an aversion to contact lenses, and since it's probably a good idea to be able to see whilst I'm engaged in this lark (I want to be able to see what I'm aiming at), I also placed an order for some period specs! Yes, I didn't know spectacles were around in the 17th century, either, but seemingly...
These arrived today, prescription fulfilled!

In the meantime, I've found a wide-brimmed felt hat - from a high street store, so stretching authenticity a little, but which I have doctored up by replacing the hat-band with some twisted cord to make it look more "in period".

I also have a rather good knapsack that Mark Allen (formerly a re-enactor of some distinction, he tells me) donated to the cause.

So there you have it... I'm all kitted up and ready to embark on my first muster.
This will take place at Basing House on Easter Monday. Although the event is on all Easter weekend, we'll only be going on the Monday... a perfect way to introduce myself to the fray. If you're there, look out for me - I'll be the one holding the musket wrong way up, marching out of step, and generally disobeying/ misunderstanding every drill move!
I may even succumb and post some pictures next time ... you never know!

And after that, I'll be sending off for my various licenses and wot-not so that eventually I can own my own musket!! Now, that will be fun!!