[Certen] instruct[ions, obseruati]ons and orders militarie, requisit for all chieftaines, captaines [and?] higher and lower men of charge, [and officers] to vnderstand, [knowe and obserue]
Smythe, John, Sir, ca. 1534-1607.

Certen orders, directions and briefe speeches to be vsed vnto Harquebziers, Piquers, and battleaxes, when they are in skirmish with their enemies in the field.

SKirmishes both on horsebacke and on foot doo begin vpon such, and so many diuers, and infi∣nite occasions when two puissant Armies that are enemies one to ye other are in the field, as no man is able to particular the number of them: And ther∣fore I will as not requisite ouerpasse them; But because hithervnto I haue handled the ordering, reducing and forming more particularlie of footmen then of horsmen, I will by the help of Almighty God in this place proceed to certen orders, directions and briefe speeches, that are to be vsed vnto bands of harquebuziers entring into skir∣mish, or being in sirmish; as also how they should bee reduced into diuers orders and formes for diuers effectes and purposes: which when I haue performed, I wil then proceed to the reducing and ordering of other weapons of volee, as of mosquetiers, and archers into their conue∣nient formes. And therefore it is first to be noted yt there be 4. different and principal waies for bandes of harque∣buziers to enter into skirmish* and to maintaine them∣selues being in skirmish, which although they seeme not much to differ, yet their differences are so great, as they are to be obserued by al skilfull leaders and conductors of harquebuziers, and by the soldiors themselues.

Of the which 4. the first is vpon some occasions to Page  134 skirmish only with loose shot,* backt some good & con∣uenient distance behind them with light armed halbar∣diers: yea and of piquers also incase they doubte ye charge of horsmen, but then those loose shot must deuide them selues into small societies either of 3. or else of 4. harque∣buziers to second and supplie one anothers place: and that is to be vnderstood in this sort: Incase that they doo deuide themselues into societies of threes, then haue they but onely three dischargings, and that is when the formost soldior hath in trauessing his groūd & with good aduisement discharged at the enemy, and trauessing his groūd doth retire behind his fellowes to charge again; y then ye second harquebuzier should aduance forward to espie som aduantage to discharge his harquebuze, not in hast at the aire, but with leisure at his enemie that hee es∣pieth standing still or in slow motion; which when hee hath performed, and trauessing his ground, he dooth re∣tire: then the third harquebuzier aduauncing forward and trauessing his ground should with good aduisement discharge his peece at the enemie that he espieth stan∣ding still or in slow motion, whilest the other two har∣quebuziers his companions, before retired doo charge againe: which by him performed, then he is to trauesse his ground and to begin againe to charge, retiring bee∣hind, and somthing wide of the hindermost of the three. And by this kind of loose skirmishing of many societies of threes dispersed in the field,* the formost of euery three next vnto the enemie with his peece charged, trauessing his ground, and espying when to discharge his peece ef∣fectuallie (as aforesaid) dooth giue time and leisure, to the other two of his societie retired behind, to charge their peeces againe: But because that the chiefe effect of harquebuziers in skirmish dooth consist principallie in three thinges;* that is, in the well charging of their pee∣ces, which cannot be well performed without conueni∣ent time and leisure; the second, in leisurely discharging, although not from steady and firm point at blank; which can be seldome performed at men, or by men in motion; Page  135 and therefore they are to take their sights at the endes of their peeces, at such their enemies as are in slowest moti∣on, and so make the best point and blanke that they may by guesse from the endes of their peeces.

And the third which is of no lesse importance then the former two is; that harquebuziers doo not discharge their peeces at the enemy out of conuenient distances; for if they doo, then how well soeuer they haue charged their peeces, and with what leisure and aduisement soe∣uer they doo discharge the same at men in motion, they doo worke verie little or no effect, as well in respect that no harquebuziers howe good soeuer they bee, can take their sightes so certenlie from point at blanke in a great distance, as they may in a much nearer distance; as also that they can a great deale lesse take their sights from the ends of their peeces at their enemies in motion a great distance off, although it be within the points and blankes of their peeces: besides many other causes and particu∣larities concerning the same in my booke of discourses by me set forth 1590. conteined:* All which well consi∣dered, it dooth behoue all good and skilfull harquebu∣ziers not to discharge their peeces aboue 20. 30. or 40. paces at the vttermost, although their peeces will carrie point and blanke a much greater distance.

But here it is to be noted that this kind of skirmishing of lose shot of societies of threes is not so good by a great deale as to skirmish in societies of 4.* in euery societie; and that by reason that euery formost harquebuzier of 4. next to the enimie discharging his peece as effectually as he may and retiring behind the hindermost of his socie∣tie to charge againe, whilest the second aduauncing for∣ward and trauersing his ground doth supplie the place of the first harquebuzier that did first discharge and is now retired as aforsaid, and so consequently the third harque∣buzier vpon the discharging of his fellowe before him, (that at the first was the second) to aduance and supply his place, and then againe the fourth that did first of all Page  136 discharge, and hath now againe very well charged hi peece, doth (vpon the dischargeing and retiring of his fel∣lowe before him) aduaunce forward, and trauessing his ground supplie his place: which orderly discharging & recharging againe, and discharging, & recharging againe and againe with good aduisement, doth by the societies of 4. giue more time and leisure to euerie harquebuzier that hath discharged his peece to retire and charge verie well againe without heating of his peece, then societies of threes aforesaid can doo, considering that in those skirmishes of loose shot, it is conuenient that onelie one of euerie societie of 4. should bee formost, and should discharge alone to the intent aswel to giue leisure to their fellowes one after another to recharge againe, as also to haue 2. or 3. harquebuziers continuallie ready with their peeces charged one after another stil to aduance forward and supply the others place ready to discharge at the ene∣my. For if they should discharge 2. or 3. or al at one time, then vpon their error espied by the enemies, and taking the aduantage thereof by a sudden approch, they should find themselues vnsupplied and vnsuccoured, the one of the other to their great danger and mischiefe.

But here it may be demanded what I doo call the well charging of peeces of weapons of fire? Whervnto I an∣swer, That I doo allow neither harquebuze nor mosquet for well charged in seruices of the fielde,* vnlesse they bee charged with conuenient charges of powder, and with softe browne paper, or the refuge endes of matches, or something else, with their skowring stickes thrust close to the powder to restraine the same, and likewise vppon the bullet the like or a more quan••••• to keepe close and restraine the bullet: or when at the least, I would that some such thing should be thrust vpon the bullet with the skowring stick to keep the same close to the powder; & therewithall to the intent that euerie souldior vppon his lacke of bullets might vse his fellowes bullets, I woulde Page  137 that all the harquebuzes throughout the field should be of one Caliuer and heigth;* and that all the ordinarie bul∣lettes for the field, I meane not the full bullets that first with great leisure they charge their peeces withall before they march out of the Campe, which are or ought to be of the iust Caliuer and heigth of their harquebuzes,* but the ordinarie bullets for skirmish: that those bullets I say should not be aboue two bores lower then the heigth of their peeces, whereas farre otherwise the most bullettes for the field heere in England as well of Mosquets as of harquebuzes are 4. 5. and many 6. bores lower then the height of the peeces, which with the souldiors not re∣straining the powder nor bullettes as aforesaid,* is the cause, that the powder how good soeuer dooth neither carrie the bullets so farre point and blanke, nor yet doo giue so violent blowes as beeing otherwise well charged with more full bullets they would doo, nor yet can pos∣siblie shoot with any certentie, although it were from a steadie rest either at horses or men standing still within point and blanke, by reason that such bullets doo natu∣rallie mount and flie wide, howe true soeuer the peeces are, besides that the powder for lacke of restraining as aforesaid, dooth lie in the Cannon of the peece loose, and the bullet through the too much smalnesse thereof in comparison of the peece doth vpon euerie little acci∣dent fall out and droppe to the ground: where as ordina∣rie bullets for the field, that are not aboue two bores low∣er then the heigth of their peeces, doo carry the bullets (the peeces being otherwise true and well charged as a∣foresaide) further point and blanke, and with a great deale more certentie: and besides doo giue a more for∣cible blow as aforesaid then such ouer small bullets can doo.

But now the second way of skirmishing is,* that such little societies of threes and of fowers may skirmish by discharging their peeces, almost, or neere about one time: but that must be performed by the discharging and Page  138 retiring to charge again of such little troupes, other such little societies of like numbers that are a conuenient waie distant vpon both their flankes but something reti∣red, and therefore haue kept their shot, aduancing for∣ward, as well to espy some aduantage to giue their volees at their enemies effectuallie, as to giue time and leisure to other little troupes that haue discharged, and therfore retired to recharge and aduance forward againe.

The third waie of skirmishing is of greater troupes as of 6. of 9. of 12. of 15. of 18. or of 21.* And this kind of skirmishing in so great troupes doth resemble the first mentioned skirmishing of loose shot of 3. souldiors in euerie societie, and that in this sort; that euen as the so∣cieties of 3. did deuide themselues into 3. single dischar∣ginges as aforesaid, so must these greater troupes deuide their dischargings into 3. volees: as for example, if the troupe be of 6. then the 2. foremost may discharge at or neere about one time, and then trauessing their grounds retire behind the hindermost two, to charge againe, whi∣lest the two second being now formost doo aduance for∣ward to espie their aduantage to discharge effectuallie: which when they haue perfourmed, then they likewise are to retire againe recharging vntil they be hindermost, giuing place vnto their next two fellows to giue their vo∣le as aforesaid: which being by the second two perfor∣med, then are the laste two (who did first discharge and haue now recharged againe) to aduance forward againe towards the enemie to giue time to their fellowes retired to recharge againe: but if the troups be of greater num∣bers as of 9. then their diuisions of volee are of 3. harque∣buziers at a time, as those of 6. were but of two; and so likewise their troupes being of 12. then their diuisions of discharging are likewise of 3. volees, yt is 4. to discharge at or neere about one time: And incase that the troupes be of 15. then they are to deuide their discharginges into 3. volees of 5. at a time, that is of 3. times 5. And incase that the troupes be so great as of 18. then they are like∣wise Page  139 to deuide their volees into 3. times 6.* harquebuzi∣ers: And if of 21. then of 3. times 7. harquebuziers, euery 7. to giue their volees one after another in the order and sort before declared, greater then the which for diuers causes I would haue no troupes of harquebuziers in the field for to giue their volees in three diuisions as afore∣said.

But now the fourth sort of giuing of volees in troupe,* is of 4. diuisions, which resembleth the second discharging of loose shot of societies of 4. harquebuziers, for as those societies of 4. soldiors did deuide themselues into 4. sin∣gle discharginges for the causes aforesaid, so these greater troupes are to deuide themselues into 4. dischargings or volees, and that in this sort: the smallest troup that are to performe the same are. 8. which nomber is to be deuided into. 4. volees of two of the formost harquebuziers to dis∣charge or giue their volee at or neare about one time, and to retire to charg againe & giue place to their fellowes as aforesaid, and so subsequently, all the rest by two harque∣buziers continually aduaunced to discharge, and other 2. continually retiring to recharge to performe the like: and incase that their troupes be of 12. then they may deuide their volees into 4. as of. 3. harquebuziers to giue their volee at one time, and if they be of 16. then their diuisions of volee may be of 4. harquebuziers all at one time, and incase that their troupes be of 20. then their. 4. diuisions of volee may be of 5. harquebuziers at a time, greater then the which nūber of 20. or 21. as aforesaid I would not in mine opinon for diuers causes haue any troupes of shott in skirmish to giue their volees: which 4. diuisions of vo∣lee, by discharging, retiring, aduauncing, and dischar∣ging, retiring and aduancing again and againe with con∣tinuall volees, doth giue more time and leisure to euerie formost diuision of harquebuziers with good aduisement to discharge their peeces, and to retire & rechgarge their peeces orderlie and verie well againe, then the diuisions of three dischargings or volees aforesaid, for lacke of Page  140 conuenient time can do, as all men of any consideration may euidently see by the particularities by me before sett downe. But here it is to be noted that the 2. first little societies of 3. & of 4. soldiors deuided into three single dis∣charginges, and the other of 4. harquebuziers into 4. sin∣gle discharginges are to be accounted skirmishing and discharging of loose shott, whereas al the rest are to be ac∣counted skirmishing in troupes.

And furder that all the aforesaid little societies and greater and smaller troupes of shot, are in their foresaid skirmishes to be ordered ouerseene and conducted by their Corporalles, and all the Corporalls by their higher officers; and all these different sorts o skirmishing in so∣cieties of loose shot, as also in troupes I haue particulerly set down because I haue known some Conductors of har∣quebuze shot, Italians, Spaniards, & of other Nations that haue vsed to skirmish by their soldiors giuing of their vo∣lees in three diuisions, and some other conductors of the same Nations that haue caused their harquebuziers to giue their volees in 4. diuisions in such sort as is before declared.

But now besides all this,* there is another kinde of skir∣mishing of loose shot, and that is when vnskilfull harque∣buziers Nouices are lead out to skirmishe by as vnskilfull conductors, that those harquebuziers do neuer deuide themselues into chosen societies of threes, of foures, or any sch numbers, nor into little troupes, as aforesaid, the one to take care of the other, and to giue time and leisure to discharge and recharge with order as aforesaid, but that they are lead in skirmishe by their officers in great troupes of. 25. or 30. harquebuziers together or more, wheeling about & following one another so thick and so nre as they resemble a sport that I haue seene little boies play, hanging one vpon anothers long coate when there haue bene many of them together, called, Why Puttocke away, or else that euerie one of his owne head do go thick & threefold or dispersed to discharge at the enemie with Page  141 all furie,* by which disorderlie and furious skirmishing, it commeth to passe that the harquebuziers doo discharge in hast without aduisement, to small or no hurt to the enemy, and therwithall by their discharging, charging, and rechar∣ging as fast as they can, they suddenlie heat their peeces and make thē vnprofitable, & oftentimes do by such disorder∣lie skirmishing, kil, or mischiefe one another: And besides, if any of them happen to be wounded or hurt because they haue not deuided themselues into chosen societies as afor∣said, none doo take care to succour and relieue such hurt & wonded souldiors, nor to draw away and saue their dead karkases according to the vse of all warlike Nations, with diuers other Inconueniences that I omit, which doo ensue vpon such disorderly skirmishing: And this kind of skirmi∣shing may be very well tearmed to skirmish in hubblede∣shuffe. But yet it is furder to be noted that in most skirmi∣shes that are well performed in the open fieldes, although they do skirmish in such troupes of 3. or 4. diuisions of vo∣lees as aforsaid, yet such skirmishes are first begun by small societies of threes and of fowers, besides that it is alwaies conuenient that such troupes of shot should be backt with some numbers of light armed halbarders and piquers for such causes as heereafter shall be mentioned.

But because that in all matters militarie how well orde∣red at the first soeuer, there happeneth vppon diuers acci∣dents disorder, either through the fault or lacke of skill of the conductors, or else through y negligence or lack of skil of the soldiors conducted: I wil now proceed to shew how the chiefe cōmanders & directers of such skirmishes should by briefe speeches redresse & reform al such disorders hap∣ned: as for example, If the chiefe leaders & directers of the skirmish, shal see the loose shot in their societies as aforsaid, or any of the troupes of shot before mentioned to skirmish too thick and neere togither wherby they may indaunger one another, or receaue the greater annoiance from the shot of their Enemies, being more thinne and dispersed in their distāces: then he is to say vnto such societies or troups, Page  142Inlarge souldiors inlarge,* which being by the harquebuziers heard, they then should presentlie inlarge themselues more thinner, and into greater, but yet conuenient dis•••ces, as wel the societies of the loose shot of threes, and foures, as also such troupes of shot as are before mentioned, thereby to discharge with great order and dexteritie, seconding & supplying the one the others place, as also each one to suc∣cour the one the other incase of any wounds or hurts recei∣ued according to the directions by me before very particu∣lerlie set downe.

And if it happen as your souldiors are in skirmish or marching towardes, or entring into skirmish or retiring, that you doo perceiue and espie any ground or grounds of aduantage for your harquebuze or mosquet shot to worke any good effect against your enimies, either by ambush or otherwise as of hilles, bankes, trenches, caues, wooddes, shrubs, vines, or any other thing to encouer your shot, then you are to say to so many societies or troupes of your soul∣diors as you shall think meet for that effect;*To your aduan∣tage souldiors to your aduantage, and therewithall you must name the aduantage and strength that they should preuent the enimies of, be they bankes, hedges, trenches, hilles, or any other strength, which being by them heard, they must presently performe the same.

And incase that you beeing in skirmish doo see any rea∣son of aduantage to drawe the loose shot of societies or troupes, or both, more on the one side, then on the other, that is more to the right hand then to the left; then you are to say vnto them, Wing, Wing souldiors to the right. And if to the left hand then you may say, Wing, Wing souldiors to the left.* And if you see that the enemies haue spent their powder and heated their peeces, and that your aduantage is to approch them with more furie, then you are to say Auaunce, Auaunce forward souldiors. And incase your souldiors being in skirmish, you shall see your aduantage to reduce some of your loose shot into troupes of 6. of 9. of 12 or of 15. or more, be the numbers euen or odde it impor∣teth Page  143 not, so as the particularities by me before set down be alwaies obserued, in such sort that the one troupe may fa∣uour and flanke the other; then in passing amongest them you are to say to your Corporals and souldiors. Troupe, troupe, and flanke souldiors.

And if you find your souldiors ouerpressed with num∣ber of shot, or that your souldiors with long skirmish haue almost spent their powder or heated their peeces, then you are to say. Retire, retire, and frunt souldiors, which beeing by them heard they must retire stil with their faces towards their Enemies, discharging their peeces not too fast, least that they should find themselues to their own mischiefe al∣togither without powder.

And incase that you haue piquers or halbarders to backe your shot (which you should neuer be without,) and that you see that your Enemies as also your owne soldiors by long skirmish haue spent much of their powder and heated their peeces, and that your shott with the shot of your ene∣mies are readie to enter pellemelle, then you are to say to your piquers and halbarders: Charge charge and execute sol∣diors: which being by you pronounced they are to enter with all furie vpon their enemies, and with puissant hand to do execution vpon them.* And here it is to be noted that harquebuzes of a yard long the Cannons at the most, well ranforced backward, & of a conuenient thinnesse forward, and the bullets of a conuenient Caliuer or heigth not too great, are a great deale more maniable, and therefore bet∣ter for soldiors to vse in the field, then such heauie harque∣buzes as we in these daies do miscall Caliuers, that are of great bullets, and the Cannons long and heauie with de∣formed stockes: which said harquebuzes ranforced of con∣uenient heueth & lightnes will wound or kill as well 50. or 60. paces off (which is distance enough) as any such heauie mistearmed Caliuers▪ & therewithall they do not so soone wearie the soldiors in handling and vsing them in seruices of the fielde as such foresaid heauie peeces do, besides that they haue this commoditie that when in skirmish soldiors Page  144 do grow very neere together, and so sometimes pelle melle that they haue no more leisure to recharge their peeces but that they are forced to betake themselues to their swordes: they may then I say take their peeces being of such conue∣nient heueth & lightnesse, in the midst with their left hands and drawing their swordes may beare a blow either at the head or legges, or beat by any thrust of sword, halbard, or pique, either with the vpper or lower part of their harque∣buze, and may therewithall at that instant enter and run in with the points of their swordes to the mischiefe or endan∣gering of their enemies, which cannot be performed with our such heauie mistearmed Caliuers, which most com∣monlie vpon such accidents through the too much heueth of them are throwne awaie by the souldiors that vse them. Aduertising furder, that whensoeuer your souldiors bee in skirmish with the enemie in the plaine and open fields, that your harquebuziers be alwais instructed neuer to discharge their peeces nor giue any volee of shot at their euemies a∣boue 20. 30. or 40.* paces distant, or 50. at the vttermost: For it is to bee noted that to discharge or giue any volee, or volees of shot at the enemie in skirmish any greater di∣stance then 50. paces, the same dooth worke but very little effect; by reason that such weapons of fire are in those acti∣ons so vncerten, as all Captaines and souldiors that are of experience in matters of Armes doo verie well knowe; al∣though I haue diuers times heard some talke and tell how they haue seene skirmishes wheras the harquebuziers haue discharged their peeces at their enemies,* 10. 12. or 14. skores of, which (considering the verie small effect that such discharginges and volees doo worke against the ene∣mie) is to be holden for a verie great skorne and error mili∣tarie, for such harquebuzes as doo vse to skirmish so farre off, are more meet by al reason and true experience to skare Crowes in a corne field, then to worke any good effect a∣gainst their enemies in the field.