The Pike was one of the most commonly used weapons on the Civil War battlefield. The pike was a long wooden shaft roughly sixteen feet long with a steel point on the end. Pike could be very effective especially when used in a group.
The Pikemen often formed the front line of an army. Operating together they had to lower their pikes to prevent a cavalry charge from breaking the ranks. The cavalrymen’s horses would be injured by the pike and would fall to the ground unseating his rider who would then be an easy target for the musketeers or for the sword. If the army was surrounded then the pikemen would form a circle and lower or raise their pikes to provide a ‘hedgehog’ of cover.
Fear not new recruits, it's quite easy to learn how to use them as our Lieutenant of Pike explains:
I joined Blackwell’s in 1991. A friend from work, knowing I’d always had a thing for military history, had been gently persuading me to give the ECWS a try, and after two years I ran out of excuses. With nothing much happening one weekend, I hitched up with a couple of mates and the girlfriend and went down to Brentwood in Essex for the day. Just to have a look, like.
The first time we hit the enemy, I wasn’t even aware they were there, struggling as I was with ill-fitting headgear and a preposterously long pike in the middle of the fifth rank. Suddenly all those abstract concepts you read about – fog of war, the brittle morale of the raw recruit, the communal emotions shared by a unit in combat – became instantly clear. Others may have had more noble life-changing experiences, but for me there was no going back.
Blackwell’s pike block is the hardest and sharpest in the King’s Army: that’s not a hollow boast – we know it because the people we fight tell us so. We will never be complacent though – we only ever want to improve, fighting harder, drilling sharper, looking out for each other. The last point is important: you don’t have to qualify to be a Blackwell, there’s no probationary period. Once you put on the black coat and pick up the pike (man or woman) you’re part of the tribe. It makes for some strange relationships – some of my closest friends I see maybe half a dozen times a year. People who have spent Saturday afternoon trying to batter you into the ground will spend Saturday night plying you with drink and good vibes. Not quite real life.
It’s a funny old game, certainly, but I wouldn’t be without it.
Dave Webb, Lieutenant Pike, Sir Thomas Blackwell’s Regiment of Foote.