Rawdons - About The Modern Regiment
Sir Marmaduke Rawdon's Regiment of Foote is a Royalist Regiment founded in 1973 by Wilf Emberton, who was one of the original founding members of the Sealed Knot Society. So we are one of the longest standing regiments in the Society as a whole, we've been going 50 years!
On the battlefield we combine with the regiments of Sir Nicholas Slanning's, Sir Henry Tilliers, Sir Stephen Hawkins, Sir Bevil Grenvilles and Sir William Godolphins and Sir Vincent Corbet's Company, to form the Lord Hopton's Tertio or the Royalist Army of the West.
We are a family-based regiment who pride ourselves on the fighting spirit we show on the field and the friendship and camaraderie off it. The current regimental strength including all arms is over 170 people and growing. Rawdons are mainly based along the South Coast between Worthing and Southampton, but have pockets of membership in Cornwall, Oxfordshire, Northamptonshire, Derbyshire, South Wales and other counties.
Sir Marmaduke Rawdon's CO (Commanding Officer) is Lieutenant Colonel Dave Thomas (Tosh), who has progressed through the ranks as a pikeman to Regimental CO, with over 30 years service to the regiment. He is assisted by Commissioned Officers (senior officers) of each Arm, and also NCO's (non commissioned officers or junior officers), to run the regiment, on the battlefield, just like a real regiment of the day. Off the field however, they are all very normal, down to earth, fun loving people ... honestly!
Here is a little information on each arm:
The pike is referred to as 'The Queen of Arms' or the "Noble Arm", and was wielded by the strongest and fittest of men. It can be traced back to the ancient Greek phalanx armed with 16 foot long tapered ash pikes tipped with steel. The main job of the pike is to protect the musket from cavalry. The pike men operate best in large formations or blocks; the pike being too unwieldy in single combat. The pike men are referred to as 'Gentlemen' or as officers without a command, and gentlemen volunteers, who fought on foot, would join the pike rather than the musketeers.
Also the Regimental Ensign (the junior officer who carries the regimental colour or flag - see image on the left) is drawn from the pike block. As well as the pike, the troops would be equipped with a basic sword (called a hanger or tuck), a steel helmet (morion) and possibly armour. The issuing of armour would depend upon availability but this was its' last real use in UK history. As muskets became more accurate and powerful, armour's usefulness declined.
The pike block is physically very demanding, but exhilarating, and we have up to 5 feisty women who fight as men in our block! We drill each morning before a battle, to fire us up for the afternoon and to clear our hangovers! We are renowned for our fierce but fair fighting style and have a reputation to uphold at each engagement!
Musketeers are armed with a smooth bore matchlock musket (which are firing replicas of the actual weapons used in the 1600s) and a sword as a secondary weapon. They also form "blocks" which attack at about a 25 metres range firing volleys, then using the butt of their musket as a club and finally wielding their swords to engage the enemy in hand-to-hand combat.
We do not actually use shot in the musket, only gunpowder and wadding. Full training will be given and you will have to pass a safety test before you are allowed to use a musket or a sword on the battlefield. Dummy muskets are used prior to this. Although being a musketeer does not require quite the full body contact that being a pikeman does, it is nonetheless just as enjoyable and exhilarating. Plus again, our musket block has the reputation for being one of the best and hardest to beat in the society!
Whilst not getting involved quite as closely in the hand-to-hand fighting as the pike and musket do, you will still need to be fit to join the crews; as the guns are heavy and can move around the battlefield a considerable amount. Their size makes them a real asset in terms of their mobility on the field, and they also have the unique feature of being able to "be blown up" for effect.
We do not actually use shot or cannon balls in the guns, again, only gunpowder and wadding. Full training will be given and you will have to pass a safety test before you are allowed to use the guns on the battlefield.
Drummers played a vital role in communicating orders, as shouted orders were not heard over the noise of battle. All drummers were junior officers and as such were used to request parleys and speak to the opponent's officers. They were treated with great respect and it was an act of shame to kill or wound an enemy drummer. The regimental drums tend to stay close to the pike block during the battle and together with the regimental colour provide a rallying point for the men.
This role is ideal for over 16 year olds, who want to get involved on the battlefield, but who may lack the size and strength of some of the larger adults fighting in pike or musket; and as a good starting point for battle experience. On a long march to the battlefield, and especially back to the campsite after a battle, the drums are crucial in keeping spirits and moral high and keeping feet moving after hours of fighting!
This is the term for the ladies of the regiment who go onto the battlefield to water the troops. They get closer to the action than would have been the case during the actual civil war, but they play a vital part in ensuring all participants survive the battle; as fighting in woollen clothes and armour can be extremely dehydrating. As well as watering the troops they tend any minor injuries, or help escort people to the medics, hold onto medication for fighting members and carry out running repairs to equipment.
In a 20th Century safety role, as non-fighting participants on the field, they can easily spot if someone is in need of assistance or rest. So they can even overrule an officer, when necessary, in terms of the well being of a fighting participant. If a camp follower tells somebody to leave the field they must leave.
These are the members of the regiment who do not go on to the battlefield through choice, physical or age limitations, or parental commitments; but who are still an extremely valued part of our regiment. These include all children (below 16 years of age). However, those aged between 11 and 16 may be involved in the Society's apprentices and hence may be escorting VIP guests, performing cameo roles or even taking part in pre-battle displays. At most events the apprentices will meet and drill in the use of all arms, so they are fully trained in all areas by the time they reach 16. By which time they are able to go on the battlefield, probably with a chosen preferred arm by then.
Other non-combatants may include those that choose to camp in the Living History (authentic) campsite. They enjoy talking to the public and demonstrating a 17th Century way of life or skill, rather than fighting. Although we do have several members who like to combine the fighting with the authentic camping!
Non-combatants can still watch the battle, or visit the local attractions, but those that choose to stay on the campsite to mind the children / pets and welcome back the troops with tea and beer are treasured life savers! Some parents actually take it in turns to fight one day and mind the family the next, so they both get a chance to have fun!
"I listen vainly but with thirsty ear,
for the witching melody of faint pipes blowing,
and of far-off drums beating the long roll.
In my dreams I hear the crash of guns,
the rattle of musketry
and the strange mournful mutter of the battlefield."
- Adapted from General Douglas McArthur's Thayer Award Speech (1962)