Pikeman at Killiecrankie

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Colonel1689
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Pikeman at Killiecrankie

Post by Colonel1689 » Thu May 22, 2008 4:50 pm

Hello. Hanging in my room is a painting of the Battle of Killiecrankie by Alan Heriot. In the background I can just make out a company of pikemen behind a line of musketeers. I was wondering if anyone knew the ratio of muskets to pikes in Mackays army?

Having visited the site many times I have to say it would be hard to find a better location to unleash the highland charge! 8)

With just under 2000 redcoats and 800 highlanders killed within 15-30 mins it must qualify as the bloodiest battle in Scottish history in terms of the rate of kills!
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barr7430
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Post by barr7430 » Thu May 22, 2008 10:03 pm

There is much debate in this forum about the proportion of pikes to muskets in the period 1685-1709.
Of the six government infantry regiments at Killiecrankie, three were in Dutch pay Mackay's,Ramsay's & Balfour's and having been deployed in Flanders are highly likely to have had the standard proportion of pikes per company. For the Dutch at this time that was 1 pikemen to every 5 musketeers. At wartime strength of 60 per company and with 12 companies per battalion that makes 10 pikemen per company and 120 per battalion. It is likely that the pikes would have been massed in the centre either forward or behind the centre companies' musketeers. This of course assumes companies were at full strength after weeks on the march(unlikely). Hugh Mackay was also an experienced soldier, Scottish and from Sutherland I believe. He will have known at least the nature of the terrain if not the precise lay of the land he was to fight on and being a highlander himself I am tempted to wonder whether he would actually have ordered his battalions to leave their pikes behind and draw muskets.
Pikes may have been useful against highlanders in a set piece battle but Killiecrankie was an opportunity encounter (so perhaps the pikes were being carried).
Hasting's Regiment was the only English unit present and would have had a similar number of pikemen per company (possibly thirteen companies I think)
The other units:
Leven's (Edinburgh and Lothian Volunteers the largest unit and allegedly recruited in a single day) may well have had pikes although I cannot imagine that the men were particularly proficient in their use
Kenmure(muir); Also a volunteer unit with a similar pedigree


I too have walked the ground. A steady phalanx of pikes could have presented a formidable obstacle to a 'high momentum' highland charge but it appears that steadiness was not the order of the day at Killiecrankie.

Hope this is useful
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Colonel1689
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Post by Colonel1689 » Thu May 22, 2008 10:55 pm

Thanks

Mackay was from Scourie in Sutherland as far as I'm aware. I also believe that Mackay faught alongside Dundee in Holland.

I had always wondered if large numbers of pikemen would have strenthend the redcoat line in the face of the charge but the few pikemen in each company would have had little impact.
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Post by thinredline » Fri May 23, 2008 10:22 pm

Colonel1689 wrote:Thanks

Mackay was from Scourie in Sutherland as far as I'm aware. I also believe that Mackay faught alongside Dundee in Holland.

I had always wondered if large numbers of pikemen would have strenthend the redcoat line in the face of the charge but the few pikemen in each company would have had little impact.
AYE - especially if they are running away at the time :wink:

I believe the honour of the first Government Regiment to stand and "face" a "highland" charge without running away falls to the 26th of Foot - "The Cameronians" - notably a fine Presbyterian Covenanting Regiment with no liking for the politics or religion of them damned highlanders. And that was immediately after Killiecrankie in the grounds of Dunkeld Cathedral.(ooops. This would be a good time to duck and call mesell a "Campbell").

Dosn't matter if it is pikes or muskets with new fangled plug bayonets, if yer bottle goes - its time to tak to yer heels before them claymores and lochaber axes reach ye :shock: What do you expect of mainly raw and untrained troops in the face of "highland savages" :roll: Run man, run :wink:

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Colonel1689
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Post by Colonel1689 » Sun May 25, 2008 2:17 pm

Thanks guys!

How likely is it that Hugh Mackay invented the ring bayonet after the disaster at Killiecrankie?
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