The Bande of Pike & Shotte is an English Company of Mercenaries from England, formed circa 1648/1649. With the resolution of the Second English Civil War these men, hardened by war, forged by battle and with no wish to return to dull civilian life, are left adrift in an England still suffering from the first and second wars. Gathered up by the former-Royalist Captain James Digby, these veteran souldiers are given direction and purpose. Political stance, nationality, religious views – none of these truly matter in 'the Lucky Dogs', as these hard-bitten soldiers call themselves. Loyalty, trust and a ton of gold is all they ask for now, besides food, drink and a good wench of course.
Originally, true to their name, the mercenaries were split in to two divisions, pikemen and musketeers, but, as time moved on and casualties mounted, the Bande has come to focus primarily upon the use of the firelock as opposed to the pike. When they need to be equipped with the pike they will present a ferocious unwavering barrier of sharpened steel but it is as a group of skirmishers, fighting in a loose formation that takes advantage of cover and concealment, where they excel now.Formation of the Bande of Pike & Shotte
In early December 1648, as the snow settles upon the rooftops of Nottingham, five men meet within the Ye Olde Trip to Jersulam public inne. From first glances, even without their firelocks stacked against the wall and their variety of tuck swords, side swords and rapiers, they are obviously souldiers. Four of the men are dressed in common clothing, their coats a variety of faded reds with one in grey and the fifth man dressed richly as befitting his birthright. All of them wear the worn faces of veteran fighters, most of them have powder burns scarring their skin, their hair lank except for one whose head is as bald as a matchlocks stock. Between them they drink and discuss, discuss and argue, argue and eventually agree. They seal their agreement with a toast and drink to their enterprise, to their future. That night, as bitter winds cut through the streets and snow swirls above the rooftops, the men get drunk on their pact, to raise a company of mercenaries to fight in distant lands.The reasons for forming the Bande
The five mentioned, James Digby, David Stryker, Bleddyn-dwn, Wil Lambert and Richard Flockton, are all veterans of the first and second of the English Civil Wars. Between them they see no future in England, that the outcome of these conflicts will not give them what they want. For James Digby it is the slight of seeing his King removed from his throne and held prisoner by common men. David Stryker feels as Digby does and worries that Puritanism will be forced upon every Englishman regardless of his own beliefs. Bleddyn-dwrn is one of the rare men who truly relishes a fight, while Wil Lambert and Richard Flockton know no other life except as that of souldiers, Lambert the deadly marksman, Flockton the experienced Serjeant. To them the end of the Second Civil War, as it will become known, marks a possible era of peace and for those three it is too late to find new professions.
There were many others who think as they do or have their own reasons for wishing to leave the shores of England and in Nottingham Captain Digby and Serjeant Flockton gathered these veteran souldiers, recruiting them as men of the pike and matchlock, and with the company finally numbering over 150, they leave England the very day before Charles I is beheaded. Arrival on mainland Europa
With the close of what will be known as the Thirty Years War the previous year, it is Digbys estimation, through his experience from fighting for Sweden in the 1630s, that it would not be long until a fresh outbreak of hostilities occurs on the continent and with the wounds of the Thirty Years war fresh in Europa, the Bande of Pike & Shotte, having become known as 'The Lucky Dogs', land in Eastern Europa in late February 1649, during the early years of the Khmelnytsky Uprising and immediately seek employment within the Polish forces.
By 1654, when the Bande left Poland, they had been viciously whittled down. Abandoning any idea of maintaining a force of pikes, they turned solely to use of the snaplock firelock. In Sweden they managed to bolster their numbers with mercenary souldiers from across Europa, including Scandinavian men and found that their reputation had preceeded them. Guaranteed employment within the Swedish forces they joined one of the two Swedish armies invading Poland and distinguished themselves upon the fields of battle. Once again as time wore on and the campaigns continued they began to be cut down once more until, despairing of fighting as a body of musketeers, Digby turned to a suggestion of Flocktons, that the Lucky Dogs should act as that new type of souldier, the skirmisher and dragoon.