The Sound of the Drum
In the noise and chaos of a battlefield, the human voice could not carry far, but the sound of the field drums certainly did. Apart from beating the marching pace drums relayed every order of import on the battlefield through the “Calls of Warre”. Drummers were generally experienced soldiers often holding the rank of sergeant or corporal.
It was (and still is!) considered very bad form to kill a drummer not being strictly considered as a combatant, however on the battlefield, a volley of musketry could hit the musicians just as easily as anyone else.
Our drummers wear a more fancy uniform than the common soldiers. In the 17th century this would have been paid for by the colonel. Drums were worn quite high up on the left side, suspended by a scarf (sash) or leather belt over the right shoulder.
Drums were stationed with the Pike division, usually 2 to a company. There were “Calls of Warre” for just about everything in camp, on the march and in battle, augmenting verbal commands. These calls are well documented and are taught to any budding drummers who join our ranks.
On the march, fifes, played by musicians privately hired by the Colonel, often accompanied the drums. The latter were not soldiers and had no tactical role, but from re-enacting experience there is no doubting that the shrill noise of the fifes playing alongside the drums would lift soldiers’ spirits and encourage them to march jauntily, especially through towns where the measured step and martial air of the troops could suitably impress the inhabitants. Indeed, fifes and deeply resonating drums (sounding very different to modern drums) can have a truly mesmeric effect on the soldiers and all who hear them.