I've had a most interesting few days' correspondence with Peter B, Prof de Vries, Martin S and, most especially, the Jolly Broom Man. As a result of all this enlightenment (and, by Jove, these chaps know their stuff), I've decided not to make the ambitious changes to my ECW rules, as sketched out in my previous post.
It all comes back to the issue of how the regiments arranged their musket fire back in the 17th Century. I was concerned that if (to put it in layman's terms) everyone fired at once (BANG) then subsequently they would be conspicuously unloaded, and, since the idea that they might manage to reload while rushing about seemed unlikely, they would arrive unable to fire if they attacked someone without having stopped somewhere on the way. This kind of thinking owed a lot to my exposure to the Victory without Quarter rules, which make a feature of loading as a necessary activity.
Well, as everyone in the world knows very well - apart from me - it all comes down to the way they conducted the firing. Because the matchlock was a cumbersome thing to load, the approved method was to arrange the musketeers in a lot of ranks - 6 or 8 was OK - and then fire by rolling the ranks:
(1) Intraduction, by which the firing line advanced, required the rear (loaded) rank to move round in front of the rank which had just fired - the sergeant, with his partizan or his half-pike, would show the newly loaded chaps where to line up and fire. Thus the rate of advance would be up to the sergeant, and the firing line would move forward.
(2) Extraduction, by which the firing line fell back, required the front rank, after they had fired, to nip round the rear (the sergeant would show them where) and get on with reloading. In time they would once again become the front rank, and it would be their turn to fire once more. Thus the firing line would gradually be moving back.
I apologise for the kindergarten explanation - it is necessary for me to envisage things in simple terms. Anyway, this means that the firing would not go BANG, as discussed, it would go bang--bang--bang--etc, and it also means that the Foot would never all be unloaded at the same time, which means that they would be able to produce some amount of fire while on the move. If, like me, you imagine that advancing or retreating by means of the rolling intra/extraduction system would slow down the attack to a pitiful shuffle then I am assured that this is correct - this is why the rules reduce the movement rate for Foot when close to the enemy, but I am also informed by the JBM that this was not a critical-path issue, since the unit closing up and the pikemen sorting themselves out was just as big a problem prior to a clash. [The Broom Man, by the way, apart from a life of monastic research, also has personal experience of re-enactment; never disagree with a man who knows how to handle a pike - especially one who may have been at the Siege of Bristle.]
I sense a lot of unrest - people with their hands in the air, protesting, "...but, Miss, Miss, Miss...". Well you are quite right, there was also the process known as fire by salvee, which was introduced by Gustavus Adolphus for his Swedish army, and which did, indeed, have everybody firing at once and thus being unloaded immediately thereafter. I am assured that this was beyond the capabilities of just about everyone apart from the Swedes during this period - thus it is not relevant for the ECW, and Peter B reckons that it would be used even by the Swedes in the 30YW as a short-range device, such that it should be considered as part of melee combat in rules of this type.
Thus, after this long ramble, I am merely going to switch my CC_ECW rules back to allowing Foot to move 1 hex and fire at reduced effect, which is where I started a few years ago, in a manner similar to what Commands & Colors does for Napoleonic warfare. Peter B made the interesting point that this kind of reduced fire while moving actually makes more sense in an ECW context than it does for Napleonic warfare, which is a suitable topic for debate in the pub, but gets me off the hook anyway.
I am somewhat sorry that I didn't get to play with the cotton-wool smoke markers, as discussed last time, but no matter. Simple is good.
One other change I shall introduce in the revised rules is that Stand of Pikes formation will not be permitted in woods - in fact units armed with pikes will not be allowed to fight in woods at all. That was a stupid oversight on my part - the JBM assures me that big boys with pikes in the woods are going to get into bother, and someone will get hurt, for sure, so we can't have that. The upgraded rules will be downloadable in a week or two, once I've rehashed the QRS chart (which is the trickiest bit of the editorial process).
My thanks to everyone who contributed. There is talk of an ECW battle in these parts sometime in the nearish future, so a quick review of the rules was - how do you say? - opportune - yes, that's it.