Why were they there? - An English Civil War pike block could be made up of up to 400 men and fought as one unit mainly to protect the rest of the army from attack by the cavalry (which could make up to 30% of the opposing forces).
How were they equipped? - The level of equipment varied greatly and depended on the stage of the war, what was issued or supplied and where you were. Most pikemen had a 16 to 18 foot pike, a sword and a regimental coat. If you were lucky you could have a helmet, back/breast plates and tassets and a regimental suit of clothes.
Push of Pike- The blocks clash with the pikes held across the chest. Originally used by re-enactors to prevent stabbing injuries from pike points, the push has taken on a mystique all of its own. It is fiercely competitive and in a major battle is used by the Lord Generals of the armies to gain ground on the opposing army.
Ideally push is used as a backdrop to point fighting as the crowd can see the tops of the pikes as blocks clash. The push is a stage in pike fighting after the initial pointing when the rear ranks push their own front onto the opposing block causing chaos in the ranks and loose pikes to shoot out in all directions.
As a pikeman in Hawkins, you can expect to be involved in both pushes and attacks using point.
A Pike Block within the Sealed Knot
As a pikeman in Hawkins' regiment you will fight in blocks of up to 50 men when fighting as a tertio (formation of three regiments) and up to 20 men when fighting as a regiment.
You will be issued with a pike, helmet, white coat and back/breast and tassets. Once you have passed a sword test you can also use the regimental swords.
Apart from defending against horse and engaging musket blocks the pike fight in two different styles when confronting another pike block.
Point of Pike - The blocks clash with points down and swords drawn. This form of fighting is used on the crowd lines and at the start and end of battles. Many think it is more authentic than push. Pikemen or women (dressed as men) are less susceptible to crushing injuries but more likely to gain cuts and bruises from the pike points or sword blades.