Wars of the Roses Tactical Dispositions in the Field
During the Wars of the Roses it was customary for an army to be divided into three “battles”. Each battle consisted of a mix of soldier types, with archers and men at arms. The commander of the army usually took command of the central battle, with his more experienced subordinate leading the foreward battle and the third commander the rear battle. Any artillery present was usually kept with the central battle, as much for its commercial value as its use in fighting. Hobilars or other mounted troops would usually be formed outside this traditional structure. They would have their own commander answerable to the army commander, but would only rarely be actually with the army itself. More often the bulk of these men were off on detached duties of one kind or another, though rarely more than a day or two’s ride from the army.
It was traditional for the central battle to be the largest, perhaps as strong as the other two put together. Some commanders preferred to vary this arrangement. The most usual variation was to increase the strength of the advance battle to make it capable of independent action. Some army commanders even preferred to put themselves in charge of the advance battle, delegating the central battle to the third in command.
From "The Battle of Losecoat Field" by Rupert Matthews.
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