Friday, 24 February 2012
Accuracy Drift - The Spanish Army
Since I am now closing down the Peninsular War Unlimited Expansion Project, I am trying to get things finished off fairly quickly, thus the flow of figures to and from the painter is faster than ever, which seems a bit strange, but no matter. Next batches will be 60 Falcata guerrilleros, which I hope to clean up and send off by Tuesday if possible, and 6 battalions of Spanish line infantry, for which I'll need to do some conversions for command figures, so they'll be a few weeks in preparation. [One of the line infantry units is to replace a Warrior battalion that I've always been uncomfortable about. I think Warrior are fine if your whole army is Warrior, but I find they don't fit in well with my armies, either for size or animation. A pity, really, because they are absolutely lovely people to deal with - and they are in Glasgow, of course, so they deserve all the support they can get.]
And in odd moments I'm picking away at limbers, carts, generals and similar - I still enjoy painting single items or very small groups, but nowadays I can't be bothered with a row of 24 identical infantrymen - my eyesight isn't terrible, but it isn't as good as it was. A daylight hobby lamp and a jeweller's optical loop have been a big help (the jeweller was furious, of course), but I have to make sure I only take on painting that I want to do.
The extra Spanish line units are planned to become Morillo's Division from Pedro Agostin Giron's "4th Army" around 1812-13 - the only detailed OOB I know of is in Nafziger's treasured collection and - as usual for Spanish records - it is full of typos and misunderstandings. Part of this is because there is always a little loss of accuracy in translation, but it's also because his sources were slightly careless army archives compiled from handwritten returns 200 years ago, and some of these returns must be a record of what somebody thought somebody else said. The scary bit is that, since information is scarce, this stuff gets recycled and requoted, and fresh typos get inserted as time goes on, and we get Accuracy Drift. I've spent a fascinating couple of days cross-checking lists in Nafziger, JM Bueno, Oman, Esdaile's book on the Spanish army, the Spanish notes in Mike Oliver's Napoleonic Army Handbook and some typed stuff I got from a friend in Madrid some years ago. This is not straightforward, since many of these sources quote each other, but I think I have now pretty much identified all the infantry units in the 4th Army. I haven't started on the cavalry yet, but the infantry is pretty tight, and I even have a good idea of the uniforms. I am so enraptured with my own cleverness that I shall have to go and lie down for a while.
I fear I may have passed the limit of your interest in this subject some lines ago, but it is easy to see why duff info gets passed on and why so many wargames armies are a bit unhistorical (is there such a word?). The said Morillo's Divn, for example, contains the line regiments of Leon, La Union (Morillo's own regt) and Bailen - that's all easy, and Nafziger gets that spot on. The roughnesses sneak in for some of the less regular, newer units. Nafziger's "Regimiento de Legion" turns out to be a light unit called the Legion Extremena, which was formed in 1811 - I know who was the colonel and have a good idea of their uniform - and his "Regimiento de Vitoria" (i.e. regiment from the city of Vitoria) turns out to be the Voluntarios de la Victoria (Volunteers of Victory), another light unit raised in Galicia in 1809. And so on.
If I get a suitable burst of enthusiasm, maybe I should stick my updated OOB in a future post. If, like me, there is anyone reading this who gets a bit frustrated by the lack of quality information about the Spanish army in the Guerra de Independencia, please make yourself known!