A discursive look at Napoleonic & ECW wargaming, plus a load of old Hooptedoodle on this & that

Sunday, 4 May 2014

The Spaniards of 1809

This is all a bit of an about-face, since I have previously decided – and justified – that I would use an unexpected supply of bicorned Spanish infantry to provide units of Urban Militia to supplement my post-1811 army, rather than starting to tinker with adding battalions of white-uniformed chaps from 1809, however attractive they might be.

The decision was fairly easy, since I couldn’t possibly expect to collect enough figures to make a decent 1809 army, and since the earlier and later versions of the Spanish army don’t really mix very comfortably. Well, not for me.

Since then I have very quickly obtained a pile of figures – remainder stocks of NapoleoN and Falcata still existed, if you ferreted about a bit, and someone unloaded a stack of unpainted figures on eBay. Suddenly – to my considerable surprise – a proper 1809 army is a real possibility. Amazing what you can achieve when (because?) you are not really trying. OK – let’s be honest – they may not be much of a prospect for winning battles, but they should be beautiful. The white uniform introduced in 1805 is a great favourite of mine.

At present I have enough figures for some 18 battalions of line infantry, 4 of light, 4 of grenadiers, plus an adequate supply of generals, command figures and some very natty sappers. Some of my existing (post 1811) army will slot right in – particularly the light cavalry and the voluntarios in round hats. I am negotiating (haltingly) with a supplier in Spain for some 1809 artillery and cavalry, and am looking very seriously at the Kennington Spaniards – these last are just a tad small compared with the NapoleoN and Falcata boys, but self-contained units from a single manufacturer will be fine; Kennington do very nice artillery crews and line infantry. All sorts of possibilities are shaping up.

Thus far I’ve sent two 2-battalion regiments of infantry to be painted (Africa and Reina), but it now behoves me to sit down with the order of battle for the real Army of the Centre from early 1809 (which I have managed to correct and re-engineer by painstaking comparison of various sources) and plan exactly which bits of it will make up my new army.

The idea – to start with – will be to have infantry divisions each containing (typically) 2 x 2 battalion regiments of line (or guard), 2 or 3 battalions of lights, 2 battalions  of provinciales (dressed in white like the line, but all with red facings), 1 combined battalion of grenadiers and a foot battery. How many such divisions is possible or even sensible I have yet to decide – 3 might be a decent effort – I’d like 4, but that’s not feasible at present, so I’ll maybe go for a Vanguard Divn, a Reserve (with the guards in) and a Line Divn.

Having made some token show of top-down planning, I can now get back to the fun business of drooling over which uniforms I fancy! My sketch OOB includes 2 battalions of the Guarda Real, 1 of the Walloon Guards and 1 of the Regimiento Irlanda, this last in their sky blue with yellow facings, so that should all be a good colourful addition. The grenadier battalions will mostly be converged from the relevant companies of all the regiments in a division, so mixed facings will be the order of the day. I am contemplating the painting of the ornately embroidered bags on the grenadiers’ bearskins with a little alarm…

There’s no rush – I’ll just work away at building the army, and when they reach some kind of critical mass they can start doing some fighting. Pictures will appear here from time to time as parts are completed.

Cavalry is interesting – I have 2 regiments of light cavalry from my existing Spanish army who will be perfectly fine in the earlier period, and two regiments of irregular lancers, just right for Baylen. My friend Goyo is working to get me some cavalry figures which will work well as Line Cavalry (in blue) or dragoons (in yellow – I always wanted some yellow dragoons!).

Just a labour of love, really.


  1. Waiting to see the final result!

    1. They'll come - don't hold your breath, though!

  2. Ooh shiny! Whenever I contemplated Spanish it was always 1809. I did paint 1 lovely 40mm figure (Irlanda) and 4 guerrillas but the French called off the invasion and everyone else went home.

    1. This project is a first for me since almost the main driver is the fact that I don't need to do it. There is also a colossal irony in that my proposed authentic 1809 Spaniards will be forced to fight against French troops, many of whom are distinctly Waterloo-ish. I don't think I'm likely to have a further initiative to have date-specific Frenchmen - that doesn't seem to bother me. Mind you, it took me 30-something years to add pre-1812 British dragoons to the Allied line-up, so i have a choice of dragoon styles available, but I had previously managed to replace my Waterloo-style light dragoons with proper Tarleton-helmeted boys, so that was more a question of getting my troops to suit the Peninsular War rather better.

      The only excuse really is that I fancy them. I've been party to a number of friendly debates in which people have said to me that my Spanish forces were very nice but - of course - the only REAL Spaniards for the Guerra de Independencia are the white-clad guys with the bicornes. Fair enough - I shall now have such an army AS WELL :0)) Any more criticisms, anyone…?

  3. I love the variety in uniforms that the Spanish had. OK a lot of the variety came from changing styles, but you can mix with a clear conscience - at least they are pretty forward-compatible.

    Are you planning any units in those top hat style, errr, hats?

    1. My 1812-style Spanish army contains a load of voluntario and militia-style units with round hats and all sorts which will be perfectly OK in 1809 as well, so yes, they already exist - the units may require new identities, but that's fine as well. Most of the figures for my voluntarios, plus oddball units like the kilted Valencian lights, are really intended for 1808-9, so I'm off to a flying start with them.

      I also have a contingent of guerrilleros who will be able to turn up to help out at any date of the war, as required.

      The main split will be the line infantry - white bicorn fellows as opposed to blue lads in British style shakos - and the cavalry - no coraceros in the earlier period, and the yellow dragoons don't really work in the later one. Oh - and some differences in the artillery crews - mostly the hats.

    2. Kilted Valencian lights?! It's even better than I thought!

      At the scale I use (6mm) and using grand tactical rules (Polemos) there's no real scope for Guerrillas but the Baccus guerrillas make nice militia-types. I like a real mixed bag in my units. For the later Spanish I have odd figures in bicornes and hats mixed in with mainly shako units.

      All this has got my juices going again and I need to get going on cavalry.

    3. Well, maybe they were Bermudas?