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

Monday, 1 September 2014

1809 Spaniards – Daft Project #215b

JM Bueno plate of the light horse grenadiers - an odd concept,
but an interesting potential addition to the light cavalry
It’s strange what one finds in the spares box – I guess it’s because there are not so many collectors of figures in the scales, periods, nations and makes that I am looking for, and – ultimately – it’s a small world.

I’ve recently taken delivery of the second of my Spanish line Cazadores a Caballo units for the 1809 army. The Spanish army only had two such units, the Cazadores de Olivencia (red facings) and the Voluntarios de España (sky blue facings), so there’s no scope for adding any more.

The troopers in the more recently-arrived of these units consist of a Hinton Hunt conversion which is obviously specially done for the purpose, and very distinctive – braided chasseur-type jacket, and shako with side plume. All very good, but you may imagine my astonishment when I checked in my spares box, and found that I have 7 unpainted examples of exactly this same converted figure. In some strange way, I have received examples of this unique figure – which is definitely a subject of very limited and specialised interest – from two completely independent sources. Even more strangely, it has taken me until now to realise this. Of course, I could now say, “Gosh, that’s a bit of a surprise!”, or – being me – I might think, “Hmmm – if I added 3 command figures to these 7 figures, I could produce a complete new light cavalry unit for my 1809 Spaniards”. I have a bunch of (I think) Alberken hussar-type horses which would fit them admirably, so I’m off to a flying start if I wish to go that way.

All I need, then, is a suitable historical unit to base them on, and I have found one. The Granaderos a Caballo de Fernando VII were – contrary to what you might expect – a unit of light horse, uniformed in the style of the line Cazadores. They were raised in 1809 by the Conde de Fernan-Nuñez, who became their colonel. In 1811 they were renamed the Husares de Fernando VII, pelisses were added, and a Bueno plate I have of them from that later date looks very attractive, and far smarter, I’m sure, than the reality must have been. It is their earlier form and garb which interests me, though.

I also found these self-same Granaderos a Caballo among the illustrations of the Histoire et Collections volume on the Battle of Ocaña – these are taken from plates by Peter Bunde. The uniform is pretty much the same as the chap in the picture at the top of this post, except that Bunde has the troopers with epaulettes, which I think is unlikely. My intention would be to have the troopers as the plate at the top, but wearing side-plumed, cazador-style shakos, with white cording, and have the officers in colpacks, with silver epaulettes. In fact, an alternative might be to have the officers in full hussar style, in recognition of the hussar-style pretensions of the regiment. Whatever, we are talking of further conversions here.

I approached Peter at BB Wargames, and he sees no problem – just send the figures along – so it seems this might well go ahead. The last thing I need is someone to encourage me, normally, but this is OK. You will hear more of this, I have no doubt.

To give a bit of historical background, here’s an extract from Col JJ Sañudos’ wonderful database of the Spanish army in the Guerra de la Independencia, giving some details of the service of the unit.

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