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

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Spanish Grenadiers - Who's for the Chop?

This is a plea for suggestions.

Not granaderos like this...

...but like this
I've been putting this off for a while. My boxes of 1809 Spaniards contain plentiful figures for 4 battalions of grenadiers - mostly nice Falcata chaps. I'm nervous about the painting of all the embroidered bags on the hats, but they should be spectacular when done, since your typical battalion would be the converged grenadiers of the regiments in a brigade, so mixed facings and even assorted uniforms are the order of the day. Splendid.

Fly in the ointment is that two of these planned grenadier battalions are actually to be grenadiers not of the Line but of Provinciales, and - as I now know - they wore a rather simpler form of headgear - smaller and without the fancy flamme. As far as I know, there is no suitable figure on the market. Hmmm.

Conversion time. The command figures aren't a problem - officers can wear bicorns or even the full grenadier busby (for flash), drummers similarly. For the actual granaderos I think that fitting the ubiquitous NapoleoN Miniatures Spanish line fusiliers with new heads should be a straightforward job - my immediate challenge is, which heads to use?

You ever see a hat like the one in the lower picture?

All suggestions for a suitable donor - any period, any nation - will be most welcome. I can, of course get busy grinding down all sorts of things, but the less grinding the better (to quote Descartes), and the more easily it can be repeated (as he may also have said). I've looked at various possibilities, including British Crimean guardsmen - I'd greatly prefer a metal head, and I'd prefer a full head rather than a hat graft.

Oh yes - the figures are 20mm (or 1/72). Any ideas?


  1. 20mm's not really my thing but you could possibly get away with using these Newline Frenchies?? http://newlinedesigns.co.uk/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=410_415_420&products_id=5660
    or I found this pic online of a Zvesda figure

    The busby is so thin? I'm not sure you'll find anything like it, that could possibly do?

    1. Thanks Ray - interesting and much appreciated.

  2. Well you have certainly disrupted a snoozy Sunday evening.

    Why do you think they have no flamme? Sorry, didn't mean that to sound quite so much like an accusation. Its just that I have two regts of the little s*ds and I have never seen in any source Spanish or English that they were different. Indeed I have (somewhere) a picture of a flamme attributed to the militia.

    You may well be right, its just a bit of a shock.

    1. Hi John - sorry to disrupt the snooze!

      Have a look at plate 59 on p77 of JM Bueno's "El Ejercito y la Armada de 1808", or the Peter Bunde plate on p21 of the Histoire & Collections title on Ocaña. In fact the second is almost certainly based on the first, so there is a little incest here.

      There's also a contemporary illustration of a grenadier of Provinciales on


      if you hunt about a bit.

      Also p127 of Vol.2 of Quatuor "Uniformes des Guerres..."

      Truth of the matter appears to be that there is a contemporary plate in the Ordovas collection, and this has been reproduced by Bueno, and then subsequently copied by Bunde, Quatuor, Xuncla and all the rest. On the other hand, all late 18th Century uniform plates (Clonard etc) show Militia grenadiers in small busbies.

      Hey, if you can show me a plate of Granaderos Provinciales wearing big hats with flammes, it will save me a lot of filing and gluing - I'm all for it. I might even buy you beer.

      Cheers - Tony

    2. In passing, the illustration in Quatuor (copied from Bueno, which was copied from Ordovas...) suggests that if I could get hold of a decent head for a French Chasseur of the Old Guard I could simplify the cording a bit and that might do it. I'll hold off doing anything while you dig out the evidence for GranProvs with big hats.

    3. I sold a good bit of my Spanish reference stuff a few years back. Typical ! I have got some plates and references in files I shall try and dig out tomorrow. Most of what I have to hand is specific to the Spanish colonial units in the Americas.

      But just to sow a seed of doubt (and persuade you I am not simply a lunatic).

      Chartrand in Osprey vol 1.p35 provincial militia 'fusileers had hats and grenadiers bearskin hats as in the line infantry'. (OK its an Osprey but it is Rene Chartrand)

      and a contemporary illustration of the Grenadier Coy of the silversmiths militia Mexico City has bearskin with blue bag. 1770.

    4. here is a modern illustration from the famous and enormous Catalan blog.


      2nd plate from the top. If your Spanish is a lot better than mine you might find the accompanying article of some use.

    5. John - thanks for this - I would be more than happy to have my GranProv painted like this. It would be snivelling to find fault with the plates - I am a little nervous that the "Dragones de la Reina" in the same plate seem to be the Cazadores de Olivenza, but 1802 is a bit early for my sources. The Grenadier looks splendid, though I don't care for his epaulettes, and his white uniform looks like the M1805 regulations, so he's a bit ahead of his time in 1802 - in 1802 he would have been in blue (or probably brown) - the earlier white uniform (1797) doesn't look like this - older style and cut.

      That was probably snivelling. Apologies. The first plate also shows a Prussian style mitre which I believe was never issued, apart from the plates of Clonard.

      It's all jolly interesting - I would be delighted to have the provincial grenadiers looking like the line ones, so I'm still collecting evidence. I do realise that there are a lot of errors in Bueno as well - not that I can claim to be any kind of expert.

      I'd be very grateful for more sources of this type - thanks very much for your hard work and lack of snooze.

    6. What an impressive interchange!
      Wouldn't a French chasseurs a cheval busby be too wide for the illustration?

    7. I think we are just groping in the dark! - Spanish stuff was, primarily, and most importantly, a long time ago, and has been incorrectly described for so many years that the inaccurate uniform plates themselves have better provenance than the regs or the surviving examples!

      I meant Chasseurs à Pied, but you're still correct - too wide - a lot of grinding.

      I got an email suggestion that the Strelets Crimean Scots Greys have the right sort of hat. Interesting - I'm waiting for John to convince me to drop this whole idea!

      Cheers - Tony

  3. Tony,

    Well, I have had a look around and the only conclusive thing I have learnt is that it is a good idea to properly label pictures when you file them away.
    The book we probably want seems to be this:


    but I shan't be dropping £20+ to find out just yet.

    Failing that I have found nothing one way or the other on provincial grenadiers in Spain.

    However I have an illustration (modern) of a grenadier of provincial militia in Uruguay with bearskin and bag 1807 Blue uniform. Also a photograph of a surviving embroidered bag post 1797 Provincial Infantry regt Tres Villa. (Mexico?)

    I think you have summed up the situation re inaccurate uniform plates perfectly. All I would say with confidence is that the surviving bag proves that the embroidered bag was not limited purely to regular regts.

    I agree that the plate I have found does not inspire confidence, a few less errors would be nice. Also I think on your original article the author is saying that its a shame one cannot see the back of the bearskin, which one can only agree with.

    As far as opinion goes, and mine is not worth very much, I would say:

    Illustrations of the shape of the bearskin are valueless, we can say it was a cone shape and that's all. Drawings are so varied its impossible to ascribe a certain shape to a period just from illustrations.

    The 'militia version' is not impossible but it is unusual, I have only seen the cord on pioneers hat never grenadiers. Red plume, yes, occasionally but not common.

    Overall I think all I have done is raise doubt. For me that is enough to stick with my 70 odd Front Rank Grenadiers without worry. So far.

    I await your decision with interest.

    best of luck

  4. Your line Grenadiers were formed by the two companies from the usual paired regiments of each brigade. If you dont fancy doing that much work you can model the Provincial Grenadiers who all had the same uniform of the Provincial Militia and were no worse than the regulars as they had been mustered since 1804 and never stood down.

    1. Thanks Drew - I'm working from an approximation to a historical OOB, so 2 battalions of regular grenadiers and 2 of provinciales is what I'm aiming at. The amount of work isn't really an issue. A few of the brigades in my OOB are anything but "usual paired regiments", which makes it sort of interesting.

  5. One final point the Grenadier hats were not bearskin but were sealskins

    1. Erm - I'm sure you're right. The regs describe "el alto gorro de piel de oso con una larga manga bordada caida a la espalda", but I guess the term "bearskin" might just be a generalisation.