Napoleonic, WSS & ECW wargaming, with a load of old Hooptedoodle on this & that

Thursday 24 April 2014

Spanish Drummers - some dubiety

As far as I can tell, the drummers didn't dress like this
The next unit of my 1809 Spanish army up for painting is the Regimiento de la Reina, whose uniform is well documented, but I have had a bit of a goose chase trying to identify what their drummers wore.

It seems likely that the Spanish line infantry would have worn a mix of uniforms by 1809, with some units still wearing the blue 1802 kit, most wearing the 1805 white coats, and a proportion of makeshift outfits using the ubiquitous local brown cloth, but I'm trying for something very close to the official appearance for Reina. Drummers? - don't ask. A lot of vagueness abounds - a couple of sources state that the drummers wore anything the colonel fancied, which may or may not be true, but doesn't help much. I've recently obtained a French book about the Battle of Ocana, which includes some very nice uniform plates by Peter Bunde, and I've also done some study of the Spanish items in Bunde's catalogue, and it seems that drummers had a standard uniform - dark blue with red facings - regardless of the unit's facing colour.

That's what I'm going for at the moment - artwork here is taken from the Ocana book, featuring Bunde's plates. Any inside info on Spanish drummers will be most welcome - most of the illustrations of painted models on the internet (including catalogue pics from figure manufacturers) show infantry drummers dressed the same as the rest of the regiment - maybe some of them did?


  1. Totally uninformed speculating. The ancien regime French drummers mostly wore Royal Livrery, blue faced red with white/red chain lacing, regardless of unit (except the exceptions) I wonder if this universal drummer uniform was the same sort of idea?

    1. Hi Ross - thanks for this. I was thinking along similar lines - the cut of the uniform, the shared Gribeauval artillery system, there's a lot of commonality of the two Bourbon nations' armies. The (regular) Spanish light infantry in 1805-09 were mostly dressed in blue with red facings, and their drummers seem to have had reversed colours - i.e. red, faced blue. Interesting that Napoleon tried to get back to this standardised approach with his Imperial green/yellow livery in 1812, though I read somewhere that this was to reduce visibility of the musicians, so that marksmen would have more trouble picking them off (dastardly behaviour).

      The drums look a bit French too - you don't suppose some mighty O&M department tried to unify the Bourbon military world in the late 18th Century?

  2. Many thanks to Old John, who sent me a link to the Suhr Collection of sketches of Romana's Divn and also to a thread on the Napoleon Series, in which Luis Sorando states the facts and some other guys claim that he is mistaken…

    Official situation seems to be that line regts which wore white coats had standard drummer uniform - as I deduced - blue with red facings for all units, including grenadiers, with white lace with red rhomboids. Regts which wore blue uniforms (guards, light infantry, also line cavalry) had musicians in "reversed" colours - red coats with blue facings. Foreign regts (Napoli and Irish) which wore sky blue also had reversed musicians' dress - yellow coats with sky blue facings. Haven't got as far as the Swiss yet, but I'm working on it.

    Thanks again, John. Undoubtedly there would be exceptions and oddball colonels, but it does look as though most of the painted units I've seen on the internet are probably incorrect. Oh dear, oh dear...

  3. If I had to choose I think I prefer the first uniform plate. No idea why...

  4. It was the damned uniform guide that attracted me to this one. How do they attack the French in those heels???

  5. Fantastic picture, I am genuinely surprised you have not had more comments! Now, what was that post about again, Portuguese buglers or something, wasn't it ??!