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

Thursday, 4 January 2018

1809 Spaniards - Light Cavalry Review

Good New Year to everyone - hope you are all happily back at work, after that seasonal interruption...

Martin was kind enough to email me a prod, to remind me that I said I would set up an updated group photo of my 1809 light cavalry, so I am pleased to present some suitable photos. The captions should explain what's what - strictly, Julian Sanchez' Lanceros de Castilla were slightly later - formed in 1810, but the remainder of the units here are all line regiments which were in existence in 1808, and the uniforms cover a slightly blurry amalgam of styles through 1808-10.

Brigade of cazadores a caballo (literally chasseurs à cheval) - from front to rear,
here are the
Voluntarios de España, Cazadores de Olivenza and Granaderos a Caballo
de Fernando VII (who, whatever else, were certainly not grenadiers by any
definition at all). [Apart from the brigadier, figures are all converted Hinton Hunts.]
Hussar brigade - the Husares de Maria Luisa lead the recently-replaced Husares Españoles. [Again, apart from the general, these are converted HH.]

The hussars from ground level - they look more arrogant from this angle, I think
Newly arrived Lanceros de Carmona (a volunteer unit from Sevilla, who fought at
Baylen). In the background are some gatecrashers - a unit of irregulars - mounted partidas
- not the thing for a proper parade at all. [Lancers are converted HHs, the
guerrilleros are converted Falcatas.]
Slight potential anachronism alert - Julian Sanchez' two units of Lanceros de
Castilla, who had an impressive war record from 1810 - these guys appeared at
Salamanca, though they did not get to do very much. [Lancers are Falcata figures,
and have been waiting patiently for a few years for some metal-foil red pennants
for their lances - they probably removed them for action, do you think?]
In true wedding-photo style, the photographer asked them all to bunch up a bit, to give
a decent helicopter view of the whole lot, coming...
...and going, which is not an unfamiliar view!
That's probably job finished for the light cavalry - there is one further unit of hussars which might get a repaint, but that is not going to happen very soon, so let's assume this is it for the lights. I still have 4 units of heavier cavalry - 1 of dragoons and 3 of line cavalry - in the painting queue - their uniform styles are for 1808, but I could get away with fielding them up to about 1810-11 at a pinch. I already have a regiment of Coraceros, but they only came into being in 1810.

Cavalry was always a problem for the Spanish army - they could never obtain enough decent-quality horses. Though there is an impressive list of official cavalry units in many OOBs from the Guerra de Independencia, many of these appeared at a strength of only a few dozen men, so the converged brigades which were formed from these fragments were neither as homogeneous nor as organised as my miniature contingent.

[Can I just remind my good friend Dr Raul that he has agreed not to borrow my blog posts without asking permission - not that I have any legal rights here, of course, but he might have had some further thoughts on the small matter of common courtesy.]


  1. A fine display of Spanish horseflesh, Tony! I know, associating "fine" to Spanish cavalry is an unusual pairing.

    As for Dr. Raul, I get "Tango01ed" on a regular basis. Since he does refer back to the original, I allow that to pass BUT he has an annoying habit of including EVERY photo on the blog post for display. At least seeking permission before doing so would seem a gentlemanly gesture but perhaps copyright laws work differently in Argentina?

    1. Thank you Jon. To borrow your phrasing, associating "gentlemanly gesture" with any aspect of my experience with the-US-based-Military-Miniatures-discussion-forum-whose-name-has-nothing-at-all-to-do-with-ladies'-hormonal-problems is also a bit unusual. Not really a problem, as you say - just faintly irritating, in an ignorant sort of way.

  2. A very fine looking mounted arm! Is it my imagination or have I had the honour of commanding some of these lads at Ucles?

    1. That's right - they were in your gang at Ucles (in truth, they speak of little else...).

      Good New Year to you and your family, Ian - and the dogs and the soldiers.

  3. Whatever they might have been like in real life (whatever that is), your cavalry look amazing! Enjoy playing with them. Happy New Year!

    Best Regards,


    1. Thank you Stokes - Good New Year to you. The Spanish army command (especially Godoy, and the people who set about replacing his dress regulations as quickly as possible after he was gone) may have been close in spirit to wargamers and collectors - they changed the organisation, the unit types (and classifications) and the official dress regs faster than they could issue the new kit, so that by Ocaña in 1809 there were units in uniforms complying with the last 3 sets of regulations - there were units of dragoons who used to be dragoons and then briefly were light cavalry and then became dragoons again, who were still uniformed in a mixture of all the above styles, there were infantry wearing the official uniforms of 1797, 1802 and 1805 (including two complete changes of coat colours and facings) - sometimes all in the one unit - and there were some units which had no uniforms at all, of course. But, man, they would turn up to get thumped by the hated French twice a week without becoming discouraged...

      Whatever else they were, they were visually interesting!

  4. An impressing sight. I thinks I have to start painting more Spaniards too. They are too colorful to let them lying around...

    1. Good man, Uwe - you know it makes sense!

  5. I don't understand why the effect of the basing is so attractive, compelling almost. I understand how it got to be what it is, just not my I now find the effect of one of these photo sessions so seductive!

    Thanks for the show!
    (I wonder if anyone ever did a toy soldier of a Mounted Grenadier throwing a lit grenade from horse back?)

    1. Thanks Ross - did mounted grenadiers have an appropriate function in the SYW? You could hang all the grenades round the horse's neck, and use his ears as a range-finder. It does seem a dodgy proposition - trying to light the fuse in the rain on a trotting horse would be a skilled task - I can see that.

    2. Mounted grenadiers?!?!? I haven't heard anything so daft since someone put a machinegun on an elephant. Seriously though, they'd be a form of mounted infantry surely (i.e. dismounting well before attempting to make any bangs) ... surely. A beautiful parade M. Foy, thank you for sharing.

  6. A fine display of units, each with very much their own individual character and all very colourful. That Spanish army has really come a long way Tony.

    1. Thanks Lee - with luck, they should be pretty much finished by the end of this year. I feel the stirrings of what might be Foy's Fourteenth Law, which is something along the lines of: "if you are going to set about a wargaming project that you don't need, make sure it is complicated, expensive, very large and totally pointless" - I jest, of course, but I suspect there is a little, gently masochistic martyrdom in with the artistic pleasures and the pride of ownership.

      Have a great year, young man.