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"Review: Pacific War Uniforms (1879)" Topic

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summerfield18 Jan 2011 5:01 p.m. PST

Patricio Greve Moller and Claudio Fernandez Cerda (2010), Uniforms of the Pacific War 1879-1884 the Land Campaigns,
Partizan Press,

256 pages with 216 illustrations mostly in colour.

See review and some illustrations

Between 1879 and 1884, there were four campaigns between Chile, Peru and her ally Bolivia in some of the most challenging of terrains with such extremes in temperatures.

This is a translation of the large format Spanish Language version with the title of "Uniformes de la Guerra del Pacifico 1879-1884" that was also published by Partizan Press in 2008. The translation team of Anne Farnsworth, Ron Poulter, Doriam Montana and Henry Hyde should be congratulated in their efforts in their sympathetic rendition.

The layout has improved with the reduction in size in keeping with the growing range of book in the Partizan Prestige Format. The 80 computer generated colour plates depicting 197 different uniforms are among the best of this form of illustration that I have seen. [45 plates on the infantry and artillery: 15 plates on the cavalry: 11 on the flags, standards and standard bearers: 9 plates on musicians, ambulance, firemen, cantinera etc…] The information on the uniforms and the regiment is succinctly explained on the opposite page. The uniforms have been influenced especially the French of Napoleon III and the later republic up to the eve of the First World War. Others could have come out of the American Civil War or the Mexican Wars.

These are supported by 74 period photos of which 14 were hand coloured at the time and 6 contemporary engravings / watercolours. The 54 photos of equipment, uniform details (buttons, cuffs, hats etc…) and weapons are useful to contrast with the colour illustrations.

This ground breaking volume is highly recommended to anybody interested in the history of South America or the colonial / American Civil War / Mexican War or Franco-Prussian wargamer who is looking for a different challenge. There is currently only about half a dozen books in English covering these wars. The Spanish edition was heavily referenced and as stated on page 256, there was a conscious decision to omit the original reference list as it was not felt to be helpful to the English reader.

I certainly enjoyed the pictures and may be inspired me to paint up those ACW figures as something different.


Grand Duke Natokina Inactive Member18 Jan 2011 6:07 p.m. PST

I remember reading about this war in my last history class in grad school. Chile kicked Peruvian butt to include stabling their horses in the cathedral in Lima. Bolivia lost its littoral, much of which was the Atacama Desert. The kids always wondered why countries would fight over desert. I tell them it was rich in guano--bird Bleeped texts. They would ask what good are they. I would say they were rich in nitrogen, good for making fertilizer and explosives.
The Chileans were trained by the Germans who were the Power of the day since they had beten France in 1870-71. Everybody copied them, even the Americans adopted spiked parade helmets for the Army.

Personal logo vtsaogames Supporting Member of TMP18 Jan 2011 6:44 p.m. PST

I don't think the Germans had too much to do with the Chilean army. Both sides seemed to create their own doctrines as they went.

My wife got me this book for Christmas. Excellent wife, excellent book.

Cloudy18 Jan 2011 10:27 p.m. PST

I have the Spanish edition which I feel is pretty good but could have been better. The thing that annoyed me the most was the way that they displayed the standards carried by the troops. They were usually draped in such a fashion that you could see most – BUT NOT ALL of the flag detail! Irksome. The choice of color shading also made it a bit difficult to make out exactly what color a uniform was supposed to be at times but other than that, a good volume. Has anything been improved in the English edition other than reducing it in size and deleting the references?

summerfield19 Jan 2011 1:34 a.m. PST

Dear Cloudy
The illustrations are much the same. I agree a more conventional depiction of the flags may well have been better.


Editor my Arse Inactive Member19 Jan 2011 3:52 a.m. PST

Wasn't this the war to decide who invented the Pisco Sour? About the only notable item of a potable or gustatorial nature in either country, so I can understand the passions it incites regarding ownership.

A peruano recently told me that Chile still wanted to takeover Peru. Given the relative states of their respective ecomomies, I replied that he could only dream that this was true. ;-)

The Spanish version of this occasionally pops up on Mercado libre but it's not that cheap.

For some free on-line uniform plates for the conflict try:


Lilian19 Jan 2011 4:25 p.m. PST

"trained by the germans" ?
The Chilean Army wasn't trained by the German before 1886, so after the war, like others latinoamerican armies it was heavily influenced by the French Army, and not all these countries copied the German even after 1871

Editor my Arse Inactive Member19 Jan 2011 11:42 p.m. PST

Quite true. Brazil never adopted the Prussian model.

summerfield20 Jan 2011 2:30 a.m. PST

Looking at the book there is almost no German influence on the uniforms. Most could be French or French Foreign Legion with a little Spanish influence. Nearly all are wearing Kepis.


basileus6620 Jan 2011 5:03 a.m. PST

"Most could be French or French Foreign Legion "

By the way, some codes of the new Pacific War range from Pendraken can be used for the Republican armies of the FPW.

Leon Pendraken Sponsoring Member of TMP20 Jan 2011 9:47 p.m. PST

We picked up the Spanish version of this when we were doing our Pacific War range, and it's an excellent book. Got to agree about the flags though, we were going to use it draw up some flagsheets as well, but they don't quite show enough to work from!

Cloudy20 Jan 2011 10:51 p.m. PST

They'll probably appear in a moneymaking follow up volume entitled something like: "Banderas del Guerra del Pacifico 1879" which may follow "Zapatos del Guerra del Pacifico 1879" or "Chones del Guerra del Pacifico 1879" :-))) No, wait – Osprey will probably do those!

grenadier76 Inactive Member01 Mar 2012 9:18 a.m. PST

Are the miniatures in 28mm available to wargame this era?

Shipka06 Mar 2012 11:14 p.m. PST

Not at the moment but I am thinking about commissioning a few

Chouan Inactive Member08 Mar 2012 7:43 a.m. PST

I would suggest that these links would suggest that there is a clear German influence in Chile's armed forces……
YouTube link
YouTube link
YouTube link
YouTube link
YouTube link

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