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"Spanish infantry organization" Topic

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Major Bloodnok02 Apr 2014 3:44 p.m. PST

I have seen a plethora of organizations of Spanish Infantry, and i'm trying to sort out what was in use in 1808 and what was in use in 1812.

1802: 3 bns. per reg't. 1st bn. has two Gren. coys., and two Musketeer coys. 2nd & 3rd bns. had 4 Musketeer coys. each. Company strength 87 rank & file.

1803: 2 bns. per reg't, each with one Gren. coy., and four Musketeer coys. Musketeer coys had 206 rank & file, Grenadiers had 112 rank & file.

1810: 3 bns. French 6 coy. bn.organization. The Fusilier coys. had 164-165 Rank & file. Grenadiers had 115-120 rank & file. The Lights had 106-120 rank & file.

1812: Regt's. reduced to one bn. Possibly 95 Privates per coy. or the above strengths.

Post 1812: Eight Coys per bn., another source says four.

Any ideas as to what orgs. were implemented and which never made it past the filing cabinet?

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP02 Apr 2014 4:09 p.m. PST

I have seen a plethora of organizations of Spanish Infantry, and i'm trying to sort out what was in use in 1808 and what was in use in 1812.

Not surprising considering the pounding the Spanish army took, the change and confusion in government, plus the fact that each "army" in Spain basically ran independently in many respects, so how officers were found and promoted, organization and such could be chaotic at times, all in transition.

Both the 1808 and 1812 regulations mandated six company battalions, much like the French. I have not seen eight company battalions after 1812. When and where these regulations were implemented, changing from the flurry of regulations in 1802-1806 depended on a huge number of factors.

During the same time, the armies were changing from 'brigades' to 'sectiones'. There was quite a debate about the changes in the Cortes in 1811. The change was basically from an ad hoc brigade with a colonel assigned to it at the commander-in-chief's discretion, much like the Allied column organization before 1810. The sectiones were brigades, but with a permanent officer, OOB and staff, which all meant more costs, so the government wasn't sure they wanted to go that direction. They did finally.

plutarch 6402 Apr 2014 7:08 p.m. PST

I have used mainly Nafziger and Chartrand as my sources when attempting to unravel the mysteries of the Spanish.

Chartrand seems to broadly agree with the Nafziger organisation you have quoted above, although he states that the 1802 composition persisted until 1808.

Then, in his second volume, he re-states that in 1808 the regimental organisation was three battalions with the first maintaining two companies of grenadiers and two of fusiliers, and the second and third four companies each of fusiliers, changing to the six company organisation in 1810.

It is strange therefore that there is no mention of Nafziger's 1803 organisation having been adopted.

When you look at certain OOBs, such as Talavera, there are a number of third battalions floating around (Seville and Africa in the case of Talavera) which would seem to back up Chartrand's implication that the 1802 regulations persisted through until at least 1809.

Munster03 Apr 2014 12:58 a.m. PST

Visit the Napoleon at War forum and ask the guys there. After all they're Spanish and have just drafted their Spanish list for trial, so they should be able to help

sidley18 Apr 2014 1:14 a.m. PST

Following on from this. I'm just started on a epbm Peninsula campaign and I got lucky and have the Army of Gallicia. I have been allocated units but have been asked to organise them into brigades and Divisions.

I'm probably going with 1st and 4th Gallician Divisions.

But here is the question. In 1808 how was the Spanish army organised into Brigades and Divisions and can anyone point me to the ORBAT for that period, particularly for the Battle of Medina de Rioseco. Any help would be appreciated.

Major Bloodnok18 Apr 2014 1:34 a.m. PST

Spanish Army of Galicia, June, 1808

PDF link

sidley18 Apr 2014 5:52 a.m. PST

Thanks,that's very useful. Did the Spanish break down their divisions in a formal manner like everyone else and if so how many battalions or regiments on average per brigade.

Major Bloodnok18 Apr 2014 9:33 a.m. PST

In mid-1812 a division was limited to 8 reg'ts (1 bn. each) to provide commands for commandless genral officers. I have seen divisions in late 1812, and 1813 that exceeded 8 reg'ts.

I believe a pre 1808 brigade was two, three bn reg'ts., six bns. in total. In the brigade the 1st bn. would be the converged grenadier coys. from the 1st bns. of each reg't. The 2nd bn. would be the converged muskeeters left over from the 1st bns. of each reg't. That leaves the 2nd & 3rd musketeer bns. of each reg't.

Littlearmies19 Apr 2014 8:06 a.m. PST

Funnily enough, I've just posted something about the make-up of two Spanish divisions at Ocana in November 1809 on my blog: link

This was part of the largest army fielded by the Spanish during the war – 53,000 men launched against Madrid in an attack catching the French by surprise.

I've also been thinking about some AB figures for use as British equipped Spanish infantry – if anyone would like to comment on their suitability I'd be grateful. I'm also wondering whether the intended officer figures should be the ones I use – or whether to use the Spanish officer in bicorne.

Major Bloodnok20 Apr 2014 1:53 a.m. PST

They look OK for the 1812-1814 "English" uniform, though the base of the shako will need to be filed smooth. Any Brit light infantry figure, or Hanoverian Landwehr in shako, Dutch/Belgian militia will work. An officer in bicorn is fine, and it is possible he could be wearing a coat of Spanish cut or a modified English coat.

huevans01115 Jan 2018 3:01 p.m. PST

Use the Prussian reservist AB's in "English uniform". The same uniform was supplied to both the Prussians and the Spanish.

Teodoro de Reding Inactive Member22 Jan 2018 4:01 p.m. PST

On the thread topic: In 1808, very few regts went to the front with 3 batts. The 2nd batts were the depot batts – many fielded 2 batts, 1st & 3rd. Some 2nd batts (which would have been just cadres, the whole army being woefully under strength), some of these were used to form entirely new regiment. For example the 2nd Majorca, at Talavera, was not the 2nd batt of the Majorca(regular) regiment, it was the 2nd Regt of Majorca – as opposed to the 1st (regular) one – and had 2 batts itself. Normally, however, such new regts had another name.
Arteche's appendixes often show the total number of companies present with a regt in 1808. There are 3 batt regiments with 10 companies (ie grenadier companies were hived off) 8 compagny regts (i.e. 2 batts), 6 coy regts (again grenadier companies hived off). The battalion was in any case an administrative unit. For example, at Albuhera, Irlanda (2 batts) is shown on Spanish maps as one unit (c600 strong) – whereas the 2nd & 4th Spanish Guards (each batt 600ish) operated as separate units. Even new formations like the Asturian division at Espinosa had their 2 batt regts acting as one unit (because they too had shrunk).
(Nafzinger's 6 company organisation doesn't appear in any Spanish sources I've seen.)
Finally, just to confuse further, SOME Spanish regiments had light companies (possibly for the regiment, not battalion). These were formed on the colonels' iniitatve after training at the camps for instructing regts in the new "French" tactics and trying to standardise musket movements (loading and firing) – 1806ish, can't remember – kind of Spanish Shorncliffe (??) – but with units roated through it. I am almost certain that José Zayas was the trainer. The Army of Galicia has a battalion of combined light companies in it's vanguard Division in autumn 1808 (Oman apps). Crazy: form light companies to gt over the problem of LI being separate regts for the 'little war, like hussars (18th centruy style) – and then the CinC pinches them for his vanguard. Liiight coys don't appear in Orbats fr the Army of Andalucia though.
Maybe that is because Blake (Galicia) preserved the regular regts as regular – few raw recruits, and so could maybe afford to delegate good men to a light comany. Castanos (Andalucia) took the opposiite approach and filled up the old regts with recruits, usually doubling their size.

huevans01122 Jan 2018 6:02 p.m. PST

Wow!! What a lot of new information.

Would Zayas be a better than average commander then? Sort of a Spanish John Moore?

The Wargaming Company22 Jan 2018 6:12 p.m. PST

We can echo what others have said. In 1808 there were a lot of single battalions sent forward but also some two battalion regiments, few, if any three battalion regiments.

In our first Peninsular War Campaign Guide: To Assure My Dynasty, 1808 in Iberia, we offer orders of battle, maps, and scenarios for eight battles in 1808 and one in 1809 (Coruña). The Spanish organization in those battles is nothing even similar to uniform or consistent.


Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP22 Jan 2018 9:32 p.m. PST

By 1811, the Spanish Army was still in the midst of reform including moving from the 1808 regulations to the 1810 six company battalions, which means that SOME regiments had light companies and some didn't. Zaya's did train the Guards in the new organization and referenced tactics at Cadiz before Albuera, but he was only one of several efforts at the time.

One way to determine which brigades had been trained and organized in the new regulations is to see which groups of regiments are still referred to as 'brigades' and which are referred to as 'sections.' You can see the middle-reform difference in most OOBs for Albuera, for instance. Zaya's division is organized in 'sections' and other divisions have brigades.

The difference is that brigades were formed within a division when needed like other European armies formed columns. The division general had a group of regimental colonels and staff which would then be assigned by the divisional or corps general.

One of the major issues in switching to sections is that the 'new brigades' and divisions were now permanent organizations with assigned commanders and staff. The Cortes had a long argument about this in 1810 into 1811 because the change required promoting and PAYING a lot more officers. Money was one of the issues that slowed reform.

Before 1809, each Spanish Army was an entity unto itself. The commander-in-chief had the ability to organize, recruit and train his troops in his districts in anyway he wanted. More over, he could commission and promote whomever he wanted. That was one of the problems during the early war… a great roadblock to coordination.

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