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"Black Soldiers in Spanish "Africa" Regiment" Topic

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©1994-2018 Bill Armintrout
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1ngram31 Dec 2016 8:57 a.m. PST

The book El Ejercito de Fernando VI is excerpted on the Net in ten parts, Part two has info on infantry units: link

Thye ten parts contain contemporary watercolours of many (most?) Spanish foot and cavalry regiments as well as info on Artillery and Militia units. All bar one ov the illustrations show European figures in Spanish, Walloon, Irish and Italian regiments but the illustration for the infantry regiment Africa clearly shows a soldier and standard bearer of African origin – maybe even black origin.(page 75 has the illustration – its in part 3 of the above excerpts)

Both battalions of the regiment are known to have taken part in the Italian campaigns of the War of Austrian Succession. Does anyone have any further information on what would appear to be a black (or moorish) regiment in the Spanish Army of the 18th Century?

basileus66 Inactive Member31 Dec 2016 10:28 a.m. PST

I think it is a problem of the illustration. Africa Regiment, despite its name, was recruited, mostly, in Spain, with the odd spatter of foreigners that was common in military units in that period.

Lilian31 Dec 2016 12:33 p.m. PST

there is also the Figo de Oran Regiment, doesn't mean it was recruited from algerians too

the only really Spanish Army's «African» (excluding black militias of America of course) or moorish unit of XVIIIth century I know was the muslims auxiliaries of the mogataces cavalry company from Oran since 1732 still active during the Napoleonic in Ceuta after the loss of the algerian place in 1792

Mogataces company 1805


1ngram31 Dec 2016 12:36 p.m. PST

Not sure you are right Basil. Its the ONLY illustration of a regiment depicting non-european colouring from what I take to be single long sheet showing a number of such regiments. Both the figures for that regiment show the same racial colouring.

There is also an illo for the Fijo de Oran Regiment in the book showing two European figures.

basileus66 Inactive Member31 Dec 2016 1:29 p.m. PST

Actually, I think it is a problem of the illustrator himself. I have seen the recruiting reports of Spanish regiments in the 1760s, the Africa between them, and I can't remember any African recruited in . Maybe, and I am cautious here, the author of the illustration decided to give them an "African" look to commemorate or make more evident the participation of the regiment in the defense of Oran in 1735 (the illustration dates from 1737, only two years after the defense of Oran) in which the regiment was commendated by its valour in combat. However, most recruits, if not all, at least according the recruiting lists, came from the peninsula.

basileus66 Inactive Member01 Jan 2017 9:17 a.m. PST

On further thinking, it is plausible that as the album was created in 1737 and Africa regiment had been involved in heavy fighting in Oran in 1735, its ranks could have been filled with local recruits and that is what the painter did try to convey in his illustration. After all, the returns I've seen are from 25 years later. It is not unconceivable that for the period 1736-1740 Africa regiment would have included a significative number of North African recruits, probably from Oran or its hinterland. We would need to find other sources that could reinforce or refute that hypothesis, though. Anyway, it is a good observation 1ngram.

1ngram01 Jan 2017 12:12 p.m. PST

I just wish I could lay my hands on a copy of the book itself but I've been unable to locate any for sale. Same goes for any of the early Ejercito de los Borbones volumes. As it is I've printed out and bound as much of it as is excerpted on the website noted above – even if there are various pages – even chunks of the book – missing. Even the more recent book "Las campañas de Italia durante los años 1743-1748" seems to be unobtainable from any bookshop I can find.

Also interesting is the range of ways equipment is carried in the various infantry regiments. Belts inside or outside the coat, belly cartridge boxes and thin shoulder straps for the powder flask, side cartridge box with thick over-the-shoulder strap – even one regimnent with both belly and side cartridge boxes. No uniformity at all! I'm having 28mm belly boxes sculpted for me just now to have cast to add to Crusader and other makes of suitable figures for the Spanish army of the WAS.

seneffe05 Jan 2017 3:10 p.m. PST

This thread is an excellent illustration of the quality of the best material on TMP. It is hard to conceive of a better sourced and more insightful discussion.

1ngram23 Mar 2017 9:15 a.m. PST

On my return from six weeks in Malaga enjoying the sunshine and escaping the arthritis I see that the same website has now begun printing the next book in the series "El Ejercito de Carlos III". So far there have been 7/8 postings commencing in January 2017. It starts here: link

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