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"Spanish Brigades in Divisions?" Topic

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Comments or corrections?

de Ligne Sponsoring Member of TMP14 Mar 2018 4:04 a.m. PST

I have seen OOBs with Divisional generals named but never seen the breakdown within a division into brigades. Does that mean that brigades did not exists or that the names of brigadiers or Major-Generals (or equivalent) were just not recorded?

GarryWills14 Mar 2018 4:21 a.m. PST

Yes they had brigades, which were renamed Sections in 1812. Hence Linan's Brigade/Section fought with the British 5th Division at Villamuriel in October 1812.

Personal logo Whirlwind Supporting Member of TMP14 Mar 2018 7:56 a.m. PST

Does that mean that brigades did not exists or that the names of brigadiers or Major-Generals (or equivalent) were just not recorded?

The latter, in whatever the original source was.

Guthroth14 Mar 2018 11:55 a.m. PST

I was under the impression that within the Spanish army the brigade was an ad hoc grouping.

Mick the Metalsmith14 Mar 2018 12:53 p.m. PST

In most armies it was an ad hoc grouping, iirc. Daily musters were the purpose of making sure brigades were fairly uniform in size. Exceptions did occur.

Teodoro de Reding14 Mar 2018 1:21 p.m. PST

The Spanish, like the Austrians and others certainly did not have a brigade structure at the start of the conflict (1808) and divisions themselves were not permanent structures, they were groupings of battalions. If you compare 1808 army structures (wth regts listed in divisions) to the line up in actual battles (based mainly on Arteche and his maps) there are often discrepancies. It is one of the things that makes establishing an accurate ORBAT for the Spanish for any battle particularly difficult.
Brigade structure was introduced with the Secciones – later. At the beginning a Divisional general had one of two assts (often one it seems to me) whom he gave an ad hoc brigade to.

Prince of Essling Supporting Member of TMP14 Mar 2018 1:33 p.m. PST

Glancing at "Estados de la organización y fuerza de los ejércitos españoles beligerantes en la península, durante la guerra de España contra Bonaparte" it certainly lists the Divisions and composition of Infantry brigades (without commanders names) for the 3rd Army on 1 June 1813; 1st Division of the 4th army on 21 June 1813; 4th Army at san Marcial on 31 August 1813; 4th Army again on 7 October 1813; Army of Reserve (Andalusia) 7/8 & 13 October 1813; 4th Army 10 November 1813 etc etc. From my quick scan there doesn't appear to be earlier breakdowns – but I may of course have missed.

The only mention in the book of Seccion I can see is to do with the troops from Mallorca.

Also glancing at "Guerra de la Independencia – Historia Militar de Espana" by Don Jose Gomez de Arteche y Moro, some of the very early OoBs included do show a named Brigadier under a Division, though not a breakdown of the Division into the constituent Brigades! Much of the OoB info appears to be a repeat of the first named book

de Ligne Sponsoring Member of TMP15 Mar 2018 1:09 a.m. PST

Thanks for your comments.

I am primarily interested in the period 1808-10. Given comments above I plan to allocate two colonels to the Divisional general and then, at the point of battle, that general can form one or two brigades. Given that Divisions were often around 8-10 battalions in size, that could be two brigades of 4-5 battalions each.

Teodoro de Reding15 Mar 2018 9:54 a.m. PST

Another twist to this is that, since at the beginning of the war the division was the principal command formation, the official doctrine, I read somewhere, was that square was formed by division – though Guards battalions were certainly trained to form on their own.This is a bit like there being no offical light companies (yet the ORBAT of the Army of Galicia in July and November 1808 has a battalion of united light companies in the Vanguard division!!). Official regulations did not always reflect practice in any army at the time. (And the Voluntarios de Navarra formed battalion square and covered the retreat at Medina del Ro Seco, for example).

However, it does suggest that the division was, as offical doctrine, the primary unit. A division would not normally form in two lines of battalions (i.e. one 'brigade' in front of the other; never seen that on a map). A 'brigade' was, I think, simply a detached force, a force with a specific mission.

GarryWills15 Mar 2018 10:36 a.m. PST

The 1808 Estado has plenty of Brigadiers that you could choose from; pages 15 to 19 in this link; link

GarryWills15 Mar 2018 10:46 a.m. PST


That's interesting – in my work on Villamuriel I was misled by General Barcena's report to Giron in which he describes Brigadier Linan as leading the 1st Section of his division, which sounded more permanent that you have said. Thanks



Teodoro de Reding15 Mar 2018 11:55 a.m. PST

Dear Garry,
Not misled, I think. I was talking about 1808-9. Villamuriel is 1812 isn't it? I‘m almost certain secciones were standard by the 1811 campaign – Blake's Cadiz expeditionary force (Albuera, Barrosa, Sagunto had secciones. At the beginning of the war in 1808, the Spanish, like most of the rest of Europe, were, after the whirlwind of Napoleon's 1805-6 campaign, trying to turn their pre-napoleonic army into a Napoleonic one. They didn't have proper brigades in 1808; – the British didn't have divisions till Wellesley introduced them in 1808. All this was not unusual – the French command system, with permanent brigades, divisions, corps, was nothing short of revolutionary. After 1805-6, everybody else struggled to adopt something similar. I don't think the Spanish were particularly slow in doing so – at least they had divisions. In 1812, after the fall of Valencia in January (tag end of 1811), there wasn't much of a Spanish army left anyway. It was rebuilt for 1813 – with a proper structure.

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