Published : 06/28/2015 16:25:26
Categories : Articles
After completing the first six volumes of Oman's very readable Peninsular history, the efforts of the various Spanish armies over the period 1808-11 seem to fit a very familiar, slightly depressing, template:
1. Local junta cajoles local general to form an army of a mix of old line units, new hastily raised regiments and militia;
2. After a short period of training and re-fitting, the junta pushes the general to cast out the invaders. The general looks for the closest French force on which to take on;
3. Once the line of battle is formed, the first step is usually a charge by the French cavalry against the Spanish cavalry who promptly flee the field in disorder. Spanish cavalry would appear to have regarded their horses as convenient means of transport to and from the battlefield and little else;
4. The Spanish infantry and artillery often fights well, but is overwhelmed.
So, of course, when I was looking to start my AB Spanish army where else would I look than a cavalry regiment! Not only a cavalry unit, but one that is not even in the AB Spanish range. This range includes Dragoon and Cazadores, but no Hussars. I had been looking for an excuse to use some figures from the AB Jena Prussian range (IMHO, Tony Barton's finest) and found to my delight that the Spanish regular army had two hussar regiments at the start of the Peninsular War.
Spain entered the Napoleonic wars with two regiments: the Maria Luisa Hussars and Espanoles Hussars. The Espanoles Hussars wore a combination of green and sky blue, but the scarlet and sky blue of the Maria Luisa’s grabbed me more. Key uniform details for the Maria Luisa Hussars are as follows:
Pelisse – Scarlet with blue facings, white piping and lace
Dolman – Sky Blue with brown fur and white lace
Breeches – Sky Blue, and white stripe sometimes shown
Mirliton – red plume
Barrel Sash - Red with red and white knots
Shabraque - Sky Blue edged white
Apparently the pelisse worn by the regiment had the unusual feature of epaulettes on the pelisse, rarely seen in a hussar uniform. If you are feeling especially clever, you can add these with a bit of green stuff, but I wasn’t fussed. I couldn’t find any references to trumpeter uniforms, so went with the typical reversed arrangements.
In theory, the Maria Luisa Hussars has five 70-men squadrons, but Spanish cavalry regiments in most Peninsular OBs rarely appear to have more than 1-2 squadrons strong. In fact one of the attractions from a painting/collecting point of view is that you can accurately depict brigades comprised of five or six 1-2 squadron regiments. My own Maria Luisa Hussars are two, 6 figure squadrons based on a 1:20 scale.
As far as service record goes, the Maria Luisa Hussars were swept up in the rapid destruction and reorganisation of the Spanish armies and some recent thinking is that they were reorganised as the 1st and 2nd Húsares de Extremadura, later combined into one regiment. From a gamer’s perspective, they are handy as they fought at Albuera. Many gamers use the Spanish OB from Albuera as a generic Spanish force to add onto a British division or two as it contains a mix of units, including some better quality ones such as Spanish and Walloon Guards and the Irish Regt.
Gamonal (10 Nov 1808)
Medellín (28 Mar 1809)
Each had 500 men
Each had 300 men
Gébora (19 Feb 1811)
Albuera (16 May 1811)
Suggested by Oliver and Partridge (2007) but not Oliver and Partridge (1999)
So the end result is a unit that can be deployed alongside your Brits at Talavera and Albuera or take part in the debacles of Medellin or Ocana.
Bear with me here: when Eureka had Allan Marsh make a range of 1806 Saxon infantry to use alongside the 1806 AB Prussians, Nic thought that the Prussian Hussars would fit the bill perfectly. Unfortunately the Saxons wore the plume on their mirliton on the left hand side, not the right as the Prussians did, so a small conversion was done to the AB figures. These Saxon hussars are spot on for our Spanish hussars. The codes needed for the Maria Luisa Hussars can be found in the Eureka range under 300NSX23 - 25 or here:
After a black undercoat, this unit was painted as follows:
Shabraques, Trousers & officers pelisses – GW Foundation Paint Fenris Grey then Vallejo Game Colour Steel Grey
Dolmans – GW Foundation Paint Mechrite Red then Vallejo Model Colour Scarlet (a couple of coats needed)
I usually paint horses using the ‘wipe-off’ method. This involves a white undercoat, base colour (light browns, flesh, ochre, sand, even yellow and buff), then slap on water-based oils . If you haven’t used these, try them as they are a whole lot more usable than traditional oils. The take a piece of tissue paper and wipe off the oil paint. It leaves both a lovely shadow and sheen effect.
For sources, have a look at the following:
1. Chartrand, R. (1998). Spanish Army of the Napoleonic Wars (1) 1793 - 1808. Osprey [MAA321]: a nice colour plate of an officer of the regiment is included
2. Funcken, L. and F. (1973). The Napoleonic Wars (Part II). London: Ward Lock: again a nice plate is shown
3. Oliver, M. and Partridge, R. (1999). Napoleonic Army Handbook: The British Army and her Allies. Constable: good for the unit history
Next Time – we move to 1812-13 with some Saxon Hussars