Monday, 23 March 2015

Provincial de Guadix - Militia Infantry

The Surrender at Bailen by Jose Casado del Alisal, Museo del Prado
Spanish Army of Estremadura
3rd Division: Major-General Marquis de Portago
1st Battalion Badajoz Infantry Regiment - Volunteer Line Infantry
2nd Battalion Badajoz Infantry Regiment - Volunteer Line Infantry
2nd Antequera Infantry Regiment - Volunteer Light Infantry
Imperial de Toledo - Volunteer Line Infantry in Shako
Provincial de Badajoz - Militia Infantry
Provincial de Guadix - Militia Infantry

Rey Cavalry Regiment - Regular Line

The Provincial de Guadix is the second battalion of militia and the final unit of infantry in General Portago's 3rd Spanish Division at Talavera.

The City of Guadix is in the province of Granada in Southern Spain on the left bank of the River Guadix and on an elevated plateau among the northern foothills of the Sierra Nevada.

The Provincial de Guadix can trace their involvement in The Spanish War of Independence right back to the heady days of July 1808, when the whole of Europe was stunned with the news that for the first time a French army had been defeated in the field at the Battle of Bailen 16th -19th July 1808, something that hadn't happened since the days of the Revolutionary Wars.

Battle of Bailen

General Dupont
That French army was commanded by General de Division Pierre-Antoine, comte Dupont de l'Etang, a veteran French commander who had served with distinction at Valmy, been a senior aide at Marengo, had prevented the escape of the Austrians at Ulm in 1805 and had distinguished himself again at Friedland. Clearly the right man to march into Adalucia and cow the locals into submission!

Areas of interest in the story of the Provincial de Guadix, prior to Talavera
As part of Mariscal de campo Felix Jones' 3rd Division, the Guadix Regiment and been part of General Castanos' main force advancing behind General La Pena's advanced guard that came up behind Dupont's army and compelled the French to lay down their arms (see the map below).

3rd Division: Mariscal de campo Felix Jones
Cordoba Infantry Regiment (l,l06)
Valencia Infantry Battalion (359)
Campomayor Infantry Battalion (800)
Provincial de Burgos Infantry Regiment (4l5)
Alcazar de San Juan Infantry Regiment (400)
Provincial de Plasencia Infantry Regiment (4l0)
Provincial de Guadix Infantry Regiment (459)
Provincial de Sevilla Infantry Regiment (267)
Provincial de Lorca Infantry Regiment (490)

In January 1809 following the collapse of the Spanish position on the River Ebro and Napoleon's triumphant entry into Madrid in December 1808, the Provincial de Gauadix are at Cuenca as part of the Spanish Army of the Centre in General La Pena's Reserve Division with just 391 men left in the ranks. General Castanos had been replaced by the Duke of Infantado, following the defeat at the Battle of Tudela in November 1808. Infantado was to prove no great an improvement in command, losing nearly half his forces at the Battle of Ucles on the 13th January 1809 to Marshal Victor and ending up being chased into Murcia.

Battle of Tudela
Battle of Ucles

The remnants of Infantado's army was reinforced and commanded by General Cartaojal who recommenced threatening Madrid from the south whilst, following orders from the Supreme Junta, sending 5,000 men into Estremadura to reinforce the army their being formed under General Cuesta. It would seem that the Provincial de Guadix was part of that reinforcement.

On the 21st of March 1809, the Provincial de Guadix are one of the eight battalions under Lieutenant General Del Parque's 1st Division under General Cuesta at Medellin now back up to strength with 755 all ranks.

lst Division: Teniente general Duque del Parque as on the 21st March 1809
4/Reales guardias espan~oles (l)(850)
4/Reales guardias Wallonas (l)(300)
Jaen Infantry Regiment (2)(879)
Osuna Infantry Regiment (2)(895)
Tiradores de Cadiz (l)(600)
Provincial de Burgos (l)(5l0)
Provincial de Guadix (l)(755)

The Medellin Campaign area
With a force of 15,000 men, Cuesta had pushed Lasalle's French cavalry back up the River Tagus valley, destroying the bridge at Almaraz and forming a line on the high ground south of the river. Lasalle was forced to fall back and await the arrival of Marshal Victor's force fresh from its victory at Ucles and under orders to advance on the Portuguese border to support Marshal Soult's invasion of that country from the North. On the 15th of March 1809, after crossing the Tagus at Talavera and Arszobispo, Victor's forward scouts found Cuesta's right wing at the Ibor Gorge. After a stiff fight this position was abandoned by the Spanish and Cuesta's army fell back to the south via Trujillo, to unite with the 5,000 men detached from Cartaojal. Now with a force of 20,000 infantry, 3,000 cavalry and 30 guns Cuesta advanced on Victor's position and his 13,000 infantry, 4,500 cavalry and 50 guns at Medellin

The French and Spanish armies faced each other between the towns of Don Benito and Medellin, with their flanks covered by the Rivers Hortiga and Guadiana. Holding a central reserve of infantry, Marshal Victor concluded that the French cavalry would not be able to turn the Spanish flanks and thus ordered his army to advance on the enemy looking to exploit head on attacks under favourable circumstances.

Colonel Carlos Carabantes leads the Provincial de Guadix Militia Infantry
The French advance commenced at 11.00am and as the two armies drew closer, General Latour-Maubourg sensed an opportunity to exploit was presented and ordered the 2nd & 4th Dragoons to charge Del Parque's position only to be badly shot up by the Spanish artillery which stood its ground.

With the failure of this French attack, Victor was forced to concede ground on his right flank causing his centre and left to fall back to maintain their line. Halting on higher ground, the divisions of Henestrosa and Del Parque were soon face to face with Latour Maubourg's men and attacking their artillery support.

The French dragoons charged, which prompted Cuesta to order his own cavalry to counter-charge. The Spanish cavalry failed miserably to rise to the occasion, falling back and leaving their hard pressed comrades in the infantry , including the Guadix Regiment, exposed.

On the French left, General Lasalle, who had seen the success of the French cavalry on the right flank, simultaneously launched his own cavalry into the attack, driving of the Spanish cavalry to his front and rolling up the Spanish line from their flank and rear. At the close of the battle nearly 8,000 Spanish had been killed and a further 2,000 made prisoner, with the additional loss of nine colours and 30 guns, for the loss of just 1000 French.

The Provincial de Gaudix fell back to the walls of Badajoz with the remains of the Army of Estremadura to rebuild and recoup their losses in time for a new campaign in the summer. They had experienced the highs and the lows of Spanish fortunes since the start of the war and their surviving soldiers were true veterans.

As with the Provincial de Badajoz Regiment, I have gone for the brown faced red look, but to illustrate the great choice we have in 18mm ranges have modelled the Guadix using the Warmodelling regular Spanish, with muskets at the advance or port. In addition, I decided to add in a few fatigue capped veteran members, who remember the surrender at Bailen. The figures look great alongside the other units, which are AB, and add the variety to the look of the division as a whole. The Colours are from GMB flags.

Sources consulted for this post
Spanish Militia Uniforms 1808
The Peninsular War Atlas - Colonel Nick Lipscombe
History of the Peninsular War, Sir Charles Oman

Next up, the last unit that supported General Portago's division at Talavera, the Rey or King's cavalry regiment together with the General himself and pictures of the force as a whole.


  1. Another great unit, should do a group shot.

  2. As dan says another lovely unit Jonathan!

  3. Cheers guys thanks for your comments. Sorry for not replying sooner, but somebody managed to damage 200 metres of fibre optic cable close by and we have had no internet for 24 hours.

    I am halfway through the Rey cavalry and have fininished General Portago, so once all done I will put up some group shots of the force as a whole.


  4. JJ

    Have been watching your progress on the Talavera project for some time. Your current output is both prodigious and lovely. I have a similar interest having collected Wellington's army in 15mm for this battle in the past when I was a lot younger.

    I have a mind to start over and just copy what you have done (as best I can) - inspirational.


    1. Hi Tim, thank you for your comment.

      The Peninsular War is a great part of the Napoleonic Wars to study and wargame and I know it figures highly in a lot of wargamers favourite periods and sometimes it just takes a bit of inspiration to get you started painting and playing and given that the period is a passion of mine, I'm really pleased when people like yourself get fired up to do that.

      I hope you enjoy the journey, as the Peninsular War is a massive period with lots of battles/sieges, armies and campaigns to get into and I hope to present some important parts of it. With a very important anniversary coming up this June, and the current enthusiasm about the 100 days campaign, it will be important to remember that the seeds of the victory at Waterloo were planted in the soil of Vimeiro and Talavera.

      All the best

  5. Terrific and learned post. The Spanish troops in your photos are brilliant, very well done.
    I don't know much about DuPont, he sounds like an unjustly forgotten figure.
    Cheers, M

    1. Hi Michael, thank you. Poor old Dupont, another one of those generals who performed perfectly well when under the eye of their master but when let loose on an independent command weren't quite up to it. It seems he quite lost his head during the battle, sending his units in piece meal as they arrived on the battlefield tiered after a long march.

      The French paid a terrible price for his failure with the mystique of invincibility completely blown, many of his men left to die in Spanish prison hulks, and the Emperor forced to come to Spain to sort things out. Unfortunately it caused the Spanish, in particular, to think they were a match for any French army that they cared to tackle and it took several years of defeat to convince their leaders otherwise.