Thursday, 13 April 2017

Talavera 208 - Bassecourts Spanish 5th Division, 2nd Battalion, Murcia Regiment

5th Division: Major-General Bassecourt
1st Real Marina (Royal Marines), 1st Battalion
1st Real Marina (Royal Marines), 2nd Battalion
Africa Infantry Regiment, 3rd Battalion
Reina Infantry Regiment 1st Battalion
Murcia Infantry Regiment, 2nd Battalion
Murcia Infantry Regiment, 3rd Battalion
Provincial de Siguenza (Militia)

I know the Murcia region in Southern Spain very well, situated on the Costa Calida or 'Warm Coast', famous as a fruit growing area and with the cities of Murcia and Cartagena, the latter founded by the Carthaginians and a major Spanish naval base.

It would seem the Murcians were enthusiastic opponents of Napoleon, raising at least five battalions of volunteer infantry, one light infantry unit and the the three regular battalions. Several of the volunteer battalions took part in the determined siege of Saragossa.

The Murcia Regiment were first raised in 1694 and were the nineteenth regiment of line infantry, having two battalions present at Talavera.

Bassecourt's Regiments

In May 1808 at the commencement of the war the Murcia Regiment was listed with three battalions but with just over the list strength for one battalion, having 833* officers and men. 

*Source - Seccion de Historia Militar, Estados de la Organizacion y Fuerza de los Ejércitos Españoles Beligerantes en la Peninsula, durante la Guerre de España contra Bonaparte, 1822, Barcelona.

However a second source shows a different picture with two full strength battalions in Portugal and the third battalion mustering in the Gibraltar Camp.

Spnaish Army of Andalusia - 20th May l808
Gibraltar Camp:
3/Guardias Wallonas (30/800)
Valencia Infantry Regiment (1/2)(7/318)
Corona Infantry Regiment (39/675)
1/3/Africa Infantry Regiment (36/455)
Barbastro Light Infantry Regiment (1/2)(6/246)
Campo Mayor Infantry Regiment 33/1034
3/Murcia Infantry Regiment (10/121)

In Portugal:
1/Murcia Infantry Regiment (23/781)
2/Murcia Infantry Regiment (22/700)


Source - Clerc, Capitulation de Baylen, Causes et Consequences, Paris, 1903

The picture of the regiment in the early part of the war is then further confused with Oman showing the regiment with a strength of just 833 men for June 1808 seemingly quoting the previous source for a later date, so the precise strength of this unit between May and June 1808 is anyone's guess.

Sencilla for the Murcia Regiment
The third battalion appears on the order of battle of Spanish forces at Bailen in the July of 1808, as part of General La Pena's Reserve Division.

Battle of Bailén

Spanish Forces at Baylen - 17th July l808
Commanding General: Lieutenant General Francixco Xavier Castaños
Chief of Staff: Major-General T. Moreno
Artillery Commander: Mariscal de campo Marques de Medina
Engineer Commander: Colonel Bernardino de Loza

Reserve Division: Lieutenant General Manual de Lapeña
Provincial Grenadiers (912)
2/Africa Infantry Regiment (525)
Burgos Infantry Regiment (2,089)
Det/Reding #2 (Swiss) Infantry Regiment (243)
Zaragosa Infantry Battalion (8922)
3/Murcia Infantry Regiment (420)
Provinciales de Siguenza Infantry Regiment (502)
Naval Grenadier Company (50)
Pavia Dragoon Regiment (541 men & 408 horses)
Jerez Lancer Regiment (70)
Artillery (12 guns)(502)
Sappers (1 co)(100)

Following the victory at Bailen, elements of the regiment returned to Murcia to act as garrison troops in the province.

The regiment is then shown forming two battalions in La Pena's 4th Division, part of General Castanos' Spanish Army of the Centre that moved up to the River Ebro in the October and November.

Army of the Center, Commanding General: General Castanos
4th Division: General La Pena (7,500)
Africa Infantry Regiment (2)
Burgos Infantry Regiment (2)
Saragosa Infantry Regiment (1)
Murica Infantry Regiment (2)
Provincial Grenadiers of Andalusia (2) (militia)
Signenza Militia Infantry Regiment (1)
Navas de Tolosa Infantry Regiment (1)(new levee)
Baylen Infantry Regiment (1)(new levee)
5th de Sevilla (1) (new levee)

Source Oman (battalions)

With Spanish forces beaten and pursued by the French Grande Armee under Emperor Napoleon, the Army of the Centre found itself regrouped around Cuenca under a new commander by January 1809, and the regiment was in a much reduced strength of under one full battalion now in the Vanguard Division.

It would have the misfortune to be part of General Venegas' army that was given a hard lesson in manoeuvre by Marshal Victor at Ucles that same month.

Battle of Uclés (1809)

Spanish Army of the Centre - Battle of Ucles, 13th January 1809
Commanding Officer: D. Francisco Javier Venegas

Reales Guardias Walones (22/425)
Campo Mayor Infantry Regiment (l6/465)
Granaderos provinciales (29/220)
Murcia Infantry Regiment (49/652)
Provincial de Toro (12/239)
Irlanda Infantry Regiment (9/377) (270 at battle)
Voluntarios de Carmons (40/456)

Burgos Infantry Regiment (17/5l9)
Gerona Infantry Regiment (17/499)
Chincilla Infantry Regiment (12/354)
Jaen Infantry Regiment (16/342)
Sappers (383)

Cantabria Infantry Regiment (20/315)
Africa Infantry Regiment (43/771)
Ordenes militaires Infantry Regiment (42/848)(500 in battle)
Barbastro Light Infantry Regiment (11/221)
4th Seville Infantry Regiment (20/224)
Cuenca Infantry Regiment (12/626)

Los Tiradores de Cadiz (17/407) (240 in battle)
Reina Cavalry Regiment (24/323)
Principe Cavalry Regiment (5/155)
Borbon Cavalry Regiment (15/223)
Espan~a Cavalry Regiment (29/351)
Santiago Cavalry Regiment (21/107)
Tejas Cavalry Regiment (15/153)
Pavia Cavalry Regiment (32/527)
Lusitania Cavalry Regiment (12/177)
Castilla Cavalry Regiment (5/138)


Source - Gomez de Arteche Y Moro, La Guerra de la Independencia, Madrid, 1883

On the 4th April the regiment along with the other units that would make up Bassecourt's 5th Division at Talavera were transferred from the Army of the Centre to the Army of Estremadura and with a much increased strength of over 1,200 men between its two battalions.

Forces Passed to the Army of Estramadura from the Army of the
Center by order of the Supreme Central Junta.
Division: Mariscal de campo de Echevarri
l/Reyna Infantry Regiment (1)(795)
l/Africa Infantry Regiment (1)(838)
lst Real Marina Infantry Regiment (2)(615)
1/2/Murcia Infantry Regiment (2)(1,229)
2/Cazadores de Barbastro (1)(851)
Cazadores Voluntarios de Valencia y Albuquerque (l)(831)
Provincial de Siguenza (1)(1,081)


My 2/Murcia are composed of figures from the AB range supplied by Fighting 15's and the Sencilla is my conversion using flags created by MS Foy over at the Prometheus in Aspic blog and which I have posted here for others to use. Simply download the image and size accordingly.

So with five battalions down and two to go, the completion of Bassecourt's division gets closer as does the date of the first game in June of the Talavera 208 Project. I don't know about you but I'm getting quite excited by the prospect, and from the comments received I know some of you are also looking forward to seeing the first game up and running.

If you care to click the link on the banner at the top of the post for the Talavera 208 project you will see that the 'Just Giving' page is showing a good total for Combat Stress and the great work they do. Thank you to everyone who has made a contribution so far and the kind comments received. If you are enjoying the outputs from this project so far then please show your support by making a contribution.

Sources referred to in this post:
The Armies of Spain and Portugal 1808-14 - G.F.Nafziger & M Gilbert
Spanish Army of the Napoleonic Wars (1) 1793-1808 - Rene Chartrand & Bill Younghusband

Next up more from Portsmouth and the Historic Dockyard and the 3rd battalion Murcia Regiment.


  1. A always, fascinating stuff. Thanks for this.
    I'm just in the process of putting together a scenario for the battle at Tudela and it's interesting that these troops were there (and unengaged!) with Lapeña at Cascante
    I will be curious to see how you organize your Spanish for Talvera. It's my understanding that although the Spanish are never listed at anything below division level they would still form ad hoc brigades. It's always a challenge in scenario design as to how to break those divisions down, at least with rules that revolve around brigade level units.

    1. Cheers Bill.
      Good point about fighting with Spanish and their rather unwieldy divisional structure. I think this element along with never being quite sure which Spanish army has turned up, ie the one that fights to the last man, last bullet or the one that turns tail at the first skirmish, makes the Spanish such fun and such a challenge to game with.

      So Bassecourt will look to control his seven battalions which would normally fall under the control of two brigade commanders and a divisional commander in the French or British set up.

      The way I model it under C&G II is to treat Bassecourt's command base as a hybrid between a brigade commander and a divisional commander having a slightly larger command radius than the later. This forces the Spanish player to adopt a two unit deep formation when in line, which is what they would have had to do. You then hope to be able to perform a passage of lines to replace your shot up forward battalions who have had to take the brunt of French skirmishers with your fresher rearward battalions who take the fight to the French columns.

      The point of the Spanish at Talavera is not to put them into battle but to keep them as a force in being to threaten French formations already battered by the British or to threaten French flanks as they try to manoeuvre the British out of position. However I know I am dealing with wargamers here so I can't assume that is how they will be used on the day!

    2. Good thoughts. In AOE its all brigades and divisions with brigade commanders not separate leader stands but part of the brigade. One big divisional size brigade doesn't really work so well, but I'm thinking a minus (poor Spanish militia, already disfunctional!!) on the divisional commander's effect might work.
      I'm finding in gaming the Spanish, it's remarkable how much you can improve on the historical record simply by commanding them intelligently. But yes, in Talavera the Spanish will most likely be effective if they simply stay put.

  2. Another great post...and these Spanish uniforms are so nice...

    1. Cheers Phil, yes the Spanish infantry and cavalry on the extreme left flank of the allied line will certainly add a splash of colour and style.

  3. Fantastic work JJ - great looking figures and beautifully painted.

    1. Thanks Carlo. The full effect will be achieved when you see the division together and the eye gets an overload of detail and colour.

  4. Another fine Spanish unit takes the field! I really like the early Spanish white uniforms with bicorne. Stylish!

    1. Hi Jonathan, yes I know what you mean. The bicornes and white really draw the eye and en mass should look great on the table. Divisional parade will follow on completion of the Siguenza Militia.

  5. Another great looking white clad unit and got to love a bicorne wearing Spanish force!
    Best Iain