Friday, 6 February 2015

1st Battalion Badajoz Volunteer Line Infantry

For the third scenario in a series planned to cover the key actions at Talavera, the Spanish 3rd Division had a critical role to play anchoring the link between the Spanish and British armies defending around the artillery redoubt on the small knoll known as the Pajar de Vergara.

The map shows the position of General Portago's Spanish 3rd Division to the right of the Pajar de Vergara
They became involved in the fighting later in the afternoon when this position was attacked by General Leval's German Division.

The critical link at Pajar de Vergara
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 in Shakos
Imperial de Toledo - Volunteer Line Infantry in Shako
Provincial de Badajoz  - Militia Infantry
Provincial de Guadix - Militia Infantry

Rey Cavalry Regiment - Regular Line

My interpretation of the 1st Battalion Badajoz Regiment
The Badajoz regiment is one of those units that came from the forces involved in the Battle of Gamonal in November 1808.

Spanish Army of Estremadura
Battle of Burgos/Gamonal
l0th November l808

Commanding General: General Blake (absent?)
Interum Commanding Officer: Mariscal de campo Conde Belveder

lst Division: General de Alos
4/Spanish Guard Regiment (980)
Provincial Grenadiers of Estremadura (l/2 bn)(500)
l/,2/Majorca Infantry Regiment (2)(l,460)
2nd de Cataluña (l,050)
Tiradores (Sharpshooters) (l coy)(170)
Voluntarios de España Cavalry Regiment (3)(360)
Horse Battery (4 guns)(62 men)
Sappers (l/2 bn)(254 men)

2nd Division: General Henestrosa
4/Walloon Guard Regiment (300)
l/,2/Volunteers of Badajoz (2)(l,475)
Sappers & Miners (254)
lst Hussar Regiment (3)(298)
2nd Horse Battery (6 guns)(92 men)

3rd Division:
2nd Hussar Regiment (Lusitania) (300)
Batallon de escolares de Benavente (500)
Provincial de Tuy (l)(450)
Foot Battery (4 guns)(30)

In what proved to be a hopeless deployment by Belveder of too few troops in a very thin line, attempting to block the road to Burgos; the two battalions, on the Spanish right flank, took the brunt of Lasalle's cavalry attack. Whilst attempting to form square, they were simultaneously assaulted by Mouton's infantry brigade emerging from the woods to their front.

I really love the officer with his pistol
The attack proved irresistible and the Spanish army broke losing 3,000 out of the 10,000 strong force, all 16 of their guns and 12 colours. Any further destruction was probably avoided because the French got distracted by the potential of looting Burgos further up the road, and broke off the pursuit.

They next show up, three weeks later, among the force at the Battle of Somosierra Pass on November 30th 1808 at well below half strength for the whole regiment, fielding a weak battalion.

Spanish Forces Defending Somosierra
Army of the Reserve
30th November l808

lst Voluntarios de Madrid (l,500)
2nd Voluntarios de Madrid (l,500)
Guardias Walonas (500)
Jaen Infantry Regiment (2)l,300)
l/,3/Corona Infantry Regiment (2)(l,039)
Cordoba Infantry Regiment (l,300)
Badajoz Infantry Regiment (566)
l/,3/Irlanda Infantry Regiment (2)(l,l86)
Reyna Infantry Regiment (2)(927)
Provincial de Toledo (500)
Provincial de Alcazar (400)
3/Voluntarios de Sebilla (400)
Principe Cavalry Regiment (2)(200)
Alcantara Cavalry Regiment (l00)
Montesa Cavalry Regiment (l00)
Voluntarios de Madrid Cavalry Regiment (2)(200)
Artillery (22 guns, 200 gunners)

This force to was unceremoniously pushed back by Napoleon's troops as he secured Madrid, probably saved from greater loss because of the Emperor's focus being, very much, on taking the capital.

The variable sloped arms really give the unit an irregular feel
All credit to the Badajoz Regiment for regrouping after its two defeats in 1808 and having another go, fielding two battalions at Talavera, six months later. However the defeats and severe losses may well have taken a toll on the morale and confidence of the regiment.

To quote Lipscombe in the Peninsular War Atlas.
At about 1900 hrs on the 27th July 1809, Sebastiani's infantry was preceded by Merlin's light cavalry,

"who used the cover of the olive trees to push up to reconnoitre the Spanish lines. As the chasseurs came into sight, the front battalions of both Manglano and Portago's divisions opened fire, and then followed the most extraordinary scenes as four of the forward battalions broke and ran to the rear for no apparent reason. The battalions on both sides and those to the rear held firm and at no time was there a gap that could have been exploited."

He goes on to quote Napier in the reference,
"This incident has been inaccurately reported in some British sources, even suggesting that the entire Spanish line and all the artillery gave way. The four battalions in question; the 1st and 2nd Badajoz, Leales de Fernado VII and Toledo (Toreno incorrectly lists Trujillo) were hunted down by Cuesta's cavalry and after a court martial the following day 25-30 were executed. The number would have been higher had Wellesley not intervened. However it has to be added that there were British stragglers amongst the throng which fled west, spreading alarm and despondency."

One cannot but feel a certain sympathy for these soldiers, who so poorly led by their generals in previous times, end up so lacking in their confidence to meet and defeat the enemy that even their own firing is enough to cause then to break to the rear. At least Wellesley had the good sense to temper Cuesta's response, probably aroused at his own embarrassment for his men breaking in such a manner.

I have chosen to model the 1st Badajoz in a typical volunteer infantry uniform, indicating them as the first battalion by having them carry the 1768 pattern Coronella or King's Colour and be led by a mounted colonel. Whether they carried these standard Colours is debatable, but without contradictory information I have decided to use them.

The battalion is composed of figures from the AB range with the Colour from GMB Flags.

Next up the 2/48th(Northamptonshire Regiment)Foot, that completes Tilson's Brigade and the forces required for the Talavera night attack scenario.


  1. Very nice. I was thinking of doing a unit of these in 28mm but even at that scale I don't think they would look as nice as these guys.

    1. Hi Brian, thank you. The majority of my Spanish are AB and as we all know, you can't really go wrong with Mr Barton's wonderful sculpts.

  2. You have painted those AB's so well they look like 28mms!! Splendid job.

    1. Hi Ken, thank you. The excellent ranges of 18mm really allow you to get great looking units. Of course AB take it all to another level.

  3. An excellent post and a beautiful notch!

    1. Hi Phil, thanks mate, glad you like them and the post.

  4. I love your blog and these figures too.
    We need to get a Peninsular game in soon and need to start blogging again!
    Keep them coming, Best wishes, Jeremy

    1. Thanks Jeremy. I agree, you guys do some fine looking games in your neck of the west country.

  5. Very pretty JJ, not least in 18mm.

    As you know I am no napoleonic expert, but wondered if this unit would have been so uniform, given their "volunteer" status.


    1. Hi Vince,
      Cheers mate. You're probably right and I'm using artistic licence in just having them with a minimal of variation. I decided to treat the Spanish as an army look rather than a unit look, given the lack of data, and with Warmodelling coming back on stream I will add in other units with the Levy look in civilian dress with muskets to add that element of distressed dress.

      I suppose you could say that the Badajoz boys were set up at the start of the war so might have had a bit more uniformity than other later units, but I wouldn't bet my life on it.

      Oh by the way, great idea on using the spray adhesive from Tesco, As you will see on the Casa de Salinas pictures the trees came up a treat - good shout.


  6. Very well done. I've got a unit of these figures in blue, but it is tempting to buy another and paint them in the brown. That's one good thing about the Spanish is they do have quite a bit of variety.

    1. Hi Vive L'Emp. Thank you. I agree, the Spanish really allow you to express your painting, given the variety of appearance their forces came up with, so I intend to mix the traditional with the irregular, semi-irregular and turn up with what you are wearing units.