Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Spanish 2nd Cavalry Division at Talavera - Hussars of Estremadura

The 1st and 2nd Regiments of Estremaduran Hussars were raised on the 15th July 1808 under the commands of Colonel's Augustin Sanchez and Rafael Mariano with a starting strength of five squadrons of two companies and each regiment totaling 491 men and horses.

Maria Luisa Hussars
The two regiments were raised using cadres of officers and men from the dissolved 5th or Maria Luisa Hussars established in the 1803 Godoy reorganisation of the Spanish cavalry.

In October of 1808 the regiment was reorganised as part of the new directive that all regiments should have four squadrons of three companies with a company in theory consisting of 65 men. However with the losses in men and horses leading into 1809 the regiments of cavalry were often forced to dissolve one squadron to maintain the strength of the other three and with most regiments reduced to two squadrons.

The first mention I have of the regiment in an order of battle is their inclusion in Cuesta's army during the Medellin campaign in March 1809, with the 1st regiment included as part of the "Old Army of Estremadura".

Spanish Army at Medellin, 28 March l809
Commanding General: Cuesta (24,000 men total)

Forces from Army of Estremadura:
4/Spanish Guard Infantry Regiment
4/Walloon Guard Infantry Regiment
2nd Majorca Infantry Regiment
2nd Catalonia Light Infantry Regiment
Provincial of Badajos
Provincial Grenadiers
Badajoz Infantry Regiment (2)
Zafra Infantry Regiment*
Truxillo Infantry Regiment*
Merida Infantry Regiment
Plasencia Infantry Regiment*
La Serena Infantry Regiment
Leales de Ferdinando VII (2)*
Total l5 Battaliaons

Troops of old Army of Reserve of Madrid
2/Walloon Guard Infantry Regiment
Jaen Infantry Regiment (2)
Irlanda Infantry Regiment (2)
Parovincial of Toledo
Provincial of Burgos
2nd Volunteers of Madrid
3rd Seville Infantry Regiment

Troops from the Army of the Center
Campo Mayor Infantry Regiment
Provincial of Guadix
Provincial of Cordova
Osuna Infantry Regiment (2)
Granaderos del General
Tiradores de Cadiz
Cavalry (3,000 to 3,200)

Old Army of Estremadura
4th Hussar (Volunteers of Spain) Regiment
lst Hussars of Estremadura (formerly Maria Luisa)
From La Romana's Danish Division:
Rey Cavalry Regiment
Infante Cavalry Regiment
Almanza Cavalry Regiment

New Levies:
Cazadores de Llerena
Imperial de Toledo
Reyna Cavalry Regiment
Artillery & Sappers:
30 guns - (650)
2 Sapper Coys - 200 men
* Not at battle.
Oman, A History of the Peninsular War

The look of the regiment is very much a tribute to their antecedents in the Maria Luisa regiment using a reversal of their colours on the jacket, breeches and pelisse, but with a very strong French influence with the adoption of the shako and chords and a busby for the elite squadron. The Spanish look is maintained with the typical light blue shabraque (saddle-cloth) as opposed to the sheepskin used by the French.

My figures are AB French hussars, suitably adapted to assume the look of the Estremadurans with the filing down of the sheepskin covers and the addition of saddle cloth points using the metal covering from old wine bottles (very handy stuff). In addition the fancy pompoms and plumes have been removed  to better reflect the look in the illustrations.

AB French hussars come with their pelisse's worn and buttoned up (a slightly added protection against sword cuts), so the regiment has a very striking red appearance against the light blue of their shabraque's. In addition the French models are wearing overalls as opposed to the Hessian boots worn in the illustrations, but I don't think it unlikely that the overalls would not have made an appearance at some stage, being much more functional in the field.

The regiment would go on to serve at Albuera as an amalgamation of the two former regiments and based on my assessment of their likely strength, I have modeled them as a combined unit which will operate as two units of two squadrons (two bases) during our Talavera re-fight.

References consulted:
Napoleonic Armies - Ray Johnson
The Armies of Spain and Portugal - Nafziger
History of the Peninsular War - Sir Charles Oman
The Spanish Army of the Napoleonic Wars(2) Chartand & Younghusband (Osprey Men at Arms)


  1. Great uniforms, great job, great photos! WIP photos of the conversion would have been most interesting too :)

    1. Thank you. Well next time I do some wine bottle top conversions I'll post some pics of the job, but it is relatively simple job once you have cut out the pointy bits and filed down the sheepskins.

  2. Very nice JJ. You really include a lot of information in your posts, which I especially find useful for the Spanish. Info on the OB for this period is hard to find. Do you find the Nafziger book helpful?


    1. Hi John, thank you. I try to find multiple sources to see what the consensus is, particularly with the Spanish where there is a bit more contradictory or absent information. I do find Nafziger useful and has an interesting list of Junta formed units with basic detail on uniforms, which if not as complete as you would want at least points you in a direction to try and find more recent sources that might fill in the gaps.
      The internet is a mine of information and more stuff becomes available from Spanish sources so now is quite a good time to do a project like this considering what was available when I were a lad.
      One of the best finds was from someone who posted a copy of a Spanish document that they had recorded on holiday showing what the Provisional militia were actually wearing as opposed to the Bourbon white and red facings they were supposed to be in. That lead to my colour choices for Portago's boys.
      I have found some interesting pictures of Spanish heavy cavalry in bell top shakos for 1809 but lacking a suitable model will stick with the bicorne look for now.
      All part of the great fun our hobby offers just researching this stuff, you've got to love it and it certainly just adds to the character of these units on the table when you know a bit about their back story.

  3. Very pretty; but can they fight ?


  4. Cheers Vince. Well there lies the rub. I guess it depends on which Estremaduran Hussars turn up!

  5. Thanks, Jonathon. These look great!
    I was wondering how to create some Spanish Hussars (I just finished a number of dragoons) and your post makes this a whole lot easier!
    Riding on your coat tails…

    1. Cheers Bill, well these chaps should cover the later style of Spanish Hussar, if you want the earlier Mirlton look as with the Maria Luisa then AB do a nice early Prussian hussar that should do the job.

  6. Nice conversion work and lovely looking troopers, useful reference as well.
    Best Iain

  7. Very handsome hussars! As others have said, excellent painting and photos.