Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Spanish 2nd Cavalry Division at Talavera - Alcantara Cavalry Regiment

2nd Spanish Cavalry Division - Lieutenant General Duque de Albuquerque
Infante Cavalry Regiment
Alcantara Cavalry Regiment
Pavia Cavalry Regiment
Almanza Cavalry Regiment
1st & 2nd Hussars of Estremadura

The other heavy cavalry regiment in the 2nd Cavalry Division was the Alcantara Regiment.

For details on the organisation of the Spanish heavy cavalry regiments follow the link to the Infante Cavalry Regiment above.

The first reference I have for the Alcantara Regiment is for May 1808 when the unit was part of Spanish occupation forces in Portugal providing two squadrons.

Spanish Army of Andalusia 20th May l808
In Portugal:
l/Murcia Infantry Regiment (23/78l)
2/Murcia Infantry Regiment (22/700)
Grenadiers Provinciales de Vieja Castilla (l)(26/680)
2nd Grenadiers Provinciales de Vieja Castilla (l)(26/680)
Grenadiers Provinciales de Neuva Castilla (2)(54/l,360)
Voluntarios de Valencia (l/2)(20/600)
Voluntarios de Tarragona (l/2)(20/600)
Reyna Cavalry Regiment (2)(l7/340)(300 horses)
Alcantara Cavalry Regiment (2 sqn)(l7/340)(300 horses)
Santiago Cavalry Regiment (2)(l6/340)(? horses)
Montesa Cavalry Regiment (l)(l)(9/l70)
Horse Artillery (7/l28)
Sappers (l/47)

Source - Clerc, Capitulation de Baylen, Causes et Consequences, Paris, l903

In June 1808 following the Spanish insurrection, Oman lists in detail the forces on hand with a list of the available cavalry regiments and their strengths:

Cavalry (---H) - number of horses
lst Rey Heavy Cavalry Regiment (5)(38/634)(467H)
2nd Reina Heavy Cavalry Regiment (5)(4l/668)(202H)
3rd Principe Heavy Cavalry Regiment (5)(42/573)(434H)
4th Infante Heavy Cavalry Regiment (5)(42/6l5)(494H)
5th Borbon Heavy Cavalry Regiment (5)(42/6l6)(450H)
6th Farnesio Heavy Cavalry Regiment (5)(39/5l7)(359H)
7th Alcantara Heavy Cavalry Regiment (5)(42/589)(490H)
8th Espana Heavy Cavalry Regiment (5)(39/553)(358H)
9th Algarve Heavy Cavalry Regiment (5)(42/572)(455H)
l0th Calatrava Heavy Cavalry Regiment (5)(44/679)(369H)
llth Santiago Heavy Cavalry Regiment (5)(44/549)(370H)
l2th Montesa Heavy Cavalry Regiment (5)(40/667)(259H)
lst Rey Cazadore Regiment (5)(40/577)(l85H)
2nd Reina Cazadore Regiment (5)(42/58l)(42lH)
3rd Almanza Cazadore Regiment (5)(38/598)(479H)
4th Pavia Cazadore Regiment (5)(42/663)(507H)
5th Villaviciosa Cazadore Regiment (5)(35/628)(448H)
6th Sagunto Cazadore Regiment (5)(39/499)(l89H)
lst Numancia Hussar Regiment (5)(4l/630)(327H)
2nd Lusitania Hussar Regiment (5)(42/554)(409H)
3rd Olivenza Hussar Regiment (5)(37/558)(468H)
4th Voluntarios de Espana Hussar Regiment (5)(34/548)(460H)
5th Maria Luisa Hussar Regiment (5)(40/680)(394H)
6th Espanoles Hussar Regiment (5)(38/692)532H)

By the October of 1808 and the languid pursuit of French forces to the River Ebro the Alcantara are listed as part of the Army of Castile which formed part of Castanos' Army of the Centre joining forces at the end of that month.

Army of Castile - Source Oman
Division: General Pignatelli (Cartaojal after 30/10/08) 
Cantabria Infantry Regiment (2)
Leon Militia Infantry Regiment (l)
Grenadiers del General (l)(new levee)
Cazadores de Cuenca (l) (new levee)
lst, 2nd & 3rd Volunteers of Leon (3)(new levee)
lst, 2nd & 3rd Tercoios of Castile (3)(new levee)
Tiradores de Castilla (l)(new levee)
Volunteers of Benavente (l)(new levee)
Volunteers of Zamora (l)(new levee)
Volunteers of Ledesma (l)(new levee)
Cavalry (3,292 on 29 October)
Farnesio Cavalry Regiment
Montesa Cavalry Regiment
Reina Cavalry Regiment
Borbon Cavalry Regiment
Olivenza Cavalry Regiment
Espana Cavalry Regiment
Calatrava Cavalry Regiment
Santiago Cavalry Regiment
Sagunto Cavalry Regiment
Principe Cavalry Regiment
Pavia Cavalry Regiment
Alcantara Cavalry Regiment

Following the French offensive in November a much reduced regiment, barely amounting to one squadron are shown as part of the forces defending the approaches to Madrid in the Somosierra Pass.

Spanish Forces Defending Somosierra - Source Oman
Army of the Reserve
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)

In January of 1809 the regiment is shown as part of the Army of the Centre now following the dismissal of General Castanos under the command of the Duke of Infantado and based around Cuenca threatening the eastern approaches to Madrid

Spanish Army of the Centre, llth January l809
Cavalry: (l,8l4)
Reyna Cavalry Regiment (276)
Principe Cavalry Regiment (l4l)
Borbon Cavalry Regiment (ll9)
Espana Cavalry Regiment (342)
Santiago Cavalry Regiment (74)
Tejas Cavalry Regiment (l3l)
Pavia Cavalry Regiment (428)
Lusitania Cavalry Regiment (l58)
Dragones de Castilla (l25)
Farnesio Cavalry Regiment
Montesa Cavalry Regiment
Calatrava Cavalry Regiment
Sagunto Cavalry Regiment
Alcantara Cavalry Regiment

Map to illustrate the movements of the Alacantara Regiment
Following the defeat of the Vanguard Division of the Army of the Centre in January 1809 at the Battle of Ucles, commanded by General Venegas, Infantado was relieved of command and General Venegas assumed command of the newly formed Army of La Mancha that continued to be a threat to the southern approaches to Madrid going into the summer of 1809 leading up to the Talavera campaign.

At some stage the Alcantara Regiment was transferred to the Army of Estremadura under General Cuesta where it was part of the 2nd Cavalry Division in the July.

Venegas's Army of La Mancha (or Army of the Centre) l6th June l809
3rd Division: Mariscal de camp D.Pedro Grimarest
2/de Jaen Infantry Regiment (985)
Ecija Infantry Regiment (902)
2/Cordoba Infantry Regiment (849)
Bailen Infantry Regiment (l,l2l)
l/Reales Guardias Infantry Regiment (663)
Alpujarras Infantry Regiment (579)
Velez Malaga Infantry Regiment (445)
Farnesio Cavalry Regiment (404)
Santiago Cavalry Regiment (295)
Alcantara Cavalry Regiment (343)
Principe Cavalry Regiment (324)
3 8pdr, 2 4pdrs & 2 7pdr howitzers

My Alcantara Regiment are composed of figures from AB supplied by Fighting 15s and are the third regiment completed as part of 2nd Cavalry Division.

Next time we will look at the first of the two dragoon regiments, namely the Pavia Regiment, but before that we will have some more 28mm Dark Ages.

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 looking cavalry unit, got to love a bicorne wearing bunch of heavies really nice work on the horses too.
    Best Iain

    1. Thanks Iain. Yes there is something about the bicorne look. I am looking forward to showing the division as a whole. I think with the yellow dragoons added in these chaps will look great parked up the top of the northern valley.

  2. Really pretty JJ, but then I am a sucker for cavalry ! You have got to love those side worn bicornes and the horses really look like "heavies". Those are no prancing ponies.

    I am no expert on the Peninsular campaign, but have read that the 1st regiment of Alcantara cavalry were Portugeezers, viz:


    Is this wrong or were the 1st & 2nd regiments nothing to do with each other ?


  3. Thanks Vince. Yes the AB horse is a thing of beauty.

    Good spot. There are two Alcantara's which is Arabic for bridge. The Spanish place is in Estremadura on the border with Portugal and has the famous Roman bridge over the Tagus where the Loyal Lusitainian Legion under Wilson fought their little scrap with Victor's Corps just before Talavera.

    The Portuguese Alcantara refers to a suburb of Lisbon where there used to be a bridge over the Tagus.

    The Portuguese regiment was the 1st regiment of cavalry. The Spanish regiment was the 7th regiment as illustrated in Oman's list above.