Monday, 3 June 2013

15mm Old Glory SPN5 Spanish Militia

After May 1808 Spain was fragmented with several different regional centres of power (juntas) - most of these were united in one thing, they didn't like the French. Unfortunately they were also not keen on one another, and for that matter were frequently suspicious of the English, who rather reciprocated that feeling.

The Juntas, in an attempt to resist the French, raised a huge number of militia units. These initially used Spanish equipment, and, as time went on increasing amounts of British made uniforms and muskets. Unfortunately, prior to 1808 most Spanish defence expenditure had gone into the navy - the army was definitely the poor relation. Also the conflict between church, state and nobility prior to the war meant that the Spanish officer corps had undergone little formal training, was stultified in its practices, and generally incompetent. What this meant was  that when the Juntas sought officers for the new militia units they naturally looked at former or serving officers from the army - on paper these people looked qualified to train and lead, but unfortunately all too many were useless at both.

The men, saddled with poor equipment, hopeless officers and a lack of training, behaved as you'd expect when thrown into action before they were ready - given a fixed position to defend they were competent but all too often their officers sought to manoeuvre battalions whose soldiers couldn't manage basic drills. When Spanish militia went into battle they frequently ran like rabbits in the face of the French - the lack of Spanish cavalry meant that the French horse could ride down fleeing Spanish with impunity leading to horrendous casualties. The survivors would melt away or be reformed into a new battalion. Conflicting information, continual destruction and reformation of battalions mean that it is almost impossible to produce a comprehensive list of units created in the Peninsula War.

And yet, when they were given time to learn their drills, and were properly led, they could be steadfast in the extreme. It should be remembered that, even though they were thrashed time and again, the Spanish kept coming back for more....

The 15mm Old Glory SPN5 Militia bag allows you to build these ephemeral battalions of inexperienced, badly equipped, ill fed and ill led men from the first years of the war. As you would expect there are the usual 50 figures in the bag. My initial reaction upon seeing them was that they were very nice by OG standards - there are eight different figures in the bag. The figures are wearing bicornes and the "top hat" favoured by the Spanish (which looked very similar to that worn by Royal Marines of the period) and are wearing a smock-like jacket. All of the figures are in that rushing forward high porte sort of pose that OG favour. Amazingly, to me, the rank and file actually had faces that looked human (I've had figures from the OG ACW range - and OG Austrian Napoleonics - whose faces were shapeless lumps of lead). The musket detail was a bit rough, and weak points meant there is a good chance of losing a figure or two as the musket (not the bayonet, the musket) breaks apart.

Here are the four options for ranks and file - two in top hat, and two in bicorne. I've no idea whether the packing in these is consistent or not but there are twice as many top hat guys as bicorne chaps.

And here are the same figures from behind.

I think the command figures are weaker sculpts (see above). The top hat standard bearer, to me, doesn't fit with the mad charge of the other figures in the bag, and the left arm on the bicorne standard bearer looks like it has just been stuck on the torso (also the flagpole goes right across the face of the bearer - which means if you are planning on removing it to replace with brass wire, you'd best have a steady hand). The officer in top hat works pretty well but his bicorne counterpart looks awful to me. There is only one drummer  (in top hat) who looks okay. In all there are 4 command groups included (two bicorne officer and standard bearers and the same again with top hats - plus four drummers in top hats).

And the same figures  from behind.

So, overall, these weren't bad figures - nice energetic poses, some nice details but let down by the usual OG niggles of poor finish and occasional iffy sculpting. Thinking about it, I'm inclined to ditch some of the command figures and replace them with AB. Two options occur to me. First, as many of the militia units were commanded by officers seconded from regular battalions or brought back from retirement, use regular line infantry command figures, and secondly, as AB do some Spanish militia packs buy a pack of officers for those.

Next, a picture of the rank and file with the usual AB French Line figure, his Blue Moon French counterpart, and a Xan miniatures French Legere figure.

And the command figures with the same figures for comparison. I've also slipped in an AB Spanish Militia officer who seems, to me, to work quite nicely.

All in all, I liked these figures, in some respects they are the nicest OG figures I've yet seen. I think they'll be simple to paint and work quite nicely. Of course,


  1. Good review of the figures, look forward to them joining your ranks!

  2. OG figures are nice but sometimes a mixed bunch.These look fine, I have the spanish line infantry in bicornes advancing with command.