Saturday, 19 April 2014

Spanish Divisions at Ocana, And Some Militia Musings

Having laid out the organisation of Leval's Division at Ocana ( Leval's Division ) I thought I should look at the opposition I plan to paint.

Leval faced two Spanish Divisions - the 3rd Division under General Giron, and the 4th, under Castejon - Leval had the Polish under Werle to his left, and a variety of units to his right.

Spanish Army of the Centre, 3rd Division
1st Bn, Spanish Royal Guard - 921 men
2nd Bn, Rgt de Linea Cordoba - 660 men
Rgt de Linea de las Alpujarras - 663 men
Rgt de Linea de Bailen - 1124 men (2 battalions?)
Rgt Ligero de Velez-Malaga -566 men
Milicia Provincial de Jaen - 878 men
Milicia Provincial de Ecija - 876 men
Artillery Battery - 6 guns

Total Strength = 5688 men, 6 guns

Spanish Army of the Centre, 4th Division
Rgt de Linea de Malaga - 743 men (2 battalions?)
3rd Bn, Rgt de Linea de Cordoba - 422 men
5th Bn, Rgt de Linea de Voluntarios de Seville - 535 men
2nd Bn, Rgt de Linea de Loja - 510 men
Rgt de Linea de Velez-Malaga - 1200 men
Milicia Provincial de Jerez - 650 men
Milicia Provincial de Bujalance - 469 men
Artillery Half Battery - 4 guns

Total Strength = 5095 men, 4 guns

OOB taken from Guerreros y Batalles No 81, "Ocana 1809" by Francisco Vela Santiago.

The Spanish Army of the Centre was probably the largest fielded by the Spanish during the Peninsular War - some 53,000 men. It was an amalgam of the Army of the Estramadura (the army that had fought alongside Wellington at Talavera) and the Army of La Mancha (which had been scattered in August 1809 by the French at Almanacid). The Junta added new levies, particularly from Andalucia. The British supplied uniforms and equipment through the port of Cadiz so the Army was relatively well equipped by Spanish standards.

However the Army was not without problems - it was a mix of troops that had "seen the elephant" a number of times, and troops who had received little training. Although it had a cavalry component, Spanish cavalry of the time was notoriously poor quality. And they suffered the normal shortage of quality commanders.

As a wargames project this has a number of things going for it from my point of view. The Spanish Army had undergone changes to their uniform regulations in 1802, and again in 1805. Some units wore the M1805 uniform and others the M1802 - and still others wore (I imagine) a bastardised version of the two. Finally there were newly raised battalions that wore something cobbled together locally, or something supplied by British contractors. For me, this means that I can paint a variety of uniforms and still be historically valid - and I think it will be fun trying to find figures that will work.

So far I've painted a couple of Milicia Provincial battalions in the M1805 uniform (white jackets and trousers, solid red facings, collar and cuffs), and they were fine to do. Nice and quick (by my standards) with no fiddly lining - undercoating white means I don't even need to paint the jacket and trousers. But I'm thinking the next battalion will either be the Royal Guards - or a line battalion in the M1802 uniform (medium blue jacket with black facings, collar and cuffs, piped red.

As for militia - I was thinking that some of the AB Portuguese figures ( AB - PG06 ) would work for troops supplied with British equipment - so a pale blue uniform, no lace, red collar, cuffs and turnbacks. All the gear (pack, waterbottle etc) would be painted as per a British Line Infantryman. I thought a battalion or two of these would look rather nice on the table. And the AB figures labelled "militia" (wearing top hats with a wide brim) can also be painted as line infantry. All good fun.

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