Hispanicism Further Emerging.....

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Capitán-Genéral Córdoba
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Hispanicism Further Emerging.....

Postby Capitán-Genéral Córdoba » Thu Sep 14, 2017 10:33 pm

I am English, but I wish I was Spanish, thus I have another list!

This time it is a list of Spanish military units that deserve recognition, while the Spanish Army is much maligned by British historians of the Napoleonic era, the Peninsular Wars are not representative of the Spanish Army for the majority of the war. It is often quoted by British soldiers who fought the Spanish or fought besides them in the case of the 1st Coalition that they fought well and were well lead. I could go into great detail about all the causes for Spanish military decline, however I came to write a list, and a list I shall write! (I intend to talk about some of the lesser known units of the Spanish Army).

First of all I should like to mention a particular school of the Army considered the best of its kind in all of the world: El Real Cuerpo de Ingenieros, the Royal Corp of Engineers. Spain had long been famed for its splendid works of military fortification, some of the finest defences in the world were made by the Cuerpo in La Habana, Cuba, and this skill was maintained throughout the war, even during the Peninsular Wars, as a fun fact during the Siege of Gibraltar the engineers actually built a wall across the Gibraltar ismuth in the style of an actual fortress wall with full stone towers and batteries.

The next unit while not particularly skilled show the level of devotion of the Spanish people, and the different ways in which different regions fought against French occupation in the Peninsular Wars: La Alarmas Gallegas, the Galician Alarm was a peasant army raised in Galicia at the call of Don Pedro Caro y Sureda, 3a Marqués de la Romana to defend the region of Galicia, wielding knives, swords, the occasional musket and adorned in brown and red with in some cases old armour from the days of the Tercios these men drove the French out of Galicia and captured the city of Santiago de Compostela, the Galician capital by charging muskets with knives, in fact after the battle it was joked that the French could never have been prepared for an angry nun with shoemaker's hammer in close quarters.

The next one is one that has been a popular subject for romantic Spanish poetry for years since their formation: Las Mogataces Moros, these Moorish cavalrymen in Spanish service to protect her African possessions were something to be feared, dressed like the Berbers of the High Atlas mountains they would deliver ferocious charges, they were all Muslims in service to Spain and her crown under Spanish officers who would fight shoulder to shoulder against many great threats but were always highly respected. This tradition of Muslims in the Spanish Army is continued to this day by the Regulares infantry "Tabors".

More will be added to list as I gain the willpower to do so.
"Admiral Gravina is all genius and decision in combat." - Napoléon Bonaparte.

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Re: Hispanicism Further Emerging.....

Postby Lord Cosak » Thu Sep 14, 2017 10:41 pm

Very unexpected and interesting, thank you.

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Re: Hispanicism Further Emerging.....

Postby Capitán-Genéral Córdoba » Fri Sep 15, 2017 5:56 pm

Thank you for the praise.

And here are some more additions to the list:

El Fijo de Ceuta, roughly the fixed regiment of Ceuta. Ceuta is a Spanish enclave in Northern Morocco and naturally it needed protection from other nation's ambitions, thus this regiment was created for the enclave. There was even a lancer company raised with it; it should be noted that Spain had no lancer regiments until the Peninsular War other than this small company. The infantry and lancers fought very bravely against interior threats, such as the Riffians on a regular basis and Ceuta still belongs to Spain to this day.

El Fijo de Luisiana, sticking with the theme of the colonial regiments "Fijos" we move to Louisiana, or Luisiana to the Spanish. This regiment naturally saw no fighting in the Napoleonic Wars, however, it is definatly worth mentioning for a number of reasons. This regiment was the only regular unit in Louisiana at the time of the Spanish intervention in the American War of Independence, (Spain did however have the most professional militia system in the world at the time, I may explore that later at some time), and this regiments job was to recapture Florida, which Spain had lost in the 7 Years War, it accomplished most of the campaign on its own, under the inspired leadership of Bernardo de Galvez y Madrid as their general and Esteban Rodriguez Miró as colonel of the regiment. It is seen by many as one of the most ingenious military campaigns of the American War of Independence, and it was almost entirely accomplished by this regiment, fighting consistently well against the British regiments who frequently outnumbered them. The British governor of Florida was so shocked about the news of the campaign, that he at first refused to believe it. (I may one day write something on that campaign, as it is a good representation of the quality of the Spanish Army before the Peninsular Wars).
"Admiral Gravina is all genius and decision in combat." - Napoléon Bonaparte.

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Re: Hispanicism Further Emerging.....

Postby Lord Cosak » Fri Sep 15, 2017 6:23 pm

The "El Fijo de Ceuta" will be included in the next version.

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Re: Hispanicism Further Emerging.....

Postby Lord Liberalis » Fri Sep 15, 2017 11:46 pm

Very interesting and well written.
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Re: Hispanicism Further Emerging.....

Postby MightyOwl27 » Sun Sep 17, 2017 8:00 am

Thank you for the info Cordoba. A 'fijo' is a garrison battalion. I hope with the new Spanish unit descriptions we can give the Spanish army the attention it deserves.
I've just been reading Suchet's memoirs and there is no sense in what he writes that he considered the Spaniards inferior soldiers. In the interest of balance I would say that when you read the Spanish sources very little mention is made of Wellington and his army!

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Re: Hispanicism Further Emerging.....

Postby Capitán-Genéral Córdoba » Mon Sep 18, 2017 9:09 pm

I believe Wellington was a good general, however, because of his campaigns the importance of the Spanish soldiers is often forgotten in the Peninsular Wars, but of course, the Spanish Army pre-Peninsular was as good as, and sometimes better than, many of its European contemporaries, such as the Austrian army. That isn't to say that the Spanish soldiers were bad in the Peninsular Wars, many shone out above and beyond the expectations of the British and French.

I'd like today to add a brief mention to another particular regiment, while not particularly unusual, they are a somewhat an unexpected addition to this list: El Regimiento de Milicias Provinciales de Lorca. The Provincial Militia Regiment of Lorca. I said that in a later date I'd try and detail the workings and professionalism of the Spanish militia forces; the Spanish militias were generally better organised than other European militias, owing to Spain's small army size of just about 120,000 men in 1802, as they needed a capable reserve force to assist the armies, this was the Provincial and Urban militias, the militias themselves were always partially mobilised so that they always retained some level of training, even in peace time. The Urban militia counted among their number artillery and infantry and the Provincial militia had infantry and to a small degree some cavalry. They fought well in many battles, but no battle showed their worth more than the Siege of Toulon in 1793.

The Provincial Lorca Regiment was tasked to defend a trench outerworks to halt any French advances on the main allied command centre overlooking Toulon, Fort Mulgrave, when the French finally made their attack in a bid to recapture Toulon for good, they had to get through this seemingly shaky regiment of Spaniards. The first French attack came and the pickets warned the trench line, the Spaniards levelled their muskets and fired volleys: "As well as any Englishman!", and beat back the French first assault after sustaining few casualties, then the French came again, and they were beaten back and again. It wasn't until the Spaniards had lost one third of their number, the Colonel had been wounded and Lieutenant Colonel Napoleon Bonaparte came along with the French Grenadier reserves that the Spaniards were finally did-lodged from their trench. Despite the view that their retreat caused the loss of the whole siege as the other soldiers in Fort Mulgrave were unprepared. However this view is unfair, as the Spanish took exceptionally high losses for the time, (one third of a regiment is a lot of dead soldiers), they provided enough time for the other soldiers to prepare themselves, (even if the other soldiers didn't do so), and thus I believe this regiment deserves to have some recognition for their sacrifice in trying to hold Toulon. They are one of my favourite regiments of the entire period for that reason.
"Admiral Gravina is all genius and decision in combat." - Napoléon Bonaparte.

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Re: Hispanicism Further Emerging.....

Postby MightyOwl27 » Sat Sep 23, 2017 7:22 am

I think you are underestimating a bit how much Godoys neglect hurt the Spanish regular army and also how bad the officer corps was. Austria had lots of bad generals but few as pig headed and stupid as Cuesta and he was not the only one. After 1808 some of the better officers such as Porlier left the regular army to join the guerilla because they thought they had a better chance of beating the French that way.

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Re: Hispanicism Further Emerging.....

Postby MightyOwl27 » Sat Sep 23, 2017 7:27 am

As an interesting fact the 'Junta' the Spanish provisional government offered the Archduke Charles of Austria command of all Spanish forces in 1808 which he refused.

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Re: Hispanicism Further Emerging.....

Postby Capitán-Genéral Córdoba » Mon Sep 25, 2017 2:56 pm

I wouldn't ever suggest that Godoy didn't harm the army, however the neglect didn't go as far as to stop it from being a capable fighting force at the start of the war until the supplies ran out. After all the Spanish achieved in the first year of the war as many defeats as victories.

And when I said it was as good as or better than many, I don't believe I am strictly wrong. Armies such as the Neapolitan, Sardinian, Russian, Danish and Portuguese all suffered greatly from poor officer corps at the lower and upper ranks sometimes. And the afore mentioned nations also often had great difficulty producing soldiers that could stand up to Napoleon's, (Barring Russia, as their infantry were generally steady). We must always be careful to remember how many armies there were in Europe, and of course not all were overly good.

So, while I appreciate Godoy's damage, (Particularly to the cavalry), I would never say it made the Spanish army bad. The bad"ness" set in after early 1809, I'd say, mostly due to0 lack of supplies,(Food, clothes, ammunition).

(Thank you for your feedback. :P)
"Admiral Gravina is all genius and decision in combat." - Napoléon Bonaparte.


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