The Spanish Infantry of King Joseph Bonaparte 1808 – 1814
By: Markus Stein based on the original article by Jacques Brouillet
Translator: Justin Howard
This article previously appeared in Issue 1 of the German-language magazine Depesche, which is published by our partner, Napoleon Online. We appreciate the kindness of the editor, Markus Stein, for giving us permission to publish the translation.
Author’s Note: This article by our French friends of Le Briquet comes from their president, who was inspired by a book by the renowned Spaniard José Maria Bueno to produce the plate and text. Bueno’s work, titled “Spanish Soldiers”, appeared in 1978 and devotes 360 pages and 36 colour plates to the uniforms of the Spanish army from the time of the catholic kings up to Juan Carlos I.
The militias, modelled on the French National Guard, were raised as auxiliary troops to maintain security, and as such were supposed to relieve, or even replace, the gendarmerie. Their uniforms were very diverse, only natural leather gaiters and espadrilles seem to have been widely distributed.
Uniform of Figure A in the Plate:
Large black felt bicorn; wide red braid; red pompom; red cockade; yellow loop and yellow button; red tassels in the corners of the bicorn.
Dark brown coat with lapels of the same colour; yellow piping; brass buttons; red turnbacks; red collar, rounded red cuffs, red shoulder straps.
White waistcoat. White trousers. Beige coloured natural leather gaiters.
Chestnut-brown lace at the bottom of the trouser legs. White espadrilles with wide black laces.
French sabre-briquet with red sword knot. Shoulder belts are white leather. Firearm with brass fittings.
Two regiments of light infantry were raised in 1810 - Number 1 “Castile” and Number 2 “Murcia”. The first regiment’s full dress uniform is shown in the Plate (Figure B) – that of the second regiment had white as the basic colour, with green facings.
On campaign, the soldiers of both regiments wore a grey uniform with long trousers, the outer seams of which were decorated with lace in the facing colour.
Full dress Uniform of the 1st Regiment (Figure B in the Plate):
Black felt shako, reinforced with black leather chevrons; brass chin-scales; dark green plume with red tip; red pompom and red cockade; white cords with flounder; plain brass shako plate.
Royal-blue coat; red collar with white piping; blue turnbacks with red piping and red hunting horns in the corners; green lapels with red piping; green cuffs with red piping; green epaulettes with red crescents.
White waistcoat. Tin buttons. Royal-blue trousers with red lace decoration. Black linen gaiters with red braids and tassels.
Rolled-up beige-coloured greatcoat on top of the knapsack.
The sabre-briquet has a green sword knot with red tassel. Firearm with brass fittings.
The line infantry of King Joseph came into being on 14th December 1808, when a foreign regiment of Austrian, German and Italian soldiers with a strength of 5 battalions – including a so-called depot battalion – was raised. Each of these battalions consists of 6 companies, i.e. 1 grenadier, 1 tirailleur and 4 fusilier companies. Each battalion has its own characteristic uniform, as follows: straw yellow with blue facing for the 1st, turquoise with crimson facing for the 2nd, white with red facing for the 3rd and dark brown with yellow facing for both of the remaining battalions. On 23 January 1809, two new line regiments with a strength of 3 battalions (1 depot battalion) were raised, taking the numbers 1 and 2. With a company strength of about 160 men, each battalion therefore consisted of about 1920 men. For their uniforms, the same specifications as for the foreign regiment applied.
In 1810, four new regiments (Seville, Granada, Cordoba and Jaén) were created following the second French occupation of Andalusia, as well as a further four in the province of La Mancha. However the homeland of Don Quixote was well able to resist the Bonapartes’ assault with the result that only one regiment (Toledo) was actually raised, which furthermore was very weak in numbers.
Finally a second foreign regiment was raised, which was named the “Royal Irish Infantry Regiment”.
By 1811, only 9 of these new formations still existed.
Mr Bueno prepared a table of these, which we will use as the basis for our study, although our president and also Messrs Lienhart and Humbert do not concur fully with it.
(1) Lienhart and Humbert give white as the facing colour of the regiment “Madrid”
(2) Both the Elsässiche Collection and our president, Louis de Beaufort, give sky-blue for the regiment “Toledo”
In addition, the following applies to all regiments:
White waistcoat. White or chestnut-brown trousers. Black gaiters, reaching to under the knee. Shako; Rhombus-shaped shako plate with stamped regimental number; cords in the company’s colours, i.e. red for grenadiers, yellow for voltigeurs and white for fusiliers.
The “Royal Irish Regiment” wore a completely grey uniform, only the collar, cuffs, lapels, piping and turnbacks were straw yellow. Chestnut-brown lapels. Grenadiers wore a kolpak, fusiliers a shako.
Officer of the 6th Regiment (Figure C of the Plate)
Felt shako; gilt lace decoration; Gilt copper shako plate with “6”; gilt cords with flounder; brass chin-scales; red cockade; gold loop; gold holder for the white plume.
Dark brown coat with royal blue lapels, cuffs and collar; gold piping; gilt gorget with the silver initials “JN”; gilt buttons; gilt epaulette and contre-epaulette.
White waistcoat with white buttons. White fustian trousers. Black boots with beige coloured cuffs. Gold épée hilt. White leather waist belt.
Voltigeur of the 3rd Regiment (Figure D of the Plate):
Black felt shako, reinforced by black leather chevrons; green pompom; red cockade; yellow loop; copper chin-scales.
Dark brown coat with black lapels and cuffs; the collar is yellow, because the figure is a voltigeur; yellow piping; green epaulettes with yellow crescents.
White waistcoat. Chestnut-brown trousers. Brass buttons. White gaiters. Rolled-up beige-coloured greatcoat on top of the knapsack. The flask is a beige-coloured gourd with leather strap. Firearm with brass fittings.
 “Soldados de Espana: El uniforme militar espanol desde los Reyes Catolicos hasta Juan Carlos I”
Placed on the Napoleon Series: May 2010
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