Military Subjects: Organization, Strategy & Tactics


The Baden Army at the Battle of Talavera 27 - 28 July 1809

 By Robert Burnham

Many non-French units served with the various French armies during the Peninsular War. These units came from almost every country in the French Empire and varied in size from a battery to multi-battalion regiments. Most fought in areas that did not bring them into contact with the British-Portuguese forces under the Duke of Wellington, so their service is not well known. The exception was the "German Division," under the command of General Leval and assigned as the 2nd Division of General Sevastiani's IV Corps of the Army of the Center. The troops in the German Division five different countries and was divided into three brigades:

1st Brigade (Oberst von Porbeck from Baden)

  • 2nd Nassau Infantry Regiment (2 Battalions)
  • 4th Baden Infantry Regiment (2 Battalions)
  • Baden Foot Artillery Battery (8 6 pound cannons)

2nd Brigade (General Chasse from Holland)

  • Holland Infantry Regiment (the 1st Battalion 2nd Infantry and the 2nd Battalion 4th Infantry)
  • 3rd Dutch Horse Artillery Battery (6 6 pound cannons)

3rd Brigade (General Grandjean from France)

  • Hesse-Darmstadt Gross und Erbprinz Infantry Regiment (2 Battalions)
  • Frankfurt Infantry Battalion

The purpose of this paper is to examine the organization and uniforms of the Baden contingent of the German Division. This contingent entered Spain in late 1808, fought at Medellin, and after Talavera did not see much combat until the battle of Vittoria. There they were disarmed after trying to defect to the British.

4th Infantry Regiment

The Duchy of Baden sent the 4th Infantry Regiment and one artillery battery to Spain as to fulfill part of its military obligation under the Confederation of the Rhine. The 4th Infantry Regiment, like the Holland Regiment, was formed by taking the 1st Battalion 4th Regiment and the 2nd Battalion, 3rd Regiment. The regiment was organized along French lines, with each battalion having a grenadier, voltigeur, and four fusilier companies. A company was authorized 140 men, with the battalion strength of approximately 840. A major commanded each battalion, while the regimental commander was a colonel, who had a staff of fifteen officers, NCOs, and men. The fusilier companies in the 1st Battalion were numbered 1, 3, 5, and 7, while the companies in the 2nd Battalion were numbered 2, 4, 6, and 8. Estimated strength of each battalion at Talavera was between 500 and 600 effectives.


1st Battalion 4th Regiment

1st Battalion 4th Regiment

Headgear: The Baden infantry initially wore a Bavarian style black leather kasket, with a black crown raised at the front and sloping down to the rear. A brass comb that had red fringes on the side supported this crown. The 1st Battalion's kasket had white V shaped reinforcing bindings on the sides, while the 2nd Battalion's kasket were of brass. At the front base of the helmet was a brass plate with the motto "Grossherzoglich-Badishes Infanterie Regiment IV" engraved in it. (The 2nd Battalion probably still had Grossherzoglich-Badishes Infanterie Regiment III" engraved in theirs.) Above this band, was "an oval plate embossed with the Grand Ducal coat-of-arms, an oval shield with diagonal band left to right and surmounted by a crown." (Rawkins) On the left side, directly below the plume, was the Baden yellow cockade with a red center. Chinstraps were white metal for the 1st Battalion and probably brass for the 2nd Battalion. Grenadiers wore white plumes, while voltigeurs wore green plumes. Fusiliers did not wear plumes.

There is some disagreement whether the 4th Regiment wore the kasket at Talavera. Rawkins states that the regiment was issued with French shakos shortly after arrival in Spain. Unfortunately he does not give a date when this occurred. Gill states that the regiment did not receive new uniforms until 1810, but does not mention specifically their headgear. Haythornthwaite also states "Initially the artillery (and infantry) wore the black leather helmet... the French style shako was adopted later." They probably wore the kasket, however if they did wear the shako at Talavera, it would have had a brass grenade plate on the front, above which was the Baden cockade. Grenadiers wore a red plume, voltigeurs a green plume, while fusiliers had a white pompom.

2nd Battalion 4th Regiment

2nd Battalion 4th Regiment

Coat: The Baden infantry coat was a long tail, dark blue coat, with square lapels and a V neck collar. The turnbacks were red, while the cuffs, lapels, and collar were in the regimental facing color. The lapels had six buttons on each side, while the square cuffs had one on the cuff and two on the sleeves above the cuff. The 1st Battalion's facing color was white and all buttons were brass. The 2nd Battalion's facing color was poppy red and all buttons were white metal. White waistcoats and a black stock around the neck were also worn. Grenadiers wore red epaulets, while voltigeurs wore green epaulets. Rawkins states that the fusiliers had shoulder straps in their facing color, however they may have been dark blue.

Trousers and Overcoats: White breeches and black knee high gaiters with brass buttons were worn. Single-breasted, gray overcoats were authorized.

Equipment: A brown leather backpack with white straps and brass fittings, white crossbelts, black ammunition pouch with a oval brass plate, and a sabre-briquet were standard issue. Bayonet scabbards were carried on the left side.

 

4th Infantry Regiment Casualties during the Battle of Talavera: The exact number of casualties for the regiment is unknown, however it was probably high. Colonel De Porbeck, the 4th Infantry Regiment commander who was also the brigade commander, was killed. 

The Artillery

The Duchy of Baden included an artillery battery as part of its contingent in Spain. There is some confusion on the organization, strength, and size of guns in this battery. Gill states that it was the 3rd Foot Battery, while Rawkins claims that it was a composite battery formed by taking half the men and guns of the Baden Horse Artillery Battery and half from the Baden Foot Artillery Battery. This would have given the battery four twelve-pound guns and four light six pound guns. The battery was probably equipped with eight six-pound guns. Strength would have been close to 200 officers, gunners, and drivers.

Baden Horse Artillery

Baden Horse Artillery

Headgear: The artillerymen probably wore the infantry style kasket, without the regimental distinctions. The kasket had a brass triangular plate and horse artillerymen wore a white plume. Foot artillerymen wore no plume. The artillery may have worn shakos. (See above)

Coat: The artillery wore the infantry style uniform, but with black facings. Cuffs were square with two buttons along the top edge. Yellow button lace on the lapels and cuffs may still have been worn.

Trousers and Overcoats: Breeches were gray with knee high gaiters with brass buttons for the foot artillery. The horse artillery wore fawn or white breeches with knee high boots with yellow piping at the top. The artillerymen wore the infantry greatcoats.

Equipment: Equipment was the same as what the infantry wore, except the ammunition pouch had brass cross cannons on it.

Baden Artillery Casualties during the Battle of Talavera: Exact number of casualties is unknown, however the battery's two captains were both wounded.


Bibliography

German Army Museum Postcards. These postcards are a series dealing with the Baden Army over the years. The artist signature is illegible, however the date on the painting is 1907.

"Grossherz. Badischer Infaterie-Regiment "Markgraf Ludwig" 1806; Postcard A20.

"Grossherz. Badisches Infanterie- Regiment "v. Harrant" 1806; Postcard A21

"Baden Reitende Artillerie 1807"; Postcard B18

"Fussartillerist Baden, 1805"; Postcard B24

Gill, John h.: With Eagles to Glory: Napoleon and His German Allies in the 1809 Campaign; Greenhill Books, London; 1992; P. 212.

Haythornwaite, Philip: Uniforms of the Peninsular War: 1807-1814; Blandford Press, Dorset; 1978. P. 151.

Martinien, A.: Tableaux Par Corps et Par Batailles des Officiers Tues et Blesses Pendant les Guerres de L'Empire (1805-1815); Editions Militaires, Paris; P. 787.

Oman, Charles. A History of the Peninsular War Vol. 2; Oxford : AMS: 1980.

Rawkins, W.J.: The Armies of Baden and Wurttemberg: 1806-14; H.M.R. Group; 1979; p. 29.

Von Pivka, Otto. Napoleon's German Aliies (2): Nassau and Oldenburg; London : Osprey; 1976.

 

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