Military Subjects: Organization, Strategy & Tactics


Uniforms of the Portuguese 6th Cacadores in 1811

By Robert Burnham, FINS

6th Cacadores 1811

6th Cacadores 1811

Probably the best trained units of the Portuguese Army were the light infantry, known as the Cacadores. The 1st and 3rd Cacadores Battalions were so well trained they were combined with British battalions to form the brigades of the famed Light Division. These two battalions undoubtedly the best known Portuguese units. Although not as famous as the 1st and 3rd Battalions, the 6th Cacadores had a record that almost matched them. The 6th fought at Busaco in 1810, was the only Portuguese unit to be engaged in the vicious street fighting for the village of Fuentes d'Orno, was part of the force that surprised and destroyed Girard's Division at Arroyo dos Molinos, assaulted the forts at Almaraz, and fought at Vittoria, in the Pyrenees, and at Nivelle.

The 6th Cacadores was formed in 1809 and initially recruited from the Oporto area. It had six companies with an authorized strength of 695 officers and enlisted soldiers.

Headgear. The cacadores wore the stovepipe shako with a dark green plume above a red and blue cockade. The front of the shako had a brass bugle. The battalion's number would also be on the front above the horn. The shakos in the Portuguese Army Museum at Busaco clearly show the numbers above the horn for the 2nd, 5th, and 8th Cacadores. However, the 6th Cacadores' number may not have followed this practice. In the image to the right, noted Portuguese military artist Colonel Arthur Ribeiro depicts the 6th Cacadores with the number inside the horn! In all likelihood, the number was above the horn.

Jacket. The cacadores wore a dark brown jacket with short tails. The 6th Cacadores' jacket had yellow pointed cuffs and a yellow collar. The jacket was piped black down the front and along the bottom edge. The collar was also piped black, while the cuffs' piping was black with trefoils. There were two buttons on each sleeve: one on the cuff and one right above the cuff. The front of the jacket had eight rows of lace frogging, with a black button on the ends and in the center of each row. The shoulder straps were brown with black piping and had tuffs on the end.

Trousers. The trousers were the same color as jacket and if available, would have been worn with black gaiters.

6th Cacadores 1811

6th Cacadores 1811

Equipment. All belting and straps were black. Although the cacadores wore only a single cross belt, they also wore a waist belt. Attached to the waist belt was the ammunition pouch and a bayonet on the left side. The knapsack was brown with a gray blanket.

Weapons. In 1811 cacadores were still armed with a musket.

Officers. The Cacadores officer's uniform was similar in cut and design to the enlisted soldier's. The only noticeable distinctions were the crimson sash with silver tassels tied on the right, gold buttons, and gold epaulets. The sword knot was crimson and gold. Instead of gaiters, officers wore Hessian boots.

The Uniform on Campaign. The photograph on the right is a uniform worn by a soldier of the 6th Cacadores. (The shako is one worn by a soldier in the 5th Cacadores.) At least one source noted that the quality of the dyes in the cacadores uniform was so poor, that after repeated exposure to the hardship of campaigning, the dark brown color faded to khaki, while the black frogging turned almost white. The dark green plume also faded considerably to a very light brown.

Bibliography

Finke, Detmar H. "Portuguese Light Infantry: 1764 - 2824" Empires, Eagles and Lions Issue 89 15 July 1985; Pages 10 - 14.

Haythornthwaite, Philip. Uniforms of the Peninsular War: 1807 - 1814 Poole : Blandford Press; 1978.

Nafziger, George. The Armies of Spain and Portugal: 1808 - 1814 Privately Published; 1993.

Ribeiro, Arthur. Military Prints of the Portuguese Army

Verner, Willoughby. The History and Campaigns of the Rifle Brigade: 1800 - 1813 London : Buckland and Brown; 1905.

Von Pivka, Otto. The Portuguese Army of the Napoleonic Wars London : Osprey; 1977.

Windrow, Martin and Gary Embleton. Military Dress of the Peninsular War: 1808 - 1814 New York : Hippocrene Books; 1974.

 

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