Fijo de la Habana

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Hierarchical Path: Seven Years War (Main Page) >> Armies >> Spanish Army >> Fijo de la Habana

Origin and History

The first troops to garrison the Island of Cuba were those of Governor Diego Velasquez who, in 1515, installed 100 men under the command of a captain on the point of Havana. By 1590, this garrison counted 300 men now designated as the troops of the “Presidarias de la Habana”. By 1634, the garrison counted 450 men and a fort designated as “La Fuerza” was constructed to accommodate them.

On April 11 1719, the companies of the garrison were amalgamated into a Batallon fijo de la Habana consisting of 6 fusilier companies of 100 men each, 1 grenadier company of 100 men, 1 cavalry company and 1 artillery company. The staff of this battalion consisted of one commandant, one adjutant, one chaplain, one surgeon and 1 tambour-major. Each company consisted of:

  • 1 captain
  • 1 lieutenant-colonel
  • 1 sub-lieutenant
  • 1 alferez
  • 2 sergeants
  • 8 corporals
  • 2 drummers
  • 88 soldiers

Considering the difficulties of recruitment, each company was authorised to include 20 men native from Havana on the condition that they were of Spanish ascendancy and they do not occupy any other charge in the colony.

The garrison had to man several forts: Morro, Punta, Fuerza, Cogimar and Chorrera. The small detachments occupying these forts were relieved each eight days. Another detachment occupied the more distant Fort of Matanzas and, for this reason, was relieved only each two months.

In 1719, 100 men of the battalion under Captain Don Alfonso Carrascosa embarked aboard a squadron commanded by Brigadier Don Gregorio Guaso, governor of Cuba. This squadron captured two French frigates when the Fort of Panzacola (present-day Pensacola) surrendered and brought back the captured officers to Cuba. Then the detachment of the battalion returned to Pensacola and occupied the town. Pensacola was then attacked by six ships of the line and the detachment was completely defeated despite its brave resistance.

In 1727, five additional companies of 50 men each arrived from Spain to reinforce the garrison who had to prevent the incursions of buccaneers. These new companies were nicknamed “Blanquillos”.

In 1742, during the War of the Austrian Succession, part of the battalion joined the force of approx. 2,000 men (including militia) sent to destroy the plantations of the British colony of Georgia. The expedition was a failure. In 1747, part of the battalion reinforced the fleet of Lieutenant-General Don Andres Regio. On October 12, 1748, this detachment took part in the Battle of Havana against the British fleet of Rear-Admiral Charles Knowles.

The unit took part in all the conflicts in the Caribbean Sea, including the interventions in Florida.

On April 8 1753, the viceroy of New Spain, the Count de Revilla-Gigedo, received instructions from the king to reorganise the units of his forts of Santiago de Cuba, San Agustin de Florida and San Marcos de Apalache. The old battalion was transformed into a regiment designated as the "Regimiento de Infanteria fijo de La Habana" and increased to:

  • 4 battalions, each consisting of:
    • 5 fusilier coys
    • 1 grenadiers coy
  • 4 dragoons squadrons designated as Dragones de la Habana
    • 54 mounted dragoons
    • 21 foot dragoons
  • 1 artillery coy

The staff of the new regiment consisted of:

  • 1 colonel (also commanding a company)
  • 1 lieutenant-colonel (also commanding a company)
  • 4 commandants
  • 1 sergeant-major
  • 1 adjutant-major
  • 3 second (?)
  • 1 chaplain
  • 1 surgeon
  • 1 tambour-major

Each company consisted of:

  • 1 captain
  • 1 lieutenant
  • 1 sub-lieutenant
  • 1 alferez
  • 2 sergeants
  • 7 corporals (only 4 corporals in the grenadier company)
  • 83 soldiers (only 44 soldiers in the grenadier company)

The new regiment had to send two detachments (450 men and 310 men) to Florida.

Troops were usually recruited in the Canary Islands and in Mexico from white peoples. Exceptionally, drummers were often black peoples.

During the Seven Years' War, the regiment was under the command of:

  • Colonel Alejandro Arroyo

After the capture of Havana by the British in 1762, the regiment was disbanded.

A new regiment of 2 battalions was raised in July 1763. It was increased to 3 battalions in 1786 and disbanded in 1898.

Service during the War

In 1762, during the British siege of Havana, 700 men of the regiment formed part of the garrison. At the capitulation of the city, the regiment ceased to exist.

Uniform

Privates

Uniform in 1762 - Source: Ibrahim90
Uniform Details
Headgear
Musketeer black tricorne laced yellow with a red cockade fastened with a yellow button
Grenadier no information available
Neckstock white
Coat blue with yellow buttons on the right side; one yellow button on each side in the small of the back
Collar yellow
Shoulder Straps n/a
Lapels none
Pockets no information available, probably horizontal with 3 yellow buttons
Cuffs yellow with 3 yellow buttons
Turnbacks blue
Waistcoat yellow with yellow buttons
Breeches blue
Gaiters white
Leather Equipment
Crossbelt natural leather
Waistbelt natural leather
Cartridge Box natural leather
Bayonet Scabbard black
Scabbard brown


Armaments consisted of a musket and a bayonet. Fusiliers carried a sword (brass hilt) while the grenadiers had a sabre.

Officers

The colonel, lieutenant-colonel sargentos mayores and officers carried a spontoon and an officer stick. They used to hang this stick at the second button of the coat. The type of handle of the officer stick was different for each rank:

  • gold for the colonel
  • silver for the lieutenant-colonel
  • silver (but only one finger wide) for the Sargento Mayor and the captains
  • ivory for assistants, lieutenants and for the chaplain
  • wooden with a silver ring for sub-lieutenants

Sergeants carried a halberd instead of a spontoon. Furthermore, their officer stick had no handle.

Musicians

no information available yet

Colours

Coronela: White with a red Burgundian cross; corner devices consisting of a medallion carrying the regimental badge (three golden towers and an golden key on an azure field) surmounted by a golden crown; centre device consisting of the arms of Charles III surrounded by the necklace of the order of the Toison de Oro (Golden Fleece).

Sencillas: White with a red Burgundian cross; corner devices consisting of a medallion carrying the regimental badge (three golden towers and an golden key on an azure field) surmounted by a golden crown.

Tentative reconstruction of the Coronela Colour - Source: Richard Couture based on information provided by Volker Scholz
Tentative reconstruction of a Sencilla Colour - Source: Richard Couture based on information provided by Volker Scholz

References

This article is mostly made of abridged and adapted excerpts from the following books which are now in the public domain:

  • Clonard, Conde de, Historia Orgánica de las Armas de Infantería y Caballería, vol. XI, Madrid, 1851-62, pp. 420-431

Other sources La guerra del asiento in "Guerreros y Batallas" N° 59, Almana 2010

Acknowledgment

Jean-Pierre Loriot for gathering information for this article.

Volker Scholz for information on colours.