Spanish Army

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Hierarchical Path: Seven Years War (Main Page) >> Armies >> Spanish Army

Introduction

When Philip V, the first Bourbon, was crowned, the Spanish army amounted to a balanced force of nearly 20,000 men. Out of this limited force, 8,000 men were garrisoning the Netherlands (Pays-Bas) and 6,000 were gathered around Milan (Italy). Only 6,000 men remained to defend Spain.

The king himself had a part-time guard (practically acting as an honour guard only for special occasions) composed by “artisans” living in Madrid and voluntary serving at the Palace with a turn system.

In 1701, Philip began a sort of reorganization, but the levies were poorly conducted. The cooperation of the priests and alcaldes was low. Most of all officers were not put in charge of their men. Mass desertion of recruits was unavoidable with consequent loss of weapons and equipments.

After 1706, however the situation improved and for example, the region of Estremadura alone, gave 12,000 men. Even after 1711, a year of military disasters, Vendôme found the army in a “respectable” shape and after a rapid reorganization of the units he was able to employ them and to win the battles of Brihuega and Villaviciosa. Indeed, Spain had made an immense effort. At its peak, the army consisted of 120 battalions and 103 squadrons while artillery reached a maximum of 300 guns and 40 mortars. (Coxe, t.I- Lettre de Tesse’ a Chamillarl). This army was organised along French lines. Officers were now in charge of their company’s equipment (fondo de masita), armament and dress (fondo de mesa). Furthermore, for each unit a War Council (conseil de guerre) was created. Similarly, charges of commissaries, ordonnateurs and intendants d’armée were created .

On January 31 1734, a totally new concept of “second line” army of Reserve was introduced. This army consisted of 33 regiments of Provincial militia (Antequera, Historia de la legislacion espanola.- Barado, Museo Militar).

Ferdinand VI, who succeeded Philip V had a peaceful reign. In 1751, a proposal was made to the Sovereign for an augmentation of the army, consisting of 57 squadrons and 41 battalions, in order to reach, in case of mobilisation a total force of 100 battalions and 100 squadrons. The proposal included a request for the acquisitions of a total of 20 foreign battalions from Swizerland and little German states. Even if Ferdinand VI rejected the proposed plan, thereafter, under the direction of the War Minister Don Sebastian Eslava, of the Marquis de la Mina, of the Count de Revillagigedo, of Don Jayme Masones de Lima, of Don Antonio Manso and others, a series of reforms were elaborated.

On October 22 1768, after 20 years, the results of this Commission were published in Madrid in a 2-volumes in-quarto edition with the Title: Ordonnances Royal pour le gouvernement, la discipline, la subordination et le service de ses armées. (See Clonard). Charles III completed the military reorganisation with a reform of the militia and of the War Council.

Household Units

Household Infantry

Real Guardia de Alabarderos
Regimiento de Guardias Españolas
Regimiento de Guardias Valonas

Household Cavalry

Reales Guardias de Corps
Brigada de Carabineros Reales

Line Infantry

Spanish Line Infantry Regiments

Organisation
Generalities about the uniform
Generalities about the colours

Castilla (Rey in 1766)

Lombardía
Galicia
Saboya
Corona
Africa
Zamora
Soria
Córdoba

Guadalajara

Sevilla
Granada
Vitoria
Lisboa
España
Toledo
Mallorca
Burgos

Murcia

Leon
Cantabria
Asturias
Navarra
Aragón
Fijo de Ceuta
Fijo de Oran
Reina

N.B.: Some authors also list Princesa, Fijo de Badajoz (later renamed Fijo de Extremadura), Principe and Real America as part of the Spanish line infantry. However, these regiments were raised after the Seven Years' War: Real America in 1764, Princesa in 1765, Fijo de Badajoz in 1767 and Príncipe in 1767.

Italian Line Infantry Regiments

Nápoles
Milán

Irish Line Infantry Regiments

Irlanda
Hibernia
Ultonia

Walloon Line Infantry Regiments

Flándes
Brabante
Bruselas

Swiss Line Infantry Regiments

Organisation

Antiguo de Reding
Nuevo de Reding
Dunant
Buch

Other units

Marines

Even though the Marines administratively belonged to the Navy, they often acted in conjunction with units of the Spanish line infantry regiments.

Cuerpo de Batallones de Marina (8 battalions since 1753)

Colonial troops

Fijo de la Habana, in Cuba
Regimiento del Rey, in the Philippine Islands
...

Militias

On January 31 1734, a totally new concept of “second line” army of Reserve was introduced. This army consisted of 33 regiments of Provincial militia (Antequera, Historia de la legislacion espanola.- Barado, Museo Militar).

Organisation
Generalities about the uniform
Generalities about the colours

Antequera

Málaga
Guadix
Ronda
Alpujarras
Bujalance
Ciudad Rodrigo
Palencia
Logroño
Siguenza
Zamora

Soria

Orense
Santiago
Pontevedra
Tuy
Betanzos
Santander
Jaén
Badajoz
Sevilla
Sevilla
Burgos

Lugo

Granada
Leon
Oviedo
Córdoba
Murcia
Trujillo
Jerez
Carmona
Niebla
Ecija

Cavalry

Line Cavalry

Organisation
Generalities about the uniform
Generalities about the colours

Reina

Milán
Borbón
Ordenes
Farnesio
Alcantara
Extremadura
Barcelona
Malta

Brabante

Flandes
Algarve
Andalucia
Calatrava
Granada
Sevilla
Santiago
Montesa
Costa de Granada

Dragoons

Organisation
Generalities about the uniform
Generalities about the colours

Reina

Bélgica
Batavia
Pavia
Frisia

Sagunto

Edimburgo
Numancia
Lusitania
Merida

Artillery

Real Artilleria
Corps of Engineers

Light Troops

Migueletes Catalanes

In 1762, two additional light units were raised in preparation for the war against Portugal:

Voluntarios de Aragon
Voluntarios de Cataluña

Logistic

Medical services

References

  • ETAT general Des Troupes Espagnoles, sur pié en 1760. Jacques Andre Frederic, Augsbourg

Acknowledgments

Juan José Torres and the Asociación Cultural de Modelismo Histórico Alabarda as well as Dr. Marco Pagan for the information and advices provided for this article.