Colourful Napoleonic Spanish army on parade

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I’ve started a long-overdue inspection of all my wargames figures. After the Napoleonic-era British in my last posting, it’s now the turn of the Spanish. These were mostly painted from about 2003 to 2008.

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As with all my Napoleonic armies, I haven’t stuck to one particular order-of-battle, nor indeed to one particular year. So you’ll see my army contains units that never fought together at the same place or time.

My only criteria for a unit to join my army is that it looks good – and the Spanish certainly provide lots of scope for that. For example, just wait till you see the cavalry near the bottom of this posting!

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I painted these Front Rank figures as the La Princessa Regiment, wearing their pre-1808 uniform, as they would have appeared in General Romana’s expedition to Denmark to support the French. They can therefore fight on either side, as they mutinied in Denmark, were rescued by the British, and fought in the Peninsular War.

As they marched through Hamburg on their way to Denmark, they were illustrated by the Suhr brothers, and it is quite clear from their drawings that they wore a mixture of the older blue and current white uniforms. Therefore I painted some of the officers and the sapper in blue uniforms.

One particular feature of Spanish grenadiers were the ornately-decorated bags hanging from the backs of their bearskins. These were devilishly tricky to paint!

The brothers Suhr also showed the blue-checked trousers some men sported whilst passing through Hamburg – I dressed two of my soldiers in these. Plus I painted a few variations of breech and gaiter colours to give a campaign look to the regiment.

A shame, though, that Front Rank don’t model their Spaniards with cigarettes in their mouths, as this seems to have been almost a uniform item for Romana’s expedition!

Note the boy fifer. He is also modelled after Suhr, though Front Rank have increased his height – in the original Suhr drawing he appears no more than about one metre tall!

The flags are by GMB Designs, as usual for me. Unfortunately they did not produce the actual flags for La Princessa, but as the designs of all Spanish flags were fairly similar except for the small crests in the corner, I thought this would be close enough.

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These Front Rank Spanish are wearing the uniforms that were supplied by the British from about 1812 onwards. This can be seen in details such as the style of the shakos (though the coloured ribbons tied round them are a unique Spanish characteristic).

There is some conjecture as to whether Spanish infantry wore dark blue or light blue trousers – I opted for the latter as I thought they looked more colourful.

Spanish soldiers such as these formed the back-bone of Morillo’s division, which fought well in the latter parts of the Peninsular War.

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Cazadores were the Spanish light infantry. I’ve painted this unit in their post-1812 light blue uniform. As with most light troops in my miniature armies, I attached fewer figures on each base than for line infantry battalions, and mixed up the poses to give the effect of skirmishing.

The individually-based figure in the brown and yellow uniform is a Spanish officer figure from Brigade Games. I love his portly stature and casual stance. The sculpt appears to have been based on the Dennis Dighton portrait of Don Juan de Gonzalos, colonel of the Regimiento Imperiales de Toledo, right down to his bushy sideburns and his pose of smoking a cigarette (Spanish soldiers of the period were notorious smokers).

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In the Osprey book Spanish Army of The Napoleonic Wars (2) 1808-1812 there is an illustration of a soldier wearing a simple grey uniform that was supplied by the British in 1810. I thought this rather nondescript uniform might make a change from the more ornate Napoleonic uniforms I had hitherto painted.

I also got a bit brave with this battalion of Front Rank figures, having a go for the first time at swapping heads. If you look closely at the pictures, you’ll see some of the soldiers are wearing civilian headgear which I chopped off some spare Front Rank guerillas. Even more daringly, I changed some feet so that a couple of the soldiers are now wearing espradilles (sandals), which also came from the guerilla figures.

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I’d always fancied a unit of Front Rank’s Spanish guerillas – they looked so enticing in their catalogue. So I finally treated myself, and, boy, was I pleased with them! These would have to be some of the nicest figures Front Rank have produced.

The detail is very well done – even the hairnets worn in some parts of Spain are faithfully reproduced.

The officer with the top hat is a particularly nice rendition of Jose de Espin, one of Don Juan Martin’s chiefs. This figure is based on a Dighton painting, right down to the deaths-head badge on his hat. The other officer is wearing a rather ornate older-style cazadore uniform.

I’ve also added a small baggage train for my guerilla band – they would make a great objective for a scenario-based game.

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The light blue facings of this dragoon regiment indicate that they are the Regimiento de Dragones de Almansa. When I started painting these, I initially thought that the yellow uniforms combined with the red plumes and blue facings would be too much of a ‘Noddy’ effect! But in fact they look splendid on the table.

The figures are 28mm Front Rank Figurines. I used Foundry’s triple paint-set of yellow shade, main and highlight, along with a coat of gryphonne sepia ink at the halfway-point.

The horses were painted using my usual oil-paint technique. This entails spray-painting the horses with rust-coloured car primer, then painting on black or burnt sienna oil paint, and immediately rubbing it off again with a tissue so the rust primer shows through – quick and dirty, but effective!

The flag is somewhat generic, being copied out of a flag book, then flipped to make the reverse side. So it doesn’t represent any real Spanish dragoon unit, but is near enough for my purposes.

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These Front Rank generals were painted years before I began experimenting with layering, so the colours are quite flat.

In the top picture, a couple of haughty Spanish general officers ride in front of the infantry. One general is wearing the full-dress red breeches.

And if red breeches weren’t colourful enough, that is nothing to the candy-coloured light green and blue uniform of the ADC! This figure is based on a Dighton print of Lt.Col. Lardizabel, aide to General Ballasteros.

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The Perry twins produce a couple of very nice sets of Spanish civilians, perfect for populating a village on the Peninsula or watching as their boys march off to battle. I particularly like the old woman in the traditional black dress.

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So there we have it – a small but varied Spanish army. It is probably too small, and lacking in artillery, to fight by itself. But it makes a good allied force with my British.

  • See the next inspection parade: Portuguese
  • See the previous inspection parade: British
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25 thoughts on “Colourful Napoleonic Spanish army on parade

  1. Very inspiring, Roly. You’ve convinced me to start painting up some Spanish and Portuguese that have languished unpainted for years.

  2. Another great parade, and I have to say that painting 28mm Napoleonic Spanish has been one of my most satisfying projects to date. I also wholeheartedly agree with you regarding the Front Rank guerrillas, lovely sculpts and with a lot of variety.

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