Spanish Royal Artillery Corps
The Spanish Royal Artillery Corps (Real Cuerpo de Artillería) traces its roots to 1701 but was not formed as a corps until 1710.
In 1806 the Royal Artillery was reorganised to consist of 4 field regiments, each of 2 battalions, each of 5 companies. One company of each battalion of the first 3 regiments was horse artillery. The gave an organisation of 34 foot and 6 horse batteries. They were equipped with 240 guns; 6 per battery.
Each battery of horse artillery was to be provided with 68 draft horses, being the number required for the six cannon (4 4-pdr guns and 2 6-inch howitzers). Horses for the ammunition caissons were not needed for training in times of peace, but were to be purchased when war was declared.
Except in the case of the horse batteries, nothing was done to provide the artillery with its own train. This left the foot artillery at the mercy of civilian contractors and teamsters; a problem that all other nations in the Napoleonic Wars had by this date already corrected.
The corps also contained 5 companies of artisans and 15 companies of garrison artillery in 1806, those of Ceuta and Mallorca being added to bring the total to 17 in 1808. There were also 62 companies of veteran artillery, 74 companies of militia artillery and 4 of urban militia artillery. These are not covered here.
A foot artillery company had a strength of 111 (3 officers and 108 men) and a horse artillery company of 89 (4 officers and 85 men).
A Decree of 27 October 1808 ordered the setting up of more horse artillery and in early 1809 the Brigade Maniobrera was formed in Seville by Mariscal de Campo (Major General) Don Vicente María de Maturana y Altemir. The brigade contained 3 horse artillery batteries. They were equipped with special cannons designed by Maturana himself. They were 4-pdr guns which had been bored out to take an 8-pdr shot. They joined the army of La Mancha and first saw action on 22 February 1809 at Consuegra.
On 23 November 1810 two squadrons of horse artillery were created, one in Alicante and the other in Mallorca.
On 20 December 1810 a 5th regiment of foot artillery was formed on Mallorca.
On 13 March 1811 the artillery was reorganised. It now consisted of 4 (later increased to 6) squadrons of horse artillery (each of 3 companies) and 5 regiments of foot artillery (each of 10 companies).
On 16 September 1813 5 (later increased to 6) train battalions were formed, each containing 2 artillery train companies and 1 cargo train company. The train company had a strength of 104 (2 officers and 102 men) with 132 mules and 40 horses.
The uniforms of the artillery were blue with red piping, as traditionally used by most countries at that time.
From 1804, the collar badge for the artillery was a brass/gold flaming bomb.
The following rank distinctions were used throughout the period:
A "counter-epaulette" (with no fringe) was sometimes worn on the opposite shoulder of those who wore only a single epaulette.
1808 Foot Artillery
The uniform was a dark blue long-tailed coat with blue lapels piped red with red cuffs. Buttons were brass. The waistcoat was dark blue with red piping. Breeches were dark blue and the gaiters were black. The headgear was a black felt bicorne edged with yellow lace, the red Spanish cockade and red plume.
Officers: They had the same style uniform as that of the gunners but of better quality. The coat was long tailed and had gold lace, gold buttons and gold epaulettes. The bicorne was edged with gold lace. Black boots were worn and white breeches could replace the blue when off duty.
1808 Horse Artillery
The uniform was a dark blue short-tailed coat with blue lapels piped red with red collar and cuffs. Buttons were brass. The waistcoat was dark blue with red piping. They wore dark blue overalls reinforced with black leather and a yellow stipe down the outside. Black hussar style boots were worn. The headgear was a black shako in the style used by Cazadores with yellow lace, the red Spanish cockade, red plume and brass front plate.
Officers: They had the same style uniform as that of the gunners but of better quality. They wore dark blue breeches with a gold stripe down the outside and gold Hungerian knots. Gold lace and gold buttons replaced the yellow and gold epaulettes were worn.
Train: The 1802 regulations say that the drivers would have the same uniform as the sergeants but without epaulettes.
1809 Brigade Maniobrera Horse Artillery
The uniform was similar to that already in use by the horse artillery differing mainly in that it had white metal buttons and lace around the lapels as well as the helmet instead of a shako. The helmet was in black leather, with black crest and brass fittings. It had a red plume above the red Spanish cockade. It was not unlike the British Tarleton helmet.
Officers: Nothing is known about the officers' uniform, but it could be expected to be the same style as that of the private but better quality, with silver replacing the white metal and worn with epaulettes in silver and perhaps a gilt gorget.
Train: Although as Horse Artillery would have been provided with its own train, I can find no information on its uniform other than the 1802 regulation which says that the drivers would have the same uniform as the sergeants but without epaulettes.
It is uncertain whether the shako started being used in 1810 or 1811. My guess is that its use started in 1810 but that it did not become regulation until 1811.
Unlike the infantry, the basic artillery uniform was unchanged throughout the period, their being a number of smaller changes from time to time.
Foot Artillery: The bicorne has been replaced by a black shako with the gilt bomb badge, red cords and a red pom-pom above the red Spanish cockade. The coat tails became short and trousers replaced the breeches.
Horse Artillery: The uniform was basically the same as for foot artillery, except that the horse artillery wore overalls reinforced with black leather.
Officers: Officers continued to wear the long tailed coat, but could now wear the shako with gold lace or continue to use the bicorne. Waistcoat and breeches should be blue, however white could be used in summer or when off duty.
1813 Foot Artillery
This illustrations shows a artillerist as he would have appeared at the Battle of Vitoria. The single band of yellow lace on the cuff identifies his rank as a Lance Bombardier (lance corporal). He wears a leather portfire case which was used to carry and protect lengths of quick-match or portfire.
Officers: A the war progressed, officers' uniforms could be more extravagant. One print shows an artillery officer wearing a black fur busby with red bag and gold tassel together with baggy red Marmeluke-style trousers.
1813 Artillery Train
The uniform was a grey short-tailed coat with dark blue facings (lapels, collar, cuffs and turnbacks) piped red. Buttons were white metal. The waistcoat red. They wore grey breeches, later replaced by grey overalls probably reinforced with black leather. The helmet was in black leather, with black crest and metal fittings. It had a red plume above the red Spanish cockade. It was not unlike the British Tarleton helmet.
There seems to be uncertainty whether the fittings on the helmet were brass or white metal and whether the collar badge was in brass/gold or white metal/silver.
Officers: The officers wore the same uniform but with long tailed coats, bicornes could replace the helmet and, in the summer, white linen trousers. Rank insignia would have been in silver rather than gold.
The close association of the Spanish and French Bourbon ruling houses gave a strong French influence to Spanish artillery equipment.
The Spanish went over to the modern French Gribeauval system and by 1780, the foundries in Seville and Barcelona were producing over 500 bronze and iron cannon per year to this system.
The pound weight was at this time different throughout Europe. London, Paris, Madird and Seville all had different weights. Note the weights were not even constant within Spain. For the construction of the Gribeauval cannon the French pound (Livre de Paris) was chosen for the Spanish artillery.
The Spanish used the following field artillery:
* Not a Gribeauval design
In addition to the cannons, the Spanish also used limbers and caissons of Gribeauval design.
The Spanish painted their artillery equipment in a cobalt blue grey colour, which when exposed to weather and wind for years, faded to a light grey. The metalwork was painted black.
Except in the case of the horse batteries, nothing was done prior to 1813 to provide the artillery with its own transport, with the result that it was still left at the mercy of civilian contractors and teamsters; a problem that all other nations in the Napoleonic Wars had by this date already corrected. In moments of danger, the civilian contractors and teamsters were prone to flew with their teams, thus protecting their teams and their livelihoods. This unfortunately left the cannon immobile, unable either to manoeuvre against the enemy or to retire.
Despite attempts to improve horse breeding prior to the start of the Napoleonic Wars, Spain was a "mule nation" rather than a "horse nation". The Spanish army had problems finding enough horses to equip both its cavalry and its artillery. A small proportion of the artillery and its equipment was horse-drawn, the majority was mule-drawn and some even oxen-drawn.