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Spanish Cuirassiers - Coraceros Españoles

Organisation

In January 1808, the French formed the 3rd Provisional Cuirassiers (3eme Régiment Provisoire de Grosse Cavalerie) in Perpignan for service in Spain. It entered Barcelona the following month and served in Catalonia until January 1810. At Mollet del Vallès on 21 January 1810 the 2nd squadron was completely defeated by the Spanish Numancia Dragoon regiment. The Spanish used the equipment taken from the casualties and the prisoners to form their own unit of cuirassiers.

El Regimiento de Coraceros Españoles (The Spanish Cuirassier regiment) was formed on 24th May 1810 in Reus (near Tarragona) under the command of Coronel don Juan Malats from parts of the Húsares de Granada and the Cazadores de Olivenza.

The regiment had 360 men divided into 2 squadrons each of 3 companies. One squadron was equipped with the cuirass, helmet and sword captured at Mollet del Vallès.

The Coraceros Españoles took part in many different actions in Catalonia until the end of the war.

Uniforms

The cuirassiers were equipped with the French cuirass with red lining, French helmet (although now with a white plume) and long straight French heavy cavalry sword.

The uniform was provided by the British. It consisted of a red coatee without lapels with green collar and cuffs, white piping and turnbacks and white metal buttons. White epaulettes were worn. White pantaloons and black high boots were worn but could be replaced by grey overalls with a red stipe when on campaign. They had a white cape.

The white sheepskin saddle covers were edged with red wolf's teeth and the shabraque and portmanteau were green with white lace.

Heavy cavalry, and thus presumably even the Cuirassiers, were armed with a straight sword, two pistols and a carbine. The carbine was secured by a hook to the carbine belt hung over the left shoulder. Sergeants did not carry the carbine.

Nothing is known about the uniform worn by the squadron not equipped from French cuirassiers. They could very possibly have worn the same uniform but the headgear is uncertain.

Officers: The officers' uniform would have been the same style as that of the private but of better quality and epaulettes, buttons and lace in silver.

Trumpeters: Nothing is known about the trumpeter's uniform. However it is unlikely that the trumpeters wore the cuirass. One suggested possibility for their uniform, is that they would have worn green coatee with red facings and a white horsehair mane on their helmet. Where possible, they would have ridden greys.

1815

In 1815, two new regiments of cuirassiers were formed. The 1st and 2nd regiments of Caballería de Línea became the 1st and 2nd Cuirassiers. The Coraceros Españoles became the 3rd regiment.

The Coraceros Españoles had the same uniform but the turnback and piping colour changed from white to green. The number 3 was now shown on the shabraque and portmanteau. Trumpeters had yellow coats with green facings and white horizontal lace stripes on the breast.

The 1st Regiment (Rey) had red coats with white facings (collar, cuffs, piping, turnbacks) and the 2nd Regiment (Reina) had blue facings.

Flags

The Royal Decree 1768 required regiments of cavalry (guard, line, dragons and light) to use standards of damask or velvet in blue, red or white depending on the regiment, with the royal arms embroidered on the obverse, and the regiment's arms on the reverse. In the 4 corners, the fleurs de lys must be embroidered in gold or silver. Cravats for all banners and flags should be of red colour, this being the national colour. The finials and fringes were to be gold or silver depending on the regiment. This decree remained in force until 1833.

During this period, regiments carried one standard per squadron.

However it is unknown whether the Coraceros Españoles carried a standard.

Sources

  • Uniformes de la guerra de la Independencia - José María Bueno
  • Osprey – Spanish Armies Of The Napoleonic Wars II
  • Osprey - Napoleon's Cuirassiers and Carabiniers
  • Nafziger – The Armies of Spain and Portugal 1808-14
  • Reglamento provisional de Caballería 1814
  • Reglamento de Caballería 1815