Monday, August 30, 2010

Division de la Romana in Hamburg 1807-1808

One of my favorite Napoleonic games is Capitán, a large skirmish style game ('but not' as they would say), I will be coming back to  Capitán in much more detail in a couple of weeks, when they have released their 1813-1814 expansion, with some hopefully interesting scenarios.

However while looking over the site I came across a link to the Ars Tactica blog which had an interesting post about the 1807/08 Spanish expedition to Denmark. If you recall it was the remnants of this expedition left behind in Denmark that went on to form the Joesph Napoleon Regiment that I covered in an earlier post. I thought the sketches were worthy of note and might help if you are interested in the expedition or the background of the JNR.

If you have played Capitán before you will recognise some of the graphic's which are used on the site and in the game, as noted below these were painted from sketches by the Suhr Brothers as the expedition marched north through Hamburg. I think the original source is probably the book "Abbildung der Uniformen aller in Hamburg seit den Jahren 1806 bis 1815 einquartirt gewesener Truppen" of which only four copies are known to exist of which more below and at Napoleon-Series.

King Charles IV of Spain, bullied and pressured by Napoleon, agreed in 1807 to provide a division to bolster the French army in Germany. La Romana was made commander of this "Division del Norte" and spent 1807 and 1808 performing garrison duties in Hamburg and later Denmark under Marshal Bernadotte where it was sent after the British attacked Copenhagen with the goal of protecting the country, another ally of Napoleon and also hopefully to be part of a planned invasion of Sweden. When the Peninsular War broke out, La Romana made plans to repatriate his men to Spain with the help of the British. That 9,000 men of the 14,000-strong division were able to board British ships on August 27th and escape to Spain despite Bernadotte having been warned by Napoleon of such a possibility, was chiefly due to La Romana's subterfuge and organizational skills. Back in Spain La Romana and the Division del Norte disembarked in Santander, the division fought under Blake in the Battles of Valmaseda and Espinosa in November when it was effectively destroyed though La Romana subsequently drove the French from Asturias. In 1809, he was appointed to the Central Junta and served until 1810. He then returned to military operations under Wellington but died suddenly on January 23, 1811 without again seeing major action

"In a procession of carts and mules, loaded with their household appliances, dark-haired wives and semi-naked children, the sons of Tajo and Manzanares made their boisterous entry into the Hanseatic City on the Alster. What a grotesque scene! -- these small, vivacious Southerners, with swarthy complexions and coal-black hair, noisy, restless and emotional, resembling a giant horde of wandering gipsies, suddenly broke into the subdued, correct and cultured atmosphere created by the serious, tall, fair-haired North Germans. The memory of these strange guests, who in the northern fogs often wished themselves back under the hot southern sun, and amidst the picturesque disorder of their native land, has been preserved in numerous etchings by Peter Suhr. These strangers from the South, in the streets of Hamburg, or busily at work erecting fortifications, were an unceasing source of amusement to old and young alike, and had to tolerate a good deal of good-natured chaff from the tall Burgergardisten, who appeared like giants beside Gulliver's dwarfs."

"A detachment of infantry and thirty dragoons from the Princesa, Zamora and El Rey regiments furnished the guard outside the quarters of the Prince of Pontecorvo, who in his native Basque dialect had no difficulty in making himself understood among the Spaniards."

From Friedrich Wencker-Wildberg's Bernadotte: a Biography. London: Jarrolds, 1936. P. 191-192

From Ars Tactcia:
Fifteen thousand of Spains  finest troops, commanded by Teniente General Marquis de la Romana were lent to Napoleon in 1807 and stationed in Denmark to support the French, after they mutinied in Denmark, they were rescued by the British, and fought in the Peninsular War.

As they marched North through Hamburg in 1807 on their way to Denmark, they were illustrated by the Suhr brothers, and it is quite clear from their drawings that there were a mixture of the older blue and current white uniforms.

The plates are from a private collection and painted by José María Bueno, they are first published since 1978, when they were painted.

The Catalonian light troops have the new uniform, equipped at french service.

Cataluña Officer (Captain) - Oficial (Capitán)

Cataluña Private - Tropa

Cataluña Drummer - Tambor

Cazador a caballo Officer (Captain) - Oficial (Capitán)

Cazador a Caballo private - tropa

Cazador a Caballo Trumpeter - Trompeta

Horse Artillery Captain - Capitán Artillería a caballo

Horse Artillery private - Tropa Artillería a Caballo

Minner Officer Major - Minadores Mayor

Minner private - Minadores tropa

La Romana (Teniente General uniform)

As I mentioned the Suhr Brothers sketches were published in a book printed in the 1820's, there are 32 plates from the book shown on the Napoleon-Series

There are also a number of Richard Knoetel plates covering the Romana Division in Hamburg:
Infantry and the Infantry Sapper R. Princesa. Officers and enlisted men from the regiment of light Catalonia. 

Although I can't find them on line the following Knoetel prints also cover the division:
Volume VII
07 - Inf Regiment Zamora. Grenadiers.
08 - Inf Regiment Zamora. Hautboist, drummers, drum major, Sapper, Grenadier.
53 - Inf Regiment Princesa.
54 - Inf Regiment Guadalaxara.
58 - Sappers and Miners.

Volume VIII
17 - Regiment Almansa Chasseurs a Cheval
18 - Regiment Barcelona. Regiment Asturias.
40 - Artillery.

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