British Shipments to Spain during the Peninsular War

Britain sent a lot of uniforms to Spain during the Peninsular War. Some Spanish divisions were wholly equipped by Britain. In 1809-10 the uniforms were dark blue, sky blue, grey, and white (Chartrand, 1999a). By 1811 the uniforms were exclusively blue; sky blue predominated at the start but dark blue quickly took over. It was on 12 Dec 1811 that the so called “English” uniform became the national uniform.

The uniform style supplied by Britain was usually a simple single-breasted coatee or jacket, with collar and cuffs in a contrasting facing or the jacket colour (Chartrand, 1999a). Waistcoats were usually white. Pantaloons were usually the jacket colour. The British also sent shakoes with cockades but no other ornamentation. Once in the Spain the uniforms were often altered by the regiments; this practice became wide spread after 1812 .

The following table shows the shipments I know about. I’ve included those after Albuera to demonstrate what was not available for the battle.

Date Uniforms Supplied by Britain
Apr-May 1809 50,000 sets of clothing (Chartrand, 1999a). 25,000 of these were sent to Cadiz; 15,000 blue coatees and 10,000 white coatees, all with scarlet collars, cuffs and lapels and brass buttons; white waistcoats and breeches and black gaiters. 20,000 uniforms and 25,000 pairs of shoes went to the newly formed Ballesteros Division of the Asturian Army at Contrueces, Gijon. The Castropol Regiment, for example, received white uniforms. Chartrand (1999a) Figure B3 in is a Fusilier from the Castropol regiment in 1809. He looks like he is wearing 1805 white uniform with red facings but has substituted a forage cap for the bicorne. Despite appearances this is a British supplied uniform. Chartrand suspects the entire division, who were raised and equipped at that time, received the same uniforms.
Nov 1809 Many grey and some blue jackets, shakoes and cockades, and other clothing of unspecified colours (Chartrand, 1999a). In 1810 the northern armies (Galicia, Leon and Castille) received, via Coruña, 14,000 grey jackets, 6,000 blue jackets, 20,000 grey pantaloons and 20,000 shakos with coackades but no plates (Chartrand, 1999a). I assume these were from the Nov 1809 shipment.
Chartrand (1999a) Figures D2 and D3 are examples of British equipped Fusiliers of northern Spain in 1810. One has grey jacket and trousers whereas the other has a blue jacket and grey trousers
Nov 1810 The Army of Catalonia received 12,000 sky blue set of clothing, 20,000 greatcoats and haversacks, 40,000 pairs of shoes, half stocking and shirts, 1,000 pairs of boots, and 10,000 stands of arms (Chartrand, 1999a).
May 1811 The Army of Catalonia received 8,000 suits of light blue, with 12,000 pairs of half gaiters (Chartrand, 1999a). Chartrand (1999a) Figure G1 is in the light blue sent to the Army of Catalonia of eastern Spain in 1810-11 (southern Spain didn’t get light blue until 1812). They didn’t come with headgear so Chartrand assumes round hat.
16 May 1811 Battle of Albuera – included to get a sense of what was provided before this battle.
Jun 1811 From Jun 1811 about 3,000 suits of blue cloth were shipped to Cadiz. Half were faced red and the other half faced yellow. Shirts, stockings and shoes were also sent but no shakos. Chartrand (1999a) Figures G2 and G3 are in the dark blue uniforms sent to southern Spain in 1811. They didn’t come with headgear so Chartrand assumes round hat.
Jan 1812 The forces in Galicia received 1,050 suits of cloths and 3,000 knapsacks (Chartrand, 1999b). Each suit had a blue jacket with facings, blue trousers, Kersey waistcoat with sleeve. 750 suits had red facings and 300 had yellow facings. No headgear is mentioned so Chartrand assumes they wore the round hat. Chartrand (1999b) Figure A2 is an Infantry Fusilier from northern Spain in 1812. He has the blue uniform with yellow facings. His turnbacks and straps are white.
Jan-Feb 1812 4,000 suits of cloths arrived in Oporto for the Espana divison being raised in Castille (Chartrand, 1999b). Each suit comprised blue clothing, linen shirts, pairs gaiters, stocks with clasps, forage caps, helmets with feathers, knapsacks, geatcoats, pairs of shoes, wood canteens and straps, and haversacks. Chartrand believes they had red facings and black straps. The “helmets” were probably Tarletons; they were obviously not well received as Wellington explicitly asked for felt shakoes in the next shipment. Chartrand (1999b) Figure A3 is a Infantry Fusilier from Espana’s Division in 1812-13. He wears the blue uniform faced red with white straps and black straps.
May 1812 4,6000 suits of clothing with red facings, 3,000 suits of clothing with light blue facings, 10,000 shakos and plumes, 5,6000 linen shirts, 200 privates’s greatcoats (Chartrand, 1999b).
Jun-Jul 1812 40,000 suits of dark blue clothing arrived in Cadiz and another 40,000 in Portugal (for the northern armies). In addition 20,000 suits of light blue clothing – all there was – went to Cadiz. Each suit included a blue jacket with facings, blue pantaloons, white kersey waistcoats, felt shako with red plume, blue forage cap, off white canvas frockcoat and trousers for fatigues, yellow canvas knapsack with whitened buff straps, shirt, and gaiters. Generally the “blue” matched the dark blue or light blue of the jacket. Dark blue uniforms had black gaiters and light blue uniforms had light blue gaiters. Facing colours (collar, cuffs, and turnbacks) were mostly red but some units got black, yellow or sky blue facings. Chartrand (1999b) Figure B1 and C1 are in the light blue uniform sent to southern Spain. Figure B1 is a Fusilier from the Castropol regiment wearing the uniform issued 24 Jun 1812 at Algeciras in Andalucia. This has a sky blue coatee and pantaloons; black collar, cuffs, gaiters and shako; and brass buttons; he has white straps. Figure C1 is a Line Infantry Fusilier in the more common red faced version; he has black straps.
Haythornthwaite (1995) Figure 33c is a Cazadore in southern Spain. He wears a light blue uniform with light blue facings. He has the the green epauletts and plum indicating his light infantry status.
Chartrand (1999b) Figure C3 is a Line Infantry fusilier in the dark blue uniform with light blue facings.
Haythornthwaite (1995) Figures 35a (officer), 35b (grenadier), 36a (private), 36b (Cazadore officer), and 36c (officer) are all infantry from 1812 in the “English” uniform. All are in dark blue with red facings. Figure 35a has trousers, Figure 35b grey and 36b light blue, all of which were common variations on the standard dark blue. Figure 36a wears a grey English greatcoat and has a black shako cover. Figure 36c sports a bicorne.
Aug-Oct 1813 100,000 suits arrived in Spain including jacket, waistcoat, trousers and gaiters (Chartrand, 1999b). The uniform was blue but the facings colours varied. Some regiments got green facings, green shako plume and green trim on the forage cap. Others got red. Grenadiers and light infantry got red wings with white lace and fringes. Light infantry buglers of green faced regiments got green wings and those of red regiments got white wings. Accoutrements were white straps and pouches (normally the pounches were black). Chartrand (1999b) Figure F1 is a Line Infantry Grenadier from a green facing regiment.
Chartrand (1999b) Figure F2 is a Sergeant from a red facing regiment.
Chartrand (1999b) Figure F3 is a Light Infantry Bugler from red faced regiment.
Mar 1814 Army of Reserve got 4,000 suits with red facings and 2,00 green facings. The 3rd Army got 4,000 red facings and 2,00 green facings. 4th Army got 2,560 red facings and 2,660 green facings. General Mina’s Division of Navarra got 2,000 red facings and 2,000 green facings. Accoutrements included buff pouches with buff belt and blacks pouches with black belt.


Chartrand, R. (1998). Spanish Army of the Napoleonic Wars (1) 1793 – 1808. Osprey [MAA321]

Chartrand, R. (1999a). Spanish Army of the Napoleonic Wars (2) 1808 – 1812. Osprey [MAA332]

Chartrand, R. (1999b). Spanish Army of the Napoleonic Wars (3) 1812 – 1815. Osprey [MAA334]

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