First Carlist War Painting Guide

This is my painting guide for the First of the Carlist Wars but have a look at my Oriamendi Project for photos of my own figures.

A word about Turqui

Cristino Line Infantry
Light Infantryman

Cristino Line Infantry
Forage Cap

The predominant Cristino colour was Turquí, which Cairns (1994b) describes as “a rather lighter or brighter shade than the indigo of the French soldier” (p. 38); he makes this comparison because the uniforms were French in style. In illustrations Turquí varies quite a lot but seems to be a mid to dark blue. A British observer (Somerville, 1995) called the Spanish uniform “light blue”, but he was probably commenting on troops in the field who generally would have had faded and worn uniforms. Certainly in the illustrations Turquí is always in stark contrast to sky blue, being very much darker.

The figures illustrated are both wearing Turquí – you’ll notice the shades are a bit different. .

Roland – who painted my Carlist War armies – used the following colours:

  • For Turqui used Tamiya blue with something else to brighten it up a bit, probably PollyS Dragon Blue.

A word about uniforms

Soldiers are usually issued a number of uniforms, typically ranging from dress uniforms to working uniforms, with a range of options in between (e.g. walking out, guard duty, etc). Full dress uniform is the most formal military uniform, typically worn at ceremonies, official receptions, and other special occasions; with full size medals.

In contrast I’m interested in what the men wore in the field, often called campaign uniform. Aside from being worn, faded and shabby, campaign uniform could very different to full dress as it was often based on the working uniform.

My textual descriptions will be about the campaign uniform, largely based on Cairns (1994b). Many of the illustrations of this period, however, are variations of full dress uniform. Although they are interesting, they often will not match up to with campaign dress.


My main source is the excellent series of articles by Cairns (1994 to 1995) in Wargames Illustrated. Following that the superb collection of illustrations at New York Public Library (NYPL): The Vinkhuijzen collection of military uniforms was also very useful.

Cairns, C. (1994b, November). A Savage and Romantic War: Spain 1833-1840. Part II: The Cristino forces. Wargames Illustrated, 86, 36-46.

Covers Cristino uniforms.

Cairns, C. (1995d, December). A Savage and Romantic War: Spain 1833-1840. Part 5: The Battle of Oriamendi. Wargames Illustrated, 99, 24-30.

A few b+w illustrations of the British Auxiliary Legion.

Field, C. (1995, Sept). Some account of the British operations against the Carlists, 1836-1837. Tonbridge, UK: Pallas Armata. Reprinted from the Journal of the Royal United Service Institution LXII:446, May 1917, p209-223.

Describes the British Royal Marines

Haythornwaite, P. & Chappell, M. (1976). World Uniforms and Battles 1815-50. Hippocrene Books: NY.

Has a couple of illustrations from the war.

New York Public Library (NYPL): The Vinkhuijzen collection of military uniforms

Most of the illustrations come from this source. They are very useful for illustrating what the units looked like. The danger is that many of the uniforms depicted will be dress, parade, walking out uniforms, i.e. not what the troops wore on campaign.

I’m not sure of the origin of some of the pictures. I do know that those you can also find on the Horse and Musket site (broken link) – are from the collection of plates called “Uniformes del Ejército Español Colección del Marqués de Zambrano III”.

Some of the dates are problematic. For example:

  • There are two pictures supposedly of Civil Guard from 1824-29 but as that corps were only formed in 1844 (Wikipedia: Guardia Civil (Spain)) this is impossible.
  • I understood from that the pictures from “Uniformes del Ejército Espaol Colección del Marqués de Zambrano III” were circa 1820s, but the NYLP has them circa 1812.

Parsons, P. (1996, Nov). The British Auxiliary Legion of the First Carlist War (The First Legion 1835-37). Wargames Illustrated 110, p18-19.

Covers the British Auxiliary Legion.

Ryan, T., & Parham, B. (1986). The Colonial New Zealand Wars. Grantham House: New Zealand.

Although about the New Zealand Colonial Wars, it my only source for British uniforms in the early 1840s.

Somerville, A. (1995, Aug). History of the British Legion and War in Spain. Tonbridge, UK: Pallas Armata. Reprinted from the edition published by James Pattie, 1839.

Covers the British Auxiliary Legion, although with 10 volumes you have look hard for uniform details.

Windrow, M. (1981). Uniforms of the French Foreign Legion 1831-1981. Blandford: Poole.

Covers the French Foreign Legion, of course.

Wikipedia: Guardia Civil (Spain)

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