Orders of Battle for the Spanish-Moroccan War

Orders of Battle for both protagonists in the Spanish-Moroccan War.

Spanish Army of Africa

In general the order of battle follows Acosta (1998).

Spanish Order of Battle

  • Captain General D Leopoldo O’Donnel, Count of Lucena
  • 1st Corps (Maj. General Echague, who was also Marshal of the Camp)
    • Line Infantry
      • Rey Granada, Borbon;
    • Cazadores
      • Cataluna, Madrid, Alcantara, Barbastro, Navas, Simancas, Talavera, Merida and Mallorca
    • Cavalry
      • Albuera [1 squadron]; Cazadores Mallorca [1 squadron]
    • Artillery: 4 Montana batteries
    • Engineers: 4 companies
  • 2nd Corps (Lt. General Zavala*)
    • Line Infantry
      • Cordoba, Bailen, Iberia
    • Cazadores
      • Albuera, Zamora, Baza, Luchana, Figueras
    • Artillery: 3 batteries Artillery Montado
    • * Hardman (1996) spells it with a “b”, i.e. “Zabala”, but it is reasonable to assume Bueno has better Spanish spelling.
  • 3rd Corps (Lt. General Ros de Olano)
    • Line Infantry
      • Zamora, Albuera, Infante [1 Bat], San Fernando, Reina Almansa, Africa, Asturias [1 Bat]
    • Cazadores
      • Segorbe, Baza, Cuidad Rodrigo, Llerena, Barcelona
    • Cavalry
      • Cazadores Albuera [1 sqdn]
    • Artillery: 1 Mountain Battery & 2 Batteries 2nd Montado Artillery Regt
  • Reserve (Lt. General Prim)
    • Line Infantry
      • Zaragoza, Principe, Castilla, Toledo, Saboya
    • Cazadores
      • Verega, Cuenca, Alba de Tormes, Chiclana
    • Cavalry:
      • Coraceros 4 sqdns Rey, Reina, Principe & Borbon;
      • 1st Brigade: Husares de la Princesa [1 sqdn]
      • 2nd Brigade: Lanceros [4 sqdns] Farnesio [2] Villaviciosa & Santiago
    • Artillery: Regt Artilleria a caballo [3 Esquadrones] [sic – batteries?]; 3rd Regt Artilleria Montado [3 Esquadrones] [sic – batteries?]
    • Engineers: 4 companies

Hardman (1996) adds some detail to that mentioned by Acosta (1998). Of the total strength 12-14,000 were left in the lines around Ceuta and 30,000 were in the field army. Each corps was divided into two infantry divisions of two brigades of 4 battalions making 16 battalions in each corps, plus horse and artillery (I don’t know how much he fudged to get these nice rounded numbers). Line infantry was organised into regiments, but the lights were numbered by battalion.

There were no more than 2,000 Spanish horse in total (Hardman, 1996). The cuirassiers left their armour in Spain. A cavalry division led the Spanish line of march. Hardman thought this “Division” was the size of a Brigade. It was assembled from units assigned to each Corps and contained 16 squadrons of 85 to 120 men including:

  • The Princesa Hussars (2 Squadrons)
  • 4 Squadrons of Cuirassiers (without armour)
  • 10 Squadrons of Lancers

At the start of the campaign the Spanish freed 300 of their better behaved presidarios (galley-slaves) and armed them to fight against the Moors (Hardman, 1996). Apparently they fought well, and due to a 1 dollar per captive incentive, even went out at night to hunt Moors.

Illustrated London News (1859) says the army comprised 40,000 men. 40 infantry battalions, 16 rifle battalions, 1 engineer battalion, 11 cavalry squadrons, and 80 pieces of artillery. Clearly the cavalry component at least is much lower than Hardman (1996) states.

Moroccan Army

Hardman (1996) accompanied the Spanish army, so his comments on the Moroccans are limited to reports from foreign newspapers and his observations in the field from the perspective of the opposition.

According to a French newspaper some of the Moroccans were regulars organised into battalions and equipped with modern rifles (Hardman, 1996). The paper also reports artillery trained in European fashion. Hardman doubted the efficacy of the newly trained Moroccans compared to European troops. Otherwise the Moroccans relied on warlike irregulars armed with espingardas. An unknown number of galley-slaves escaped to the Moors, were armed by them and sent to fight the Spanish.

Rumour had it that the Emperor of Morocco could call upon upwards of 100,000 foot and 30,000 horse (Hardman, 1996). Initially the Spaniards were opposed by about 2,000 locals – at the time when the Spanish had only landed a brigade themselves. Even before the Spanish army decamped for their march along the coast the Moorish force had grown to 10,000 infantry with a further 20,000 cavalry in support.



All irregulars, including both cavalry and infantry, used the espingardas – a very long-barreled musket requiring a prop to aim accurately.

Spanish Army of Africa

The light battalions had the Minié rifle.

A portion of the line battalions had the common rifle, and the remainder the old musket.

Some of the artillery had rifled cannon, but most were smooth bore (Hardman, 1996). Hardman mentions rifled 4-pounders which I assume are the same as the rifled mountain guns he also mentions.


Acosta Guerrero, J. M. (1998). El Ejercito Espanol en Campana 1643-1921. Madrid.

Barrow, Andrew. (u/d). The Spanish In North Africa, 1859. Colonial Conquest, 10.

Bueno Carrera, J. M. (1998). Soldados de Espana, El Unifome Militar Espanol desde Los Reyes Catolicos hasta Juan Carlos I. Madrid

Griffiths, Maj Arthur. Spanish Battles in Morocco: 1859-60, Castillejos, Tetuan, Guad El Ras. Battles of the Nineteenth Century,

Hardman, F. (1996). The Spanish Campaign in Morocco. Pallas Armata. (Originally published in 1860)

Grávalos González, L., & Calvo Pérez, J. (1998). Nuestro Ejército etropolitano en 1885: Regencia de María Cristina. Valladolid, Spain: Quiron Ediciones. [Spanish and German text].

Illustrated London News (10 Nov 1859). The War between Spain and Morocco: The Costumes of the Spanish Army. Illustrated London News, 486-487.

Rey, Miguel del. (2001). La Guerra de Africa 1859-1860; Uniformes, Armas y Banderas. Madrid.

Woolman, D. S. (1968). Rebels in the Rif. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press.

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