Painting Guide for Portugal’s Liberal Wars

A short painting guide for the Portuguese Liberal Wars.

A note about Portuguese colours:


  • Dark Blue (azul ferrete) was the base uniform colour for the Line Infantry and Cavalry; it was a very dark-blue almost Prussian, and was the colour of Napoleonic Portuguese uniforms.
  • The Caçadores used Nut Brown (Saragoa) instead.
  • The Portuguese Red (Encarnado) literally translates to the colour of meat.
  • The Yellow was sugar cane color.
  • White grey (Alvadia) was a greyish off-white and was described as a dirty white in the 17th Century,

1834 Uniform guide

This is the uniform of the regulations of 18 Oct 1834, i.e. after the Liberal Wars had ended. There are significant similarities, and significant differences, from the Napoleonic uniform. The same colours are used, although particular collar, cuff and facings may differ. The shape of the Shako (Barretina) had evolved considerably, and following international fashions flat forage caps had been introduced.

Note: Apparently during the Liberal Wars the two sides used an enormous variety of uniforms, with little standardisation.

Item Description
Czapka Style hat – lancers only Black lower; red upper. Blue and Yellow stripes on ribbon between upper and lower portions. Blue and white rosette. Black plume. Yellow/Gold metal and braid.
Shako (Barretina) and Officer’s Bicorne Black with blue and white rosette, gold metal, gold braiding. The plume, if worn, in the
company colours::

Grenadiers: Red (Encarnado)
Fusiliers: White
Light and Caçadores: Green

If covered in oil skin: Black

Forage Cap Line Infantry and Cavalrymen: Dark Blue (azul ferrete) with band in the regimental collar colour. Regimental number in yellow metal. Cavalry had a roundel in regimental colours. Caçadores: Nut Brown (Saragoça) with black band. Regimental number in yellow metal.
Light Cavalry Officers: Dark Blue (azul ferrete) with a yellow band and roundel.
Officer’s caps had a black visor.

Great coat Line Infantry: White Grey (Alvadia) Caçadores: Black
Frock coat (officers only) Line Infantry: Dark Blue (azul ferrete), black lining, with collars and cuffs in regimental colours. Cavalry: Dark Blue (azul ferrete) including collars and cuffs.
Coatee / Jacket Line Infantry and Cavalry: Dark Blue (azul ferrete) with collars, cuffs, piping and facings in regimental colours. Caçadores: Nut Brown (Saragoça) with black front

Epaulettes coats and jackets Line Infantry and Cavalry Officers: Gold/yellow

Grenadiers: Red (Encarnado)
Fusiliers: White
Light: Probably Green ??

Caçadores: Black with a yellow metal half moon

Jacket/coat Buttons Yellow metal
Trousers White Grey (Alvadia) Some uniforms had a Light blue-grey (Azul acinzentado) trousers or a dark blue (judging from the pictures), but White Grey was probably used in the field.

Shoulder & waist belts Line Infantry: White Caçadores: Black
Shoes Black
Officers sword Line Infantry: Sword with Gilt hilt and black scabbard Caçadores: Iron hilt and scabbard.
Officers Sash Red (Encarnado)
Officers Gloves (if worn) White
Ammunition box Black
Bayonet & Scabbard Black with brass fittings
Gun Barrel Bright metal
Strap for musket Probably white
Lance (lancers only) Natural bamboo with a blue over white pennant.

Regimental Colours

Collars, cuffs and facings were in regimental colours:

Line Infantry Regiment Collar Cuffs Tabs on the sleeve cuffs * Lining and Piping
1 Red (Encarnado) Dark Blue (azul ferrete) Red (Encarnado) White
2 Crimson Dark Blue (azul ferrete) Crimson White
3 White Dark Blue (azul ferrete) White White
4 Sky Blue Dark Blue (azul ferrete) Sky Blue White
5 Orange Dark Blue (azul ferrete) Orange White
6 Yellow Dark Blue (azul ferrete) Yellow White
7 Red (Encarnado) Red (Encarnado) Dark Blue (azul ferrete) White
8 Crimson Crimson Dark Blue (azul ferrete) White
9 White White Dark Blue (azul ferrete) White
10 Sky Blue Sky Blue Dark Blue (azul ferrete) White
11 Orange Orange Dark Blue (azul ferrete) White
12 Yellow Yellow Dark Blue (azul ferrete) White
Light Infantry Regiment Collar Cuffs Tabs on the sleeve cuffs * Lining and Piping
1 Red (Encarnado) Black Red (Encarnado) Black
2 Black Red (Encarnado) Black Black
3 Black Black Black Black
4 Sky Blue Black Sky Blue Black
Lancer Regiment Collar Cuff Tabs on the sleeve cuffs * Lining and Piping
1 Red (Encarnado) Red (Encarnado) N/A Red (Encarnado)
2 Crimson Crimson N/A Crimson
Light Cavalry (Caçadores a Cavalo) Regiment Collar Cuff Tabs on the sleeve cuffs * Lining and Piping
3 White White N/A White
4 Sky Blue Sky Blue N/A Sky Blue
5 Orange Orange N/A Orange
6 Yellow Yellow N/A Yellow

* The tabs on the sleeves were called Carcelas in Portuguese and Sardinetas in Spanish.


I’ve included a selection of the pictures from the Viriatus Miniatures site and the Lisbon Military Museum. Browse through the Viriatus pages for more pictures and much more detail on the types of uniforms:

1834 An officer dress uniform. He is wearing the shako, but could also wear a bicorne.

1834 Officer in walking out uniform. Notice the frock coat. He is wearing the peaked forage cap, but could also wear a bicorne.

1833 Drummer

1834 A officer in a fusilier company (judging from his plume)

1834 A Fusilier of the Line Infantry

1834 A infantryman in forage cap. I haven’t figured out why he is wearing grey as opposed to White Grey (Alvadia). This might be the light blue-grey mentioned (Azul acinzentado)

1833 Grenadier

1834 A Grenadier of the Line Infantry in Campaign Dress

1833 Musician

1834 Light Infantry (Caçadores) officer

1834 Light Infantry (Caçadores)

1833 Artilleryman

1833 Artilleryman

Indicative, but not exact, for the Belgian Corps. The Belgians in Portugal wore brown. This figure is from Kannik (1968).

1833 Cavalry. Presumably Light Cavalry (Caçadores a Cavalo), as opposed to Lancer.

1833 Officer. Looks enough like the adjacent figures that I believe he is also Light Cavalry.

1834 Light Cavalry Officer in Parade Dress

1834 Lancer

1834 Lancer dressed for Guard Duty

1833 Royal Police Guard. 1. Infantry, 2. Cavalry


And just for the record, the names used for various types of uniform (thanks to Nuno Pereira for explaining them to me):

Uniform Meaning
Uniforme, farda or fardamento All equate to uniform
Grande Uniforme “Big Uniform” i.e. parade dress
Pequeno Uniforme “Little Uniform” i.e. walking dress
Serviço de Quartel “Quarter Service” i.e. working uniform; for every day cleaning, etc of the barracks.
Serviço de Polícia “Police Service” i.e. guard duty uniform
Uniforme de campanha Campaign Dress


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

Kannik, P. (1968). Military Uniforms in Colour. London: Blandford.

Lisbon Military Museum

Nuno Pereira kindly sent through some postcards from the Lisbon Military Museum.

Viriatus Miniatures [Portuguese].

Thanks to Nuno Pereira for bringing this material to my attention. Check out the links under “Guerras liberais e constitucionais – Século XIX: Plano de uniformes de 1834” on the uniforms page The relevant sub-pages are:

3 thoughts on “Painting Guide for Portugal’s Liberal Wars”

  1. Assuming these uniforms were worn by units on both sides, how did they tell each other apart during the confusion of battle? I would think it got pretty dicey…

    • Hello Chris, the normal rule was “shoot at the man shooting at you” but they had some indication on who’s who, Miguelites had a lot of irregular support, and most part of the portuguese army, while the liberals were composed of some portuguese regiments, volunteer units and foreign units (british, french, belgian, isabelites).
      So, essentially
      Miguelites: portuguese regular units and milicia.
      Liberals: some portuguese regular units, volunteer battalions and foreign battalions.


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