Timeline of the First Carlist War

When Ferdinand VII of Spain died in 1833, his fourth wife Cristina became Queen regent on behalf of their infant daughter Isabel II. This splintered the country into two factions known as the Cristinos (or Isabelinos) and the Carlists. The Cristinos were the supporters of the Queen Regent and her government. The Carlists were the supporters of Don Carlos, pretender to the throne and brother of the deceased Ferdinand VII. The First Carlist War lasted over 7 years and the fighting spanned most of the country at one time or another, although the main conflict centred around the Carlist homelands of the Basque Country and Aragon.

In my timeline for the First Carlist War I outline the events and suggest wargaming scenarios.

Note: Where I’m uncertain of something I mark it with double question marks (??).

Scenario Ideas – A General Note

Ideas for wargaming scenarios appear in boxes like this. As it happens I found it difficult to write scenarios for specific battles as details of most battles were fairly vague – often I just had the names of the generals and the outcome, and sometimes not even that.

I use a variant on Shako so my comments will reflect that. For those people who are familiar with Shako the only tweak worth mentioning here is that I use non-standard categories of cavalry:

  • Second Rate Cavalry (MR3/0)
  • General Cavalry (MR4/1)
  • Battle Cavalry (MR5/2) (e.g. Guards)

The small size of the forces is problematic for most rules. For example, at the Battle of Viana the Carlists had 200 cavalry and only 40 infantry, to the Cristinos 300 cavalry and 600 foot. In these cases I have recommend adjusting the scale of the game so that instead of battalions and regiments the units are 1/2 battalions, squadrons (equivalent to two companies), or even companies. Note: one battalion/regiment = eight companies. So a foot company was probably about 100 men at full strength and 80 in the field. A horse company was 48-68 men at full strength, so probably about 40 in the field.



I originally relied heavily on Conrad Cairns’ articles in Wargames Illustrated for the timeline. More recently I have had access to other sources and have updated the material. I’m very grateful to both Bernabe Saiz and Nuno Pereira who kindly sent me material for the timeline of the Carlist Wars.

26 Sep 1815: Holy Alliance

In 1815 Austria, Prussia and Russian formed the Holy Alliance to combat liberalism in Europe (Wikipedia: Holy Alliance).

1820: Liberal insurrections in Spain and Portugal

In very early 1820 a liberal insurrection broke out amongst Spanish troops camped at Cadiz (Livermore, 1966). This movement forced Ferdinand VII of Spain to declare himself in favour of a constitution.

Marshal Beresford sailed to Brazil in an attempt persuade João to return to Portugal (Livermore, 1966). In his absence on 24 Aug 1820 liberal officers revolted in Oporto. The movement spread and quickly took over the government of Portugal.

1822: Navarre Uprising

General Quesada led an absolutist uprising in Navarre (Zumalakarregi Museum). Tomás Zumalacárregui joined the rebels.

Apr – Oct 1823: ‘100,000 sons of St. Louis’

At the prompting of the Holy Alliance the Duke of Angoulême led a French army – supposedly 100,000 men – into Spain (Apr 1823) to expel the liberal government and restore Ferdinand VII’s absolute power (24 May) (Holt, 1967; Livermore, 1966). Being royalist in nature this was the first French army for 34 years to march under the Bourbon lilies on its standards. There was no resistance from the Spanish population. Some of the Navarese from General Quesada’s uprising, including Tomás Zumalacárregui, joined the French (Zumalakarregi Museum). Clearly it wasn’t entirely one sided as the absolutists had to besiege Lérida in Oct

1827: The Revolt of the Aggrieved

Although Don Carlos was not involved himself, “the Revolt of the Aggrieved” was the first rising of the absolutist movement that would become the Carlists (Holt, 1967). The Catalan rebel’s rallying cry was “Religion, King, Inquisition”. Government forces under the Count of España brutally suppressed the rebellion and executed the leaders.

11 Jul 1828: Miguel I of Portugal

On 11 Jul 1828 Dom Miguel was proclaimed King of Portugal, thus kicking off the final succession dispute comprising the Liberal Wars (Livermore, 1966). Fighting continued until 1834.

Carlos V

10 Oct 1830: Isabel of Spain

Isabel, the first daughter of Ferdinand VII of Spain and his fourth wife Maria Cristina of Naples, was born on 10 Oct 1830 (Holt, 1967)

16 Mar 1833: Don Carlos

Ferdinand “authorised” his brother, Don Carlos, to go to Portugal, thus relieving his daughter of one danger to her succession (Holt, 1967). As it happens Don Carlos never entered Madrid again and it was more than a year before he managed to return to Spain. While in Portugal Carlos refused Ferdinand’s request that he acknowledge Isabel’s right to inherit the throne.

20 Jun 1833: Queen Isabel of Spain

Presumably with Ferdinand’s health declining, Isabel was sworn in as Queen of Spain (Alcalá, 2006). She was subsequently proclaimed queen on 24 Oct 1833.

Sep-Oct 1833 Revolution

29 Sep 1833: Ferdinand dies

Ferdinand VII of Spain died on 29 Sep 1833 and Queen Cristina became Regent on behalf of their infant daughter Isabel II (Holt, 1967). In Portugal Don Carlos proclaimed himself King Carlos V of Spain, maintaining that he was Ferdinand’s rightful successor, . England, France and Pedro of Portugal acknowledged Isabel, but the Holy Alliance and Miguel of Portugal supported Don Carlos.

Carlists Enter Village

3 Oct 1833: “Long Live King Carlos V”

The first rising occurred when Manuel Gonzáles, postmaster of Talavera de la Reina in Castile, called out the local Royalist Volunteers in support of Don Carlos (Alcalá, 2006; Chant, 1983; Holt, 1967). Despite support from the Carlists of Calera the Government quickly suppressed the uprising and executed Gonzáles and many of his supporters.

Note: the Royalist Volunteers (Realistas Volunarios) were the armed militia of the conservatives and most declared for Don Carlos (Alcalá, 2006).

5 Oct 1833:

5 Oct saw Don Carlos on the Spanish-Portuguese border, seeking an escort to Madrid (Holt, 1967). Instead he found Spanish troops under Rodil barring his way.

The first Carlists rose in Catalonia at Prats de Llusanés (Alcalá, 2006).

6 Oct 1833

Carlists rose in several places around Spain (Alcalá, 2006). Magranell in Valencia, el “Cura Merino” in Burgos, Ladron de Guevara in Navarre, Zabala in the Basque country, etc. Holt (1967) mentions rising in Bilbao, Alava and Guipúzcoa on either 5 or 8 Oct.

Carlists subsequently rose in Navarre, Rioja, Catalonia, Aragon and Valencia (??). Field-Marshal Ladrón de la Guevara led the rising in Navarre and Rioja. Smaller groups rose in Galicia, León and Estremadura. 3,000 men flocked to the Carlist standard in Morella, the Baron de Hervs’s headquarters in the Maestrazgo.

Merino, the 64 year old renegade Castilian priest, led 11,000 Carlists south from Logroño towards Madrid (Holt, 1967). He got near enough to alarm the inhabitants of the capital but was forced to withdraw to Navarre in the face of superior numbers.

The regular army remained loyal to the Queen Regent (Alcalá, 2006). Not a single garrison declared for Don Carlos.

Sometime ?? Oct 1833

The Queen Regent ordered the disarming of the Royalist Volunteers (Chant, 1983). Don Carlos responded with a call to arms.

11 Oct 1833: First Battle of Los Arcos

In the first battle of war (Holt, 1967; Saiz, 1999) Field-Marshal Santo Ladrón de la Guevara led a body of Royalist Volunteers from Logroño into Navarre. There they encountered a much larger government force under General Manuel Lorenzo. Attempting to make a stand at Los Arcos, near Estella, the Carlists were defeated and their commander was captured and shot.

Scenario Idea: “Long Live King Carlos V”

This scenario would represent the initial Carlist risings and the Cristino response. The historical precedents are:

Battle Date Cristino Attackers Carlist Defenders
First Battle of Los Arcos 11 Oct 1833 General Manuel Lorenzo Field-Marshal Santo Ladrón de la Guevara
Battle of Peñacerrada 19 Nov 1833 Generals Pedro Saarsfield and Manuel Lorenzo 1,500 men
Guernica 21 Dec 1833 Baron del Solar de Espinosa Fernando de Zabala and Simon de La Torre
Battle of Astarta 29 Dec 1833 General Manuel Lorenzo and Colonel Marcelino Oráa Tomás Zumalacárregui 3,000 men; including battalions from Alava and Navarre

Battle of Astarta is particularly noteworthy as it was Zumalacárregui’s first open field battle.

In all cases a larger professional Cristino army attacked a smaller Carlist force based on Royalist Volunteers. Both sides were not too well trained at this early stage, so might all be second rate. The Carlists were probably more motivated which would compensate for any additional training the Cristinos would have. The Cristinos would favour forming up into lines and columns, the Carlists skirmish order, although at Astarta Zumalacárregui got them to successfully hold a line – apparently the first time they’d done this.

At Peñacerrada the Carlists had only 1,500 men, i.e. about 3 battalions in Shako, and at Astarta Zumalacárregui’s had 3,000 men. Given the small scale of the forces you might consider changing the scale of the rules, i.e. field 1/2 battalions, squadrons (equivalent to two companies), or even companies instead of battalions.

The Carlists are defending in advantageous terrain – either hills (Los Arcos, Peñacerrada, and Astarta) or a built up area (Guernica) .

The Carlists should be disadvantaged by a shortage of ammunition – this was critical at Astarta.

17 Oct 1833

Captain Juan Martin de Balmaceda declared for Don Carlos in Old Castille (Alcalá, 2006).

Generals Saarsfield and Lorenzo were tasked with putting down the risings in Navarre and the Basque Country (Alcalá, 2006).

24 Oct 1833: Queen Isabela of Spain

The infant Isabel was proclaimed as Queen Isabel II of Spain (Alcalá, 2006).

Nov 1833: Action at Morella

Order of Battle from Aula Militar: Un siglo de presencia militar en nuestra provincia (1833-1936):

  • 29th Provincial Regiment (Cuenca)

12 Nov 1833

Saarsfield left Vitoria to face the Carlists (Alcal, 2006). The liberal army began to prepare for a full scale war. Spain broke diplomatic relationships with Portugal where Don Carlos was in refuge.

13 Nov 1833

In the Maestrazgo – the mountainous boundary between Aragon and Valencia – Carlists proclaimed in favour of Don Carlos (Alcalá, 2006; Chant, 1983). The rebels were under Rafael Ram de Viu (the Baron de Hervés), Carlos Victoria (commander of Morella), and Manuel Carnicer.


Oct 1833 – 15 Jun 1835 Zumalacárregui Era

14 Nov 1833

Tomás Zumalacárregui was appointed commander of the Carlist Army of the North, i.e. in Navarre and the Basque Country (Alcalá, 2006; Duncan, 1997). Not that the army was too large … it contained only 800 badly armed peasants and 14 horses.

[Notario (2006) says Zumalacárregui took command in Dec 1833. He also says that Zumalacárregui inherited just over 1,200 men in four battalions. The number of men might be right for Dec after some recruitment.]

15 Nov 1833

Ramón Cabrera – a rather impious seminary – was expelled from Tortosa (Chant, 1983). Rather than go to Barcelona as ordered, Cabrera declared for Don Carlos and headed for Morella. Cabrera joined one of the Carlist gangs raiding in Tortosa – the partido of some 256 men under Bojar – and although he didn’t perform well in the first encounter with Cristinos he quickly showed his aptitude for things military and started clawing his way up the hierarchy.

19 Nov 1833: Battle of Peñacerrada

Following Los Arcos the Cristino Generals Pedro Saarsfield and Manuel Lorenzo crossed the Ebro and routed 1,500 Carlists blocking their way at Peñecerrada (Saiz, 1999). Within a week the Liberals had entered Vitoria and Bilbao unopposed.

See the Long Live King Carlos V scenario.

21 Nov 1833: Action at the Coll de Vallibona

Order of Battle from Aula Militar: Un siglo de presencia militar en nuestra provincia (1833-1936):

  • 13th Line Infantry Regiment (Mallorca)

6 and 9 Dec 1833: Actions at Morella

Order of Battle from Aula Militar: Un siglo de presencia militar en nuestra provincia (1833-1936):

  • 24th Line Infantry Regiment (Bailén)

10 Dec 1833: Capture of Morella

Liberal troops under Manuel Bretón, the governor of Tortosa, and Noare captured Morella from the Baron de Hervés with little effort (Alcalá, 2006; Chant, 1983; Duncan, 1997).

Order of Battle from Aula Militar: Un siglo de presencia militar en nuestra provincia (1833-1936):

  • 3rd battalion, 6th Line Infantry Regiment (Saboya)
  • 13th Line Infantry Regiment (Mallorca)
  • 5th Light Infantry Regiment (Volunteers of Bailén)

Garrison of Morella from Dec 1833 to Feb 1834 (Aula Militar: Un siglo de presencia militar en nuestra provincia (1833-1936)):

  • 29th Provincial Regiment (Cuenca)

20 Dec 1833

Cabrera made sub-lieutenant (Duncan, 1997)

21 Dec 1833: Guernica

The Cristino Baron del Solar de Espinosa attacked the Carlists at Guernica under Fernando de Zabala and Simon de La Torre (Saiz, 1999). In their first victory against army Regulars, the Carlists held the town and inflicted over 300 Cristino casualties, but withdrew when heavy reinforcements approached.

See the Long Live King Carlos V scenario.

25 Dec 1833

Espartero defeated and captured the guerrilla leader Magranell in Valencia (Alcalá, 2006).

Dec 1833: Fernando Muñoz, the Queens consort

In Dec 1833 or Jan 1834, the Queen Regent Cristina secretly married Fernando Muñoz, a corporal of the Royal Guard (Holt, 1967). To the population of Madrid “it was Godoy over again” (p. 48). This relationship however gave the Carlists the (unwarranted) excuse to call Cristina “the royal prostitute” and to shout “Death to the whore!”

Cristinos Attacking

29 Dec 1833: Battle of Asarta

In his first major battle Zumalacárregui mauled a larger Cristino force under General Manuel Lorenzo and Colonel Marcelino Oráa (subordinates of Saarsfield) (Holt, 1967; Saiz, 1999, Zumalakarregi Museum). Zumalacárregui chose a defensive position in the Valley of La Berrueza, in the district of Estella, between Asarta and Nazar (3 km west), but closer to the former. He had 3,000 men including battalions from Alava and Navarre. Once the Cristinos attacked the half trained Carlists stood their ground, but soon ran out of ammunition. Oraa led the decisive attack on the left-flank in the direction of Nazar, and Zumalacárregui ordered a retreat. The Carlists suffered 50 casualties and the Liberals over 300. Zumalacárregui retreated to Améscoa then Campezo whilst the Liberals returned to Pamplona.

See also the Battle of Mendaza which occurred in the same place.

Check out Ernesto Reiner’s 3D Map of the Battle of Mendaza. The view is from east to the west. Asarta nestles at the foot of the far hills. Dos Hermanas and Mendaza are in the foreground. Los Arcos is off the map to the south (left).

See the Long Live King Carlos V scenario.

Sometime ?? 1834: Siege of Eibar

When summoned to surrender, Eibar’s Militia commander wrote back to the attacking Carlist General addressing him as “the little leader of Biscayan traitors and cowards” (Cairns, 1994b).

Sometime ?? beginning of 1834: Villafranca (near Morella)

Cabrera captured the new governor of Morella and his escort, then, dressed in the captured uniforms, surprised Villafranca (Duncan, 1997).

12 Jan 1834

Zumalacárregui took Orbaiceta (Alcalá, 2006).

The liberals captured and shot the Baron de Hervés and Carlos Victoria (Alcalá, 2006).

Cabrera’s band joined that of Carnicer (Alcalá, 2006).

Cabrera made full lieutenant on 12 Jan 1834 (Duncan, 1997). His advancement from that point is a little difficult to ascertain. Duncan says Captain on 27 Jul 1834 (with a separate command and title of “commandant of the infantry”), Colonel in Nov 1834, Commandant-General of Lower Aragon in Nov 1835, Brigadier of Infantry on 8 Feb 1836, and Field Marshal (mariscal de campo) on 15 Aug 1836. Saiz (1999) has him already a Colonel on 10 Apr 1834 at the Battle of Mayals. Chant (1983) and Holt (1967) agree on Commandant-General in Nov 1835.

Regardless of when it occurred, when a Colonel he recruited a battalion within enemy held Tortosa then accompanied Commandant-General Carnicer in successful raids on Moine de Aragon and Caspe (Chant, 1983). (Note: Brigadier Manuel Carnicer was Commandant-General of Aragon).

24 Jan 1834: Penal Law

In 1833 it was the Cristinos who perpetuated atrocities (Coverdale, 1984). on 24 January 1834, with the “Penal Law”, Don Carlos endorsed the Carlist execution of prisoners.

16 Feb 1834

The National Militia (‘Urbanos’) were reformed to fight the Carlists (Cairns, 1994b).

18 Feb 1834

In a night attack, Zumalacárregui surprised General Oraa in Urdiniz and Zubiri (Alcalá, 2006).

22 Feb 1834

General Quesada replaced Valdés in command of the liberal Army of the North (Alcalá, 2006).

Mar 1834: Persecution of Carlist bands in the province of Castellón

Order of Battle from Aula Militar: Un siglo de presencia militar en nuestra provincia (1833-1936):

  • 3rd battalion, 18th Line Infantry Regiment (Almansa)

9 Mar 1834

Zumalacárregui defeated Lorenzo at Abárzuza (Alcal, 2006).

Mar 1834: Daroca and Castejoucillo de Alarba

In conjunction with Carnicer, Cabrera surprised the important garrison of Daroca and defeated a considerable Cristino force under the Governor of Catalayud near Castejoucillo de Alarba, taking many prisoners (Duncan, 1997).

Apr 1834: Ariño and Alfara

Cabrera defeated the Cristinos near Ariño and captured Alfara by surprise (Duncan, 1997).

10 Apr 1834: Battle of Mayals

Determined to spread the Carlist insurrection to Catalonia, Brigadier Carnicer crossed the Ebro and was met at Mayals, southwest of Lerida, by General José Carratalá, commanding in Tarragona, and Governor Manuel Bretón of Tortosa (Saiz, 1999). Despite a courageous attack by Colonel Ramón Cabrera, Carnicer was defeated and the Carlists suffered a major setback. This is the only instance where Cabrera criticised Carnicer’s dispositions (Duncan, 1997). Alcalá (2006) has the Carlists under Cabrera and Quilez.

Sometime ?? 1834: Battle of Montalban

The Cristino General Valdés routed Brigadier Manuel Carnicer’s force at Montalban (Chant, 1983). Ramn Cabrera’s battalion was much reduced, and shortly afterwards Cabrera was defeated again, thus reducing Cabrera’s force to 12 men. Belatedly Cabrera retreated to the Maestrazgo to study tactics.

22 Apr 1834: The Quadruple Alliance

On 22 April 1834 the Quadruple Alliance was signed as a counter to the Holy Alliance (Holt, 1967; Livermore, 1966). Portugal, Spain, England and France agreed to banish Dom Miguel from Portugal and Don Carlos from Spain. Spain committed to keep troops in Portugal until the end of the Portuguese Civil War, England promised naval support for Dom Pedro of Portugal and Isabel, and Portugal agreed to supply an auxiliary force for operations against Don Carlos in Spain (Viriatus Miniatures: Divisão Auxiliar a Espanha).

Zumalacárregui defeated Quesada at Alsasua and Muez (Alcalá, 2006).

2 May 1834: Battle of Alsasua

Zumalacárregui attacked and defeated the Cristinos (General Vicente Jenaro de Quesada) as they passed Alsasua on a march from Salvatierra into Navarre (Alcalá, 2006; Holt, 1967; Saiz, 1999). Despite being rescued by another Cristino force (Jáuregui el Pastor ‘The Shepherd’), Quesada left 100 prisoners in the hands of the Carlists and suffered 200 dead and wounded. Subsequently all the captured Cristino officers were shot, including the Count de la Bisbal.

[Wikipedia: Alsasua says the battle occurred in Apr 1834, Alcalá (2006) refines this to 22 Apr 1834. In contrast Saiz (1999) gives the date as 2 May 1834. Bernabe Saiz emailed to say:

According to several sources the battle is on May 2. The main source is the military and historian Carlos Martínez Campos (España Belica , Volume XIX century). He is the grandson of General Arsenio Martínez Campos.


Scenario Idea: Ambush

It was fairly common for the Carlists to attack a marching Cristino force. Initially at least this was part of Zumalacárregui’s strategy to give his men little successes to build up their expertise and confidence.

Battle Date Marching Cristinos Carlist Attackers Cristino Relief
Battle of Alsasua 2 May 1834 General Vicente Jenaro de Quesada Tomás Zumalacárregui Jáuregui el Pastor ‘The Shepherd’
Peñas de San Fausto 19 Aug 1834 Baron Luis Angel de Carondolet One division Tomás Zumalacárregui ??
Battle of Salvatierra 27-28 Oct 1834 Brigadier O’Doyle 3,000-3,500 men Tomás Zumalacárregui and Francisco de Iturralde At least four battalions (one skirmishing) and cavalry General Joaquín de Osma
Battle of Orbiso 17 Jan 1835 General Manuel Lorenzo and Colonel Marcelino Oráa Tomás Zumalacárregui ??
Action at Cervera 25 Feb 1835 Regiment of Ceuta (19th Line Infantry Regiment; Aula Militar) ?? ??
Action at Arroniz End of Feb 1835 General Aldana One division ?? ??
Mount Larremiar 12 Mar 1835 General Francisco Espoz y Mina 1,500 men Tomás Zumalacárregui ??
Battle of Las Amezcuas 19-24 Apr 1835 General Jéronimo Valdés 20,000 men Tomás Zumalacárregui 5,000 men The Cristino force was strung out so I’d just use some of the 20,000.
Battle of Larrainzar 29 May 1835 Colonel Marcelino Oráa 3,500 men José Miguel Sagastibelza smaller Carlist force ??

The scenario would involve three forces. Each Cristino force should be weaker than the Carlists, but the combination should be much stronger. I use the terms weak/strong advisedly and don’t necessarily mean smaller/larger. The forces are:

  1. Marching Cristinos
  2. Carlist attackers
  3. Cristino Relief (who might not arrive)

Set up the table with a road running lengthways. The Carlists deploy hidden using Hidden Movement Cards or some such. The Marching Cristinos have to march along the road, in column, until the Carlists attack. At that point the Cristinos can write orders. The relieving Cristinos appear after a considerable delay – determine the precise entry time randomly. The Carlists can choose to withdraw off table if the going gets tough, or if they think they’ve inflicted enough damage.

Based on this reasoning the orders of battle might be:

Cristino Marching

  • 1 Elite Line Infantry Units (Flank companies)
  • 5 Regular Line Infantry Units (Centre companies)
  • 6 Second Rate Infantry Units (Recent recruits, National Militia, worn out units, etc)
  • 3 Skirmishers
  • 2 Commanders

Carlist Attackers

  • 2 Elite Infantry Units
  • 8 Line Infantry Units (up to 6 of these can be deployed as skirmishers at the start of the game)
  • 3 skirmishers
  • 4 General Cavalry Units
  • 4 Battalion Commanders

Cristino Relief

  • 4 Line Infantry Units
  • 4 Second Rate Infantry Units
  • 4 General Cavalry Units
  • 2 Divisional Commanders

In most of the battles, e.g. Mount Larremiar, the Cristinos had 1,500. For these each unit would be a squadron or pair of companies. At the Battle of Salvatierra there were about 3,000 men in each force, so each unit would be the equivalent of a half battalion or half cavalry regiment. In both cases the commanders are actually more like battalion commanders. At the Battle of Las Amezcuas each unit would a full battalion/regiment.

17 Jun 1834: Battle of Gulina

Liberal commander Vicente Jenaro de Quesada in Vitoria ordered Brigadier Linares from Pamplona in an attempt to trap Zumalacárregui (Saiz, 1999). However, just northwest of Pamplona at Gulina, Zumalacárregui attacked Linares and both sides suffered about 600 casualties before Zumalacárregui was driven off.

Late Jun 1834

José Rodil replaced Quesada as Cristino commander-in-chief in the north (Holt, 1967).

12 Jul 1834

Don Carlos joined Zumalacárregui (Alcalá, 2006).

Aug to Dec 1834: Harrying of Carlist bands in the province of Castellón

Order of Battle from Aula Militar: Un siglo de presencia militar en nuestra provincia (1833-1936):

  • 9th Line Infantry Regiment (Soria)

17 Aug 1834: Action at Albocácer

Order of Battle from Aula Militar: Un siglo de presencia militar en nuestra provincia (1833-1936):

  • 1st Line Infantry Regiment (Rey)

19 Aug 1834: Peñas de San Fausto

A Liberal division under Baron Luis Angel de Carondolet was campaigning against the Carlists northwest of Estella in Navarre (Alcalá, 2006; Saiz, 1999). On 19 Aug 1834 General Tomás Zumalacárregui surprised Carondolet’s column at Peñas de San Fausto on the Urederra River. The Liberals were routed and fled, losing 250 men, including some drowned in the river.

See the Ambush scenario.

23 Oct 1834: Action at Culla

Order of Battle from Aula Militar: Un siglo de presencia militar en nuestra provincia (1833-1936):

  • 1st Line Infantry Regiment (Rey)

31 Aug 1834: Battle of Artaza

Soon after Don Carlos V arrived in Spain, Liberal General José Ramon Rodil led perhaps 8,000 men into the rugged Améscoa Valley, where he was attacked at Artaza by just 2,000 Carlists under General Tomás Zumalacárregui (Saiz, 1999). In a one-sided action Rodil suffered heavy losses before the Carlists withdrew. Despite his losses Rodil continued his campaign in pursuit of the pretender.

Scenario Idea: Battle of Artaza

This battle stands out because Zumalacárregui, with only 2,000 men (about 4 battalions), attacked 8,000 men (about 16 battalions), and inflicted heavy losses on them. I can only assume that there was a considerable element of surprise involved, and that, perhaps, the Cristinos were encamped when attacked.

With that in mind I’d use a 4’x4′ table. The Cristinos would be camped in separate brigade encampments (x4) in each quarter of the table. They would be under some kind of disadvantage for being surprised – for example, starting “Staggered” and under “Defend” orders if using Shako. The Carlists could enter from any table edge. Because this is essentially a raid the Carlists can withdraw off table at any point.

4 Sep 1834: Battle of Viana

Viana was a triumph for the Carlist horse (Cairns, 1995b; Zumalakarregi Museum). Baron Luis Angel de Carondolet had a Liberal division of 300 cavalry and 600 foot in Viana, and Zumalacárregui took a mere 240 men to attack him. As the Carlist Infantry conducted a surprise attack on the city, the Navarese Lancers fought it out with the Liberal cavalry on the road to Mendavia. Although at first they refused to charge, Zumalacárregui’s 200 lancers then met and broke the illustrious Cazadores de la Guardia Real, largely because the latter were foolish enough to receive the charge of the lancers when halted. The Carlist lancers went on to overwhelm a battalion of the Castilla Regiment (16th Line Infantry Regiment; Aula Militar) and take its Colour. After losing 200 of his men Carondelet retreated to Logroño

Scenario Idea: Battle of Viana

Looks very one sided, so needs careful consideration of the objectives of the two sides. The main objective is to capture/retain Viana. The Cristinos cannot, however, sit passively waiting for the Carlists to attack, they are expected to attempt to punish the enemy if they have the imprudence to appear (particularly as the government has superior forces). Similarly, the Carlists are always happy to inflict casualties then retreat. So I would give both sides victory points for inflicting casualties and give the Carlists bonus points for occupying any part of Viana. Under this scheme the Cristinos have to come out of the town to hunt for the enemy and the Carlists are encouraged to have a go at the town..

Once again, tiny forces, so use units approximating companies rather than battalions and regiments.


  • 6 units of Battle Cavalry (MR5/2 if using Shako)
  • 1 unit of Elite Infantry;
  • 1 commander.


  • 4 units of Battle Cavalry (MR5/2) (Cazadores de la Guardia Real)
  • 4 units of Second Rate Cavalry (MR3/0)
  • 8 units of Second Rate Infantry (16th Line Regiment (Castilla))
  • 1 commander.

I have upgrade the Morale Rating of the Carlists as they operated with particular élan on the day. I have downgraded the majority of the Cristinos to make it a more even game.

Use a 4’x4′ table with the town dominating one half. Make the town 8 sectors, i.e. one per Cristino infantry unit. Carlist Cavalry can enter town sectors, but they fight with disordered MR (bad terrain) if they do.

The Cristino infantry starts within the town, and the cavalry outside, but beyond 6″ of any edge. Once again the Cristinos were surprised so I’d start them all “Staggered” and under Defend orders. The Cristinos deploy before the Carlists deploy and write their orders. The Carlists can attack from any table edge; each Carlist brigade can attack from a different table edge, or they can combine efforts.

27-28 Oct 1834: Battle of Salvatierra

Fought on the plains of Salvatierra in the lowlands of Alava near Vitoria (27 Oct) (Alcalá, 2006; Cairns, 1995a; Duncan, 1997; Holt, 1967; Saiz, 1999). Eluding pursuit after victory at Artaza and Peñas de San Fausto, Carlist commanders Tomás Zumalacárregui and Francisco de Iturralde surprised a large Liberal column (3,000-3,500 men) under Brigadier O’Doyle at Alegría, between Vitoria and Salvatierra. Zumalacárregui formed his Carlist troops with a skirmishing battalion leading two others in close order and a fourth in reserve; cavalry guarded the flanks. The Cristinos lost very heavily when their lines were broken by the Navarrese bayonet assault. ODoyle fled to nearby Arrieta (Ducan says O’Doyle was lost along with 900 men killed, wounded or prisoners). Also called Battle of Alegría. The next day (28 Oct) a relief column from Vitoria under General Joaquín de Osma was beaten at Ameta. After this defeat the Cristinos took to moving in large columns, which the Carlists declined to charge.

See the Ambush scenario. Units would be the equivalent of 2 companies (i.e. a cavalry squadrons).

30 Oct 1834

General Espoz y Mina reached Pamplona and took command of the government Army of the North (Duncan, 1997). The Queen had 23,000 men in Navarre; 14,000 in the field under Generals Córdova, Lopez and Oraa, and the remainder in garrisons. Mina did not have absolute control of the Cristino forces, for example, he did not control Gemeran Latré at Viana nor General Bedoya at Logroño. Facing them were a 8,000 Carlists.

End of Nov 1834

Zumalacárregui offered open battle to a Cristino force a few leagues north of Logroño (Duncan, 1997). 7,000 Carlists faced a slightly smaller Cristino force under General Córdova (6,000 men of Córdova’s and Oraa’s divisions). Córdova fairly sensibly declined battle and observed the Carlists for five days, but this inactivity lowered his men’s morale.

Two days later Córdova engaged a smaller Carlist force in the Pass of Argayas (Duncan, 1997). His men, notably the officers, performed poorly, and it was only in a second engagement did Córdova overcome the Carlists.

12 Dec 1834: Battle of Mendaza

In the first serious battle of the war General Luis Fernández de Córdova defeated Zumalacárregui at Mendazain Navarre (Alcalá, 2006; Duncan, 1997; Saiz, 1999; Wikipedia: Batalla de Mendaza). The battle took place in the Berrueza Valley (Duncan mistakenly says the battle took place at Sorlada, which is actually a small distance to the northeast). The valley run north-south and has the village of Mendaza on the eastern side, at the foot the mountain of Dos Hermanas (Two Sisters), and village of Asarta facing Mendaza at the foot of the western slopes. The valley floor, and much of the slopes were covered in small fields separated by stone walls. Before dawn on 12 Dec 1834 Zumalacárregui deployed his 10,000 men facing south in a line from Mendaza on the left to Asarta on the right; using the stone walls as defences. His HQ was in the deserted village of Desiñana. Zumalacárregui reinforced his left with a contingent hidden on the wooded slopes of Dos Hermanas behind Mendaza. Zumalacárregui’s planned to use Hannibal’s tactics at Cannae, i.e. withdraw his centre slowly in the face of the enemy to form a “U” shape. The flanks would then converge to encircle the attackers. Córdova had 10-14,000 men in three divisions (Córdova, Oráa, and Lopez) deployed south of the valley at Los Arcos. The Cristinos arrived in front of the Carlist positions about 1200 hours. Córdova ordered the vanguard under Marcelino Oráa up the centre of the valley where the Carlists seemed to be concentrated. Oráa, a veteran of the guerrilla war in Navarre during the War of the Independence anticipated Zumalacárregui’s tactics, disregarded his orders and marched to Mendaza instead. This forced Zumalacárregui to respond and he ordered some of the troops in the centre to swing left toward Oráa. The Carlists lines became disordered and having lost the protection of the walls exposed themselves to the fire of the Cristino artillery at the entrance of the valley. They could not endure the punishment and after losing 900 men began to retreat north up the valley. Zumalacárregui reformed at the Pass of Arquijas 8 km to the northwest.

See also the Battle of Asarta which occurred in the same place.

Check out Ernesto Reiner’s 3D Map of the Battle of Mendaza. The view is from east to the west. Dos Hermanas and Mendaza are in the foreground. Asarta nestles at the foot of the far hills. Los Arcos is off the map to the south (left). The Carlists withdrew to the north (right).

Scenario Idea: Battle of Mendaza

A proper battle.

Ernesto Reiner’s 3D Map of the Battle of Mendaza gives a good idea of what the table should look like. I’d be inclined to use a 6’x4′ table with the edge of the wood covered Dos Hermanas hill on-table on one of the short edges, and the village of Mendaza next to it (maybe 2 town sectors in Shako). Similarly on the far short table edge I’d put the edge of the mountains and the village of Asarta (one town sector). A road would run from one village to the other, and a second road from one long table edge to the other. Otherwise the terrain would be broken up by small fields with stone walls.

The Carlists would deploy across the middle of the table, with the option of occupying the villages and the hills behind. They also have the option of send a flank march on either or both flanks – representing troops stationed on the hills off-table. The Carlists should get some benefit from deploying behind the stone walls.

The Cristinos would start with Oráa’s vanguard on table. The divisions of Córdova and Lopez would start as off table reserves and must appear on or near the road from the south. They cannot flank march.


  • 1 x Elite Light Infantry (can be deployed formed or as skirmishers)
  • 1 x Elite Line Infantry
  • 8 x Regular Line Infantry
  • 10 x Second Rate Infantry
  • 4 x Skirmisher Stands
  • Up to 1/3 of the Elite Line, Regular Line, and Second Rate units can deploy as skirmishers.
  • 3 x Divisional commanders or 6 x Brigade commanders


  • 3 x Elite Infantry (Guards)
  • 6 x Regular Line Infantry
  • 3 x Regular Light Infantry (can be deployed formed or as skirmishers)
  • 10 x Second Rate Infantry (Recent recruits, National Militia, worn out units, etc)
  • 4 x Skirmisher stands
  • 1 x General Cavalry
  • 1 x Mountain Battery
  • 2 x Foot Batteries
  • 3 x Divisional commanders

These orders of battle are based on a couple assumptions:

  • Such a large force of Cristinos would have included Guards and Cavalry, even though these are not mentioned.
  • At this stage in the war both sides would be dominated by poorly trained units, hence the quantity of second rate units.
  • The Carlists were always short of artillery, and as none are mentioned I’ve assumed they had none on the day.

Campaign Idea: Berrueza Valley

This is a linked scenario mini-campaign.

  1. Battle of Mendaza – as above
  2. First Battle of Arquijas – use the same forces as Battle of Mendaza but factoring in losses from the first game. The winner of the first game can recover each killed unit on 3+ and the loser on 4+.

15 Dec 1834: First Battle of Arquijas

The Spanish Liberal army under General Luis Fernández de Córdova pursued the Carlist commander Tomás Zumalacárregui through Navarre and attempted to force the pass at Arquijas, 8 km to the northwest of Mendaza (Saiz, 1999). Córdova detached Oráa with eight battalions (plus guns) to attack the Carlist rear (Duncan, 1997). Oráa progressed unexpectedly slowly and didn’t reach his positions until dark, so in the meantime Córdova launched an unsupported attack at the Carlist positions. Córdova took the position, but withdrew to Los Arcos as night approached. Oráa then attacked, but being himself now unsupported, was cut to pieces. Córdova was, as a result of this defeat, replaced by Lorenzo.

See also the Second Battle of Arquijas

Scenario Idea: First Battle of Arquijas

Much the same forces fought at the Battle of Mendaza three days before. Clearly there would be some losses, particularly amongst the Carlists (900 men). .I would reduce the Carlist Orbat by 1 x Regular Line Infantry and 1 x Second Rate Infantry unit.

To compensate for the small number of units, the Carlists would have more steep hill features on the table – representing the pass they were defending. As it happens at the Second Battle of Arquijas Zumalacrregui was defending the same location with half the number of troops as his attacker, and still won. This leads me to assume the position was quite strong.

Unlike the Battle of Mendaza where the Carlists have the option to flank march, in the scenario only the Cristinos can flank march, and only one division.

Sometime ?? 1835

In 1835 the National Militia were renamed the National Guard (Cairns, 1994b).

Some time in late 1834 or early 1835 – while Mina commanded in the North – the Carlist chief Eraso destroyed the Cristino regiment of Granada (Duncan, 1997). Granada was a provincial regiment (Aula Militar). A few days later the Carlists defeated General Jauregui (aka El Pastor), the later suffering many losses.

2 Jan 1835: Battle of Ormáiztegui

Following his success at Arquijas, Zumalacárregui took 2,000 men north from Navarre to Guipuzcoa in search of Jauregui’s Chapelgorris (Saiz, n.d; Zumalakarregi Museum). The Carlists entered Urretxu but found Jauregui was already in Bergara with General José Carratal’s army. The Liberal commanders Espartero, Lorenzo, Iriarte and Quintana had around 8,000 men nearby and chose to attack in conjunction with Carratalá. On 2 Jan they found Zumalacárregui in the mountains at Ormáiztegui, west of Beasain. In order to halt the Cristino offensive Zumalacrregui decided his army would have to suffer heavy losses (Cairns, 1995a; Saiz, 1999). The Liberals launched constant bayonet attacks, but the Carlists managed to hold on to their position until nightfall. The Carlists fell back to Segura during the night as the Liberals withdrew to Ormaiztegi. Both side lost 500 men. The action continued the next day (Battle of Segura).

Scenario Idea: Battle of Ormáiztegui and Battle of Segura

Hmm, this is a challenge. This Cristinos had probably a 6:1 advantage in numbers, yet ultimately the Carlists won. The Cristinos had six brigade commanders ( Espartero, Lorenzo, Iriarte, Quintana, Carratalá, Jauregui) each with about 2,000 men (or four battalions). Zumalacárregui also had a force 2,000 men. To make this a fairer game the Carlists have to have some advantage. Possibilities are:

  • Superior Morale
  • Superior terrain. They were defending in the mountains after all.
  • Limited access, i.e. not all of the enemy could get to them at the same time.
  • Fortifications. It isn’t mentioned but they’re likely to have dug in.

With some or all of these it might be playable.

3 Jan 1835: Battle of Segura

The Liberals attacked again the next day but ran out of steam by noon (Zumalakarregi Museum). Jáuregui withdrew to Ordizia and the remainder of the liberals withdrew to Bergara. Zumalacárregui followed closely. Following scattered action the Carlists let the Liberals go. Initially the Liberals claimed a victory, but were eventually forced to admit their defeat.

The actions of 2-3 Jan 1835 saw the Carlists fighting formed, as opposed to as skirmishers, which was a new innovation for them (Cairns, 1995a). When attacking the enemy columns on the march, the Carlists delivered a rolling fire and then a fire by platoons – which surprised an English observer by its regularity and order. At a later period in the battle the 1st Navarrese and Guías de Navarre “opened left and right” to allow the general’s squadron of escorting cavalry to charge through at the gallop, a very considerable feat of drill. Unfortunately, the Prncipe regiment (3rd Line Infantry Regiment; Aula Militar), drawn up three deep, halted them with its fire.

Combined into the Battle of Ormáiztegui scenario.

17 Jan 1835: Battle of Orbiso

Zumalacárregui attempted to intercept a Liberal army under General Manuel Lorenzo and Colonel Marcelino Ora marching towards Maeztu (Saiz, 1999). At Orbiso, Zumalacárregui was driven off at the cost of about 400 men.

See the Ambush scenario.

Early Feb 1835

Colonel Ramón Cabrera travelled 320 enemy held km from the Maestrazgo to Don Carlos’s headquarters at Huñiga on the Navarrese border with Alava (Chant, 1983). He came away with little except a summons for his superior, Canricer, to appear before the Pretender.

Sometime in Feb Mina sent General Oraa was sent to raise the Carlists siege of Elisondo (Duncan, 1997). Oraa ran into difficulties and Mina had to relieve the town himself in Mar.

5 Feb 1835: Second Battle of Arquijas

In a renewed attack on Carlist commander Tomás Zumalacárregui, Spanish Liberal forces under General Manuel Lorenzo made a second attempt to force the pass at Arquijas, northeast of Logroño in Navarre near Mendaza (Saiz, 1999). With only half as many men, Zumalacárregui inflicted a very costly defeat upon the Liberals.

See also the First Battle of Arquijas.

Scenario Idea: Second Battle of Arquijas

As at the First Battle of Arquijas Zumalacárregui is defending the entrance to the mountain pass. The terrain is very much in his favour. On the other hand Lorenzo has twice the number of troops.

25 Feb 1835: Convoy from San Mateo to Morella

Order of Battle from Aula Militar: Un siglo de presencia militar en nuestra provincia (1833-1936):

  • 3rd battalion, 19th Regiment of Infantry (Fijo of Ceuta)

25 Feb 1835: Action at Cervera

The Isabelino Regiment of Ceuta (19th Line Infantry Regiment; Aula Militar) suffered a serious defeat in the neighbourhood of Cervera (Sorando, n.d.).

See the Ambush scenario.

End of Feb 1835: Los Arcos and Arroniz

Carlists captured Los Arcos (Duncan, 1997)

A few weeks later General Aldana’s division was destroyed at Arroniz (Duncan, 1997).

See the Ambush scenario.

Mar to Dec 1835: Operations of Peñíscola in the Maestrazgo ()

Order of Battle from Aula Militar: Un siglo de presencia militar en nuestra provincia (1833-1936):

  • 14th Line Infantry Regiment (América)

8 Mar 1835

At this point Cabrera had only 29 men under his command (Duncan, 1997).

Mid-Late Mar 1835: Pamplona Offensive

The Cristino General Espoz y Mina attacked from Pamplona in freezing weather, trying to destroy part of the Carlist army whilst Zumalacárregui was absent (Cairns, 1994a). Although some of his forces fought well, Mina was unable to cope with the extraordinary mobility of the Carlist army and was nearly surrounded. He forged Zumalacárregui’s signature on an order and then passed it to another enemy general, thus managing to extricate his army. .

12 Mar 1835: Mount Larremiar

Marching to relieve Elizondo in northern Navarre, besieged by Carlists under José Miguel Sagastibelza, Spanish Liberal General Francisco Espoz y Mina and 1,500 men came under attack at Mount Larremiar by Carlist commander Tomás Zumalacárregui (12 Mar 1835) (Saiz, 1999). In heavy fighting Mina lost about 300 casualties before he managed to reach Elizondo.

See the Ambush scenario.

19 Mar 1835

Followed Carlists took the fort of Echarri-Aranaz (Alcal, 2006).

Post 12 Mar 1835: Elizondo

Mina raised the siege of Elizondo and in their retreat the Carlists buried two mortars and two howitzers at St. Estevan (Duncan, 1997). Subsequently, Mina followed them to recover the guns. Stopping at the village of Lecaroz, he shot four of the 22 male peasants and burnt the village down. The guns were quickly produced when he threatened other villages with the same fate.

Apr 1835: Valdés replaces Mina

Despite only suffering light losses, Minas reputation suffered irreparable harm as a result of the Pamplona Offensive (Cairns, 1994a). Subsequently General Jéronimo Valdés, the Minister of War, replaced Mina as commander in chief in Apr 1835 (Duncan, 1997).

Apr – May 1835: Valdés consolidates

General Valdés initially had at his disposal 7,000 foot and 400 horse(Duncan, 1997). To these he added the three divisions in Pamplona (under Mendez, Vigo, and Gurrea), another 8,000 men. In the first two months of his command General Valdés withdrew his troops from all posts that could not resist artillery. As a result of this and some key military failures listed below (Guernica and Villafranca) the Bastan was in Carlist hands by Jun.

6 Apr 1835: Carnicer shot

In disguise Carnicer, Commandant-General of Aragon, attempted to retrace Cabrera’s steps of Feb to see Don Carlos, but was captured at Miranda and shot by the Cristinos (Cairns, 1995c; Chant, 1983). Ramón Cabrera effectively became commander in his place, and soon had his force up to 4,000 infantry and several hundred cavalry. [Alcalá, 2006, suggests Carnicer was shot on 3 Jun 1835, but this is unlikely as Cabrera was already in command by that stage.]

Sometime ?? Apr 1835: Battle of Guernica

Zumalacárregui defeated Valdés at Guernica (Duncan, 1997; although Holt, 1967, says May it had to be Apr as the battle was before the Eliot Convention was signed). Carlist forces subsequently occupied Elizondo, Urdache, Irun, and Estella.

19-24 Apr 1835: Battle of Las Amezcuas

General Jéronimo Valdés, with 20,000 men, reached Euskal Herria then moved on to the Valley of Las Améscoas (or Las Amezcuas) where Zumalacárregui was camped with 5,000 men (Zumalakarregi Museum). Given their numbers, the narrow valley made the liberal’s approach difficult. On 21 Apr the Liberals entered Améscoa and Zumalacárregui retreated to San Martín. Taking the town of Eulate, the Liberals burnt the Carlist gunpowder factory there, then headed for the ports of Eulate and Aranarache before finally reaching Urbasa. The Liberal force camped near the Venta de Urbasa, with the Carlists split up in various village in the valley, and only a few piquets to harass the attackers during the night. The following day (22 Apr) the Carlists attacked the Liberals as they descended to the port of Artaza. In a difficult fight the Liberal numbers told, and they pushed their way through towards Estella. With the Carlists in pursuit the journey from Urbasa to Estella along narrow paths was very difficult. Some Liberals arrived in Estella at nightfall, while others took refuge in Abárzuza. During the night the Liberals suffered 50 casualties in a friendly fire incident. They also suffered another 200 wounded and lost 250 prisoners to the Carlists.

Scenario Idea: Battle of Las Amezcuas

Like the Ambush scenario but on a grander scale. The Cristino force was strung out so I’d use the 20,000 men for both the marching force and the relief force. Units would be half battalions/regiments.

Campaign Idea: Valley of Las Améscoas

The whole episode took five days. The aim of the Cristinos is to get through the Valley of Las Améscoas from Euskal Herria to Estella via the port of Artaza. The Carlists are trying to make this difficult, i.e. delay it and inflict casualties.

A Matrix Game seems like a good option, providing flexibility in what players can do.

23 Apr 1835

Ramón Cabrera had his first brush with General Augin Nogueras, leader of Cristino forces in lower Aragon (Alcalá, 2006; Holt, 1967).

27-28 Apr 1835: Eliot Convention

Up until now the war in the north was characterised by many atrocities (Coverdale, 1984). Lord Eliot, representing the British government, convinced Generals Valdes and Zumalacarregui to agree not to kill prisoners, to exchange them a regular basis, to respect the wounded, and to refrain from executing anyone for political opinions without a trial. General Valdes signed the Eliot Convention on behalf of the Cristino Army of the North (27 Apr) and Zumalacárregui signed on behalf of their Carlist opposites (28 Apr). This agreement stopped the shooting of prisoners in the northern sector for a few months but had no effect elsewhere.

May 1835: Maella

Cabrera attacked and pillaged Maella (Duncan, 1997).

1 May 1835: Guernica atrocity

General Serrosa shot the Cristino prisoners from Guernica (Duncan, 1997). Zumalacárregui claimed he didn’t have the signed Eliot convention before the massacre occurred.

End of May – 3 Jun 1835: Siege of Villafranca de Oria (Ordizia)

Continuing his offensive in Navarre, Carlist commander Tomás Zumalacárregui besieged Villafranca de Oria, southwest of Tolosa (Saiz, 1999). Zumalacárregui wanted to demonstrate that he could take cities, in addition to his field victories (Zumalakarregi Museum – this source gives the city’s name as Ordizia, which is presumably Basque). In the event the Carlist’s lack of a strong siege train was to hamper their operations. The Liberal garrison fended off the initial attack and waited for reinforcements. Valdés was in Mondragón at the time, Jáuregui left San Sebastián for Tolosa, and Espartero moved from Vizcaya to Vergara. As the Liberals closed in Zumalacárregui intensified the siege so that he could claim victory before the reinforcements arrived. Zumalacárregui sent Gómez to Tolosa to block Jáuregui and Eraso to Urretxu to block Espartero. After Liberal relief forces were driven off at Larrainzar (29 May) and Descarga (2 Jun), Villafranca fell (3 Jun), yielding a massive prize of arms, and the Carlists quickly took Durango, Tolosa and Vergara and advanced on Bilbao. Aside for the capitals, the provinces of Guipuzcoa and Vizcaya were in Zumalacárregui’s hands.

11 May 1835

Carlist offensive began (Alcalá, 2006). Zumalacárregui took Treviño.

29 May 1835: Battle of Larrainzar

In late May 1835 General Valdés sent Colonel Marcelino Oráa with 3,500 men to relieve the Carlist siege of Villafranca de Oria (Duncan, 1997; Saiz, 1999). But on 29 May, at Larrainzar north of Pamplona, Oráa was surprised and routed by a smaller Carlist force under José Miguel Sagastibelza, losing perhaps 500 killed and 500 captured. Apparently the Cristino troops threatened to shoot their own officers when the latter tried to rally them. (Duncan, 1997, says Oraa’s defeat occurred at Puerto of Doña Maria.)

See the Ambush scenario. Units are equivalent of two companies (a cavalry

2 Jun 1835: Descarga

On 2 Jun 1835 General Espartero was in Descarga, just east of Vergara, waiting for news from the other Liberal leaders (Duncan, 1997; Saiz, 1999; Zumalakarregi Museum). With no news forthcoming from his commander, General Valdés, and with a heavy storm during night, Espartero ordered a withdraw to Vergara – but things didn’t quite go according to plan. Eraso had meanwhile reconnoitred toward Descarga with a group of Vizcayan lancers and Álavese guides (a much smaller force than Espartero’s). The Carlists surprised Espartero in camp, scattered his men, and captured 2,000 as the rest retreated to Vergara. The disheartened Liberals retreated on all fronts: Espartero to Bilbao, Valdés to Pamplona and Juregui to San Sebastián.

Scenario Idea: Descarga


3 Jun 1835: Carlists capture Villafranca de Oria

Villafranca de Oria surrendered to the Carlists (Alcalá, 2006). Eibar, Durango, Vergara and Ochandiano then fell. Three Carlist battalions under Zumalacárregui captured the 380 Cristinos at Ochandiano (Holt, 1967). The captured regimental band of the Cristinos elected to join the Carlists.

10 Jun – 1 Jul 1835: First siege of Bilbao

Under pressure from Carlos, Zumalacárregui attacked Bilbao on 10 Jun with 14 battalions and 10 guns (Alcal, 2006; Cairns, 1994a; Holt, 1967; Saiz, 1999; Zumalakarregi Museum). The garrison of 5,000 men and 30 guns under the Count of Mirasol – although the military commander was Colonel José Ozores of the Provincial Regiment of Compostela – won the greatest Cristino victory to date, resisting the siege and killing Zumalacárregui. Zumalacárregui wanted to take the surrounding fortifications before attacking the residential areas of the city, so the siege opened with a bombardment by three mortars and two 18-pounders (14 Jun). The Carlists inflicted more damage on their own lines that those of the liberals, and used up all their ammunition, but did breach the walls. The opportunity, however, was wasted as in the subsequent lull the Cristinos filled the breach. The next day (15 Jun) Zumalacárregui was shot whilst examining the walls with a telescope; he was evacuated and subsequently died (24 Jun). The siege was continued by Juan Benito Eraso, and he ordered the city centre bombed on 16 Jun, hitting houses, churches and hospitals. Liberal reinforcements from San Sebastián and Santander tried to enter Bilbao via Portugalete on the 18 and 24 Jun, but the Carlists kept up the siege and intensified the bombardments. Don Carlos visited the besieging army on 26 Jun and the bombardment continued until 30 Jun. The Carlists lifted the siege (1 Jul) when they were threatened by advancing armies from Miranda and Vitoria under Generals Espartero and Jéronimo Valdés. Five Battalions of the British Auxiliary Legion under General Sir George de Lacy Evans were with the relieving Cristinos. The Cristinos lost 31 dead, 130 wounded and 11 prisoners during the siege. The Carlist casualties are not known, but the loss of Zumalacárregui was a decisive blow.

says the siege was lifted 1 Jul 1835, but one of the other sources says 6 Sep 1835.
Bernabe Saiz emailed to confirm the 1 July date citing “all sources”.]

10 Jun 1835: First siege of Bilbao opens

Zumalacárregui attacked Bilbao on 10 Jun with 14 battalions and 10 guns (Alcalá, 2006; Cairns, 1994a). The guns included 2 x 12 pounder cannon, 1 x 6 pounder cannon, 2 x 4 pounder cannon, 2 x howitzers, and 2 x mortars – not nearly heavily enough to attack a city with. Inside the city, Colonel José Ozores had 5,000 men and 30 guns, including

  • 1 x Battalion from 3rd Light Infantry Regiment (Volunteers of Girona)
  • 2 x Battalions of 4th Light Infantry Regiment (Volunteers of Valencia)
  • 1 x Battalion of Ronda Provincial Regiment
  • 4 x Companies from Compostela Provincial Regiment
  • 2 x companies of Royal Corps of Artillery
  • 1/2 x company of Royal Corps of Sappers
  • 1 x company of Salvaguardas of Vizcaya
  • 1 x company of Urban Artillery of Bilbao
  • 2 x companies of auxiliaries of Bilbao (presumably militia or volunteers)
  • the company of Urbanos de Begoña
  • a detachment of the Urbanos of Durango
  • independent groups from
    • 3rd Line Infantry Regiment (Príncipe)
    • 18th Line Infantry Regiment (Almansa; Aula Militar)
    • Alcazar de San Juan Provincial Regiment
    • Mondoñedo Provincial Regiment
    • other units.

15 Jun 1835: Zumalacárregui dies

On the second day of the siege of Bilbao (15 Jun) Zumalacárregui was shot whilst examining the walls with a telescope; he was evacuated and died on 24 Jun (Alcalá, 2006; Holt, 1967; Zumalakarregi Museum).

Subsequently Lieutenant-General Vicente Gonzáles Moreno succeeded Zumalacárregui as leader of the Carlist Army of the North (Cairns, 1994a; Holt, 1967).

20 Jun 1835: Durango Decree

In the “Durango Decree” Don Carlos announced that the Eliot Convention did not apply to foreign troops (Cairns, 1995a). Subsequently the Carlists shot prisoners taken from the British and French legions.

24 Jun 1835 – 37 The Carlist Expeditions

Following the failed siege of Bilbao and the loss at Mendigorria Don Carlos chose to pursue a different strategy.

24 Jun 1835

General Valdés resigned as Cristino Commander in Chief (Duncan, 1997). General Saarsfield declined the post and as a result General Córdova assumed the mantle of command in the north.

De Lacy Evans

10 Jul 1835

First detachments of the British Auxiliary Legion – 400-500 men of the 1st Regiment in the Royal Tor steamship – arrived in San Sebastián in Spain (Holt, 1967). Although a force of largely inexperienced officers and raw recruits, this force was expected by some to turn the fate of the war. By Oct the entire force – 9,600 men and 400 officers under General Evans – had arrived in northern Spain (Santander, Bilbao and San Sebastián).

14 Jul 1835

The province of Viscaya was exhausted as a result of the failed siege of Bilbao so the Carlists marched their army out of the province, across the plain of Alava, to Estella where the Navarrese battalions – the strongest in the army – were at home (Wikipedia: Batalla de Mendigorria). The Cristinos were also on the march, travelling via Orduña to Vitoria. General Córdova then heard of the Carlist presence at Estella and headed via a circuitous route. The liberals marched through Peñacerrada, Logroño, crossed the Ebro at the bridge of Lodossa, then Sesma and Lern before reaching Estella. As the army by the carasol of Montejurra they discovered the Carlists had abandoned Estella, crossed the river Arga into Cristino territory, and occupied Mendigorría to the southeast. It was obvious to Córdova that Moreno was offering battle; the Liberal general accepted the challenge and turned towards the East.

On 14 Jul 1835 they arrived at Larraga, 8 km south of Mendigorría (Wikipedia: Batalla de Mendigorria).

Battle of Mendigorria

16 Jul 1835: Battle of Mendigorría

On 16 Jul 1835 the Cristinos (General Córdova) attacked the Carlists (General Moreno) at Mendigorría (Alcalá, 2006; Cairns, 1994a; Duncan, 1997; Saiz, 1999; Wikipedia: Batalla de Mendigorria). Larraga is 8 km south of Mendigorría along the Arga river. Between the two villages the river flows along a fertile valley about 500 m in width. The river itself was 50-80 m wide with gentle banks. The western bank rises to the mountains, but on the eastern bank, after about 20 m, an undulating plain begins which extends to a third village, Artajona in the east. Three bridges crossed the river in this area. North of Mendigorría the Cristinos had fortified and garrisoned the Bridge of La Reina. A narrow bridge was a kilometre to the south of Mendigorría (to Cirauqui). A wider bridge was a kilometre to the north of Larraga. According to Zumalakarregi Museum this battle was unique in the First Carlist War – the suggestion being that it was the largest. The Liberals had 15,000 Infantry and 800 cavalry, compared to the Carlists with 14,000 men in total. Don Carlos was in Mendigorria at the time and his army was deployed on the outskirts. The liberals attacked in four divisions under Espartero (left flank), Santiago, Froilán Méndez Vigo, and Gurrea. Córdova personally commanded in the centre. The Cristinos approached along the roads from Larraga and Artajona. The liberal right took Corona hill and repulsed a Carlist counter-attack. The fight in the centre was more tenacious, but the Cristinos finally prevailed. The Carlists could not withdraw easily as they had the river Arga behind them with only the bridge to Cirauqui to retreat across. The Carlist retreat was chaotic but they were protected by the Alavese division under Brigadier Villarreal; the Alavese held the bridge as Don Carlos and and most of the Carlist troops escaped. The Cristinos did not press their advantage; the Carlists could have been routed had not Córdova failed to launch the necessary cavalry charge at the end of the battle. Having said that Don Carlos was almost captured by Cristino cavalry in the chaotic retreat. In bloody fighting which had lasted seven hours Córdova lost perhaps 1,000 casualties, but Moreno lost 1,500-2,000. As a result of this defeat Moreno’s men almost murdered him. In contrast Córdova became the Marquis of Mendigorría and the morale of his army was improved by the victory.

It is worth having a quick look at the Google Map of Mendigorría.

According to Juanvi: Regimientos de Infantería some or all of these regiments were present:

  • 2nd Line Infantry Regiment (Reina)
  • 10th Line Infantry Regiment (Córdoba)

[Zumalakarregi Museum says 16 Jul 1836, but Cairns (1994a) says 16 Jul 1835. The later is more logical given Moreno was no longer in command in 1836. Zumalakarregi Museum also says the Liberals had 36,000 men and the Carlists 24,000, but these seem particularly high numbers. One of the sources mentions the Larraga bridge as the route of retreat, but that bridge was 6 or 7 km to the south through the Cristino lines, so unlikely as a route of escape, and certainly didn’t lead to Cirauqui which is mentioned explicitly in Wikipedia: Batalla de Mendigorria. The plan of battle shows the nearest bridge was just behind the Carlist lines. ]

Scenario Idea: Mendigorría

Sometime ?? Aug 1835

In early Aug 1835 Don Carlos named the Virgin Mary (Our Lady of the Sorrows) as commander-in-chief (Generalissimo) of his armies (Holt, 1967).

At this time General Córdova had 14,000 men dispersed over a wide front (Duncan, 1997). The Carlists in contrast were more concentrated. Ituralde had the Navarese at Puente la Reyna. Moreno and Don Carlos were at Orduña.

Also in Aug 1835, Cabrera won two victories (Duncan, 1997). He defeated a Cristino column under Decriff and gained another victory near Vineroz.

18 Aug 1835: Action at Segorbe

Order of Battle from Aula Militar: Un siglo de presencia militar en nuestra provincia (1833-1936):

3rd battalion, 19th Regiment of Infantry (Fijo of Ceuta)

8 Aug 1835: Guergué Expedition

The Carlist Brigadier Guergué advanced into Aragon with 2,500 Infantry, 100 cavalry and 2 guns (Alcalá, 2006; Holt, 1967). He then proceeded to Catalonia to encourage the local chieftains. Duncan (1997) mentions a Carlist force under Elio trying to raise Aragon and Catalonia at this time, and I suspect the two forces are the same. The Cristino General Gurrea was sent in pursuit.

17 Aug 1835: French Foreign Legion – Los Argelinos

The French Foreign Legion, called Los Argelinos by the Spanish, landed at Taragona (Cairns, 1994b; Holt, 1967; Windrow, 1981). Under General Joseph Bernelle they engaged the Carlists in Catalonia and Aragon (Duncan, 1997, says 3,000 and that they arrived at the end of Oct 1835).

Around this time, another French unit called the Volunteers of Paris were recruited and dispatched to Spain (Holt, 1967). This might be the 1,000 Frenchmen that Duncan (1997) says crossed into Spain. They were disbanded within weeks due to lack of food and money.

18 Aug 1835: Rubielos de Mora

Ramón Cabrera took the small Cristino fort at Rubielos de Mora (Alcalá, 2006; Chant, 1983). The 65 surviving defenders (mostly National Guards, but some regulars) surrendered on Cabrera’s word that their lives would be spared – they weren’t.

30 Aug 1835: Skirmish at Hernani

Unhappy at his task of guarding San Sebastián, General Evans won the approval of Generals Alava and Jáuregui for an immediate attack on Hernani (Holt, 1967; Spiers, 1983; Duncan, 1997, says 29 Aug). At the time the Carlist forces were split, with five battalions before San Sebastián, five before Bilbao, and another five at Hernani under General Gómez. Evans led eight battalions (four British and four Spanish) against the Carlists. Gómez successfully defended his position, killing six and wounding twenty of the Legion. Several legionaries were captured and shot under the terms of the Durango Decree.

Sep 1835: Defence of Cervera

Order of Battle from Aula Militar: Un siglo de presencia militar en nuestra provincia (1833-1936):

  • Two companies of the 3rd battalion, 19th Regiment of Infantry (Fijo of Ceuta)

7 Sep 1835: Los Arcos

The Cristino’s defeated a Navarese force under Ituralde at Los Arcos (Duncan, 1997).

11 Sep 1835: Skirmish at Orduña

9,000 Cristinos under Generals Espeleta and Espartero marched out of Bilbao with the aim of capturing the Carlist base at Orduña (Duncan, 1997; Spiers, 1983). 3,000 men under Count Mirasol and General Evans, and including six British battalions, covered the Cristino left flank. Within hours they encountered Carlist fire, and found the main bridges and passes strongly defended. Espeleta withdrew Mirasol’s covering force, then ordered the withdrawal of the main body. This exposed Espartero’s division which was routed.

Sep 1835 – Sep 1837: Portuguese Auxiliary Division

On 24 Sep 1835 Portugal agreed to send an auxiliary division to Spain to help in the fight again Don Carlos (Cronologia do Liberalismo). Don Carlos’s arrival back in Spain had lent energy to the First Carlist War and the Portuguese Liberals felt obligated to fulfil the obligations of the Quadruple Alliance, and return the favour to the Spanish Liberals for their help during the recent Liberal War in Portugal (Vieira, 2004). As a result a Portuguese Auxiliary Division was sent to Spain to fight the Carlists (Viriatus Miniatures: Divisão Auxiliar a Espanha). This three brigade force eventually contained 6,000 foot and 750 horse (Cairns, 1994b; Viriatus Miniatures: Divisão Auxiliar a Espanha). The division was recruited from the best regular units, although one unit, the “Caçadores do Porto”, was said to have been made up of adventurers of all nations left over from Portugal’s recent civil war. Included at least one regiment of well-equipped lancers. The division fought along the Ebro and near Vitoria for two years, finally returning in Sep 1837 (Portugal Dicionário Histórico: Antas).

24 Sep 1835: Portuguese Auxiliary Division

Queen Regent Cristina Maria of Spain (on behalf of her infant daughter Isabel II), and D. Maria II of Portugal, signed a treaty to guarantee Portuguese military aid against Don Carlos in Spain, in accordance with the Treaty of the Quadruple Alliance (Cronologia do Liberalismo).

The exiled Portuguese absolutists also wanted to continue the fight for what they believed in and supported by their leader, Dom Miguel, joined Don Carlos forces (Vieira, 2004). This way, many Portuguese came from Portugal (where absolutist guerrillas were still active), England, France and Italy to join the Carlist ranks. The Portuguese in the Carlist Army even formed a Company commanded by the captain António Teles Jordão. Besides many soldiers there were also several Portuguese officers loyal to Dom Miguel in the Carlist Army.

Sometime ?? Oct 1835

The Count of Casa Eguía superseded General Moreno as commander of the Carlist Army of the North (Holt, 1967).

By this time Mina had been appointed Cristino Captain-General in Catalonia (Duncan, 1997).

18 Oct 1835

Brigadier General Baron Das Antas led the vanguard of the Portuguese Auxiliary Division into Spain. (Cronologia do Liberalismo; Portugal Dicionário Histórico: Antas). Once the rest of the division joined them the vanguard became the 3rd Brigade (Viriatus Miniatures: Divisão Auxiliar a Espanha). Brigadier General Santa Marta, Baron do Vale, commanded the division as a whole (Portugal Dicionário Histórico: Antas; Viriatus Miniatures: Divisão Auxiliar a Espanha).

Oct 1835 – Jan 1836: Offensive of Arlabán

The Cristinos (General Córdova) conducted a less than totally successful winter offensive at Arlabán supported by British Auxiliary Legion (??).

Note: Smith (1998) says the Puerto de Arlabán was also know as the Pass of Salinas.

25 Oct 1835: Angües

The French Foreign Legion is not able to stop Guergué at Angües (Alcalá, 2006).

26 Oct 1835: Aoiz

The Cristinos total overcome the Carlist Cavalry at Aoiz (Alcalá, 2006).

27 Oct 1835: Guevara

Carlists under the Count de Casa Eguia defeat a liberal army at Guevara (Alcalá, 2006).

29 Oct – 7 Nov 1835

General Córdova ordered General Evans and the Legion into the interior to support his blockade of the Carlists (Holt, 1967; Spiers, 1983). Córdova directed Evans to march his troops via the Durango road to a new base at Vitoria. Evans refused to obey as this route lay through the Carlist heartland. Instead Evans took a longer route skirting the enemy held areas, going via Portugalette, Castro, Limpias, Frias, Briviesca and Miranda de Ebro a distance of nearly 240 km.

Sometime ?? Nov 1835

The Portuguese Auxiliary Division entered Spain (Duncan, 1997). A single brigade entered first, followed by two others (Viriatus Miniatures: Divisão Auxiliar a Espanha). In total there were 6,000 foot and 750 horse (Cairns, 1994b; Duncan, 1997, says they had 8,000 men).

10 Nov 1835

In Portugal Saldanha punished the officers who refused to join the Portuguese Auxiliary Division in Spain (Cronologia do Liberalismo).

11 Nov 1835: Action at Cabanes

Order of Battle from Aula Militar: Un siglo de presencia militar en nuestra provincia (1833-1936):

  • 3rd battalion, 19th Regiment of Infantry (Fijo of Ceuta)

Also on 11 Nov 1835 Don Carlos appointed Ramón Cabrera (acting) Carlist Commandant-General in lower Aragon (Alcalá, 2006; Duncan, 1997; Chant, 1983; Holt, 1967). Chant says this was because of Cabrera’s earlier destruction of a Cristino division at Ulldecona, close to Tortosa. [Actually Chant says Cabrera became Marichal de Campo as a result of his victory at Ulldecona, effectively making him field commander in Aragon; but Chant doesn’t mention a date.]

17 Nov 1835

The cavalry of the Portuguese Auxiliary Division left Lisbon for Spain (Cronologia do Liberalismo). A group of about 200 officers congregated in Alcântara and asked the queen to cancel the punishment of the officers who had refused to go to Spain. This uprising led to the fall of the government.

29 Nov 1835

Llauder replaced Espoz Mina in Catalonia (Alcalá, 2006).

Late Nov – 3 Dec 1835: Brits to Vitoria

After a three-week rest, and to cover a move by Córdova in the direction of Aragon, General Evans took the British Auxiliary Legion to Vitoria (Holt, 1967). The advance guard arrived on 3 Dec. Many of the Legion died in the period since Oct due to cold, inadequate food, and sickness (Spiers, 1983).

12 Dec 1835: Decimation of the Chapelgorris

General Espartero had 10 randomly selected Chapelgorris (literally Red Caps, but more formally known as the Volunteers of Guipuzcoa) shot supposedly in retaliation for some misbehaviour committed previously by the unit, but really to engender favour at court (??).

Dec 1835

At this point Cabrera had 3,416 infantry and 218 cavalry under his command (Duncan, 1997). He won a victory near Catalayud.

Early Jan 1836

In early Jan 1836 Carlists ambushed and destroyed a Cristino regiment and a company of National Militia escorting mail from Barcelona to Madrid (Holt, 1967).

9 Jan 1836: Action at The Jana

Order of Battle from Aula Militar: Un siglo de presencia militar en nuestra provincia (1833-1936):

  • 1st battalion, 2nd Line Infantry Regiment (Reina)

Sometime ?? Jan 1836

In Jan 1836 Cabrera surprised a Cristino force near Tortosa and inflicted heavy casualties, then defeated them again a few days later (Duncan, 1997).

Also in Jan 1836 the French Foreign Legion transferred to the Basque country to operate in conjunction with the British Auxiliary Legion (Duncan, 1997).

6 Jan 1836

107 Carlist prisoners were massacred at Barcelona in revenge for some 170 Cristino prisoners killed earlier (Chant, 1983; Holt, 1967).

Around this time the Carlists had 20 Battalions at Guebarra Castle and around Salvatierra (Duncan, 1997).

15-19 Jan 1836: First Battle of Arlabán

In a fresh advance in Navarre, the Liberal General Córdova marched northeast from Vitoria against the Carlists on the heights of Arlabán (Holt, 1967; Duncan, 1997; Saiz, 1999; Spiers, 1983; Somerville, 1995; Zumalakarregi Museum). This was the largest engagement over the winter and was largely inconclusive. Egia commanded the Carlist troops, aided by Brigadier Bruno de Villarreal. The Cristino army advanced in three columns:

  • Right: Evans headed for the Castle of Guevara with the British Auxiliary Legion (only 1,800 in the ranks).
  • Centre: Córdova headed for Alto de Arlabán with at least a Spanish Brigade of three battalions and two battalions of the French Foreign Legion.
  • Left: Espartero headed for Legutiano

After two days of tough fighting (16-17 Jan) the situation was largely unchanged (Zumalakarregi Museum). The Liberals had taken Legutiano and Alto de Arlabán but retuned to Vitoria on 18 Jan. There were 300 casualties in Carlist lines and 600 on the Liberal side.

[I’m a little unclear on the Timeline of this battle. Zumalakarregi Museum says the fighting took place on 16-17 Jan, but other authors mention fighting over a longer period of time.]

15 Jan 1836: First Battle of Arlabán

General Córdova’s force encountered Carlists on a Venta 800 m beyond Ulibarri Gamboa on the road to France, and tried to dislodge them (Duncan, 1997). The forces engaged started small, but rapidly escalated as reinforcements joined the battle. Soon Córdova had committed his entire available force: a Spanish Brigade of three battalions and two battalions of the French Foreign Legion. The Cristinos pushed over a succession of wooded ridges until they took the highest point after midnight (Somerville, 1995). [Note: Somerville puts this action on 15 Jan but Duncan puts it a day later.]

General Evans advanced in the direction of Salvatierra and encountered four Carlist battalions including one occupying the village of Mendijur (Somerville, 1995). The British drove the defenders out of the village but eventually Evan’s recalled his troops. The Carlists responded by pushing forward half a battalion of skirmishers in a wood, however the Grenadier company of the British 3rd Regiment drove them out at the point of the bayonet. Night put an end to the contest.

The British 2nd Lancers – attached to a Cristino Brigade – found themselves surrounded by Carlist cavalry, artillery and infantry (Somerville, 1995). The Lancers twice charged the Carlist Infantry, and on their third charge broke a unit of Carlist cavalry and rode through the disordered infantry behind. Not content with evading the trap, the Lancers then reformed and charged back to capture an artillery piece. Following this some Cristino battalions moved up and the Carlists withdrew.

Meanwhile General Espartero advanced on the Bilbao road and although engaged countered little opposition (Somerville, 1995).

16 Jan 1836: First Battle of Arlabán

The Carlists facing Córdova’s force had been reinforced over night and attacked his five battalions, attempting to gain some advantage before Espartero moved up (Duncan, 1997). Espartero, however, managed to reach the embattled force, and as evening approached the Carlists began to withdraw to Oñate. On the night of 16-17 Jan Córdova withdrew his own and Espartero’s force. Unfortunately the massager he sent General Evans failed to get through.

The British 3rd Regiment had a “sharp” fight with a battalion of Carlists (Somerville, 1995). A running guerilla fight for some hours, with both side firing heavily and the 3rd conducting 2 or 3 charges. Although other units were available, General Evans declined to commit more than one regiment to face this body of Carlists. By night fall the Carlists had been driven off and the 3rd were withdrawn back to the main British positions.

19 Jan 1836: First Battle of Arlabán

After some days of snow, frost, and hunger the Cristinos withdrew to their original positions near Vitoria (??). The Carlist General Villareal followed them up and retook Mendijur. Losses on both sides had been about 300 (Duncan, 1997). Duncan says the British Auxiliary Legion fought well, and singles out the rifles and an unspecified Scottish regiment for praise.

23 Jan 1836: Bridge of Alcance

Cabrera wins at the bridge of Alcance (Alcalá, 2006).

29 Jan – 4 Feb 1836

In an attempt to block supplies into Alava, General Córdova, with the French Foreign Legion, set out for Pamploma (arrived 4 Feb) (Duncan, 1997). General Evans was sent to Trurino and General Espartero to Pena Cerrada.

Meanwhile the Carlists captured a number of small Cristino garrisons along the coast, including Balmaseda, Mercadillo, Plencia, and Lequitio (Duncan, 1997).

Sometime ?? Feb 1836: British merge regiments

2nd English and 5th Scottish Regiments of the British Auxiliary Legion were merged into other units due to losses (Holt, 1967; Somerville, 1995). These were not necessarily combat losses, as 4,706 men of the 7,000 men in the Legion were admitted to hospital during their stay in Vitoria over the previous winter (Spiers, 1983).

Feb 1836

The Portuguese Auxiliary Division was reorganised into two columns (Viriatus Miniatures: Divisão Auxiliar a Espanha). Brigadier General Baron Das Antas commanded the first column of 3,000 men (Portugal Dicionário Histórico: Antas)

9 Feb 1836: Carlist Winter Offensive

9 Feb saw the start of the Carlists Winter offensive (Alcalá, 2006). Balmaceda fell.

15 Feb 1836: Cabrera’s mother shot

Ramón Cabrera’s mother was executed in Tortosa (Chant, 1983; Alcalá, 2006, says 11 Feb 1836).

End of Feb 1836

General Córdova appointed General Evans to command the left wing of the army of operations (Duncan, 1997). This included 14 battalions under Espartero, four battalions under Espeleta, and the British Auxliary Legion itself. 12,000 infantry and 500 cavalry in total.

Mar 1836: Garrison of Segorbe

Order of Battle from Aula Militar: Un siglo de presencia militar en nuestra provincia (1833-1936):

  • 19th Regiment of Infantry (Fijo of Ceuta)
  • 21st Provincial Regiment (Santiago)

Mar 1836

General Bernelle formed a battery and 3 squadrons of lancers from existing personnel of the French Foreign Legion (Windrow, 1981).

5 Mar 1836: Battle of Orduña

Campaigning northwest from Vitoria in Navarre, Spanish Liberal commander Baldomero Espartero advanced on Orduña where he was met by Carlist forces under Generals Joaquín Elío and Simon de La Torre (??; Alcalá, 2006; Cairns, 1994a). In heavy fighting on the plains the Carlists suffered a decisive defeat and retreated northeast towards Bilbao, but a snow-storm prevented Espartero marching in pursuit (Cairns describes this victory as “elegant”).

12 Mar 1836

The Portuguese Auxiliary Division, or possibly just the column under Baron Das Antas, took part in the taking of Valmacela, and in the action of Castle of Pedra and Venda Mal Abugro (Portugal Dicionário Histórico: Antas). For his part in these actions Das Antas was awarded the cross of S.Fernando by the Spanish government.

24 Mar 1836: First Battle of Zubiri

Sent to support the Spanish Government, the French Foreign Legion under General Bernelle attacked Carlists threatening the garrison at Zubiri, northeast of Pamplona near Larrasoaña (Saiz, 1999). Fighting in heavy snow the Carlists were driven off with over 100 casualties, and 30 prisoners executed as a reprisal.

12 Apr 1836

The British Auxiliary Legion sallied from San Sebastian, killing the Carlist general Sagastibelza (Alcalá, 2006). The Carlists raises the blockade of the city. I assume this was an advance guard of the British, given Somerville, 1995, claims the majority arrived in San Sebastian in the period 19-21 Apr 1836.

15 Apr 1836

Lord John Hay, the Commodore of the Naval Squadron assigned to support the Spanish government, landed the first regular British forces in Spain (Duncan, 1997; Holt, 1967). 143 marines and 5 men from the Royal Marine Artillery Marines were assigned to garrison Portugalete. Hay’s land force was later expanded to include a full Royal Marine Battalion (under Major John Owen), more Royal Marine artillery, and small detachments of Royal Artillery and Royal Engineers.

Early 1836: Batanero’s raid

The renegade priest Batanero led 260 well equipped Carlist cavalry from Vizcaya across the Ebro into Old Castile (Holt, 1967; Chant says 250 men). Despite the Cristino troops sent to intercept him, he got within striking distance of Segovia and La Granja before returning to Vizcaya.

Sometime ?? Summer 1836

The first battalion from the second French Foreign Legion arrived in Spain as reinforcements for the old Legion (Windrow, 1981).

19-21 Apr 1836

The majority of the British Auxiliary Legion arrived in San Sebastián (from Vitoria) (Somerville, 1995).

25 Apr 1836: Battle of Tirapegui

Recovering from a repulse at Zubiri, Spanish Carlists resumed their assault on the French Foreign Legion garrison at nearby Larrasoaña (Saiz, 1999; Windrow). In 5-6 hours of action on the overlooking heights of Tirapegui, the French 4th and 5th battalions inflicted costly losses on a greatly superior Carlist force (possibly five times their size), before withdrawing into Larrasoaña. [Windrow says 26 Apr.]

Sometime ?? May 1836

Carlists under Cabrera’s subordinate Quilez defeated a Cristino force under Valdez near Bañon (Duncan, 1997). The captured Cristino officers where shot and 1,500 other prisoners joined Cabrera.

5 May 1836: Battle of Ayetta / Hernani

General Evans’ army of 4,500-5,000 British and 1,500-3,600 Spanish attacked the Carlist positions outside San Sebastián; Evans’ aim was to lift the siege, thus allowing operations against Hernani (Holt, 1967; Saiz, 1999; Somerville, 1995; Spiers, 1983; Zumalakarregi Museum). Evan’s fielded the British Auxiliary Legion less the entire 4th Regiment of the British Auxiliary Legion and six companies of the 8th who were still in transit from Santander. The Spanish included the Zaragosa regiment (12th Line Infantry Regiment; Aula Militar), the Segovia and Oviedo Provincial Regiments (the latter under Colonel Don Belloso), the Chapelgorris, and a company of National Guards.

Some 3-7,000 Carlists with at least 5 pieces of artillery under General Segastibelza were established in three lines of fortifications around San Sebastián (Somerville, 1995). The Carlist positions extended from the river Urimea just to the east of San Sebastián to 3 km westward of the city where a deep valley opened into the sea. The first line of fortifications was about 800 m from the city and the other two were on the San Bartolomeo heights above with Fort Lugariz being the final bastion of the Carlist defences. The Carlists positions linked natural defences (primarily steep hills and ditches) with stone walls, barricades, breastworks, and several fortified buildings and villages. The main road to Hernani – which went through the Carlist positions – was barricaded in several places.

Evans assaulted in three columns, before daybreak (4 am) in wet and muddy conditions due to a weeks rain (Somerville, 1995). Shaw and his Irish Brigade (7th, 9th, and 10th) attacked the Carlist centre. The Light Brigade under Brigadier-General Reid (Rifles, 3rd, 6th and Chapelgorris; Zaragosa and Oviedo Regiments, National Guards) was on the left/east, attacking toward the Urumea River. Brigadier-General Chichester’s Brigade (1st, two companies of the 8th, plus 800 Spaniards including the Segovia Provincial Regiment) was on the right/west; they were to march along the shore and turn the enemies left flank.

Evan’s had ordered the men not to fire and the Carlist front line fell quickly to the bayonets of the Light and Irish Brigades (Somerville, 1995). Carlists, who retreated to Lugaritz, Munto and Puio (Zumalakarregi Museum). The 7th Irish in the centre forced a large force of Carlists from the heavily fortified wind-mill battery, but the attack stalled in the face of sustained musketry and artillery fire from the heights. Several frontal attacks failed; not even the encouragement of Evan’s appearing in the front line made a difference. The 7th and 9th were repulsed three times in the centre and the forth time in conjunction with the 10th. Similarly the 6th and Chapelgorris twice failed to take a village surrounded by a loop holed wall and ditch (the defenders also had two cannon within canister range); a subsequent brave attempt by the Rifles on the same location also met with disaster. By 9 am, however, the British had taken the second line of fortifications. Reid’s Light Brigade was twice thrown back from the Fort Lugariz with severe losses. General Segastibelza was shot in the head and killed during a bayonet charge while attempting to defend the red Carlist Standard of No Quarter in the centre.

Liberal success was only assured when the Phoenix and Salamander landed the 4th English and 6 companies of the 8th Scotch (1,300 men in total) in support of Chichester’s Brigade (Somerville, 1995; Zumalakarregi Museum). At 1,500 m the 10 inch guns of the British ships breached fort Lugariz’s walls allowing the 4th and 8th to pour through, thus turning the flank of the whole Carlist line. By 11 am the Carlist fortifications were cleared, and five pieces of heavy artillery captured. Despite winning the battle the Liberals only managed to slightly expand the perimeter of the siege. And it was a costly victory: the Legion lost 11 officers and 120 men killed, and 64 officers and 645 men wounded, and their Spanish allies lost 1 officer and 11 men killed, and 9 officers and 84 men wounded; most of the wounds are trifling and only 382 men were recorded on the hospital casualty lists although about 40 of these subsequently died . The Carlists are said to have lost 260-300 killed and wounded and 4 artillery pieces. (Elsewhere Somerville says 1,000 Cristino casualties and 1,2000 Carlist.)

British Attacking

20 May 1836: 2nd Battle of Arlabán

The Cristino Army of the North (General Córdova with 32 battalions) drove the Carlists (under Eguia) out of their lines at Arlabán and in front of Villa Real (Duncan, 1997; Spiers, 1983). Having incurred a loss of 600 men, Córdova chose not to push on to Don Carlos’s headquarters at Oñate, and retreated back to Vitoria instead for “repose” and a bit of self-publicity. Both sides claimed victory. [Duncan says this action took place over 22-24 May 1836]

Zumalakarregi Museum has quite a different account:

In May, Córdoba again tried to take Alto de Arlabán. This time, the combat lasted for four days
[including 24 May 1836]. The Liberals burnt the Carlist arms factory in Araia. Troops marched
forward and fell back, and Salinas de Léniz constantly changed hands between Carlists and
Liberals. This time, Espartero was also the most prominent Liberal leader, while Villarreal was
significant for the Carlists. On the 26th of May, the Liberals retreated to Vitoria-Gasteiz
burning houses as they did so, particularly in Legutiano.

Each side lost around 600 soldiers. Both sides considered themselves the victors of the battle, though it could be said that the Carlists gained more since, after losing their positions in Arlabán, these finally fell back into their hands. Colonel Narváez, who would later be the political rival of Espartero, was wounded in this battle.

Alcalá (2006) tersely says, on 21 May 1836, Córdova was stopped in the lines of Arlabán when trying to reach Oñate.

I’m struggling to reconcile these accounts, and in fact, those for the First Battle. It is
possible my accounts of the two actions have got intermingled.

28 May 1836: Capture of Passages

A combined Spanish and British force under General Evans, including a battalion of Royal Marines engaged the Carlists near San Sebastián, capturing a vital port to the east and a 15 km foothold on the coast (Somerville, 1995; Spiers, 1983). While General Shaw defended the rest of the lines around San Sebastián, and the remainder of the Legion and the Royal Marines (Major John Owen) lay in reserve, General Chichester’s Brigade (Rifles, 1st, 4th, 8th Regiments) and part of Jaureguy’s Division (Chapelgorris and 2 other Spanish Battalions) waded the Urumea River during the early hours, and attacked the Carlist positions at 6 am supported by 30 pieces of artillery (Col. Colquhoun). Shattered by the massed cannonade the Carlists put up little resistance to Chichester’s Anglo-Spanish force. (The Carlists still managed to bury their 12-pounder and 18-pounder before fleeing.) With the Carlist positions cleared, the remainder of the Legion crossed the river on a pontoon bridge. The Legions 1st Lancer’s (Lieutenant-Colonel James Rait), assisted by the Royal Marines, defeated the Carlists on Ametza Hill and swept into Passages. Meanwhile the Carlist occupants of the nearby Castle were forced to vacate due to fire from HMS Phoenix and HMS Salamander. Following the battle the Royal Marines (Lord John Hay) were garrisoned in Passages, with Jaureguy’s Spaniards between them and Evan’s Legion to the west.

Late May 1836

Cristino Government decided to form their own Army of the Centre (3 brigades under Colonel Narváez) to hunt down Cabrera in Aragon (Holt, 1967).

Jun 1836: Dispositions

Duncan (1997) claims that in Jun 1836 the Carlists had 21,000 men in 41.5 Battalions. These were grouped into four: Navarre under Garcia, moving from Estella to Puente la Reyna, Gómez’s Expedition, reserve at Salinas.

Duncan (1997) also gives Evans the following troops in Jun 1836 (from p 74):

  • 9 regiments of the British Auxiliary Legion (4,500 men)
  • 1 battalion Chapel Gorris (400 men)
  • 3 battalions of Zaragosa (12th Line Infantry Regiment; Aula Militar) (1,1880 men)
  • 2 battalions of Light Infantry (1,250 men)
  • 1 battalion of Oviedo Provincial Regiment (650 men)
  • 1 battalion of Segovia Provincial Regiment (650 men)
  • 1 battalion of Jaen Provincial Regiment (at Guetaria ) (670 men)
  • Royal Marines (400 men)
  • Regiment of Cavalry

Sometime ?? Jun 1836

Cabrera surprised a Cristino force under Iriarte and killed and wounded 600 of his men (Duncan, 1997).

Jun 1836: Garrison of Castellón

Order of Battle from Aula Militar: Un siglo de presencia militar en nuestra provincia (1833-1936):

  • 7th Provincial Regiment (León)

2 Jun 1836: Action at Benasal

Order of Battle from Aula Militar: Un siglo de presencia militar en nuestra provincia (1833-1936):

  • 2nd and 3rd battalions, 19th Regiment of Infantry (Fijo of Ceuta)

2 Jun 1836

Maroto took command of the Carlists in Catalonia (Alcalá, 2006). I could have it wrong, but I think he retained control only until 31 Aug 1836.

3 – ?? Jun 1836: Garcia’s expedition

Basilio Garcia crossed the Ebro (3 Jun) with a Carllist expedition (Cairns, 1994a; Holt, 1967). As he moved into Old Castile he ejected several Cristino garrisons. Near Burgos he routed a Cristino General, taking 200 prisoners and 60 horses. He advances to within striking distance of La Granja and of the Queen Regent at the royal palace of San Ildefonso. As this point Garcia overruled his second-in-command, Juan Manuael Balmaseda, and forsook kidnapping Cristina. The force retired back to Navarre with its loot.

6 Jun 1836: Attack on San Sebastián

Having withdrawn his men from covering General Córdova in the mountains of Alava, the Carlist General Eguia made a determined, but unsuccessful, attempt to retake the old Carlist entrenchments outside San Sebastián (Holt, 1967; Somerville, 1995). The Carlists feinted toward Ametzagana hill (left of centre) before dawn, but directed their main attack at the hill and fortified village of Alza (left) about three hours after daybreak. 400 m before Alza the Carlists drove in the piquet’s of the 1st Regiment British Auxiliary Legion, and opened up with an 18 and 32-pounder on the loop holed church. The Navarrese battalions forced their way through some fields and drove the 1st Regiment from the church yard and village. The British 8th Regiment, coming up as reinforcements, managed to hold the victorious Navarrese in the rough, wooded ground beyond the village; the British had the advantage of height and the Carlists could make little headway through the difficult ground cut with numerous hedges. A more general action opened up with the entire Carlist force engaged and all bar two regiments of Evan’s force. The Carlists briefly pressed the western end of the British lines but the focus continued to be around Alza. The Chapelgorris and Chapelchurris (5th Guipuzcoa) fought a bloody see-saw battle on the slopes below Alza village until two companies of the British 6th Regiment helped the Chapelgorris drive the Carlists back. General Chichester’s Brigade (1st, 4th and 8th, and perhaps Rifles) pushed the Carlists back to Alza and then out of the village entirely; with the Carlist setting fire to the village before retreating. The Anglo-Spanish repulsed yet another advance by the Carlists before the action ended for the day. The Carlists losses were unusually severe (perhaps 1,000 casualties) and the Anglo-Spanish about half that. (Somerville, 1995, says there were Navarrese but he was wrong on at least one other instance and the troops were more likely to be Guizpucoan or Alavese.)

9 Jun 1836: Attack on San Sebastián

Carlists again attacked the Cristino positions outside San Sebastián (Somerville, 1995). The first attack was on a fortified hill to the east of Passages which the British Royal Marines and Marine Artillery occupied. Some time before 9 am the Carlists battalions were spotted forming up in the rocks below the hill. The British picquet alerted the garrison but refrained from firing. When the Carlists finally advanced they were met by a single crushing volley of musketry and canister. The Carlists disappeared so fast that a second volley was not needed.

Simultaneously another Carlist division, also under General Eguia, attacked Alza again (Somerville, 1995). The British 4th regiment supported by some artillery and one or two other regiments (perhaps from General Chichester’s Brigade) held them until, realising the fate of their compatriots facing the marines, the Carlists withdrew.

Meanwhile in the west of the line the British Auxiliary Legion Artillery (Col. Colquhoun) and the 10th Regiment repulsed a minor thrust from the Carlists (Somerville, 1995).

Seven Legionnaires were captured on this day and subsequently shot (Somerville, 1995).

17 Jun 1836: Battle of Friginals

A bloody encounter where the Carlist Cavalry of the Army of the Centre failed to break the squares of two battalions of the Cristino Saboya Regiment (6th Line Infantry Regiment; Aula Militar), but did manage to break the squares of 4 accompanying Militia companies (Cairns, 1995c).

26 Jun to 20 Dec 1836: Gómez’s March

“He marched twice across the kingdom, pursued and surrounded by armies greater than his own; and, although encumbered by prisoners and plunder, he disappointed all their combinations, and found safety in the most desperate circumstances by his vigilance and activity, bringing back with him almost the whole of his troops, and by far the greater part of his booty.” (cited in Duncan, 1997, p. 88)

In the greatest of the Carlist expeditions Miguel Gómez lead a small force from Amurrio (26 Jun 1836) across northern Spain (Jun), entered Oviedo (5 Jul), captured Santiago de Compostella (18 Jul), then through Leon (Aug) and Castile, down into Andalusia, capturing Córdova (Oct) and reaching Algeciras on the south coast, whereupon he returned to Aragon, and finally joined the Carlist army at the second siege of Bilbao (Dec) (Cairns, 1994a, 1995b; Chant, 1983; Holt, 1967; Zumalakarregi Museum). When he initially set out to raise insurrection in Asturias and Galicia, Gómez had about 4,000 men: 5 battalions, two squadrons (1st and 2nd Provisional with 180 men), 10 gunners and two mountain guns. (Zumalakarregi Museum is consistent with this saying 2,700 foot soldiers, 180 cavalry, and two cannons. Duncan, 1997, says 7,000 men which is probably erroneous.) During his epic journey he managed to avoid the large Cristino army (25,000 men under Espartero, then Alaix) dogging his heels, took Oviedo, Santiago de Compostela, León, Palencia, Albacete, Córdoba, Almadén, Cáceres and Algeciras, sometimes through difficult battles and other times, without firing a single shot, and fought the battles of Bujalero (30 Aug) and Villarrobledo (20 Sep). He also co-operated with Army of the Centre (bring the force to 6,000 men). In all Gómez covered about 4,500 km, training his recruits
as he marched. The expedition returned rather stronger than when it set out due to local recruiting, including picking up 2 Aragonese battalions and 2 Valencian battalions. In addition Gómez managed to lure 42 battalions and 8 squadrons south from the Basque country, and disarmed 100,000 of the National Militia during his 6 month journey. Despite the grandeur of the expedition, Don Carlos on the return of Gómez put him on trial for ignoring orders; the trial lasted until the end of the war so Gómez went unpunished.. (Holt and Duncan both say the start was 26 Jun.)

26 Jun 1836

Gomez’s expedition headed westward from Orduña in Alava (Duncan, 1997; Holt, 1967). When Córdova heard about this movement he sent Espartero after the Carlists with a superior force, but Gómez always managed to keep one or days ahead.

28-29 Jun 1836

The Portuguese Auxiliary Division, or possibly just the column under Baron Das Antas, were in action on 28 and 29 Jun 1836 (Portugal Dicionário Histórico: Antas). For his part in these actions Das Antas was awarded the supreme-cross of Isabel, the Catholic, by the Spanish government.

Sometime ?? 1836: Reynosa

Gómez defeated a smaller Cristino force trying to bar his way into the Asturias at Reynosa (Duncan, 1997; Holt, 1967). Duncan, who seems to over-estimate the size of Gómez’s force, gives the Cristinos 3,000 men.

Sometime ?? 1836

The Carlist commander-in-chief, Villareal, launched an attack on the Cristino lines between Vitoria and the Ebro (Holt, 1967). In one sector his advance was checked by Portuguese regiments fighting for the Queen Regent; in another by a mixed force of Cristinos and French Foreign Legion (General Bernelle).

Jul 1836

Durango Decree

Sometime in Jul 1836 Don Carlos published a decree in which he declared that the Durango Decree only applied to foreign adventurers (e.g. the British and French Legions), not the regulars of a foreign nation (e.g. the British Royal Artillery and Marines).

In Jul 1836 Cabrera invaded the province of Valencia and returned with much booty (Duncan, 1997).

1 Jul 1836: Action at Soneja

Order of Battle from Aula Militar: Un siglo de presencia militar en nuestra provincia (1833-1936):

  • 2nd and 3rd battalions, 19th Regiment of Infantry (Fijo of Ceuta)

5 Jul 1836

Gómez reached Oviedo and easily took possession (Alcalá, 2006; Duncan, 1997, says 7 Jul 1836). Gómez then crossed the Minho into Galicia.

11 Jul 1836: Attack on Fuenterrabia

General Evans attempted to cut the Carlist supply route into France by attacking Carlist held Fuenterrabia (Holt, 1967; Saiz, 1999; Spiers, 1983; Somerville, 1995; Duncan, 1997, says 12 Jul 1836). Fuenterrabia lies at the mouth of the Bidassoa on the border of France to the east of San Sebastián. Leaving the 1st and 7th Regiments in the lines as San Sebastián Evan’s entire Anglo-Spanish force (5,000 men) marched over mountain tracks to reach Fuenterrabia while the their supporting ships (the Phoenix, Salamander, Gubernadora, Isabella and two other steamers and 12-16 gun-boats) steamed along the coast. The Chapelgorris – deployed as skirmishers – led the march. Evans

Once at Fuenterrabia the ships pounded the Carlist positions, as General Shaw led the British 6th and 10th regiments, Chapelgorris and Spanish Ovieda Provincial Regiment in an attack on the bridge over the Bidassoa (Somerville, 1995). This bridge was key as it gave both the attacking Cristinos and Carllists arriving from the countryside access to the town. Three battalions of Carlists (about 1,800 men) defending a walled road on the town side of the bridge held off the 6th and 10th. About 300 of the 6th and Chapelgorris managed to cross the bridge only to be surprised and disappointed when the defenders pushed them back over the bridge. The British Lancers, 3rd and 10th regiments charged in turn, and many of both sides were killed on the bridge and in the river. The battle see-sawed until mid-day when the lowering tide allowed the Carlists to cross the Bidassoa and take the 3rd in the flank. However, these Carlists were in turn taken in flank by two concealed companies of Royal Marines and were forced to withdraw back to their original positions. The attack made no further progress as the troops faced 10 m walls that were too strong to be breached by mountain guns. The Legion withdraw with about 120 casualties and the Carlists perhaps twice that.

Ultimately the attempt on Fuenterrabia failed because Evans omitted to organise artillery support for the attack due to incorrect intelligence about Carlist movements (Somerville, 1995). Where Evan’s believed the garrison at Fuenterrabia had been reduced, and the artillery removed, in fact the Carlists had spent two months building up the defences.

Whilst the main Cristino force was at Fuenterrabia the Carlists managed to drive the 1st Regiment out of the key position at Almetza (Somerville, 1995).

Also on 11 Jul Basilio set off with a Carlist expedition to draw off liberal attention from Gomez (Alcalá, 2006).

18 Jul 1836: Action at Soneja

Order of Battle from Aula Militar: Un siglo de presencia militar en nuestra provincia (1833-1936):

  • 1st battalion, 2nd Line Infantry Regiment (Reina)

18 Jul 1836: Santiago de Compostela

Gómez entered Santiago de Compostela in Galicia (Alcalá, 2006; Duncan, 1997). He safely recrossed the Minho with his booty into Asturias, although his rear-guard had a skirmish with Espartero’s force. Espartero promoted this as a victory in Madrid.

25 Jul – 12 Aug 1836: Overthrow of the moderates

The National Militia in Malaga rebelled against the moderate government, killed the military and civil governors, and proclaimed the 1812 constitution (25 Jul) (Holt, 1967). Similar risings followed in Granada, Cadiz and Saragossa. The 1812 constitution was also proclaimed in Seville, Badajos, Valencia, Alicante, Murcia, Cartagena, Barcelona, and elsewhere. Only Madrid was quiet, as General Quesada used Regulars to disarm the National Militia. The Queen Regent denounced the risings (4 Aug) but in the Sergeants Revolt at La Granja (12 Aug) Cristina was forced to submit to the wishes of the progressives. Within days General Córdova and senior government officials have gone into exile, and General Quesada has been murdered by the progressives. Espartero replaced General Córdova as head of the Army of the North.

1 Aug – 19 Sep 1836: Mutinies among the British Auxiliary Legion

During this period – the first anniversary of the Legion – the Legion suffered mutinies or near mutinies in several units (Spiers, 1983). The 6th Scotch Grenadiers, 8th Highlanders, 10th Munster Light Infantry, and the 1st Lancers all had men who believed they had only signed up for one year. Evan’s withdrew them from the front line and imprisoned them. Subsequently many rejoined their regiments, but some were sent them home with a bad record.

1 Aug 1836

Almetza Hill

With the majority of the British Auxiliary Legion disaffected, six companies of picked men were chosen to attack Almetza Hill(Somerville, 1995). The attacking force – half from the 1st Regiment and half from the Rifles – drove the Carlists from their positions. The British pushed on further to capture their old piquet houses on the far side of the hill. Presumably because the British force was scattered over the hill, the retreat was sounded and as the men began to withdraw the Carlists regrouped and drove them off Almetza. In four hours of fighting the British lost one killed and 28 wounded. (Note, the attacking force given above is described by Somerville on p. 378, but in a different passage he says the attackers comprised “the 1st Regiment, and a few companies of other English”, p. 148-149.)

Second Battle of Zubiri

Following his costly success near Tirapegui, northeast of Pamplona in Navarre, French Foreign Legion General Bernelle joined a Spanish government force on a second assault on the Carlists further east at Zubiri(Saiz, 1999; Windrow, 1981). In a one-sided disaster the Carlists were driven off with about 1,500 casualties. Apparently the French lancers did particularly well. None-the-less Bernelle was soon replaced as commander due to his constant complaints about the neglect of his men. .

Mid Aug 1836: Gómez part II

Encouraged by his jaunt into Galicia, Gómez set off again, this time into Castile headed toward Aragon (Duncan, 1997). Meanwhile General Córdova was sent into exile, to be replaced by Espartero as head of the Army of the North (Holt, 1967). Espartero delegated to Alaix the task of chasing Gómez .

30 Aug 1836: Battle of Bujalero

An engagement fought by Gómez on his great expedition, during which he captured two battalions of Royal Guards (Cairns, 1994a, 1995b). One of the first units to intercept Gómez on his long march was a brigade of Guards (100 men of the Coraceros and two battalions of Provincial Guards). The provisional lancers (180 men) of the Carlists defeated the elite cuirassiers and pursued them for some miles; only four escaped. The two battalions were captured entire.

Duncan (1997) describes an action which may well be the same event. In Duncan’s account 1,200 Cristinos under General Lopez were trying to shield Madrid from Gómez at the end of Aug 1836, but were caught and completely routed, with their leader captured. This occurred within a days march of Madrid.

Late Aug 1836

The Cristino General Gaurea led 3,000 men (the Chapelgorris, two Spanish Regiments, and the British 8th and 9th) on a two day hunt through the Basque mountains near Santosa between Santander and San Sebastián (29 km from the former) (Somerville, 1995). Supposedly looking for a Carlist band they mostly enjoyed the views.

Probably ?? Sep 1836

After his victory near Madrid, Gómez proceeded through Cuenca to the borders of lower Aragon (Duncan, 1997). Whilst on route he was reinforced by roving Carlist bands including those under the Catalonian chief, Cabrera.

7 Sep 1836 Utiel and Reguena

Still pursued by Alaix, Gómez plundered Utiel on 7 Sep 1836 and Reguena a few days later (Duncan, 1997).

9 Sep 1836

Rebellious battalions of the national guard of Lisbon proclaimed the democratic constitution of 1820 on the night of 9 Sep 1836 (Portugal Dicionário Histórico: Antas).

16 Sep 1836: Alvacete

On 16 Sep Gómez took the town of Alvacete on the way to Murcia and Andalusia (Duncan, 1997).

On 16 Sep Espartero was also given command of the Cristino Army of the North, a position he held until the end of the war (Alcalá, 2006).

18 Sep 1836

On 18 Sep Gómez turned back toward Castile (Duncan, 1997). He entered Castile at Roda, narrowly avoiding Alaix’s pursuing force.

20 Sep 1836: Battle of Villarrobledo

At Villarrobledo on the frontier of La Mancha, Liberal General Alaix and Colonel Diego de León defeated the combined Carlist forces of Gómez and Cabrera (Alcalá, 2006; Cairns, 1994a; Duncan, 1997; Villarrobledo). According to Duncan, Alaix’s pursing cavalry – probably under León – merely skirmished with Gómez’s rearguard and this was blown up as a Cristino victory in Madrid. In contrast Cairns says Gómez was routed and mauled. Duncan is probably more accurate as the defeat certainly didn’t stop Gómez openly marching into the heart of Andalusia.

23 Sep 1836

Baron Das Antas, who had taken command of the Portuguese Auxiliary Division from Baron Do Vale, declared for the revolution on 23 Sep 1836 (Portugal Dicionário Histórico: Antas). Das Antas and the division, however, continued to fight for Queen Isabel in Spain

Gmez crossed the Sierra de Segura into Jaen province (Duncan, 1997).

25 Sep

A Carlist expedition under Sanz left for Asturias (Alcalá, 2006).

27 Sep 1836

Gómez crossed the Guadalquiver at Anduyar (Duncan, 1997).

1 Oct 1836: Capture of Córdoba and Attack near Passages

In Andalusia Gómez captured Córdoba city in conjunction with Ramón Cabrera(Cairns, 1994a; Chant, 1983; Holt, 1967). Gómez commanded as Cabrera only had his staff and a few cavalry. They took 2,500 prisoners.

In the north 10,000 Carlists launched a determined assault against the fortified positions of the British Auxiliary Legion near San Sebastián (Holt, 1967; Saiz, 1999; Somerville, 1995; Spiers, 1983). The attack began at 3 am with shelling from heavy artillery based on the Almetza hill; the artillery had been brought up from Hernani and Irun, and included at least one 32-pounder. The first Carlist advance was on the positions of the British 3rd Regiment, who, along with the Rifles, managed to hold the attack until further reinforcements arrived (probably the British 9th and 10th Regiments). During the day the Carlists attacked along the whole line, and made a particular attempt on the hill, village, and fort of Alza on the Legion’s left, near Passages, to the south-east of Almetza hill. This position was held by the Chapelgorris, 2nd Spanish Light Infantry, British 1st Regiment and a battery of the Legion’s Artillery. The British 8th, who were in reserve in some scattered houses about 800 m from the fight (to the north of Almetza hill), were also ordered up in support of the Lancers and the 6th . Even the San Sebastián regiment of the National Guard (1,000 men) was called out in support of the fighting. The battle swung to and fro, but the Legion held firm, and by noon the Carlists had withdrawn. Evans was slightly injured in the forefront of battle. Carlist shelling from Altetza hill continued until 4 pm. Carlist losses were estimated at over 1,000 compared to Cristino losses of 400-500 including 66 British. Evan’s declined to counterattack largely because his Spanish troops were recent recruits.

13 Oct 1836

Brigadier General Baron Das Antas became Viscount Das Antas (Portugal Dicionário Histórico: Antas)

Mid Oct 1836

Following Gómez’s capture of Córdoba the Cristinos tried to surround him (Duncan, 1997). General Rodil advanced from the north, Alaix from the east, the Captain-General of Andalucia took up station between Seville and Córdoba, and Escalante advanced from the south with the National Guard of Malaga. Gómez attacked and routed Escalante in isolation then returned to Córdoba city pursued by Alaix, before heading north again hoping to avoid Rodil.

23 Oct 1836: Almadén

On his way to the Tagus Gómez took the city of Almadn (Alcal, 2006; Chant, 1983; Holt, 1967). Sometime around this Cabrera parted company from Gómez and headed for La Mancha.

Alcalá (2006) also reports a scandal in the liberal government for 23 Oct 1836.

22 Oct – 25 Dec 1836: Second siege of Bilbao

Another failed siege, this time under Villareal (Holt, 1967; Saiz, 1999). Villareal had at least 18 battalions (Duncan, 1997). 4,300 Cristinos under General San Miguel held off the Carlists whilst Espartero loitered in the vicinity with 18-22,000 men. A Royal Naval Brigade including artillery and sailors (Lord John Hay) cooperated with the relief force, but Evans refused to join. The Carlists tried to drive a mine, but National Guards countermined successfully, smoked the Carlists out, fought them with pistols and blunderbusses and blocked the mine. After his expedition, Gómez joined the Carlist army here on 20 Dec.

On the night of 21 Dec the Carlists set up a long 24-pounder in a battery on a causeway about the Luchana bridge (Somerville, 1995). At day break on the 22 the Luchana battery opened up on the HMS Saracen and a Spanish war schooner in the bay. In response a party of British Seamen from the Saracen and Ringdove landed a 32-pounder at the Anglo-Hispano battery. Meanwhile the Royal British Artillery (Col Colquhoun with field artillery and mountain howitzers) joined General Esparetero on the Esandia heights were he had been pinned by Carlist fire. Colquhoun soon silenced the Luchana battery. Early on the 23 Dec the British seamen floated a pontoon bridge across the Gilando (a branch of the Nervion which flows past Bilbao) thus allowing Espartero to cross and silence the strong Carlist position on Monte Cabras (Battle of Luchana, 24 Dec) (Zumalakarregi Museum). The combined weight of fire of the Royal British Artillery, a battery of Spanish guns and a long 18-pounder from one of the vessels subsequently drove the Carlists from their positions, costing the Carlists all 22 of their precious guns. Espartero relieved the city on Christmas day in a heavy snow fall. The defenders and inhabitants of Bilbao lost 250 dead and almost 2,000 wounded.

General Villareal was replaced by the Infante Don Sebastián Gabriel de Borbón soon after the siege (Cairns, 1995d).

26 Oct 1836

Gómez avoided Rodil and crossed the Guadiana (Duncan, 1997).

27 Oct 1836: Guadalupe

Gómez took the small town of Guadalupe on 27 Oct 1836 (Duncan, 1997). But he could make no further progress north as the River Tagus was barred by Rodil and Alaix. A new Cristino force had also appear; 5,000 men under Narvaez. Gómez took the only option available to him and headed south into Andalusia again, pursued by the three Cristino armies.

30 Oct 1836: Cantavieja

While Ramón Cabrera was engaged in La Mancha, his headquarters at Cantavieja was captured by Cristino under General Evaristo San Miguel (Alcalá, 2006; Chant, 1983). Cabrera headed for Navarre to see Don Carlos, but was intercepted by a strong Cristino force (General Iribarren) and wounded.

Sometime ?? Nov 1836

Plencia was one siege where the Carlist artillery did overcome the Cristinos (Cairns, 1995b). The Carlist artillery dismounted most of the 13 guns that defended the fort, forcing it to surrender.

In Nov 1836 39 officers and men of the British Royal Artillery joined the Naval force supporting the British Auxiliary Legion (Duncan, 1997). 60 additional men arrived in Jan 1837. There were also 100 men of hte Royal Marine Artillery.

I Nov 1836 Colonel Conrad took over command of the French Foreign Legion, which, despite recent replacements was down to three weak battalions (Windrow, 1981).

13 Nov 1836

Having crossed the Guadiana and Guadalquiver Gómez reached Ecja between Seville and Córdoba (Duncan, 1997). Meanwhile, Ribero replaced Rodil as over all commander of the pursuing armies. Near Gibraltar Gómez turned, evaded Ribero, forced the line in Narvaez’s sector (with considerable losses) and headed north.

16 Nov 1836

Evans planed an attack all along the front at San Sebastian, however, the Carlists were alerted to the impending attack by a rocket from the city and Evans called off the action (??).

17 Nov 1836

The British 6th regiment stationed in the Antigua at the (western ??) end of the Cristino lines outside San Sebastián faced a Carlist position crowned by a ruined light house (Somerville, 1995). In between were a tidal morass, and on the Carlist side some houses ruined by Cristino cannon fire and further up the furze covered hill – outside cannon range – were some cottages, vines and orchards. The Carlist’s main force was position in the cottages and tower at the top of their hill, however, snipers based in the furze lower down regularly shot British sentries on the far side of the morass. At 3 pm on 17 Nov, under orders from General Evans, 200 of the 6th British Auxiliary Legion forded the tide swept morass below their billet and made their way up the opposing hill. The Carlist sentries raised the alarm and the main piquet descended from the tower to skirmish with the 6th in the brush. Eventually the Carlists were driven back to the top of the hill and the British commenced looting and burning the village. Some civilians died in the burning village.

20 Nov 1836

Espartero reached Castro with 14,000 men (Duncan, 1997). He found the way to Bilbao blocked as Villareal had destroyed the bridge at Somorostro and entrenched on the far bank of the river.

23 Nov 1836

Espartero landed 4,000 men at Portugalete using boats from the English men-of-war (Duncan, 1997). Over the next three days he transported his entire force, all without firing a shot. From this point forward Espartero showed cycles of initiative and indecision/lethargy which basically meant he made made no further progress until Christmas.

27 Nov 1836

Espartero advanced north from Portugalete on the left (west) bank of the Nervion river (Duncan, 1997; Duncan consistently calls it the Bilbao river). He crossed the Galindo tributary on a bridge of boats. The Cristinos then dislodged the Carlists defending a line of hills. As they retreated the Carlists burnt the convent of Barcena and destroyed the chain-bridge over the next tributary, the Salcedon. There were two other crossing points higher up: a narrow bridge at Castrejana and a bad ford nearby. Both defended but participants thought the Cristinos could have taken them. Instead Espartero called a halt, supposedly due to the lateness of the hour.

28 Nov 1836

Espartero’s army withdrew back to Portugalete, destroying the bridge over the Galindo and looting the (loyal) village of Baracalda as they went (Duncan, 1997).

29 Nov 1836

Espartero had a 300 m long bridge of boats built across the Nervion river, abreast of the Desierto, from Portugalete to Alorita, a village immediately opposite (Duncan, 1997).

30 Nov 1836

Espartero’s army crossed the Nervion river (Duncan, 1997). Meanwhile a sally from Bilbao recovered the suburb of St. Augustin and the Convent of Le Conception.

1 Dec 1836

Espartero advanced up the right (east) bank of the Bilbao (Duncan, 1997). Carlists were position across the Banderas mountains and along the only tributary on the right bank of the Bilbao, the Asna stream. The Cristinos stopped at the village of Erandio and settled down in the neighbourhood whilst preparations were made for further advance.

From this point the Cristinos had two avenues of approach toward Bilbao (Duncan, 1997):

  1. Turning the head of the Asna stream and moving forward by the Plencia road. Apparently Espartero secretly favoured this option, although I don’t know how Duncan would have know such a secret.
  2. Crossing at the mouth of the Asna, and proceeding along the San Domingo heights (which run parallel to the Nervion river). This was the option selected by Espartero’s council of war.

3-4 Dec 1836

On the night of 3-4 Dec 1836 British seamen and a battalion of Spanish Guards removed 10 of the 13 heavy guns from the HMS Saracen and set them up to dominate the proposed crossing point at the mouth of the Asna (Duncan, 1997). Unfortunately a Cristino captain of infantry deserted overnight, and when Espartero discovered this on the morning of 4 Dec, he cancelled the whole plan.

5 Dec 1836

Espartero withdrew his men from the village in the plain to the heights of Aspe (Duncan, 1997).

6-7 Dec 1836

By this time the bridge of boats at Portugalete had been destroyed by bad weather, so 6 and 7 Dec 1836 were spent building another bridge of boats across the Nervion river (Duncan, 1997). This one was about 400 below the Desierto. The army crossed to the left (west) bank on the night of 7-8 Dec. They then destroyed the bridge behind them.

8 Dec 1836

A new bridge across the Galindo was destroyed by bad weather (Duncan, 1997).

12 Dec 1836

Espartero finally crossed the Galindo again and drove the Carlists back across the Salcedon river (Duncan, 1997).

13-15 Dec 1836

Two days of hard rain along with accurate Carlist gun fire hindered Cristino preparations for crossing the Salcedon (Duncan, 1997). This and a large Carlist probe (14 Dec) persuaded Espartero’s military council to withdraw once again to Portugalete. The rear-guard crossed the Galindo on 15 Dec and the bridge was destroyed yet again.

17 Dec 1836

Gómez crossed the River Ebro into the Basque country (Duncan, 1997). But Espartero also had reinforcements. A detachment of the Royal and Royal Marine artillery with eight howitzers arrived from at Espartero’s camp from Santander and San Sebastian, and were soon in action near the ruined bridge of Luchana. General Alaix also arrived at Oña with 5,000 men – presumably still chasing Gómez.

19 Dec 1836

Gómez returned to Orduña with a larger force than he set out with (Alcalá, 2006; Holt, 1967; Cairns, 1994a says 20 Dec). This unfortunately didn’t put him in the good graces with Don Carlos; Gómez was subsequently imprisoned on trumped up charges (Chant, 1983).

Narvaez marched into Vitoria with another 5,000 reinforcements for Espartero (Duncan, 1997).

22 Dec 1836

On the night of 21-22 Dec the Carlists set up a long 24-pounder in a battery on a causeway about the Luchana bridge (Somerville, 1995). At day break on 22 Dec the Carlist battery at Luchana opened up on the HMS Saracen and a Spanish war schooner in the bay. In response a party of British Seamen from the Saracen and Ringdove landed a 32-pounder at the Anglo-Hispano battery. Meanwhile the Royal British Artillery (Col Colquhoun with field artillery and mountain howitzers) joined General Esparetero on the Esandia heights were he had been pinned by Carlist fire. Colquhoun soon silenced the Luchana battery.

Three battalions of Espartero’s reserve arrived at Portugalete (Duncan, 1997).

23 Dec 1836

Early on the 23rd the British seamen floated a pontoon bridge across the Gilando thus allowing Espartero to cross and silence the strong Carlist position on Monte Cabras (Somerville, 1995). The combined weight of fire of the Royal British Artillery, a battery of Spanish guns and a long 18-pounder from one of the vessels subsequently drove the Carlists from their positions, costing the Carlists all 22 of their precious guns.

24 Dec 1836: Battle of Luchana

At 1600 hours on 24 Dec snow was falling thickly outside Bilbao (Duncan, 1997). As four Spanish gun-boats and the British howitzers gave covering fire, British ships boats towed launches and rafts containing eight picked companies up the main river . Concealed by the falling snow the raiders passed the foremost Carlist battery near Luchana bridge, then landed in its fear. The surprised defenders abandoned the fornications and the nearby entrenchments. Meanwhile the Cristino engineers repaired the bridge and the battalions began to cross. Once across the troops deployed and took the heights before the Banderas. The Carlists counter-attacked at 2100 hours and several times during the night but to no avail. Espartero then led his men on to the heights and fort of Banderas, driving the defenders before them. The main body of Carlists retreated toward Durango. Those outside Bilbao withdrew by two bridges of boats opposite the village of Olaviaga, but in their haste they had no chance to destroy the bridges. Espartero cautiously held his men on the heights of Banderas until nearly dawn. During the day the Cristinos suffered 87 killed, 697 wounded, and 30 missing but took 120 prisoners, and captured 25 pieces (including nine iron 4-pounders at Luchana).

Once again Zumalakarregi Museum has a slightly different take on this action:

In the afternoon of the 24th, again with the aid of the British Navy, the Liberals managed to take both ends of the bridge of Luchana with troops that had reached it in launches and barges. The most severe combats took place on Christmas Eve. The Liberal troops under General Oraa made a strenuous effort to take the two positions on the bridge of Luchana, but the Carlists managed to fend off all of their attacks.

The overcast night and heavy snowfall made the task more difficult. Espartero himself led the
Liberal attack, but the Carlists of Egia refused to give in. The soldiers on both fronts were
exhausted. Then, Oraa told a bugler to call a retreat. But the latter, in error, called the
forces to attack, which led to the Liberal victory.

25 Dec 1836

Espartero entered Bilbao early on Christmas morning in a heavy snow fall (Duncan, 1997; Somerville, 1995). Over the course of the siege the Bilbao garrison lost 1,200 men to enemy action or sickness.

End Jan 1837

A Cristino force under General Borso attacked Cabrera as he marched towards Torreblanca on the Mediterranean coast (?? probably Holt, 1967). The Carlists recoiled and Cabrera led a cavalry charge to retrieve the situation. Cabrera was wounded and his men fled.

18 Feb 1837: Bunyol and Panadella

Cabrera’s subordinate Colonel Forcadell routed a Cristino brigade at Bunyol, killing 700 men and taking 320 prisoners (Alcalá, 2006; Chant, 1983). The 23 officers amongst the prisoners were shot.

The Catalan Carlist bands also defeated the liberals at Panadella (Alcalá, 2006).

End of Feb 1837

Having called up all bachelors, married men without children and widowers between 18 and 50, the Carlist Army of the North had 17 battalions and 10 squadrons in Navarre and the 29 battalions in the other Basque provinces (Cairns, 1995d). Don Carlos was at Andoain, near Hernani, with his guard (a halberdier company) and the Guias de Navarra. At some point Don Sebastián organised a flying column of eight battalions, three squadrons and a mountain artillery battery – presumably at Iruzan to the north west of Pamplona, where he as on 11 Mar

10 – 16 Mar 1837: Offensive of Oriamendi

The Cristinos attempted a grand three-pronged attack, the British General Evans was to advance from the fortress of San Sebastián, by now a semi-permanent home to the British Auxiliary Legion, Espartero from Bilbao, and Saarsfield, the commander-in-chief, whose forces included the French Foreign Legion, from Vitoria (Cairns, 1995d; Holt, 1967; Saiz, 1999; Spiers, 1983). The plan was over-ambitious, and relied on he enemy being unable to co-ordinate a defence against three columns – a foolish assumption given that the Carlists were operating on interior lines, and their wonderful speed of movement, both strategically and tactically. Saarsfield let himself be defeated by the weather, and Espartero retired when he heard of the disaster that befell Evans on the heights of Oriamendi (16 Mar 1837), outside San Sebastián. (I have orders of battle for this campaign and the final battle.)

10 Mar 1837

Espartero: Skirmishes near Bilbao

Espartero left Bilbao with 28 Cristino battalions, the Lanceros and Cazadores of the Royal Guard and 2 Line Cavalry regiments (1st Rey and 2nd Reina) (Cairns, 1995d). They encountered Carlists in field fortifications, but charges by part of the cavalry routed the Carlists. (In fact Espartero probably faced no more than 10 battalions in the entire offensive.)

Evans: Attack on Ametzagaña hills

The action commenced with a cannonade at Alza by the British Auxiliary Legion artillery and Rocket-brigade in support of an advance by three of Jáuregui’s Spanish regiments including the Chapelgorris (?? but probably Cairns 1995d). The British 1st Regiment was stationed behind the Spanish to prevent their flight, but General Evans lead the Spanish from the front. Evans’ target was San Marco (??) – a ridge that protected the main road from Hernani to the frontier. His Spaniards took and retook the ridge three times during the day but the battle was interrupted by a major brush fire toward nightfall. The Carlists claim the Cristinos stormed the positions three times and were repulsed each time, but none-the-less the Cristinos were left in possession of the devastated hill. Soon after the attack from Alza was launched the Irish Brigade attacked the easy western slopes of Ametza whilst Chichester’s Brigade advanced on the north-western. Seeing themselves surrounded the Carlists defending Ametza quickly retreated to other positions. This left the majority of the British watching the fight to their left.

The Carlists lost 492 dead and wounded and the Cristinos twice that number (Cairns, 1995d); the Chapelgorris alone lost 200. The Carlists artillery had exhausted its shot, grape and canister by midday. It then fired stones, the head of a sledge-hammer, and finally blanks, all without avail, and was forced to retire to avoid capture. The Royal Marine Artillery fired spherical case shot, which, as earlier proved to be the only way in which artillery could harm Carlists in their trenches. The Carlists facing Evans were probably under Brigadier Guiladalde at this stage.

11 Mar 1837

Saarsfield left Pamplona

Saarsfield left Pamplona on a fine day with 10,300 foot, 400 horse, eight mountain guns and two companies of sappers, including the entire French Foreign Legion (Cairns, 1995d). Saarfield’s order of march was:

  1. Light troops
  2. Independent Brigade
  3. French Foreign Legion Cavalry
  4. A squadron of the 5th Line Cavalry Regiment (Borbón)
  5. 4th Division – 6 battalions
  6. French Foreign Legion Infantry – 2,000 men

The Carlists had only four battalions and some cavalry to face this force, although Don Sebastián, presumably with his flying column, was nearby at Iruzan to the north west of Pamplona.


No activity.

12 Mar 1837

Espartero captured Durango

The methodical Espartero took Durango and, unknown to his peers, proceeded to fortify the town (Cairns, 1995d).

Saarsfield retreated to Pamplona

After a terrible snowstorm the previous night Saarsfield retreated back to Pamplona (Cairns, 1995d).

EvansAdvanced toward Hernani

In pouring rain Evans ferried Chichester’s Brigade (Rifles, 4th and 8th) across the Urumea to capture the ruined village of Loyola (Cairns, 1995d; Somerville,1995). Six companies of Carlist cazadores reconnoitred the battlefield at the Ametzagaña hills and recovered 100 muskets. Guiladalde retired due to ill health and was replaced by Iturriza as Carlist commander facing Evans.

13 Mar 1837

Sappers and Miners of the British Legion built a second bridge of boats across the Urumea, thus securing the British communications (??). Evans ferried his forces across, less a battery on Ametzagaña, and one and a half battalions split between Ametzagaña and Passajes. Heavy rain prevented further advances over the next two days.

15 Mar 1837

Don Sebastián

Don Sebastián waited until the morning 15 Mar before deciding Saarsfield would not venture forth again and then moved to face Evans (Cairns, 1995d). On 15 Mar his men marched from Iruzan to Tortosa, then a further 15 km overnight to reach Hernani on the morning of 16 Mar.

Battle of Oriamendi

Evans: Attack on Oriamendi Ridge

Somerville (1995) gives the Anglo-Spanish Orbat as follows:

  • Left: British Rifles and 1st Regiment; three regiments of Spanish.
  • Centre: British 9th and 10th, Royal Marine artillery (9 or 12-pounder mountain guns), Rocket Brigade of the Legion, and at least three regiments of Spanish, probably including the 4th Line Infantry Regiment (Princesa).
  • Right: British 8th Regiment, Chapelgorris
  • Far Right: British 6th and 7th Regiments and Royal British Artillery.

The Cristino attack (under Evans) from the north took place across broken ground, on a wet and snowy day (Cairns, 1995d). The Cristino left (Godfrey’s and Jáuregui’s Brigades) attacked the Carlist right at Aguerre. The centre (Chichester’s and Fitzgerald’s Brigades; Chichester had the Legion’s Rocket troops and four mountain guns) attacked the Carlist centre on Oriamendi Hill. Rendón was on the right (Rendón’s Vanguard Division, the 1st Lancers of the Legion, the Royal Marines, and the remainder of the artillery). The battle lasted from 1300 hours to about 1800 hours and although fiercely contested, succeeded on all fronts.

At 1200 hours half of the British 7th regiment (the right) began skirmishing with Carlists in a large fortified house (Somerville, 1995). At 1500 hours General Godrey ordered the remainder of the regiment (the left) to take the house – without firing a shot. These men advanced down a steep hill, across a ravine and up the far side, all the time under fire from their right flank. As they crested the hill their right flank companies took the fortified house. The 7th Regiment then waited until about 1600 hours before advancing again toward La Venta, this time in the company of the Chapelgorris. At this time the British 6th Regiment, Legion Artillery, and part of the Rocket Brigade were also advancing toward La Venta – with the artillery and rockets clearing the way for the infantry. As twilight fell the British 8th Regiment attacked across the 15 foot barricade defending the foot of the La Venta summit. The Carlist battalions fought three deep from fortified positions on the heights, but were forced to retreat after the forts on La Venta and Oriamendi fell to the 9th and 10th regiments of the Legion and the Princesa Regiment (4th Line Infantry Regiment; Aula Militar). Congreve rockets, which had been brought up by mules and which caused dreadful injuries to the garrison, hit the fort on La Venta. Unable to remove four of their guns, the Carlists spiked or destroyed them. The Cristino artillery limbers found it difficult to operate on the broken ground. Similarly the British Lancers tried to charge several times, but were prevented by the ground; however, their presence is said to have deterred Carlist counter-attacks. By evening the Cristinos were in possession of the ridge and looked over the town of Hernani.

Somerville (1995) describes the Carlist defences as 15′ turf built barricades on the lower slopes. The redoubt at La Venta had a “substantial turf wall, built circularly, enclosing a space about sixty feet wide. The wall was fifteen feet high, but the sudden slope of the cone-shaped hill, caused it to be much higher to those who made a risk to leap over it” (p. 438). The entry/exit was a single ladder. A part of the floor was boarded over, including the roof of a bomb-proof magazine.

16 Mar 1837

Espartero leaves Durango

Espartero left the Royal Guard division in Durango and moved on with the remainder of his force (Cairns, 1995d).

Evans: Battle of Oriamendi (Hernani)

[Shako Scenario]

The finale of the Oriamendi Offensive is known either as the Battle of Oriamendi after the hill and ridge overlooking the town, or the Battle of Hernani after the town itself (Somerville, 1995; Cairns, 1995d). The British force was dispersed and their brigades intermingled, having failed to reorganise after the previous days battle. Nonetheless, success looked assured against the numerically inferior Carlists.

During the morning the British cleared the last of the entrenchments on Oriamendi ridge, and began a bombardment of Hernan belowi. Cristino skirmishers advanced on the town. In the first action of the day, Carlist Lancers charged the Chapelgorris outside Hernani but were driven back by a squadron of the British Lancers.

The Carlist commander-in-chief, Don Sebastián, changed the situation entirely when at 06.30 hours he arrived with his flying column of 11 battalions, three squadrons and four guns. Don Sebastián reorganised his forces and counterattacked along the front, probably in late morning. Generally the battle was fought on the plain between the Oriamendi Ridge in the north (including Bertizarán and La Venta hills) and Hernani and Santa Barbara to the south. At the start of Don Sebastián’s attack the layout of the various brigades/divisions was as follows:

Carlists (South) Cristinos (North)
East Iturriza’s Brigade (Astigarrage bridge) Chichester’s Brigade
and Rendon’s Division intermixed
(Bertizarán hill)
Sopelana’s Brigade (Astigarrage bridge)
Villareal’s Brigade
Centre Artillery in redoubts (Hernani) Godfrey’s Brigade Fitzgerald’s Brigade
(La Venta hill)
Alzá’s Brigade
De las Vacas’s Brigade
West Goiri’s Brigade Jáuregui’s Division
Iturriaga’s Brigade
Qúilez’s Brigade British Cavalry, Royal Marines and Artillery (Road to San Sebastián)

See also my separate Orbat for the Battle of Oriamendi.

The key event was the flanking movement Don Sebastián ordered in the east. Six Carlist battalions from Iturriza’s and Sopelana’s brigades advanced up the east bank of the River Urumea and crossed the Astigarrage bridge behind the Cristino left. As the 4th Alava (Sopelana’s Brigade) turned the Liberal’s flank, the 6th Guípúzcoa (Iturriza’s Brigade) charged into the end of the Liberal line. The Guípúzcoan’s charged up Bertizarán hill, in column, without firing a shot, and earned the title of the “Iron Battalion”. The 1st Regiment of the British Auxiliary Legion (Chichester’s Brigade) and a battalion of the Castilla regiment (Rendon’s Division) were the first to break. 6th Guípzcoa then led the Carlists along the ridge breaking successive allied formations as they encountered them. Carlists legend has the Iron Battalion capturing the the flag of the 9th British Auxiliary Legion in Fitzgerald’s Brigade, but it is unlikely they made it that far. But the made it far enough. With the left and centre crumbling, and hearing for the first time of Saarsfield’s withdrawal, Evans abandoned the field. The Cristinos in the west managed an ordered withdrawal under the cover of the steady fire of British muskets and guns, and limited charges by the British lancers. The British Royal Marines, also in this zone, were notable for their disciplined fire, but were withdrawn by Lord Hay a couple of hours before the last the troops had retreated from the field. In five hours of heavy fighting the Carlists had driven the Cristinos from the Hernani plain and the Oriamendi ridge behind. Cristino losses were over 1,000 including a company that were surrounded and captured. The Anglo-Spanish retreated to their trenches around San Sebastián.

19 Mar 1837

Evans combined the three brigades of the British Auxiliary Legion into two (Cairns, 1995d; Somerville, 1995). This involved joining the survivors of the 7th Regiment to the Rifles (becoming the “Rifles and Royal Irish Regimen), and combining the 9th and 10th Regiments.

20 – 21 Mar 1837: Retreat from Durango

After hearing of Evans’s defeat (19 Mar), Espartero retreated from Durango (20 Mar), back to Bilbao (21 Mar) (Cairns, 1995d). The Carlists harried the Cristino baggage and there is heavy fighting on both days. About 1000 men were lost on either side. Considerable deeds of valour were performed by Espartero’s troops, however, Espartero probably faced at most 10 battalions of Carlists during the entire offensive.

29 Mar 1837: Burjasot Orgy

Burjasot Orgy

Cabrera attacked the remnants of the Cristino brigade his men had mauled at Bunol a month earlier (Chant, 1983; Holt, 1967). Cabrera attacked on the outskirts of the village of Burjasot as the Cristinos withdrew the 24 km from Liria to Valencia. He captured almost the entire column, gaining 727 prisoners. He shot all the Cristino Officers and Sergeants. Apparently this happened on Don Carlos’s birthday, which is how I know the date – Carlos was born 29 Mar 1788 (Wikipedia: Infante Carlos of Spain, Count of Molina)

25 Apr 1837: Cantavieja

A few weeks after his victory near Valencia (and the Burjasot Orgy), Cabrera recaptured his old citadel of Cantavieja (Alcalá, 2006; Chant, 1983; Holt, 1967). One of his subordinates, Cabañero, with 500-600 men was besieging Cantavieja, whilst others under Forcadell were besieging San Mateo 48 km away on the coastal side of the Maestrazgo. Cabrera was positioned between to monitor events. As the new Commander of the centre, Genral Oráa hurried up from Valencia Cantavieja fell to Cabañero in a fairly bloodless manner. Carlist civilian partisans within Cantavieja allowed Cabaero to enter; he then used the fortress guns to subdue resistance and took the garrison prisoner.

The fall of Cantavieja freed up reinforcements for the siege of San Mateo (Chant, 1983). The latter held out fiercely for 4 or 5 days before falling. The desertion of a Cristino artillery officer and his men facilitated the victory, as the rope used by the deserters to leave the city was used by the Carlists to enter. The capture was followed by a massacre; as the main body of Carlists celebrated mass in the town square the Cristino officer and militia prisoners were being bayoneted in the town ditch. Part way through the executions Cabrera intervened and forbad bayoneting – the remaining prisoners were shot instead. The Cristino General Oráa arrived too late and retired to Morella.

Thu 4 May 1837

Taking advantage of the Carlist move south in the Royal Expedition, Evans once again crossed the Urumea, reoccupying Loyola and Aquirre (Somerville, 1995). The British engineers and sailors put across a pontoon bridge between 1200 – 1400 hours. Their work was opposed by 30 Carlists skirmishers, who in turn were driven off by Anglo-Spanish artillery.

Fri 5 May 1837

British and Carlist artillery duelled outside San Sebastián with the advantage going to the British with their shells (Somerville, 1995).

Sat 6 May 1837

At 0700 hours up to 7,000 Carlists attempted to capture the British Auxliary Legion artillery located at the front of the Anglo-Spanish positions at San Sebastián (Somerville, 1995). One British 6-pounder was positioned near a house on the flank with the Spanish 2nd Light Infantry (Volunarios de Aragón) nearby. One company of the 2nd Light Infantry, stationed on the flank of the British gun, ran in the face of the vigorous Carlist attack but others stood firm and the gun was withdrawn safely. Stiff fighting ensued, with one house changing hands three times, but British shells, from both the Auxiliary Legion artillery and the Royal Artillery, broke the Carlist attack by 0900 hours. The Cristino loses were 20 killed and 81 wounded. Several hundred Carlists fell.

9 May 1937

Espartero landed his force in San Sebastián during late Apr and early May having travelled by sea from Bilbao (Somerville, 1995). Espartero himself arriving on 9 May.

Sun 14 May 1937 (Whit Sunday): Capture of Hernani

Ignoring Carlist preparations for the Royal Expedition, the combined Cristino force (14,000 under Espartero and 10,000 under Evans) attacked Hernani (Holt, 1967; Somerville, 1995, says 30,000 men; Zumalakarregi Museum says 20,000). Espartero commanded, but allowed Evans to lead the assault. Evan’s vanguard consisted of the Legion and a Division of Spanish. They easily took the Oriamendi heights (between 0800 – 1000 hours), the town of Hernani (two hours later), and finally the village of Urrieta (1400 hours). General Guerra covered the left flank, and took Astigarraga. Espartero set up base in Hernani to protect Evans’ troops as they headed for Oyartzun and the mouth of the river Bidasoa.

In the campaigns of 1837 the Portuguese Auxiliary Division was in action on the banks of the Ebro and at Vitoria (Portugal Dicionário Histórico: Antas). On 14 May 1837 repeated attacks by the division rendered unusable many Carlist blockhouses in the lines at Arlabán. Subsequently the Portuguese destroyed the Carlist munitions factory at Barambio, 10 km from Vitoria

15 May to Oct 1837: Royal Expedition

As a result of the Battle of Oriamendi, Don Sebastián took nearly half the infantry, and almost all the Carlist cavalry on the major offensive of the war (Alcalá, 2006; Cairns, 1994a, 1995b; GEA Online: Expedición Real; Holt, 1967; Zumalakarregi Museum). Don Carlos accompanied the expedition – hence the name. 14,000 men, including armed peasants remained to guard the northern provinces. When the Royal Expedition crossed the river Ebro on 20 May.

  • 11,000 Infantry in 16-18 battalions
  • 1,200 Cavalry in 3 regiments with 10-12 squadrons in total. The Carlists squadrons were made up of nine Navarrese squadrons – probably including the Basques and Castillians – two Aragonese, the Escuadron de la Legitimidad (probably small) and the mounted Guardias de Honor (25 men).
  • Some gunners with either zero or two guns

The expedition left Estella on 15 May 1837, crossed the River Aragon (19 May), fought the battles of Huesca (24 May; win), Barbastro (2 Jun; win), Grá (Orá), (13 Jun; loss), then passed through Carlist controlled parts of Catalonia, and headed south to join the Aragonese Army of the Centre. The Battle of Chiva (loss) denied the Carlists an opportunity to recuperate in the fertile area around Valencia. However, the combined Carlist forces, perhaps 16,000 foot and 2,000 horse advanced to within a few kilometres of Madrid (12 Sep). In his “moment of destiny” Carlos chose not to order the assault – despite urging from Sebastián and Cabrera. Subsequently the Carlist forces split and retreated to their respective bases. In the final engagement of the Royal Expedition, the Carlist Army of the North faced Espartero at Retuerta (loss). Don Carlos blamed his commanders for the failure of the expedition, relieving the Infante Don Sebastián of his command and exiling or imprisoning Zaratiegui, Simon de la Torre, Villarreal, Elío and Eguía.

16-17 May 1937: Capture of Oyarzun and Irun

Espartero allowed Evans the glory of taking Oyarzun, Irun and Fuenterrabia (Holt, 1967; Somerville, 1995; Zumalakarregi Museum). Evans attacked with 10,000 men in 14 battalions along with some seamen and marines under Lord John Hay. Facing them were a mere three Carlist battalions. The two Carlist battalions defending Oyarzun withdrew when they saw Jáuregui’s division advancing, and the focus moved to Irun. The Carlists had 500 men (troops and volunteers) in the town and two strong points – the fort of “El Parque” and the recently fortified Town Hall. The British artillery began their bombardment on the afternoon of 16 May, as troops took the houses outside the city walls. It took 18 hours and the help of two 12-pounders from the fort of Behovia to breach the walls of the town. During this time Evans allowed the women and children to pass into France. After the walls were breached, the Cristinos stormed the town at day break on 17 May, leading to house-to-house fighting throughout the day. The Town Hall and fort finally surrendered in the afternoon. The long, drawn-out battle and numerous casualties gave rise to the sacking of the town, mainly by the British troops. Two hours of plunder and destruction followed. Despite an incident during the battle where some British were tricked into the open and shot by Carlists waving a white flag, Evans insisted the prisoners be spared.

In the face of superior numbers Don Sebastian withdrew to Estella on 17 May (Alcalá, 2006).

18 May 1937: Capture of Fuenterrabia

After two officers confirm the prisoners from Irun are still alive, the Carlist garrison of Fuenterrabia surrendered (Holt, 1967; Zumalakarregi Museum; Saiz, 1999, incorrectly says 17 May). The Guipuzcoan border was now controlled by the Liberals.

24 May 1837: Battle of Huesca

General Iribarren pursued the the Royal Expedition to Huesca at attacked late in the day (1500 hours) (Alcalá, 2006; Cairns, 1994a, 1995b; Holt, 1967; Saiz, 1999; Windrow, 1981). Cairns calls this a “ferocious affair”. Conrad was on the liberal right (including the French Foreign Legion), Brigadier Van Hallen in the centre, and Inbarren on the left. As it happens four Navarese battalions held the liberals for more than an hour (Alcalá says Guias de Navarra, 9th, 10th and 2nd Navarra, but I suspect 2nd is a typo for 12th. The 2nd wasn’t on the expedition, and in contrast the 12th was in the First Division alongside the other Navarese units under Sanz). General Sopelana then arrived with reinforcements (Guias de Alava, 4th Alava, 3rd and 4th Castilla, the Foreign Battalion; interesting given Sopelana’s Second Division only had the Alavese battalions). Brigadier Diego de Leon’s men suffered under the counter attack. Given Leon was the cavalry commander, it was problem then that the Coraceros of the Guard and the Alavese squadron fought it out. A squadron of Coraceros of the Guard drove back Carlist skirmishers, but was then repulsed by fire from infantry drawn up in line. The Coraceros charged again, supported by two squadrons of the 5th Line Cavalry Regiment (Borbn; Aula Militar) and the lancer squadron of the French Foreign Legion, but the horses sank to their chests in wet ground. The 120 Coraceros met the Alavese squadron of 60 men, and in two minutes the latter broke the cuirassiers and killed 40 without loss to themselves (or so the Carlists claimed). The Alavese returned to camp wearing the armour, helmets and swords of the guardsmen, and subsequently the “beautiful English cuirasses” were turned into cooking pots. The liberals withdrew their artillery, presumably because it was threatened. .More Carlists then arrived. Villareal attacked, and broke, the liberal left with the 2nd Castilla, 2nd Aragon, half of the 1st Castilla, half of the Grenadiers of the Army, and two cavalry squadrons. General Latorre then completed the rout with the 4th Castilla, half the Grenadiers of the Army, half the 1st Castilla, and two squadrons. Night interrupted the pursuit. Iribarren was killed by a lance when leading a cavalry charge. The French Foreign Legion lost 20 officers and some 350 men, reducing it to a single battalion. Chant (1983) gives the Cristino losses as 1,000, including 277 from the British Legion, but the other sources only mention Spanish and French. The Carlists lost 480 men. The Royal Expedition remained in Huesca until 26 May.

27 May 1837

The Royal Expedition left Huesca and marched toward Barbastro (Alcal, 2006). Brigadier Porredon joined the expedition with forty men from Catalonia.

Mon 29 May 1837

Espartero with 30,000 men marched from Hernani to Andoain with the view of cutting off the Royal Expedition before it moved toward Valencia or Madrid (Somerville, 1995). Andoain fell without much resistance. Subsequently Evans and the British returned to San Sebastián whilst Espartero with 20,000 men, including the Guards and the best Spanish regiments, pushed on to Pamplona harassed by 3,000 Carlists. Later Espartero chased the Royal Expedition to Madrid.

2 Jun 1837: Battle of Barbastro

A ferocious battle in which the Royal Expedition defeated the new Liberal commander General Marcellino Oráa (Alcalá, 2006; Cairns, 1994a, 1995a; Chant, 1983; Holt, 1967; Saiz, 1999; Somerville, 1995). General Oráa attacked Don Carlos at Barbastro northwest of Monzón. Oráa attacked at noon with massive superiority; he had 24 battalions and 2,000 horse. Brigadier Vilapadierna was on the right, Brigadier Buerens in the centre and Conrad on the left. Colonel Conrad had the remains of the French Foreign Legion there – one battalion of 800 men. Despite numerical superiority Oráa was repulsed with very heavy losses. The liberals attacked in the centre, intending to surround the Carlist right. The Carlist right fell back towards some olive groves; the Cristino cavalry unwisely followed them into the rough where they had difficulty manoeuvring. A ferocious fight developed amongst the olive trees, although the fighting in other zones was indecisive. A Carlist brigade with some cavalry squadrons attacked the Cristino left flank, isolating the French Foreign Legion and the 2nd Regiment of the Royal Guard. The French Foreign Legion went bayonet to bayonet with the Carlist Foreign Battalion – made up of 450 deserters from the legion. In bitter fraternal fighting the French Foreign Legion was forced back. Conrad intervened to stop the retreat but was struck down by a Carlist musket ball; Captain Bazaine took command of the legion. The Carlist Foreign Battalion was destroyed, but the French Foreign Legion was so badly mauled itself that it played no further important part in the war. Oráa then launched an attack on the Carlist left, which failed. A second attack in the centre also failed and the Cristinos began to withdraw. In the late afternoon the Carlists launched an attack of their own, turning the liberal retreat into a rout . The liberals lost 2,00 men and the Carlists no more than 500. Oráa blamed the defeat on the cowardice of the Cristino troops; he subsequently ordered a half company of artillery and a piquet of cavalry be placed behind any Spanish brigade or battalion that engaged the enemy, thus ensuring continued courage in the attack.

6-7 Jun 1837: Crossing of the River Cinca

The Cristinos caught up the Royal Expedition as it was crossing of the Cinca into Catalonia on the night of 6-7 Jun (Alcalá, 2006; Chant, 1983; GEA Online: Expedición Real). GEA Online: Expedición Real says this occurred on 1 Jun, but Alcalá says 7 Jun, which makes sense given both sources agree the crossing occurred after the Battle of Barbastro). GEA Online: Expedición Real also says the Carlist rearguard was almost wiped out, and many men were lost in the fast flowing waters. Alcalá limits the encounter to the liberal advance guard firing on one of the boats, sinking it, and killing some of the occupants. Once across the river the Royal Expedition started to run out of supplies.

10 Jun 1837

The First British Auxiliary Legion was disbanded after its two-year contract expired, although 1,740 officers and men extend their service in the Second British Legion (Holt, 1967). The Royal Marines continued to garrison Pasajes until 1840.

11 Jun 1837

As they approached Agramunt the Royal Expedition realised that Baron de Meer, Captain General of Catalonia, was waiting for them (Alcalá, 2006). As a result the Carlists changed direction and headed for Cervera. The expedition settled in Grá (Royal HQ) and Concabella (General HQ) as the liberals took Cervera. Low on supplies and without artillery the Carlists faced the Cristinos.

12 Jun 1837: Battle of Grá (Orá)

The Liberals (Baron de Meer) badly beat the Royal Expedition at Grá in Catalonia (Chant, 1983; GEA Online: Expedición Real). The Carlist army was deployed from Grá on the left almost to the height of Guisona on the right (Alcalá, 2006). The Carlist reserve occupied the towns of San Marti de Morana and Morana, ready to intervene as required. Buerens – presumably the Brigadier fighting under Oráa at Barbastro – deployed his artillery opposite Grá and opened fire. A battalion of the 6th Light Infantry Regiment (Volutarios de Navarra; Aula Militar) advanced on Moran; the Carlists managed to delay their advance until Van Halen with two battalions of the Royal Guard arrived and took the village. Meanwhile Carbó repeatedly attacked the town of San Marti de Morana. He finally evicted the Carlist defenders and occupied the town, but suffered continual Carlist counter-attacks. The battle entered its final stage at 1500 hours. Grá resisted fiercely under the personal command of Colonel Gonzalez Moreno. Colonel Clemente launched an attack against Grá, but was rebuffed by the formidable Carlist defence. The Grenadiers of Oporto (Granaderos de Oporto) of the Portuguese Auxiliary Brigade (Brigada Auxiliar Portuguesa) suffered considerable losses and their commander – the English Brigadier Drodgins – died leading them into battle. Reinforcements under Colonel Urbina faired no better until Baron de Meer then attacked the Carlist centre as Colonel Mazarredo attacked Grá. The Cristinos vigorously attacked again and Brigadier Salano took the town. The simultaneous attacks by superior numbers forced the Carlists to abandon their positions. The Cristino cavalry then sowed disorder amongst the Carlist ranks. The Grenadiers of the Army (Granaderos del Ejército) under Colonel Solana resisted heroically, managing to contain the Cristino advance long enough to allow the other Carlist units to cross the water filled fosse. Two Alavese battalions were isolated but cut their way through the Cristinos. Finally some Carlist squadrons managed to unite on the other side of the fosse, held up the liberals, and allowed the other Carlists units to retire. The Carlists lost 400 dead, 800 wounded, and 700 prisoners, compared to the 700 casualties of the Cristinos. The Expedition retired to Iborra to reorganise.

There are a couple of things I find confusing about this battle:

  • Starting with the name. Some sources seem to have a typographical error where the name Orá is substituted for Grá. Both Cairns (1994a) and Holt (1967) mention the Battle of Orá – a Carlist defeat – during the Royal expedition. I suspect this is the same as the Battle of Grá, as it is not mentioned in other sources, and more particularly, the map in Cairns shows Grá but not Orá, and the text mentions Orá but not Grá.
  • The date. In Alcalá (2006) the Royal Expedition reached Grá on 11 Jun and “lost at Guisona” (the hill on the Carlists right) on 12 Jun 1837- suggesting that battle was that day. GEA Online: Expedición Real says the battle occurred on 13 Jun 1837.

15 Jun 1837

The Royal Expedition reached Solsona (GEA Online: Expedición Real).

18 Jun 1837: Salvatierra and Affair of Alegria

Rescuing the garrison of Pena Serrada for the third time, the Portuguese Auxiliary Division defeated a Carlist force at Salvatierra (Portugal Dicionário Histórico: Antas).

A Cristino force was marching from Salvatierra towards Alegria about 1500 hours when Carlists approached the liberal rear guard under Colonel Jacks (Sommerville, 1995). Jacks had a squadron (65 men) of his own 2nd Lancers British Auxiliary Legion plus Lt. Colonel Zurbano’s Corps which included a detachment from the Regiment of Almanza (18th Line Infantry Regiment; Aula Militar), a squadron of Portuguese Lancers, and possibly the Reina Gobernadora Light Infantry (8th Light Infantry Regiment; Aula Militar). 300 Carlist infantry began firing on the column from across a river. The Carlists had 40 cavalry in immediate support and at least two battalions in reserve. The Cristinos pushed ahead, crossed the river by a bridge, and advanced on the Carlists. Outnumbered, the Carlists withdrew quickly toward the nearby hills. The fast marching Carlists were outdistancing the Cristino foot, so Jack led the British and Portuguese lancers in hot pursuit. The British advanced along the crest of a hill near the villages of Langania and Greno, with the Portuguese on their left. When the Cristino cavalry approached the Carlist foot formed up with a wood on their right and their 40 cavalry on their left. The British charged at 200 m with the Portuguese right behind them. The Carlist horse fled immediately, and without support, the foot followed suit – both heading toward the two reserve battalions 500 m to their left. They didn’t make it – the British killed 100 and captured 37, for a loss of no men and only three horses killed or wounded. The surviving Carlists withdrew to the mountains.

19 Jun 1837

The Royal Expedition reached Berga (GEA Online: Expedición Real).

?? Jun 1837: River Segre

The Royal Expedition was challenged by Cristinos under Baron Von Meer on east bank of the river Segre, but continued on to the Ebro (Holt, 1967).

29 Jun 1837: Crossing of the River Ebro

The Royal Expedition joined up with Cabrera at Cherta on the Ebro, about 8 km from Tortosa, at the end of Jun (Chant, 1983; Holt, 1967). All the local boats had been moved into Tortosa, so Cabrera had requisitioned those at San Carlos de la Rapita, south of Tortosa, and transported overland to Cherta. As Pertegaz held off Nogueras’s division coming down from Mora de Ebro and Cabrera faced Borso’s division coming up from Tortosa, local Carlists took Cherta itself. This allowed the Royal Expedition to cross the wide Ebro. For this service Cabrera was made Commandant-General of Aragon, Valencia and Murcia.

11 Jul 1837

The Royal Expedition reached Burjasot (GEA Online: Expedición Real).

15 Jul 1837: Battle of Chiva

A battle during the Royal Expedition whilst the Carlist Army of the Centre was combined with the Army of the North (Cairns, 1994a, 1995b; Chant, 1983). it was unusual because the Carlists had more cavalry than their enemy. The 13 Carlist squadrons comprised four Navarrese, four Castilian, one Alavese, two Aragonese and two from Cabrera’s army. The Cristinos, under Oráa and Borso, fielded four squadrons from the line cavalry regiments Rey (1st) and Reina (2nd), three squadrons from the 3rd Light Cavalry Regiment (Extremadura; Aula Militar), and a few lancers and Cazadores from the Guard. Nonetheless, the Cristinos gained the victory, in part because of a shortage of ammunition among the Carlist infantry and also due good co-operation between the Cristino cavalry and infantry. The Carlist ammunition shortage meant a Castilian battalion was reduced to throwing stones, and units of the Army of the Centre shared their cartridges with men of the Army of the North. The Carlists extricated themselves as Cabrera launched diversionary attacks. Although Oráa reported wildly different numbers of casualties on different occasions, his first, lower, figure may be more accurate: 1,000 Carlist prisoners, and 200 Carlists deserters for 850 Cristino killed and wounded. The Royal Expedition subsequently retreated to Cantavieja to recover.

20 Jul – Sep 1837: Zaratiegui’s Expedition

The Carlist General Antonio Zaratiegui left Alava with a half-dozen infantry battalions and three squadrons of cavalry (20 Jul) and had some weeks of success against the Cristinos (Chant, 1983; Holt, 1967). He absorbed another Carlist raiding force – bringing his strength up to about 4,500 – and marched through Old Castile to take Segovia only 100 km from Madrid. Not feeling strong enough to attack Madrid he abandoned Segovia (12 Aug) and retired to Burgos province, then west again to take Valladolid (Sep), until finally he joined the Royal Expedition outside Madrid.

21 Jul 1837: Zambrana/Armiñon

The Carlists defeated the Portuguese Auxiliary Division at the Zambrana plain, with heavy loss (Portugal Dicionário Histórico: Antas). The Portuguese retreated to Armiñon.

Nuno Pereira posted these details on the Carlist Wars Discussion Forum: (6 Dec 2008):

The Battle of Zambrana/Armiñon, 21 July 1837

The battle was fought near the River Ebro and was the first of Zaratiegui’s expedition in support of D. Carlos advance on Madrid. It was hard fought. The Carlists nearly cut off the Division but the Isabelinos were able to retreat to Armiñon and the Carlist hold Zambrana. Zaratiegui eventually crossed the Ebro and took Segovia. But that’s another story.


  • Commander: General D. Juan Antonio de Zaratiegui Chief of Staff/2nd CO: Brigadier D. Joaquín Elio
  • Infantry:
    • 1º Navarra
    • 7º Navarra
    • 4º Guipúzcoa
    • 7º Guipúzcoa
    • 5º Castilla
    • Valencian Battalion
    • 60 Aragonese supernumeraries
  • Cavalry:
    • 2º Lanceros de Navarra
    • 4º Lanceros de Navarra
    • 50 supernumerary officers
  • Total: 4500 inf., 280 Cav.


  • Commander: General Vicount das Antas
  • Vanguard
    • Commander: Col. Don Martin Zurbano
    • La Rioja Volunteers
    • La Rioja Alavesa Volunteers Bat, 4 Companies
    • Aragonese free (light) coy.
    • La Rioja Alavesa Sqd.
    • Total: ~450 inf., 20 cav.
  • Portuguese Auxiliary Division
    • Marching from Vitoria:
      • 1st Column, General Vicount das Antas:
        • 1º Inf. Regiment
        • 10º Inf. Regiment
        • 6º Cav. (Caçadores-a-Cavalo), 2 sqd.
        • 5ª Art. Brigade
      • 2nd Column, Colonel Manuel José Mendes:
        • Sappers Company
        • 3º Inf. Regiment
        • 6º Inf. Regiment
        • 7ª Art. Brigade
    • In La Puebla de Arganzón:
      • 3º Caçadores
      • 4º Caçadores
      • 2º Lanceiros, 1 sqd.
    • Total: ~3250 inf., 260 cav., 4 guns
  • Garrisons in/around Armion:
    • 10 Provincial Companies

End of Jul 1837: Royal Expedition takes Valencia

Royal Expedition (and Army of Centre) took city of Valencia (??; not sure where I read this, as it is contradicted by Chant, 1983).

24 Aug 1837: Battle of Villar de los Navarros (Herrara)

The Royal Expedition retreated north via Muniesa to ?? (Cairns, 1994b, 1995b; Chant, 1983; GEA Online: Expedición Real) The Liberals, under Buerens, were outnumbered. The Carlist right wing had a battalion in skirmishing order, and behind it other Navarrese units, the Granaderos del Ejército and two Aragonese battalions (Cairns, 1995a). The centre was composed of the artillery (four guns) and the left consisted of four Alavese battalions in the first line and Castilians in the second. The Carlist cavalry appears to have been lurking in ambush, to great effect when they emerged. The Carlist horse formed in two columns in order to attack the 5th Light Cavalry (Albuera); a heroic charge by the 5th stopped the Pretenders troops for a time before the Liberal regiment retired decimated”. Carlist lancers charged the Liberal squares several times (seven times it is said), and finally broke them after riding round them, inflicting casualties with pistols and carbines. (Very likely the Liberals had run out of ammunition by this stage.) The Cristinos lost 1,600 officers and men, and at the end of the battle all that remained of the government’s forces were a couple of battalions and a weak squadron of the 5th Light Cavalry. Aside from other casualties the Carlists lost two commanders: Quílez and Manolín. Alcalá (2006) says it opened Carlos’s way to Madrid.

Nuno Pereira (Carlist Wars Discussion Forum, 6 Mar 2007) cites Pirala, WSS and Jesus Meoqui for this order of battle, although caveats his offer by saying it is incomplete and possibly wrong:

CARLISTAS: Don Carlos, Moreno, Cabrera

  • 1ª Div. de Navarra, Sanz
  • 2ª Div., Sopelana
  • 3 Div., Cuevillas
  • Div. Maestrazgo, Cabrera
  • Caballeria: Quilez, Manuel Lucus (el Manolin)

CRISTINOS: General Buerens

  • 3 Division del Ejército del Norte
  • 1ª Brigada, ?
    • 10º de Línea, Córdoba (Cor. Urbina)
    • 6º Ligero, Voluntários de Navarra (Cor. Nogués)
    • Provincial de Alava (Hermenegildo de Alcaráz)
    • Provincial de Avila
  • 2ª Brigada, Brig. Solano
    • 4 batallones:
      • 2º Guardia Real de Infantería, 1º Bat. (don Mariano de Arias)
      • 3º de Línea, Príncipe, 1º y 2º batallones (don Francisco Alonso)
      • 18º de Línea, Almansa, 2º bat.
    • Sqdn. del Rey, (Coronel Coba)
    • Sqdn. del Infante
    • Sqdn. 5º Ligero (Cor. Castilla, Com. Ansuategui)
  • TOTAL: 7.000 Inf. 800 Cav. y 6 cañones de 8 libras

This is another confusing incident. Cairns (1994b, 1995b) gives two dates for the battle. Cairns (1995a) mentions the Battle of Villar de los Navarros of 24 Aug; similarly for GEA Online: Expedicin Real and Alcalá (2006). The map in Cairns (1995a) shows the Battle of Villar de los Navarros but not Herrara. I can only assume they’re the same event.

3 Sep 1837: Departure of the Portuguese Auxiliary Division

When the cartista revolution broke the Portuguese government called Viscount Das Antas and the Portuguese Auxiliary Division home (Portugal Dicionário Histórico: Antas). As a result Das Antas and his column reached Almeida on 3 Sep 1837. The second column of the division, under Colonel José de Sousa Pinto, proclaimed for the revolution during its march from Valadolid to Salamanca, and then headed for Bragança to join the rebels.

9 Sep 1837: Hernani

The Cristino General O’Donnell attacked the Carlists positions from his positions at Hernani (Somerville, 1995). Due to concerns over pay the Irish Regiment of the 2nd British Legion refused to join the advance and stayed in their positions within the forts at Alza. Similarly the British Rifles refused to advance from Oriamendi, but most of the regiment subsequently joined O’Donnell at Andouin on 11 Sep. The offensive started with a Spanish brigade crossing the Astigarraga bridge and taking the hills to the east of Hernani. The 2nd British Legion (artillery, Lancers and Scotch battalion, and Chapelgorris) under Jochmus skirmished along the road Another Spanish Brigade under Santa Cruz pushed along the hills from the Santa Barbara. Despite heavy fire from the British guns the Carlists held until Santa Cruz turned their flank. The British Lancers were active during the action – moving through a Carlist infantry unit to drive off Carlist Lancers, before turning back to charge the infantry.

9 – 13 Sep 1837: Andouin

Having reached Andouin on the River Urimea the Liberals set fire to more than 120 houses – an action mostly attributed to troops of the British Auxiliary Legion (Zumalakarregi Museum – actually this source calls the river Oria, but it corresponds to the Urimea mentioned in Somerville, 1995). O’Donnell then began to fortify the town and entrenched two Spanish Brigades on hills in front of the river crossings to protect the work (Somerville, 1995). The two armies observed each other from 9-13 Sep with the occasional exchanges of fire. The working parties in particular suffered casualties from Carlists entrenched on the hills across the river. The British Rifles joined O’Donnell at Andouin on 11 Sep. The British Royal Marines and Royal Artillery deployed in Hernani but were too far back to help their comrades at Andouin. About this time the Carlist commander in the north arrived with reinforcements from Navarre, and despite having fewer men decided to attack the Liberals on 14 Sep

Moment of Destiny

11 – 16 Sep 1837: “Moment of Destiny”

The 12,000 men of the Royal Expedition crossed the Tagus near Fuentiduena (11 Sep) to reach Arganda a few miles from Madrid (12 Sep) (Cairns, 1995b; Chant, 1983; Holt, 1967). Some of Cabrera’s cavalry was sent up to the city walls and his lancers demonstrated they could break even the heaviest cavalry when they defeated a smaller Cristino force including the Granaderos a Caballo (12 Sep). After four days of vacillation Don Carlos decided neither to assault Madrid (Don Sebastian’s and Cabrera’s recommendation), nor to attack Espartero’s nearby army (Moreno’s recommendation) – this interval became known as his “Moment of Destiny”. Instead the expedition retreated toward Arganda and Guadalajara (16 Sep). Espartero pursued. (Cairns, 1994a, gives the Carlists outside Madrid 16,000 foot and 2,000 horse.)

14 Sep 1837: Battle of Andouin

Immediately after day break on 14 Sep the Carlists guns opened up on the Cristino left (Somerville, 1995). British counter-battery fire soon silenced the Carlist artillery and the Cristinos piled arms. The 5th Guipúzcoa (“Los Chapelzurris” or White Caps) crossed the left hand ford in front of the Infante Regiment (Somerville actually says “Infanta”, but I there wasn’t an Infanta regiment; so this is presumably the 5th Line Infantry Regiment; Aula Militar), who, with their arms piled, fled. The remainder of the Cristino division followed suit allowing the Carlists to cross in strength . The British only became aware of this eventuality when the Carlists began shooting into their positions in the village. Two companies of Scotch drove the Carlists from the left hand hill, but finding themselves surrounded tried to break through to Andouin again. Many succeeded but any British taken prisoner were killed. The village was then attacked from all sides. Liberals were eventually overwhelmed in the gruelling combat and scattered off in the direction of San Sebastián (Zumalakarregi Museum). As O’Donnell unsuccessfully tried to rally his Spanish troops, the British broke out of Andouin. The British Lancers and artillery provided mutual support in the retreat. O’Donnell himself only just managed to escape. The Cristinos lost 320-620 casualties, mostly amongst the British; the British suffered sufficiently that they conducted no further effective operations. The Carlists suffered 700 casualties in the period 9-14 Sep, including 400 on the final morning; most casualties were inflicted by the British artillery.

19 Sep 1837: Battle of Aranzuqueque

A battle during the Royal expedition, as the Carlist Army retreated from Madrid (Cairns, 1995c). Cabrera’s newly organised cavalry could not withstand the Cazadores de la Guardia Real and the Húsares de la Princesa. The Army of the Centre split off from the Royal Expedition just after this.

Chant (1983) refers to a Carlist debacle at Alcala de Henares, 24 km from Madrid, on 19 Sep which may be the same battle. Javier Gómez tells me Aranzuqueque is now called Aranzueque. If you check out Google Maps for Aranzuequeyou’ll find it is about 15 km east of Alcala de Henares which lends support to these being the same battle.

Javier Gómez sent me some more information … As the Royal Expedition retired from Madrid they passed via Alcala de Henares then further east towards the province of Guadalajara. The exhausted army stopped in Aranzueque to rest and to supply themselves. While Don Carlos attended mass the men heard the noise of battle. Espartero had pursued to them and caught them by surprise. The the Cristino attack was ferocious. The Liberal cavalry charged, dispersing to the enemy riders and attacking the infantry. The pressure increased progressively with the arrival of more Liberal troops and the Carlists were forced to retire. Although it was not a major Liberal victory, it enormously affected the Carlist moral. The Royal Expedition disintegrated with Cabrera heading for the Maestrazgo and Don Carlos turning north for the Basque country. The Cristinos arrived from the west, from Alcala; the bed of the River Tajuña lies to the east of Aranzueque, hence was in the Carlist line of retreat.

Scenario Idea

Javier Gómez put on a demonstration game of the Battle of Aranzueque at a show in Spain (Atlantica). Rather than recreate the entire battle, Javier’s scenario centred on the first contact between the vanguard of Espartero and the Carlist forces on the outskirts of the town.

22 Sep 1837: Action of ??

An action against the Carlist Army of the Centre after it had split from the Royal expedition (Cairns, 1995c). Eight companies of Tortosa cazadores covering the Carlist retreat were taken prisoner by squadrons of the 1st and 2nd Line (Rey and Reina) and 6th Light Cavalry (Cataluna). The Carlists closed up in the face of the enemy cavalry, but their fire was not enough to stop the the Cristino cavalry. (The Carlists had had nothing but grapes to eat for three days.)

Sometime from 20 Sep – Oct 1837: Battle of Retuerta

Espartero defeated the Carlist Army of the North, as the remains of the Royal expedition headed north (Cairns, 1994a).

End of Oct 1937

Royal Expedition crossed the Ebro into Navarre (Chant, 1983).

28 Dec 1837

A Carlist expedition set off for La Mancha to reinforce the rising there (Alcalá, 2006).

End of 1837

Second British Legion returned to England (??). 400 lancers and artillerymen remained to help the Cristinos.

Dec1837 to 26 Jan 1838: First Siege of Morella

About this time Cabrera had 13,000 infantrymen in 16 battalions, 2,000 cavalry in 9-10 squadrons, and about a dozen cannon (Chant, 1983).

Cabrera’s Army of the Centre besieged Morella for two months, before a Catalan lieutenant and 75 men, with the assistance of a Cristino gunner, took it in a surprise assault on the night of 25/26 Jan (Cairns, 1994a; Chant, 1983; Holt, 1967).

Cabrera also took the port of Benicarló (27 Jan) and made repeated attempts on Lucena (Chant, 1983; Holt, 1967). Lucena never fell, but from Dec 1837 to the end of the war the Carlists launched 14 assaults on it.

1838-39: End of the Army of the North

26 Jan 1838: End of First Siege of Morella

Cabrera took Morella (Alcalá, 2006).

27 Jan 1838: Benicarló

Cabrera took the port of Benicarló (with a garrison of less than 60), sacked it, destroyed the forts, and moved on (Alcalá, 2006; Chant, 1983; Holt, 1967)..

5 Mar 1838: Saragossa

Without orders Cabañero, one of Cabrera’s subordinates, attacked Saragossa with 3,000 infantry and 250 cavalry (Alcalá, 2006; Chant, 1983). An assault force climbed the walls in the middle of the night and opened a gate to allow the remainder in. To their surprise the National Guard, despite being caught off guard, fought back. Initially the defenders fought from their houses but as dawn broke they came out onto the streets and drove out the Carlists. Cabañero lost almost 300 dead and 700 prisoners.

Mar to 27 Apr 1838: Negris Expedition

The Count of Negri led the last great Carlist expedition (Cairns, 1994a; Holt, 1967). Negri relied on Castilians for the bulk of his force as the Basques and Navarrese on the Royal Expedition had complained about being away from their homeland for too long. Negri had nine Castilian battalions, two mountain guns, and four full squadrons with cadres for two more. He took Segovia, but his expedition, lacking food and footwear, then fell back in a miserable retreat. Espartero caught it on 27 Apr 1838 at Valladolid.

April 1838

His failure at Saragossa didn’t slow Cabañero up, and in April he took Alcorisa, Samper and Calanda (Alcalá, 2006).

27 Apr 1838: Battle of Valladolid

Espartero crushed the Negri expedition at Valladolid (Cairns, 1994a; Holt, 1967). The Carlist foot formed square, but with wet powder they couldn’t stand against the Cristino cavalry and surrendered en masse. Only Negri and the cavalry escaped.

1 May 1838: Captain-General Espartero

The Queen Regent named Espartero Captain-General of the national armies (Holt, 1967).

22 Jun 1838: Battle of Peñacerrada

Continuing his offensive in northern Spain, Liberal Commander-in-Chief Baldomero Espartero advanced through the Burgos and attacked Carlist commander Juan Antonio Guergué south of Vitoria at Peñacerrada(Cairns, 1994a, 1994b; Saiz, 1999). The bloody action was decided in Espartero’s favour by a cavalry charge. The Carlist Húsares de Arlabán threw back some Cristino light infantry, and were endangering units of Guard infantry, when they were charged by the liberal Húsares de la Princesa (Colonel Juan Zabala). The liberal hussars went on to defeat a squadron of Carlist lancers, take 300 prisoners, 4 guns, and rout the enemy army. The Carlists were crushed. This battle lead to the fall of the nearby Carlist town of Peñacerrada, and the replacement of Guergué by Maroto. [Alcalá (2006) says Espartero occupied Peñacerrada on 20 Jun 1838.]

Sometime ?? Jul 1838

The Count of España reached Berga from France and assumed command of the Carlist forces in Catalonia, replacing Colonel Segarra (??). España instigated a reign of terror in Berga. Incidentally he was a friend of the Tsar of Russia and his cavalry were called “Cossacks”.

27 Jul 1838: Solsona

Baron de Meer occupied Solsona (Alcal, 2006).

27 Jul – 17 Aug 1838: Second Siege of Morella

The Cristino General Oráa assembled 17,000 men (including 22 battalions in four divisions under Borso, Pardiñas, San MIguel, and a Brigadier) and perhaps 25 guns to take Morella (Cairns, 1994a, 1994b; Chant, 1983). Facing them were 10,000 Carlists. The castle and town were left with a small garrison (five battalions and 18 guns) while the main army (14 battalions, the cavalry, and 30 guns) harassed the besiegers from the rear. The five week siege was marked by the incompetence of the Cristino artillery, supply and command. Oráa had only five guns larger than 8-pounders and gunners who were not only lacking quarter-sights, tangent-sights and portfires, but were inexperienced in the techniques of battering walls. Oráa managed to make a breach in the walls near a gate. Oráa ordered a night attack on the breach to the accompaniment of bands (15 Aug); fires within the breach prevented any progress and musketry from the walls almost wiped out the three assault columns. A second attempt also failed (17 Aug) – British observers viewed this attempt as “insane” partly because the scaling ladders were too short. The Cristino army was lucky to escape without losses more serious than those it received. As a result of this failure, the Cristinos called off their sieges of Morella (Alcalá, 2006), Cantavieja, Estella and Berga, Don Carlos named Cabrera Count of Morella, and General Oráa was replaced by General Antonio van Halen.

16 Sep 1838: La Población

The Carlist Army of the North won at La Población (Alcalá, 2006).

Sep 1838: Battle of Perdon

Carlists (General Maroto) defeated Cristinos (General Alaix) on the heights of Perdon (??). Carlists killed 200 Cristinos and captured 500 more.

1 Oct 1838: Battle of Maella

Cabrera’s Army of the Centre inflicted a serious defeat on the Cristinos (General Pardiñas) at Maella in lower Aragon (Alcalá, 2006; Cairns, 1994a, 1994b, 1995c; Chant, 1983). The Cristino force was the 5,000 strong division called “El Ramillete” (the picked ones) – generally considered excellent troops. “El Ramillete” was composed of all three battalions of the Córdoba regiment (10th Line Infantry Regiment; Aula Militar) – an old-established regular unit – two of Africa regiment (7th Line Infantry Regiment; Aula Militar), two squadrons of the 1st Line Cavalry (Rey) and one of the 6th Light Cavalry (Cataluña). Pardiñas himself was a young general with a high reputation for ability and courage. Cabrera led the best units of his army, the 1st and 2nd Tortosa battalions, the 1st and 2nd Mora battalions, and Guías de Aragón, a squadron of the Lanceros de Tortosa, one of the 1st Lanceros de Aragón, and the Ordenanzas. The Carlists claimed they were out numbered. It was a convincing Carlist victory. During the six hour battle two battalions of the Córdoba regiment were rolled over by Carlist cavalry because they could not form square in time. The Liberals lost 3-4,000 of their 5,000 strong force (1,000 escaped, 3,000 prisoners, and 1,000 died). The victorious Army of the Centre shot and knifed their prisoners (more than 160 died in this way). Pardiñas died during the battle, although Cabrera subsequently named one of his horses in his honour. [Cairns, 1995c, gives the date as Aug 1938.]

1 Dec 1838: Battle of Cheste

Cristinos under Pezuela beat a Carlist force under Colonel Forcadell at Cheste (Alcalá, 2006; Cairns, 1995c). At the end of the battle a group of retreating Carlist battalions were chased by Cristino cavalry. The Cristinos rode down the Carlist infantry as only one battalion managed to form square before contact. [Alcalá says 2 Dec, but Cairns 1 Dec.]

4 Dec 1838: Skirmish of Carascal

Carlists attacked a convoy escorted by two full regiments – 2nd Light Cavalry (León) and 5th Line Cavalry (Borbón) – and the remains of the lancers of the British Legion (Cairns, 1995b). The Carlists had been straining to collect a good field force of cavalry, thus had 12 squadrons to attack with. Their skirmishers were ahead of the main body of lancers, and the Cristino regiments drew up to face the Carlists. But the Spaniards of the Cristino force fled, leaving the 180 British. These lured lured the Carlists with a feigned withdrawal and then turned and destroyed all but two of the enemy squadrons. The legionaries, who bore their foes a grudge for a previous massacre, did not take prisoners.

End of 1838: Second Battle of Los Arcos

Located at either Los Arcos or Sesma (Cairns, 1994a, 1994b). Renowned Cristino horse-general Diego Leon proved Maroto’s new cavalry was no match for the splendid Liberal horsemen. Leon’s entirely cavalry force – Granaderos a Caballo and Lanceros of the Royal Guard, British lancers, and the 1st (Rey) and 3rd (Principe) line – charged and beat a Carlist cavalry force in a face-to-face battle in which, it is said, only one shot was fired.

12 Feb 1839: Ager

Baron Meer took Ager (Alcalá, 2006).

17-19 Feb 1839: Suppression of Apostolics

General Maroto imprisoned (17 Feb) and executed (19 Feb) five rival Carlist officers (Generals Carmona, Guergué, Garciá, Sanz, and another senior officer called Uriz) (Holt, 1967). These men were Carlist extremists (‘Apostolics’) and opposed the more moderate Maroto. Maroto claimed he was forestalling a conspiracy against himself.

Don Carlos subsequently removed Maroto from command and denounced him as a traitor, but the army backed Maroto (Holt, 1967). Don Carlos was forced to renounce his declaration when Maroto marched on the court at Tolosa with his men and demanded an interview. Moderate officers such as General’s Elío, Villareal, Eguía, and Zaratiegui were restored to senior posts. Maroto marched off to face Espartero with 12 battalions but this was just a front to cover negotiation for an armistice.

Early Apr 1839: Convention of Lécera/Segura

General van Halen (based at Lécera) and Cabrera (based at Segura) signed a convention allowing the exchange of prisoners and quarter to be given in the war in Aragon (Chant, 1983). Soon after General Leopold O’Donnell replaced Van Helen as the Cristino commander in Aragon.

Sometime ?? Mid 1839

General O’Donnell beat off one of Cabrera’s 14 attacks on Lucena and is made Count of Lucena for his efforts (??; Chant, 1983).

Jun1839: Battle of Allo

In a similar result to Los Arcos in 1838, General Leon once again defeated the Carlist horse (Cairns, 1994a, 1994b). Leon – now leading one squadron each of Cazadores and Coraceros of the guard, the British lancers, and line and light cavalry – was burning Carlist crops, when the Cazadores found themselves at risk from a flank charge by Carlist horse. Leon had placed the Coraceros and British in a position to take care of such an eventuality, which they did by routing the Carlists.

1-30 Jun 1839

Espartero took Orduña, Arciniega, Balmaceda and Amurrio (Alcalá, 2006).

Embrace of Vergara

11 Jun 1839: Action of Hoz

An all cavalry action involving the Carlist Army of the Centre where due to a lack of lances the Tiradores of both side fought it out with the butts of their carbines (Cairns, 1995c).

26 Aug 1939: Embrace of Vergara

Maroto and Espatero signed an armistice at Vergara (Holt, 1967; Cairns, 1994a, says 24 Aug; Chant, 1983, says 31 Aug; Alcalá, 2006, says 27 Aug). Also called the agreement of Oñate (Notario, 2006).

Aug 1839 – Jul 1840 Cabrera fights alone

31 Aug 1839

The Carlist Army of Aragon beat the Cristino division of Cuenca (Alcalá, 2006).

1 Sep 1839: Capture of Carboneras

For the loss of only 300 men, Cabrera captured Carboneras in Huesca, along with 2,000 prisoners and 150 horses (??).

14 Sep 1839: Don Carlos escapes

Accompanied by a few troops, Don Carlos escaped to France just ahead Espartero’s forces (Alcalá, 2006; Holt, 1967).

25 Sep 1839: Guevara

Guevara, the last Carlist stronghold in the north, submits to the liberals (Alcalá, 2006).

4 Oct 1839

Espartero’s corps left Saragossa to aid in the war against the Carlists of the Maestrazgo (Alcalá, 2006).

Late 1839: Destruction of Ripoll

The ferocious Count of España destroyed the town of Ripoll in Catalonia (Hlt, 1967).

2 Nov 1839

At the request of the Junta of Berga, Don Carlos replaced the Count of Espaa with Colonel Segarra (Alcalá, 2006; Holt, 1967). The Count was detained and then murdered by his guards (2 Nov).

11 Feb 1840

1,300 prisoners of war, refusing to accept the Convention of Vergara, joined Cabrera (Alcalá, 2006).

Early 1840

Whilst Cabrera was sick, the Cristinos took several Carlist strongholds in Catalonia and Aragon (Holt, 1967). Espartero took Segura at the end of Feb (Chant, 1983). Castellote followed although it took 3,500 projectiles to reduce the resistance. Cantavieja fell without a fight. Benicarló, San Mateo and others followed as the Carlist defenders began to abandon their positions.

15 Apr 1840

At the start of his offensive Espartero took Aliaga (Alcalá, 2006).

22 Apr 1840: Begis

Espartero took Begis (Alcalá, 2006).

24 Apr 1840: Battle of Perecamps

Alcalá (2006) doesn’t say much about this battle, except that the liberal troops discovered the valour and capacity of the Carlist Army of Catalonia.

26 Apr 1840: Alpuente

Espartero took Alpuente (Alcalá, 2006).

30 Apr 1840: Selva

Espartero took la Selva (Alcalá, 2006).

19 May 1840: La Cenia

O’Donell beat Cabrera at La Cenia (Alcalá, 2006).

19-30 May 1840: Third Siege of Morella

Espartero commenced the final siege of Morella on 17 May and the fortress fell to the Cristinos on 30 May (Alcalá, 2006; Cairns, 1994a; 1994b; Holt, 1967). For once in the war, the attackers had a strong siege train. Espartero had 20,000 men in four divisions. His siege train contained 800 gunners, 600 sappers, eight 24 pdrs, 16 pdrs, ten 7” howitzers and ten mortars. His three field batteries had a total of two 16pdrs, four 12pdrs, two 8pdrs, and 4 howitzers. Mules pulled the heavy guns, and 2,000 more drew the 500 carts needed to bring up ammunition. 7,000 additional men defended the supply routes. The garrison believed the war was nearing an end so most tried to escape (with their women and children); most were killed in the attempt as the Cristinos ambushed them. The survivors surrendered.

Subsequently, Cabrera abandoned Aragon for Berga in Catalonia, taking 5,000 infantry and 600-700 cavalry with him (Chant, 1983; Holt, 1967).

2 Jun 1840

Cabrera crossed the River Ebro into Catalonia leaving isolated Carlist positions in the Maestrazgo (Alcalá, 2006).

17 Jun 1840: Caete

Cañete in the Levant surrendered to the liberals (Alcalá, 2006).

20 Jun 1840

Balmaceda, Carlist Captain General of Old Castile, devastated Roa, intending to bring the war back into Navarre (Alcalá, 2006).

21 Jun 1840: Beteta

Beteta was the last Carlist position in the Levant to surrender (Alcalá, 2006).

29 Jun 1840

Anticipating failure Balmaceda crossed into France (Alcalá, 2006).

4 Jul 1840: Battle of Berga

The last battle of the war was almost a non-event (Cairns, 1994a; Holt, 1967). Cabrera formed up his men outside Berga, but gave the order to retreat as soon as the Cristino mountain guns opened up.

6 Jul 1840

After forced marches from Berga, Cabrera crossed the French border, along with thousands of other Carlist refugees (Cairns, 1994a; Holt, 1967).


I also have a more complete list of sources for the Carlists Wars.

Alcalá, C (2006). 1a Guerra Carlista [ Guerros y Batallas 31]. Madrid: Almena. [Spanish]

Cairns, C. (1994a, Oct). A Savage and Romantic War: Spain 1833-1840. Part I: The Course of the First Carlist War. Wargames Illustrated, 85, 26- 32.

The first of a truly excellent set of articles. There were six in the series:

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

Cairns, C. (1995a, Feb). A Savage and Romantic War: Spain 1833-1840. Part 3a: The Carlist Army of the North (Infantry). Wargames Illustrated, 89, 20-25.

Cairns, C. (1995b, Mar). A Savage and Romantic War: Spain 1833-1840. Part 3b: The Carlist Army of the North (Cavalry, Artillery, etc). Wargames Illustrated, 90, 32-37.

Cairns, C. (1995c, Sep). A Savage and Romantic War: Spain 1833-1840. Part 4: The Carlist Army of the Centre. Wargames Illustrated, 96, 42-47.

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

Chant, R. H. (1983). Spanish Tiger: The Life and Times of Ramón Cabrera. New York: Midas.

Coverdale, J. F. (1984).The Basque Phase of Spain’s First Carlist War. Princeton University Press.

Duncan, F. (1997). The English in Spain: The story of the War of Succession between 1834 and 1840 (Vols. 1-6). UK: Pallas Armata. (Original work published 1877.)

GEA Online: Expedición Real

Holt, E. (1967). The Carlist Wars in Spain. London: Putnam.

Notario, I. (2006, Nov-Dec). The Origins of the First Carlist War. Wargames: Soldiers and Strategy, 18, 24-29.

Notario, I. (2007a, Jan-Feb). The Royal Expedition: Historical Introduction. Wargames: Soldiers and Strategy, 19, 24-41.

Notario, I. (2007c, Jan-Feb). The Battle of Chiva, 15 July 1837: Scenario for Age of Eagles. Wargames: Soldiers and Strategy, 19, 44-45.

Livermore, H. V. (1966). A New History of Portugal. Cambridge University Press.

Lovell Badcock, B. (1835). Rough (leaves from a journal kept in Spain and Portugal, during the years 1832, 1833, & 1834. London: R. Bentley. [On-line http://www.archive.org/details/roughleavesfromj00loverich]

Portugal Dicionário Histórico: Antas [Portuguese]

Saiz, B. (1999). Carlist Wars. Author.

Smith, D. (1998). The Greenhill Napoleonic Wars Data Book. London: Greenhill.

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.

Sorando, L. (n.d.) Primera Guerra Carlista (1833-1840) [Spanish].

Spiers, E. M. (1983). Radical General: Sir George de Lacy Evans 1787 – 1870. Manchester University Press.

Vieira, J. (18 Jun 2004). Personal communication.


Viriatus Miniatures [Portuguese]

Thanks to Nuno Pereira for bringing this material to my attention. The relevant pages are: Divisão Auxiliar a Espanha – 1835 – 1837 – 1ª Guerra Carlista

Wikipedia: Alsasua [Spanish]

Wikipedia: Batalla de Mendaza [Spanish]

Wikipedia: Batalla de Mendigorria [Spanish]

Wikipedia: Infante Carlos of Spain, Count of Molina

Wikipedia: Holy Alliance

Zumalakarregi Museum: 19th Century Military History in the Basque Country

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