Timeline of the Second Carlist War

An outline the major events of the Second Carlist War (Matiners’ War). Primarily I have used Holt (1967).


Autumn 1846

A small group of Catalan guerrilla bands rebel in the name of the Carlist pretender Count Montemolin (Carlos Luis the son of Don Carlos). Predominant amongst the Carlist leaders is one Rafael Tristany. The rebels conduct small raids then retreat into the mountains.

Early 1848

Montemolin names the veteran General Ramon Cabrera as Carlist commander-in-chief in Catalonia, Aragon and Valencia.


I’m very grateful to Bernabe Saiz who kindly sent me some material for the timeline of the Carlist Wars.

Jun 1848

Cabrera enters Catalonia.

Dec 1848

Cabrera has built up the Carlist forces in Catalonia to 10,000, but there is little support for the rising in other regions.

?? Battle of Pasteral

Sometime in late 1848 or early 1849 Cabrera makes his last big stand against superior government forces at Pasteral on the banks of the Ter. The battle is inconclusive until Cabrera is seriously wounded and is carried from the field.

23 Apr 1849

Convinced of the futility of continued warfare Cabrera leaves Spain.

Middle of May 1849

Peace restored in Catalonia.

1855 – 1856 Call to Arms


Montemolin issues a ‘call to arms’ to the Carlists in Spain. Carlist partisans organise sporadic risings in Navarre and Catalonia.

Apr 1856

Tristany, the last of the Catalan rebels to remain in the field, is routed and dispersed.

1860 Unhappy landing

When the bulk of the Spanish army was on an expedition to Morocco, the Carlists attempted a rising in Spain.

2 Apr 1860

Montemolin, his brother the Infante Fernando, and their supporters, land at San Carlos de la Rapita – close to Tortosa in the southernmost part of Catalonia. The turn-coat General Ortega brings over forces (maybe 3,500 men) from the Balearic Islands in support. Ortega’s officers and men do not know the purpose of the expedition, nor the identities of the strangers.

3 Apr 1860

The force heads northward to Coll de la Creu. Some of Ortega’s officers, suspecting the nature of the expedition, call on the men to give three cheers for the Queen. On hearing the cheers the Carlist leaders try to escape. Ortega is soon captured, but the others go into hiding.

21 Apr 1860

Ortega is shot on the same day Montemolin, Fernando, and General Elio are captured.

Subsequently (pre June)

Montemolin and Fernando renounce their claims to the Spanish throne in a deed signed at Tortosa, and leave the country.

1868 Pronunciamento

Not strictly speaking a Carlist War, but significant in the general Timeline.

17 Sep 1868

Starting in Cadiz General Prim and Admiral Topete stage a coup-d’etat against Queen Isabella. They are subsequently joined by other disgraced generals, including Serrano.

27 Sep 1868 Battle of Alcolea

General Serrano’s revolutionary army decisively defeats a loyalist force under the Marquis de Novaliches at Alcolea in Andalusia. Novaliches retreats and Serrano marches on Madrid.

30 Sep 1868

Queen Isabel II goes into voluntary exile in France.

3 Oct 1868

General Serrano enters Madrid.


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

A nice overview of the various conflicts. Not many specifics about particular battles. Unsurprisingly the focus is the First Carlist War, however later conflicts are also covered. Holt emphasises the role of British Legion in the first war – possibly a bit much. Although the sequence of events is usually clear it is vague on specific dates making it hard to build a timeline from his information.

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