Timeline of the Third Carlist War

Timeline of the Third Carlist War. Primarily I have used Holt (1967).


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

14 Apr 1872

Don Carlos appointed General Rada commander-in-chief in Spain, and called for a general rising.

The Carlist King Carlos VII
(the one in the centre)
with his GHQ in 1873

21 Apr 1872

On the first day of the Carlist rising several thousand men gathered at Oroquieta in Navarre. The men were untrained and few have weapons.

Further west the Vizcayans also rose in arms.

2 May 1872

Don Carlos crossed into Spain on foot, and subsequently joins the volunteers at Oroquieta.

4 May 1872: Battle of Oroquieta

1,000 government troops (Moriones) easily defeated the much larger number of Carlists at Oroquieta. 50 Carlists were killed and Moriones takes 700 prisoners but Don Carlos escapes.

Subsequently Don Carlos returns to France, and the Vizcayans lay down their arms. In Catalonia guerilla bands under Tristany, Savalls, and Castells engage in savage fighting. Other partisans remain active in Navarre, Aragon, Castile and Guipúzcoa.

Nov 1872

General Antonio Dorregaray replaces General Rada as Carlist commnader-in-chief in Navarre and the Basque provinces.

A small cadre of trained officers and men enters Spain to create a Carlist Army.

Feb 1873

General Dorregaray arrives in Spain. Carlist army now reputedly 50,000 men.

11 Feb 1873

King Amadeo abdicates in protest at the activities of his ministers, and leaves Spain. Spain becomes a Republic.

May 1873 Battle of Eraul

Carlists (General Dorregaray) defeat Republicans at Eraul, near Estella.

Jul 1873

Don Carlos returns to Spain.

Carlists (General Lizarraga) capture a Republican fort near Pamplona to celebrate the Kings arrival.

9 July 1873: Battle of Alpens

Campaigning in Catalonia, a Government column under General José Cabrinety was ambushed at Alpens, 15 miles east of Berga, by Carlist forces under General Francisco Savalls. After heavy fighting, with Cabrinety killed, virtually the entire column of 800 men was killed or captured.

Aug 1873

Carlists capture Estella in Navarre.

6 October 1873: Battle of Mañeru

In continued campaigning in Navarre, Spanish Republican General Domingo Moriones met a Carlist force under Nicolás Ollo at Mañeru, near Puente de la Reina, in a hard-fought but indecisive action. While both sides claimed victory, the Carlists were said to have had the advantage, and a month later Moriones was repulsed in a costly assault further west against Estella

End of 1873

The Infante Alfonso, Don Carlos’s brother, assumes command in Catalonia and builds up an army of 8,000.

7 November 1873: Battle of Montejurra

Determined to recapture the key city of Estella, in Navarre, Spanish Republican General Domingo Moriones advanced on the Carlists under General Joaquín Elío at nearby Montejurra. After very heavy fighting both sides claimed victory, but Moriones withdrew. Both sides claim victory in the battle, but Estella remained in Carlist hands. Don Carlos was present in the front line.

22 December 1873: Bocairente

Campaigning in Valenica, Spanish Republican General Valeriano Weyler was attacked at Bocairente, northwest of Alcoy, but a greatly superior Carlist force under General José Santés. Weyler was intially driven back, losing some of his guns, but in a brilliant counter-attack he turned defeat into victory and Santés was heavily repulsed and forced to withdraw.

27 December 1873 – 2 May 1874: Bilbao

Campaigning in Navarre, Pretender Don Carlos VII and General Joaquín Elío besieged Bilbao, held by General Ignacio del Castillo and 1,200 men. The Carlist force is ten times this number and includes most of the troops from Navarre, Vizcaya and Alava, although a considerable force is left in Guipúzcoa. Despite defeat at nearby Somorrostro, Republic commander Marshal Francisco Serrano, supported by Generals Manuel de la Concha and Arsenio Martínez Campos, brilliantly broke the siege and Concha then marched on Estella

3 Jan 1874

General Manuel Pavia, captain-general of New Castile, stages a pronunciamento and establishes a conservative republic.

3 February 1874: Battle of Caspe

Campaigning on the Ebro in Aragon for the Spanish Republican Government, Colonel Eulogio Despujol surprised a Carlist force under Manuel Marco de Bello at Caspe, northeast of Alcañiz. In a brilliant action the Carlists were routed, losing 200 prisoners and 80 horses, while Despujol was promoted to Brigadier and became Conde de Caspe.

24-25 February 1874: First Battle of Somorrostro

Determined to raise the siege of Bilbao by the Pretender Don Carlos VII, Republican commander Marshal Francisco Serrano sent General Domingo Moriones with a relief force of 14,000 men. Carlists, under General Nicolás Ollo, entrenched at Somorrostro outside Bilbao drive back a courageous assault by General Fernando Primo de Rivera and then the entire Republican army. The republicans lose 1,200 men, and Moriones loses his nerve demanding reinforcements and a replacement for himself. Moriones men entrenched and waited.

28 Feb 1874

The Carlist force in Guipúzcoa captures Tolosa, and Don Carlos subsequently moves his headquarters there from Estella.

14 March 1874: Battle of Castellfullit de la Roca

Appointed to command the Spanish Republican army in the north, General Ramón Nouvilas attempted to relieve the Carlist siege of Olot in Gerona. But at Castellfullit de la Roca, in one of the Government’s worst defeats, Nouvilas was routed by Carlist General Francisco Savalls, and captured along with about 2,000 of his men. Olot capitulated two days later.

25 – 27 Mar 1874 Second Battle of Somorrostro

In a renewed attempt to raise the siege of Bilbao by Don Carlos VII, Republican commander Marshal Francisco Serrano himself arrived with 27,000 men and 70 cannon. However in three days of fierce fighting, the Carlist General Joaquín Elío, with just 17,000 men, once again drove off the attack at nearby Somorrostro, and it was another six weeks before Serrano managed to relieve Bilbao.

30 Mar 1874

A lucky republican shot, and some foolhardy bravery, results in the death of four Carlist Generals (General Radica, Olla and two others) outside Bilbao.

1 May 1874

Republicans (Serrano) attack again and succeed in turning the Carlist flank. The Carlists break off the siege and retire in good order.

2 May 1874

Serrano enters Bilbao.

4 June 1874: Battle of Gandesa

As Don Alfonso de Bourbon, brother of the Spanish pretender Don Carlos VII, assembled his forces northwest of Tortosa, Liberal commander Colonel Eulogio Despujol attacked a strong position at Gandesa, held by Carlist Colonel Tomás Segarra. In a costly defeat the Carlists were driven out with over 100 men killed, but Don Alfonso soon led an offensive south against Cuenca.

25 – 27 Jun 1874 Battle of Abàrzuza/Montemuro/Estella

After capturing Carlist Bilbao, Spanish Republican Marshal Francisco Serrano sent General Manuel de la Concha against Estella, held by Carlist Generals Antonio Dorregaray and Torcuato Mendíri. A republican force (General Concha) attempted to take the Carlist stronghold. The Carlists drove Concha back in heavy fighting at Abàrzuza on the approach to Estella. The Carlists were well entrenched in the hills around the village and the half starved republicans could make no head way. General Concha was killed on the third day of the battle, and after losing a total of 1,000 men the republicans were routed by Mendiri.

Jul 1874: Sack of Cuenca

After Carlist forces successfully defended Estella, Don Alfonso de Bourbon, brother of the Don Carlos VII, led 14,000 Catalan Carlists south to attack Cuenca 136 km from Madrid, held by Republicans under Don Hilario Lozano. After two days the outnumbered garrison capitulated but Don Alfonso permitted a terrible slaughter. The city is sacked. Subsequently another republican force defeats the disorderly Catalans who flee back to the Ebro.

11 August 1874: Battle of Oteiza

Two months after Government forces were repulsed from Carlist-held Estella, in Navarre, Republican General Domingo Moriones made a fresh diversionary attack a few miles to the southeast at Oteiza. In heavy fighting Moriones secured a costly tactical victory over Carlist General Torcuato Mendíri, but the war continued another 18 months before Estella finally fell.

Oct 1874

The Infante Alfonso quits his command and leaves Spain.

29 Dec 1874

General Martínez and Brigadier Luís Daban stage a pronunciamento at Sagunto and proclaim Isabel’s son Alfonso as King of Spain.

Subsequently the Madrid garrison follows suit and Spains first Republic comes to an end.

14 Jan 1875

Alfonso arrives in Spain and becomes Alfonso XII.

?? 1875 Siege of Pamplona

Carlists (Mendiri) unsuccessfully besiege Pamplona.

3 February 1875: Battle of Lácar

Carlist commander Torcuato Mendíri secured a brilliant victory when he surprised and routed a Government force under General Enrique Bargés at Lácar, east of Estella, nearly capturing newly crowned King Alfonso XII. The Carlists take several pieces of artillery, more than 2,000 rifles, and 300 prisoners. 800 men of both sides are killed – mostly government troops.

7 July 1875: Battle of Treviño

Advancing on the key city of Vitoria, in Navarre, the Spanish Republican commander General Jenardo de Quesada sent General Tello to attack the Carlist lines just to the southwest at Treviño. The newly-appointed Carlist commander General José Pérula was heavily defeated and withdrew and soon afterwards Quesada entered Victoria in triumph.

Summer 1875

Two government armies (General Quesada and Martínez Campos) start encroaching on Carlist territory. Both they and their Carlist opponent (Mendiri) drive opposing sympathisers from their homes and burn crops in areas they can not hold.

Several Carlist generals (Dorregaray, Savalls, and others) are unjustly put on trial for disloyalty. Mendiri is also removed from his command, and is replaced by the Count of Caserta.

Despite having 48 infantry battalions, three cavalry regiments, two engineer battalions, and 100 pieces of artillery at his disposal, Caserta is heavily outnumbered by the government forces opposing him.

17 February 1876: Battle of Montejurra

The new commander General Fernando Primo de Rivera marched on the remaining Carlist stronghold at Estella, where he met a force of about 1,600 men under General Carlos Calderón at nearby Montejurra. After a courageous and costly defence Calderón was forced to withdraw.

19 Feb 1876

Government troops (General Primo de Rivera) drove through the weak Carlist forces protecting Estella and took the city by storm.

28 Feb 1876

Don Carlos leaves Spain.


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

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

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