1st Olivença Infantry

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Hierarchical Path: Seven Years War (Main Page) >> Armies >> Portuguese Army >> 1st Olivença Infantry

Origin and History

The unit was raised in 1641 as the Terço de Olivença. By a decree dated Novenber 24 1707, the unit became the Regimento de Infantaria de Olivença.

By 1760, the original regiment had already been split into 2 distinct regiments the 1st and 2nd Olivença regiments, each counting 2 battalions.

In September 1762, each of these regiments were further divided into two distinct units. This is why some orders of battle mention two "1st Olivença" and two "2nd Olivença". The present article is about the 1st and 2nd battalions of the 1st regiment...

During the Seven Years' War, the 1st regiment was under the command of:

  • 1st battalion: Martim Lopo de Saldanha
  • 2nd battalion: Furtado de Mendoça

On May 10 1763, the two battalions of the 1st regiment were reunited and confirmed as the "1st Olivença Regiment".

Service during the War

At the beginning of the campaign of 1762, the 1st battalion of regiment was assigned to the main Anglo-Portuguese army where it was deployed in the first line of the infantry centre. Meanwhile, the 2nd battalion was attached to the corps operating in Beira country under lieutenant-general Townshend. On September 19, a battalion of the regiment was with Burgoyne's detachment who covered the border between Portalegre and Vila Velha de Rodao. The detachment occupied a strong position on the Tagus, opposite Vila Velha.

Uniform

Traditionally, since about 1660, the Portuguese infantry wore dark blue uniforms. During the War of Spanish Succession (1701-1714) almost all infantry units wore alvadia (light gray uniforms). These new uniforms were introduced for economic reasons, this type of fabric being much cheaper.

It is now believed that, from 1750, there was a progressive abandon of alvadia uniforms and a return to more traditional Portuguese uniforms. However, it seems that most of the changeover took part sometime after 1759 since, till this date, cloth orders indicated white as the most common colour.

At the outbreak of the war in 1762, there was neither enough uniforms nor cloth for recruits in military warehouses, so it was necessary to use all cloth available. Besides, as there was no central warehouse, every colonel was responsible for the ordering of uniforms. Therefore the fabric was bought from contractors who would cut and turned it into uniforms "more or less" along the official lines.

It must also be noted that the use of gaiters was introduced into the Portuguese infantry only in 1762.

Privates

no information available

Armaments consisted of a musket and a bayonet.

Officers

no information available

Musicians

no information available

Colours

The exact pattern of the Portuguese colonel colours during the Seven Years' War is unknown.

The ordonnance colours were chosen by the colonel of the regiment. For the moment, we have found no source depicting specific colours for this regiment.

Please refer to our article on the Portuguese Line Infantry Colours for more information.

References

Amaral, Manuel, O Exértico Português em finais do Antiguo Regime

Ribeiro Rodrigues, Manuel A.; 300 Anos de Uniformes Militares do Exército de Portugal 1660-1960, Exército Portugués and Sociedade Historica da Independéncia de Portugal, 1998

Acknowledgment

Manuel Ribeiro Rodrigues and Joseph O'Neill for the information and counselling provided for this article.