Alcantara Cavalry

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Origin and History

The tercio was raised on February 19 1656 by Jean François de Nestien in the Spanish Netherlands. It initially counted eight companies. In 1675, the tercio became “Nicolas Richard Du Puys”; in 1692, “Philippe Gourdin”; and in 1697, “Alexandre Cécile”.

In 1656, during the Franco-Spanish War (1635–59), the tercio observed the manoeuvres of the French army of General La Ferté. It then took part in the relief of Valenciennes and in the siege and capture of Condé. In 1657, it participated in the capture of Saint-Guillain and Calais; in 1658, in the sanguinary Battle of the Dunes.

In 1667, at the outbreak of the War of Devolution (1667–68), the tercio took part in the unsuccessful attempt to relieve Lille.

In 1672, at the beginning of the Franco-Dutch War (1672–78), the tercio was part of the Spanish auxiliary force sent to the help of the Dutch Republic. In 1673, the tercio took part in the siege and capture of Naarden; in 1674, in the Battle of Seneffe and in the unsuccessful siege of Oudenarde; in 1676, in the defence of Valenciennes; in 1677, in the relief of Saint-Omer, in the unsuccessful siege of Charleroi; and in 1678, in the Battle of Saint-Denis.

In 1689, during the Nine Years' War (1688–97), the tercio joined the Allied army who penetrated in France. In 1690, it took part in the Battle of Fleurus; in 1691, in the relief of Liège and in the Battle of Leuze; in 1692, in the Battle of Steenkerque; and in 1693, in the Battle of Landen. In 1695, the tercio covered the siege of Namur. In 1696, it was transferred from the Spanish Netherlands to Catalonia where it suffered heavy losses. In 1697, it took part in the defence of Barcelona who surrendered on 10 August.

Clonard's work places this regiment in Italy during the first years of the War of the Spanish Succession. This seems to be a mistake. The regiment is repeatedly referenced in orders of battles in the Spanish Netherlands but is totally absent from all orders of battles in Italy.

There has probably been a confusion between the present regiment and Brabante Cavalry who served in Italy from 1701 to 1706 and was later incorporated in the present regiment.

In the Spring of 1701, at the outbreak of the War of the Spanish Succession (1701–13), the regiment was stationed in the Spanish Netherlands. In July 1707, under the command of La Motte and Grimaldi, it took part in the recapture of Bruges and in the surprise attack on Ghent. In 1708, it participated in the Battle of Oudenarde and in the engagement of Wijnendale; in 1709, in the siege of Tournai. In 1710, the regiment was transferred from the Spanish Netherlands to Spain where it fought in the Battle of Saragossa. In 1714, the regiment joined the army besieging Barcelona.

After the war, the regiment remained in Catalonia. In 1719, it joined the Army of Navarra during the brief war with Spain. It took part in the recapture of Seo de Urgel and Castell-Ciutad and then retired to Catalonia.

In 1727, a detachment took part in the unsuccessful siege of Gibraltar.

In 1733, at the outbreak of the War of the Polish Succession (1733–35), the regiment marched across France and embarked at Antibes for Tuscany. In 1734, it was cantoned around Florence. In 1735, it contributed to the capture of Revere. At the end of the war, it returned to Spain.

In November 1738, the regiment was transferred to Tarento in Apulia.

In 1740, on the eve of the War of the Austrian Succession (1740–48), the regiment was recalled to Spain where it garrisoned various places until 1761.

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

  • no information available yet

Service during the War

In 1762, the regiment took part in the campaign in Portugal, joining the army at the camp of Zamora. It was deployed on the right wing of the first line. On April 29, it was attached to the division of the Count de Maceda who remained in Ciudad Rodrigo. At the beginning of May, the division entered into Portugal. On May 17, it captured Bragança; and on May 22, Chaves. From July 6 to August 25, the regiment took part in the Siege of Almeida. On October 31, the regiment took up cantonments in Las Rozas. On November 14, it went to Badajoz where it remained until December 18 when it was ordered to march towards Extremadura.



Uniform in 1759 - Source: Ibrahim90
Uniform Details as per
the Album de Taccoli of 1759
Headgear black tricorne laced silver with a red cockade fastened with a white button
Neckstock white
Coat white with white buttons under the lapel on the right side, 1 white button on each side in the small of the back and small white buttons on each side to fasten the basques
Collar none
Shoulder straps white aiguillette on the right shoulder
Lapels red with 9 white buttons
Pockets horizontal pockets with 4 white buttons
Cuffs red with 4 white buttons
Turnbacks none
Waistcoat red with 2 rows of white buttons, horizontal pockets with white buttons
Breeches red
Leather Equipment
Crossbelt none
Waistbelt none
Cartridge Box n/a
Scabbard n/a
Footgear black boots
Horse Furniture
Saddlecloth red laced with a wide silver braid decorated with a thin red braid
Housings red laced with a wide silver braid decorated with a thin red braid
Blanket roll n/a


no information available yet


Musicians probably wore a uniform with reversed colours: red coat with white facings.


no information available yet


This article is mostly made of abridged and adapted excerpts from the following books which are now in the public domain:

  • Clonard, Conde de, Historia Orgánica de las Armas de Infantería y Caballería, vol. XIV, Madrid, 1851-62, pp. 324-350

Other sources

Album de Taccoli, 1759


Juan José Torres and the Asociación Cultural de Modelismo Histórico Alabarda for the information and counselling provided for this article.