Guardia de Italia

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Hierarchical Path: War of the Spanish Succession (Main Page) >> Armies >> Spanish Army (Bourbon) >> Guardia de Italia

Origin and History

After the failed coup led by the pro-Habsburg Prince di Macchia in the Viceroyalty of Naples in September 1701, the viceroy asked for reinforcements. On 5 October, as he arrived in Milan, the Prince de Vaudémont received this request and decided to send him 10 Spanish cavalry companies (8 companies of Coppola Cavalry and 2 companies of Monroy Dragoons), soon followed by 1 Spanish battalion. The cavalry arrived at the end of October. On 3 November, the Duke de Escalona formed these 10 companies into a new Neapolitan cavalry regiment, each company being placed under the command of a captain coming from the high nobility of Naples. Pedro Manso de Zuniga, formerly lieutenant-colonel in Santiago Viejo Cavalry, assumed command of the regiment.

By 2 February 1702, the companies of the regiment were:

  • Fabrizio Rufo (50 men and 50 horses)
  • Prince de Belvédère (50 men and 50 horses)
  • Matta (48 men and 42 horses)
  • Brancaccio (48 men and 45 horses)
  • Piccolomini (49 men and 49 horses)
  • Sangro (49 men and 50 horses)
  • Sarno (49 men and 50 horses)
  • Guardia (45 men and 48 horses)
  • Acquaviva (44 men and 50 horses)
  • Carraciolo (26 men and no horse)

The captains of the regiment did not accept Pedro Manso de Zuniga as commander because of his origins and made representations to Philip V who, on 6 May 1702, solved the problem by forming the present Guardia de Italia from five of the companies and placing them under the command of Gaetano Coppola, Prince de Montefalcone. Meanwhile, Pedro Manso retained command of Manso Cavalry consisting of the five other companies sent from Milan and of the 2 companies raised in Naples. Captain Colonna replaced Matta at the head of his company, the latter having been transferred to Manso Cavalry.

On 30 May 1702, it was decided to increase the regiment to 12 companies of 40 men each.

During the War of the Spanish Succession, the successive colonels of the regiment were:

  • since 6 May 1702: Gaetano Coppola, Prince de Montefalcone (died in 1703)
  • from 1703 to 1705: Francisco Gaetano d'Aragona (promoted to general and then to 1st lieutenant of the Italian Company of the Reales Guardias de Corps when the regiment was disbanded)

In 1705, the regiment was disbanded and the remaining men incorporated in the Italian company of the Reales Guardias de Corps.

Service during the War

On 10 June 1702, the regiment embarked for Milan, leaving its horses to the Belvalet Dragoons (organised in Naples in January 1701). On 23 October, the regiment was reviewed by King Philip V. By 1 December, it counted 82 officers, 22 mounted men and 383 dismounted men in 12 companies.

On 16 March 1704, the regiment received orders to embark at Genoa for Cádiz. It then counted 14 companies, including a colonel company and a grenadier company, as in a regular line infantry regiment, for a total of 121 officers and 477 soldiers.

In 1705, the regiment, then counting 89 officers and 491 soldiers (all dismounted) took part in the defence of Barcelona. In August, it finally received horses. When Barcelona surrendered, only 107 men of the regiment, including officers, were evacuated to Almería; the rest of the regiment entered in the service of the Habsburg. The regiment was then disbanded and the remaining men incorporated in the Italian company of the Reales Guardias de Corps.

Uniform

no information found yet

Officers

Uniforms of officers differed from those of privates and NCOs by the finer material used. Their waistcoat, saddle cloth and housings were edged with a wide golden braid. They always wore a tricorne notwithstanding the headgear worn by soldiers.

The regulation of 30 December 1704 specified the distinctive of each military rank:

  • colonel: a baton with a gold knob
  • lieutenant-colonel: a baton with a silver knob
  • sargento mayor: a baton with a silver topped knob
  • captain: silver or golden epaulettes (according to the metal colour of the regiment) on both shoulders
  • lieutenant: silver or golden epaulette (according to the metal colour of the regiment) on the right shoulder
  • cornet: silver or golden epaulette (according to the metal colour of the regiment) on the left shoulder

NCOs

The regulation of 30 December 1704 specified the distinctive of each military rank:

  • sergeant : baton without knob and halberd
  • mariscal de logis (quartermaster): small woolen epaulette (red or of the distinctive colour of the regiment)
  • brigadier: swagger stick
  • corporal of squadron: swagger stick
  • second corporal of squadron (rank suppressed in 1706): swagger stick

Standards

no information found yet

References

Dragonas Magazine

Acknowledgement

Jean-Pierre Loriot for the initial version of this article.