Milan Cavalry

From Project WSS
Jump to navigationJump to search

Hierarchical Path: War of the Spanish Succession (Main Page) >> Armies >> Spanish Army (Bourbon) >> Milan Cavalry

Origin and History

Since 1282, when Peter III of Aragon was crowned King of Sicily, the Spanish interests in the Italian peninsula made necessary the presence of armed forces. Most of these forces were nominally “Spanish troops”of mixed composition. In some cases, “Italian” units were created, when nobility and people sided for the Kings of Aragon.

In 1443, Alphonse V entered into Naples, which passed under the crown of Aragon as an ecclesiastic fief. From this moment, Spaniards and Italian fought many time together against France.

Fighting culminated in the so called “Italian Wars”. At the siege of Atella, there were many Italian troops serving under the Spanish commander Gonzalo Fernandez de Cordoba, the so-called “El Gran Capitan”, one of the fathers of the tercio. Neapolitan cavalry and the Calabrian infantry performed well. From that time thousands of Italians went to war under the banners of Castille and Aragon (already united under a Catholic King) for Spanish interest. In 1512 for example, one half of the Spanish army, who took part in the Battle of Ravenna, was composed of Italian soldiers.

The Spanish domains of Lombardy and Naples when required, provided excellent soldiers. Indeed, some famous Spanish regiments were raised in Italy: the “Tercio de Sicilia”, the “Tercio ordinario del Estado de Milan”, the “Tercio Nuevo de Napoles” and finally the “Tercio de Lombardia”.

The Milan Cavalry Regiment was raised in Lombardy in June 1661 when several horse companies from Piedmont and Lombardy were united to form the “Trozo de Caballeria de Milan”. For about a century the regiment bore the name of “Milan”.

Immediately after its creation in 1661, the unit was sent to the port of Finale where it embarked for Cádiz. It then sailed on the Guadalquivir to Sevilla. It then marched from this city to the Province of Extremadura where it joined the army of Don Juan of Austria and covered the siege of Alconchel. In 1662, it took part in the action of Estremoz and in the siege of Borba; in 1663, in the siege of Evora and in the Battle of Ameixial; in 1665, in the Battle of Montes Claros; in 1667, in the relief of Albuquerque.

In 1674, the unit was sent to Catalonia to fight against the French. In 1675, it campaigned in Roussillon. In 1677, it took part in the action on the Espolla and in 1678, in the unsuccessful attempt to relieve Puigcerdá.

In 1684, the unit successfully defended Gerona.

In 1689, during the Nine Years' War (1688-97), the unit took part in the operations against Camprodon. In 1691, it participated in the unsuccessful attempt to relieve Seo de Urgel. In 1694, it fought in the Battle of Torroella. In 1695, it took part in the unsuccessful siege of Palamós; in 1696, in an engagement near Hostalrich; and in 1697, in the unsuccessful defence of Barcelona.

At the beginning of the War of the Spanish Succession, the regiment counted 4 squadrons. More precisely:

  • staff
    • 1colonel
    • 1 lieutenant-colonel
    • 1 sergeant-major
    • 1 chaplain
    • 1 surgeon
  • 4 squadrons, each of 4 companies, each company consisting of:
    • 1 captain
    • 1 lieutenant
    • 1 cornet (standard-bearer)
    • 1 quartermaster
    • 1 trumpeter
    • 2 corporals
    • 33 soldiers

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

  • from 1700: Pedro José de Aguilar, Count de Ayanz (promoted to maréchal de camp on 20 June 1706)
  • from 15 November 1704: Fabrizio Ruffo
  • from 7 September 1711 to 1718: Manuel Bustillas

On 28 February 1704, this cavalry tercio was reorganised as a cavalry regiment of 12 companies.

Service during the War

In 1704, the regiment took part in the campaign in Portugal. On 8 May, it was at the surrender of Salvatierra; on 17 May, at the capture of Monsanto. On 27 May, it took part in the action of the Sarcedas. It later took part in the blockade and capture of Portalegre. It then took position at Castelo Branco to secure a passage on the Tagus.

In 1705, when the Portuguese General Das Minas tried to outflank the Spanish positions near Monsanto, the regiment, assisted by Reina Cavalry and Edimburgo Dragoons, valiantly held its position.

In 1706, the regiment was assigned to the Army of New Castile which it joined at the camp of Atienza where it was deployed on the left of the second line. After a series of strategic manoeuvres, the Spaniards forced Archduke Charles to retire to the provinces of Valencia and Murcia.

On 25 April 1707, the regiment fought in the Battle of Almansa. It also took part in the capture of Lérida. On November 30, the regiment integrated the former Regiment of the Marquis of Valdefuentes, another cavalry regiment made of troopers recruited in Lombardy.

In 1708, the regiment was at the siege of Tortosa. On 17and June, it took part in combats to drive back sorties of the garrison.

In 1709, the regiment was attached to the corps of General Pons de Mendoza who roamed the County of Rivagorza to contain the Catalan insurgents. Six Austrian regiments were guarding the bridge of Montañana. Mendoza at the head of a column of cavalry (including the present regiment) advanced from Tolva. On 1 August, Mendoza crossed the Noguera and, at dawn, attacked the Austrian camp and completely routed the enemy who lost 700 men killed or taken prisoners, 6 standards and all their baggage.

In 1710, when the Allies received reinforcements, the Spaniards were forced to retire to Aragon. During this retreat, on 27 July, the regiment fought in the Battle of Almenar and, on 20 August, in the disastrous Battle of Saragossa. The army then took refuge in Old Castile and reorganised in the Province of Extremadura.

In 1711, the regiment was attached to the Army of Aragon where it was posted on the left of the first line. This army entered into Catalonia and campaigned around Balaguer and Calaf.

In 1712, the regiment campaigned in Catalonia.

In 1713, the regiment took part in the blockade of Barcelona.

In 1714, the regiment took part in the siege and capture of Barcelona.

Uniform

Privates

Uniform in 1705- Source: Copyright Richard Couture
Uniform Details
Headgear black tricorne laced white, with a red cockade
Neck stock white cravate
Coat white with red lining; pewter buttons on the right side and 1 pewter button on each side in the small of the back
Collar none
Shoulder straps 3 red ribbons fringed silver on each shoulder
Lapels none
Pockets horizontal pockets, each with 4 pewter buttons
Cuffs red, each with 4 pewter buttons
Turnbacks none
Waistcoat red with pewter buttons
Breeches probably red
Leather Equipment
Bandolier natural leather
Waistbelt natural leather worn above the coat
Cartridge Box natural leather ventral cartridge box
Scabbard black leather with a white metal tip
Footgear black boots
Horse Furniture
Saddlecloth red edged white
Housings red edged white
Blanket roll red and white


Troopers were armed with a sword, a pistol and a carbine.

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

Musicians

no information found

Standards

According to a regulation issued in 1638, each squadron carried a standard made of damask.

Colonel standard: white field fringed in silver

  • obverse: the royal arms embroidered on a cross of Burgundy
  • reverse: central device consisting of a snake swallowing a man (still present nowadays in the crest of the city of Milan)

Company Standards: crimson field fringed in silver

  • obverse: the royal arms embroidered on a cross of Burgundy
  • reverse: central device consisting of a snake swallowing a man (still present nowadays in the crest of the city of Milan)

References

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. 442-457

Other sources

Caballipedia - Regimiento de Caballería Milán

Acknowledgement

Dr. Marco Pagan (Rome) and Jean-Pierre Loriot for the initial version of this article.