dijous, 20 d’octubre de 2011

On military matters - D'afers militars.

After the War for Independence, an Academy of War was founded which, directed by the Councillor of War of the Generalitat, was to keep a standing army and train its cadres. An Institute of Ordnance and an Academy for the Navy, both merchant and war, were also founded. The latter was directed by the Councillor of the Navy (from the Generalitat too) while a Mestre (master) of Ordnance was in charge of the former, chosen by the Councillor of War.

The standing army was reduced to a Guards regiment and six more line infantry regiments, three light infantry regiments, one of heavy cavalry, three of dragoons and two of hussars. Their names and uniform colours and facings followed closely the ones worn by these units in the War for Independence, although religious references were kept only informally and their official names followed assigned numbers and Colonels.

The Guards regiment was made up wholly with Granaders (grenadiers) and named after the institution it was to protect and serve, the Generalitat. Its six companies were always posted in watch duties in centers of government and key fortresses and cities. Next came the line infantry regiments, also of six companies, one of these of Granaders and the rest of Fusellers (fusileers, the name for other nation's musketeers in the Catalan army, which had no different fusileers units). Then there were three regiments of Fusellers de Muntanya (mountain fusileers, light infantry), one of this dressed and equipped like Austrian Croats.

Catalan regiments have been until now one battalion strong, with six companies each, one of these of Granaders and the rest of Fusellers. In battle, Granaders from different units can form converged grenadier battalions. Modern times have seen the Master of Infantry ask repeatedly for an increment of the armed forces, which has been granted by the newly appointed Minister of War, maybe to compensate for the upgrading of the cavalry role (see below).

The cavalry had one regiment of Cuirassers (cuirassiers, the Catalan heavy horse), three of conventional Dragons (dragoons, medium cavalry) and two of Hússars (hussars). All these units were small by standards and were to be trained in a supporting role they despised. The cavalry staff always asked for improvement on their battlefield role and this was achieved with the coming of the actual Minister of War, close acquitance of the Mestre de Cavalleria (master of cavalry), although the infantry has not lost its preponderance.

The artillery is specialized in defense, both coastal and of land fortifications. The difficult geography of the country calls for quick manouvering and sieges and so artillery tends to be less mobile and heavier. The field artillery is a small branch and contributes with small contingents to Catalan field armies, but is well trained and professional, having served in most cases for some time as ship gunners. Catalan ships on the other side tend to be full of guns; the nature of the Catalan navy is one of coastal defense and so its few ships of the line are heavy and sport a lot of firepower, in contrast with a lot of smaller warships fast enough to keep with corsairs and protect merchant ships (which in turn usually are well armed enough as to fend off pirates).

All in all every arm of the military and navy share a strong esprit de corps among their ranks and a sense of professionality and capability that makes up for their not high numbers. A fierce, sometimes ruthless attittude is also common and, if not well looked on by the high command, at least it is tolerated as a low inconvenience for a stern and aggressive behaviour in battle. Militia units on the other side are untested and matters of try and see, able both of outstanding deeds of bravery (like those of the Barcinonan Coronela back in the War for Independence) or of wavering indecision. Catalan marines and sailors are also brave people, used to the periodic clashing with Barbary pirates.

Després de la Guerra d'Independència, va ser fundada l'Acadèmia de Guerra que, dirigida pel conseller de Guerra de la Generalitat, havia de mantenir un exèrcit permanent i preparar els seus quadres de comandament. Es van fundar també un Institut de l'artilleria i una Acadèmia de la Marina, tant mercant com de guerra. Aquesta darrera va ser dirigida pel Conseller d'Afers de la Marina (de la Generalitat també) mentre que el Mestre de l'artilleria tenia a càrrec la primera, escollit pel Conseller d'Afers de la Guerra.

L'exèrcit es va reduir a un regiment de guàrdies i sis regiments d'infanteria de línia, tres regiments d'infanteria lleugera, una de cavalleria pesada, tres de dragons i dos d'hússars. Els seus noms i colors dels uniformes i divises seguiren fidelment les emprades per aquestes unitats a la Guerra d'Independència, encara que les referències religioses només es van mantenir de manera informal i els seus noms oficials van seguir els nombres assignats i els dels seus coronels.

El regiment de la Guàrdia es componia íntegrament de Granaders i portava el nom de la institució a la que protegia i servia, la Generalitat. Les seves sis companyies es van desplegar sempre en tasques de guàrdia i vigilància als centres del govern i fortaleses i ciutats clau. Els regiments d'infanteria de línia, també de sis companyies, tenien una de Granaders i la resta de Fusellers (el nom corresponent als mosqueters d'altres nacions a l'exèrcit català, que no tenia unitats de fusellers diferenciats). A més hi havia tres regiments de Fusellers de Muntanya (infanteria lleugera), un d'aquests vestit i equipat com els croats austríacs.

Els Regiments catalans tenien un sol batalló, amb sis companyies cadascun, una d'elles de Granaders i la resta de Fusellers. A la batalla, Granaders de diferents unitats podien formar batallons de granaders reunits. En temps moderns el Mestre de la Infanteria ha demanat repetidament un increment de les forces armades, que ha estat atorgat pel recentment nomenat Conseller d'Afers de la Guerra, potser per compensar la millora del paper de la cavalleria (veure més avall).

La cavalleria tenia un regiment de Cuirassers (cavalleria pesant), tres de dragons convencionals (cavalleria mitjana) i dos d'hússars. Totes aquestes unitats eren petites per als estàndards habituals i eren entrenats en un paper de suport que menyspreaven. El personal de cavalleria sempre demanava la millora del seu paper al camp de batalla i això es va aconseguir amb l'arribada de l'actual ministre de la Guerra, amic íntim del Mestre de Cavalleria, encara que la infanteria no ha perdut la seva preponderància.

L'artilleria s'ha especialitzat en la defensa, tant costanera com de les fortificacions terrestres. La difícil orografia del país requereix maniobres ràpides i setges i per tant l'artilleria tendeix a ser menys mòbil i més pesada. L'artilleria de camp és una branca petita i contribueix amb petits contingents a les forces catalanes en campanya, però està ben capacitada i és professional, havent servit en la majoria dels casos per algun temps com artillers a la marina. Els vaixells catalans per altra banda tendeixen a estar molt artillats; la naturalesa de la marina català és de defensa costanera, pel que els seus pocs bucs de línia són pesants i gaudeixen de molta potència de foc, en contrast amb un munt de petits vaixells de guerra prou ràpids com per a espantar els corsaris i protegir els vaixells mercants (que al seu torn, en general estan prou ben armats com per a defensar-se dels pirates).

En conclusió cada branca de les forces armades i navals comparteixen un fort esperit de cos entre les seves files i un sentit de professionalitat i capacitat que compensa el seu poc elevat nombre. Una actitud ferotge, de vegades despietada també és comú i, si bé no és ben vista per l'alt comandament, si més no és tolerada com a petit inconvenient a canvi d'un comportament sever i agressiu a la batalla. Les unitats de la milícia en canvi no són provades i són qüestió de provar i veure, capaces tant de fets notables de valor (com els de la Coronela Barcinona durant la Guerra de la Independència) o de vacil·lació indecisa. Els infants de marina i mariners catalans també són gent ferma, acostumada a periòdics enfrontaments amb els pirates berbers.

7 comentaris:

  1. A 'logical', well-founded and 'mouth-watering' description!
    The Fusellers de Muntanya dressed 'like Austrian Croats' remind me furiously of the Napoleonic Catalan light infantry: wonder if it is available in miniature? Nothing 'marks' the uniform as 'Napoleonic', except perhaps the Tarleton-inspired helmet (but the fatigue cap looks quite 'Catalan'). A nice combination of Catalan (from ther waist down, mainly) and 'Croat' features.

    A warm welcome on 'EvE', btw!
    Jean-Louis

    ResponElimina
  2. Front Rank makes Them. Too chunky to share ranks with Minden's Croats, which surely will be somehow "catalanised". Espardenyes (Catalan sandals) with cords (aa little filing and painting) and barretina like hats (the original, see http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barretina)...

    ResponElimina
  3. I'm quite excited about the whole of it, can't wait for the Mindens to be reunited.

    The range of miniatures is beautiful and inspiring and the variety of troops makes for an interesting project.

    French Dragoons, Prussian Hussars, British and Hanoverian guards and line infantry, French Legion d'Hainaut for light infantry and Austrian Croats for the "light" light infantry. I am not fully convinced on cuirassiers, still doubtful between Prussian or French although inclined to the latter...

    ResponElimina
  4. An inspiring article indeed. Worth to be taken into account for "historic" purposes... :D

    ResponElimina
  5. I hope to upload a pic of part the troops, still in "dressing up" stage, this very same week.

    Men of iron will and stout hearts they are!

    Cast in the fires of the forge of the very heroes they are!

    Specifically in the moulds at Griffin, me thinks... The exact composition of their metal I don't know for sure...

    ResponElimina
  6. And talking about stout...

    Where did I put the beers?

    ResponElimina