Thursday, 4 May 2017

The Portuguese 1st "Pack's" Independent Brigade

After finishing my British 3rd Division I decided that although my main focus was to be on Talavera some other troops might be useful for ad hoc or other encounters set in the Peninsula. Knowing that other club members were working on Spanish troops, again for Talavera, I decided to do Portuguese as they were fully integrated into the allied army a lot earlier.

Having chosen the Portuguese I then had to choose which formation and uniforms. After a quick look through
Osprey Publishing's
Wellington's Army in the Peninsula 1809-14

I decided to go for one of the two Independent Brigades that were not embedded into a British division. So I chose the Portuguese 1st Brigade initially commanded by Brigadier General Denis Pack. This formation consisted of the 1st "Lippe" and 16th "Vieira Teles" Line Regiments and the 4th "Beira" Caçadores Battalion.

Now to the organisation and how I would model these for the wargames table. Here there is a lot of conflicting information due to the situation the Portuguese army found itself in. From what I have gleaned from various sources (see Online Resources section for some) a reorganisation of the line regiments was under way when the French invaded in November 1807 and disbanded the army. With the uprisings in 1808 the regiments reformed and then came the total reorganisation under General William Carr Beresford.

So what did I decide on? Well first I went for units in the post 1810 uniform so stovepipes rather than barretina shakos. I then chose to portray my line regiments as two battalions of five companies with each having a company of grenadiers and no light company, these having been discontinued by a decree issued 14th October 1808 when the caçadores battalions were formed. The first battalion would carry the King's standard and the second battalion the regimental standard in the army divisional colour.

As a Portuguese regiment, apparently, normally kept an operational strength approximately equal to that of a full establishment British battalion (1000 men), each Portuguese battalion would therefore be roughly the same size as an active service British battalion. So I have modelled each of my Portuguese battalions with the same number of figures and base size as my British, but without a skirmisher stand.

The Caçadores were easy in comparison and are modelled as standard with eighteen figures per battalion with a few elite rifle armed Atiradores included.

I choose to use, the as then new, Warlord plastic Portuguese Line Infantry boxes for my line troops, to reduce costs, and Casting Room Miniature's Caçadores and mounted officers. I liked the poses of the Casting Room Miniature's figures and Warlord hadn't released their Caçadores at the time. The downside to this is that the Casting Room Miniature's are definitely shorter and slighter than the Warlord figures, but I can live with that, for now, as the "Hunters" would have been smaller men apparently.

So here are the first units, the 1st "Lippe" Line Regiment and 4th "Beira" Caçadores (basing to be completed). The 16th Line Regiment is in the to do line after the 4th British Division is completed.

1st "Lippe" Line Regiment
"Pack's" 1st Independent Brigade
4th "Beira" Caçadores Battalion
"Pack's" 1st Independent Brigade
I used a variety of on-line sources in my investigation into the Portuguese and several forum members proved very helpful and supportive, so thanks to "Plutarch64", "rumacara" and "gustav" amongst others. The forums I've joined and have found information on are listed in the sidebar.
For a real mad man check out This Life in Lead who has done the whole Portuguese army in both 18mm and 28mm.

Some of the books I've found useful are shown below, special thanks to "rumacara" for the bottom two.

Uniform Books


  1. This is long overdue Tony. I enjoyed the three previous posts, but definitely can't wait to see what is ahead!

  2. Thanks Lawrence.
    I don't know if you are aware of the two books at the bottom of the picture above. Got these from a Portuguese member on the Lead Adventure Forum. The infantry one includes the make up of Portuguese infantry regiments at all three stages of the reorganisation as well as a table of every combat engaged in by every regiment during the war. Apparently out of print now but if you need any of the info.


    1. Thanks Tony, I only glanced at them and took them to be Ospreys. They sound like gold, particularly the battle history of each regiment.

      I have the full set of Oman's History and, while I can usually piece things together from there, it would take a good hour to follow each regiment through the indices in all seven volumes.

      Were they from our good friend Rumacara by any chance (the re-enactment photos he posted were simply superb)?

    2. Correct good old Rui. He managed to source a second set for a club mate of mine too.