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Chain of Command Espana: Peninsular Cavalry 1936

Regular Cavalry 1936
With the exception of the Divisional Cavalry regiments, which were roughly evenly distributed across the Peninsular, the regiments of the Cavalry Division were largely clustered in Central and Northern Spain. When the dust settled after July 19th the Nationalists had acquired seven of the ten cavalry regiments that had existed pre-war. Four of these were in the ‘North West Central Zone’, which centred on Valladolid (1st, 2nd, 5th & 6th), one in the ‘Northern Zone’ around Vitoria (10th), one in the ‘Eastern Zone’ around Zaragoza (9th), with the final regiment based in Seville (7th). The Government on the other hand was left with a single regiment in Valencia (5th) and two in Barcelona (3rd & 4th), all of which were subsequently disbanded along with the rest of the Army on the 20th July.

From the beginning of the Civil War therefore, the Nationalists had an advantage in terms of cavalry, which the Republic was to struggle to equal in overall terms throughout the war. In point of fact however, the Republic enjoyed slightly superior numbers of cavalry on the Aragon Front, despite the Nationalists being able to add squadrons formed by the Requetés and Falange, but suffered for the lack elsewhere.

The Nationalists in the North effectively had a whole cavalry division at their disposal, while even in the South, the addition of the thirteen squadrons of the Regulares, as well as those of the Guardia Civil and other ‘volunteer’ squadrons, could not be matched in any appreciable form by the Republic.

That is not to say that the Republic lacked cavalry however. Several cavalry militia units were formed by the various parties of the Popular Front and can be presumed to be a mix of former soldiers and volunteers, some of whom did have to be trained in the role. More units were created as part of the Republican Popular Army from October 1936 too.

This list can be used to represent any cavalry unit from either side of the conflict, although it must be said that it is primarily designed to produce a ‘regular’ cavalry squadron. Other types were based on the same model, but lacked the support weapons available to the regulars in the first few months of the war.

As had been the case with the rest of the army, Spain’s cavalry had also suffered a reduction in size. Cavalry squadrons had originally been composed of three troops, but this had been reduced to two in the peacetime army, resulting in a unit size that approximated the equivalent infantry formation. Its support squadron was however maintained at pre-war levels, giving it a somewhat higher ratio of automatic weapons in support, if not in mortars.

The reorganization of the army prior to the Civil War had removed the old distinctions between regiments, meaning that whereas there had been several different types of cavalry (Lancieros, Dragones etc), by July 1936 they were all considered to Cazadores (‘Hunters’, the equivalent of the French Chasseurs, or British Light Dragoon). In real terms this meant that they primarily had a dual-role of reconnaissance, as well as being capable of acting as a ‘breakthrough’ force in support of the infantry/artillery battle. To this end they were equipped with both carbines and sabres. Although trained to use both, their primary weapon was the carbine and they generally acted in the ‘mounted infantry’ role. This facet was not to stop them performing the last classic massed cavalry charge in a European War, at Alfambra in 1938 however.

The list for Peninsular Cavalry can be found here: CoC – Peninsular Army Cavalry (1936)

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