Thursday, May 24, 2012

General Romana

I'm not as well up on the Spanish struggle against Napoleon in the Peninsula as I should be. However, one chap you may be familiar with from your Patrick O'Brian is General Romana. I'm not giving away any state secrets when I say that the fictional Stephen Maturin steals another real man's glory.

Romana was born in the Spanish colonies and originally joined the navy. He was educated in France and studied at the university of Salamanca, which goes to show that he was quite a cosmopolitan chap. He served in the American war against the British and finished his service on the blockade of Gibraltar. He then left the service to travel Europe.

Rejoining the colours, though on land this time, he fought against the French revolutionary government in the war of the First Coalition.  He remained in uniform, achieving general rank, and later being assigned to lead "The Division of the North". This ill fated formation was sent to Germany where it served as part of the French occupation forces, garrisoning Hamburg and later Denmark in the period 1807-1808.

The Napoleon Series has a rather fetching set of uniform plates depicting the Division of the North.

With the outbreak of hostilities in Spain, Romana communicated with the British and managed to get a substantial number of his men back to Spain on British ships. On arrival back in Spain, he took part in several rearguard actions assisting Moore's retreat to Corunna. In 1809, he led several limited attacks against French forces with rather more success than the more grandiose schemes of his Spanish colleagues.

Romana was later appointed to the Central Junta and fought under Wellington until his death in 1811 of dyspnoea, shortness of breath. Romana was unusual amongst Spanish generals of the time, for his willingness to work under Wellington and to set aside his amour propre in order to kick Frenchy in the pants. His death was considered a great loss.

A longer, much more scholarly article by Jose Manuel Rodrigeuz, from which the above was culled is available on The Napoleon Series.

This is a Falcata Spanish Officer from a set of Spanish infantry that I got from John Cunningham. The arm holding the hat is a seperate piece and was the very devil to get a good join on. Kristzian despite all his protestations that he is not really a painter of Napoleonics, has done an astonishingly good job on this fellow. I had told him that a generic Spanish uniform would do, but he got in touch with Uwe and produced this wonderful piece of work, which is quite literally a portrait of Romana (and his horse).

History does not record the name of his horse.

This chap will be doing duty as Spanish general for my Command & Colours Napoleonics Spanish in the very near future. I took delivery of some Spaniards from Mark a few days ago, so expect to see some Spanish battles relatively soon.

Really wonderful work. Very, very happy. I hope to see General Romana back on the field of Mars before too soon.

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  1. A great looking figure, love the horse colours too.

  2. The good General sounds like a bit of a lad. And what a lovely figure to represent him!

  3. That just beggars belief!
    Astounding work by Kristzian.
    However I expect he'll be shot as soon as he steps on the field...

  4. Thanks Ray, I think he did a great job.

    Tim - Romana was an interesting chap alright and one who did well, despite being much battered by circumstance.

  5. Yes, the General and his horse just ooze personality.

    Best Regards,


  6. That is an excellent paint job!

  7. Donogh, if past performance is indicative of future results - he's doomed.

  8. Stokes,

    They do - it's funny actually, Kristzian painted a second version of the same figure for me as a generic Spanish general and he feels completely differant. I don't know if its because of the slightly differant paint scheme or the fact that I'm projecting feelings on the figure because I know who he's meant to be.

  9. Lovely work by your painter chap and a wonderful story behind the figure. I had never heard of General Romana before, obliged to you for the lesson.

  10. Ah he really did a great paintjob.
    Do you know that Romana was the commander of the Spanish auxiliary corps in Northern Germany in 1807?
    Before the troops were evacuated by the British after the 1808 uprising they fought against the Swedes in Stralsund. That would be a nice scenario!