Forensic Fashion
(c) 2006-present R. Macaraeg


>Costume Studies
>>1767 Span.-Am. militia capitán
Subject: militia capitán
Culture: Bourbon Spanish 
Setting: colonial warfare, New Spain interior provinces 18th-early 19thc

Context (Event Photos, Primary Sources, Secondary Sources, Field Notes)

* Borderlands 1998 p76
"By 1700 the unmatched mobility and power of the horse was transforming the Indian's way of life, including warfare.  Nuevo Santander and other parts of New Spain were in frequent danger from raids by mounted Apache and Comanche warriors.  Defense, thus, was a routine part of life for Escandón's colonists.  To help save the expense of large numbers of royal troops, the settlers were expected to bear arms when necessary, as militia.  Most villas had about a dozen of these citizen-soldiers, under the village capitán's authority."

* Cisneros 1984 p66
"The vast extension of Spanish colonies in America, their distance from the metropolis, the relative peace which the colonies enjoyed up to the Wars of Independence, and the military obligations that occupied Spain to her utmost capacity in Europe, were the reasons why the military force in her New World possessions was largely constituted by native contingents in the form of various Trained and Urban Militias (Milicias Disciplinadas y Urbanas).
"When the need arose to expand colonial armed forces, it became unavoidable to accept enlistment of colored men, but they were separated into racial units.  Companies and battalions were raised of white, halfbreed, and Negro elements -- blancospardos y morenos.  Toward the end of the eighteenth century the sight of colored militiamen who were uniformed, armed, and many displaying officers' insignia, aroused uneasiness among white Spaniards.  Objections and protests were filed with royal authorities claiming that 'the half-breed and Negro militias only serve to fan their vanity; their officers, adorned with uniforms, epaulets and swords, soon aim their thoughts at higher objectives; they disdain cultivating their fields, and abandon agriculture to the labor of whites or of Negro slaves.  Sad days will come upon us when Spain finds herself served by mulattoes and Negroes whose suspicious loyalty may cause violent commotions.'"

​"Military carbines and muskets of Spanish, French and English manufacture were in use on the northern frontier during the late Spanish period and were purchased by the Mexicans particularly from the British and used by their cavalry into the 1850's. Now .80 caliber with a short, 22 inch barrel, this smoothbore weapon was usually called an escopeta."


* Cisneros 1984 p66
"The Volunteer Militia of the 'back country,' that is, northern Mexico, usually dressed in jackets, breeches and leggings of buckskin, with a blue or red manga, (mantle), [sic], some armed with lances that were fitted with crescent shaped points, known as desjarretaderas."

​"Spanish Cavalry Saber The Regulations of 1772 specified that a saber of this type be carried by the presidial soldiers. The short wide sword was more popular, but this style also saw use in New Spain. The 36 inch double edged straight blade bears the inscription,"for King Carlos III" on one side, and on the other, "cavalry, 1774." The hilt is made of iron and the grip is wire wrapped. Sometimes these swords were cut off on the frontier to make the espada ancha."

* Fryer 1969 p63
"Bilbo  A term generally given to the Spanish military cup-hilted swords of the eighteenth century.  They often have double-edged blades bearing a date, etc."


* Chartrand & Spedaliere 2006
* de Quesada & Walsh 2010
* Elliott ed. 1991
* Hargreaves-Mawdsley 1978