Wargaming: Portugal and the War of the Two Brothers

05 October 2022
Raising Armies

Words by Arthur Harman. Illustrations by Sérgio Veludo.

The Portuguese Civil War 1828-1834 offers a new period for wargamers to explore, with the advantage that its unfamiliarity prevents players from being unduly influenced by hindsight as they may be when refighting Napoleonic battles. Helion’s recently published The War of the Two Brothers (Number 12 in the From Musket to Maxim 1815-1914 series) offers very useful, detailed descriptions of the opposing Liberal and Miguelite armies, accompanied by twenty-one colour plates depicting their uniforms and equipment, some of which they have given permission for me to include here.

As yet, no manufacturer provides wargame figures for this conflict, but I hope to show it is quite possible to create wargame armies for both sides by judicious use and painting of 28 mm figures from existing ranges. If creating armies from smaller scale figures, one can follow the same principles and with 6mm figures, simply rely on painting to create the appropriate effect when viewed on the wargame table.



We’ll work through the options.


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General Santa Marte is shown in a field uniform consisting of a single-breasted dark blue tail coat with gold fringed epaulettes and gold embroidery on collar and cuffs, a scarlet waist sash, dark blue trousers tucked into black riding boots and a gold edged bicorne hat with a red, blue and white cockade. A contemporary engraving shows him in that uniform, on horseback. but wearing the full dress white trousers. In a print of his attempted Vilafrancada coup in 1823, Dom Miguel is depicted dressed similarly but with a more elaborate gold lace design on his collar and cuffs, and gold lace on the front of his coat.

Many Napoleonic French or Prussian officers could be used to represent them and other Miguelite generals. For example, Perry Miniatures’ French mounted Corps Commanders, Prince Bernhard of Saxe-Weimar, Dutch General Chasse, Austrian early mounted High Command or ‘German’ mounted colonels could all be painted as Miguelite or Liberal Portuguese generals.


Figures of late Peninsular War Portuguese Line infantry, wearing overall trousers and the stovepipe shako, not the earlier, false-fronted barretina, will be perfect for the rank and file as the changes to the uniform were too slight to be significant on small-scale models. Alternatively, if one already has Perry Miniatures’ Prussian Reservists in ‘Portuguese’ uniforms wearing stovepipe shakos, they would pass muster on the tabletop. By the time of the Civil War, however, officers up to the rank of colonel and NCOs were wearing a new, bell-topped shako, so sticklers for accuracy of uniforms may wish to obtain them from other sources, such as Perry Miniatures’ Spanish Infantry command in bell top shakos 1810-1814, or their Carlist War Isabelino Command in early bell top shakos and their Dutch mounted infantry officers in 28mm, two of whom have shakos.

AB Figures has a range of 18mm Portuguese infantry and cavalry in regulation uniforms.

Miguelite Cacadores of all ranks are often shown wearing bell-topped shakos; officers’ shakos had a lace of gold around the top. To portray them one could get away with simply painting Perry Miniatures’ Nassau Volunteer Jagers or Brunswick Light Infantry brown.



The Portuguese cavalry wore a plain blue uniform with a bell-topped shako. Perry Miniatures offer them in 28mm. One could use existing late war Napoleonic British light dragoons as proxies and ignore the coloured lapels. In smaller scales and starting from scratch, painting French Chasseurs a cheval blue with a gold lace around the top of the shako would suffice.



Artillerymen still wore the Peninsular War uniform and stovepipe shako so can be portrayed correctly one’s existing Portuguese gun crews, but officers wore the new bell-topped shako with gold lace around the top and so did the new mounted artillery units formed in the late 1820s. Napoleonic Prussian or French artillerymen could be used as proxies. The guns had grey painted, single-trail carriages and bronze barrels, so British Napoleonic artillery pieces are perfect.


I will follow the same format of selecting suitable miniatures:



Marshal Saldanha’s full dress uniform has a dark blue, single-breasted tailed coat with gold fringed epaulettes, blue overall trousers and a gold-edged bicorne, like that of Santa Marte, above. The Isabelino or Foreign High Command from Perry Miniatures’ Carlist War range would do admirably.



The short-lived, all-officers red coated Sacred Battalion in bell-topped shakos, wearing red coats with blue collars, cuffs and plastrons could be portrayed by Napoleonic Swiss in French service.

Line infantry from the Portuguese Army from the 6th, 10th and 18th Infantry Regiments loyal to Dom Pedro will be uniformed like their Miguelite opponents (see above). If one already has Perry Miniatures’ Isabelino infantry in coatee and cylindrical shakos, they can serve as proxies. Isabelino Officers also wore blue frock coats and peaked forage caps in the field and could be portrayed by Napoleonic Prussian officers wearing the peaked cap.

The Cacadores, similarly, could be portrayed by Peninsular War Cacadores wearing the stovepipe shako and black braid on their tunics.

Liberal Army National Volunteer Battalions wore shell jackets often with coloured collars and/or cuffs, trousers and peaked forage caps, with or without a coloured band. Some units wore dark blue uniforms, some wore dark grey, and many wore the same brown as the Cacadores. Some units wore a single shoulder belt and a waist belt; others wore cross belts and waist belt. Belts were white in some units, black in others. Perry Miniatures’ Napoleonic Prussian Reservists or Wargames Foundry’s Prussian Reservists in shell jacket and peaked cap, Cape Frontier War British in shell jackets and peaked forage caps, or other manufacturers’ Mexican War United States Infantry, can easily be suitably painted to portray individual units by referring to the colour plates.


These came from a number of countries.


The Belgians wore dark blue or brown frock coats, brown trousers and green-plumed top hats. The best way to create these, in my opinion, would be to convert Perry Miniatures’ Confederate Infantry in frock coats advancing by adding small falling plumes feathers from Greenstuff to their left side of their hats and bending the brim on that side upwards or cutting it off and remaking the turn up from Greenstuff. Alternatively, add top hats and plumes to the heads of Wargames Foundry’s Crimean War Turkish infantry in coats.



The French fusiliers of this unit are best represented by any Napoleonic infantry in bell-topped shakos and plain, single-breasted coats without lapels. Their coats should be dark blue, their trousers could be red or white and their belts, white.

Perry Miniatures’ Carlist War BAL Riflemen and BAL Rifle Command are perfect for the Gentleman’s Rifle Cadets and could also be used for the Portuguese Tirailleurs Italian riflemen, who were dressed in similar green coats with black accoutrements and carried Baker rifles with sword bayonets but wore white trousers.



This British battalion’s appearance in full dress would best be represented by Perry Miniatures’ or Capitan’s British Auxiliary Legion infantry in shako and tailed coat and BAL Command from their Carlist War range. The service dress was a red shell jacket, blue trousers and a peaked forage cap. Use Capitan’s BAL or Perry Miniatures British infantry in shell jackets and peaked forage caps from their Carlist War or Cape Frontier Wars range. Officers wore a blue frock coat and peaked cap and can be found in both the Perry and Capitan ranges. Wargames Foundry’s First China War (Opium War) British infantry in bell top shako or Sikh War British infantry in peaked cap and command groups could also be used.

The best way to portray the Scottish Battalion in 28 mm would be to use Perry Miniatures’ or Capitan’s Carlist War BAL in forage caps, 72nd Highlanders from the Perry Miniatures Cape Frontier Wars range or Wargames Foundry’s Sikh War British infantry in peaked cap and command group. If one already has Wargame Foundry’s Crimean British infantry in tailed coat and fatigue caps and command group, they could serve as proxies.


Some Liberal cavalry units wore Portuguese Army regulation uniforms, like the Miguelites (see above).

Bacon’s Lancers wore a red-topped czapska, a red shell jacket with blue cuffs and blue trousers. Perry Miniatures’ or Capitan’s Carlist War BAL Lancers are ideal. Alternatively, one could use French Dutch Red Lancers as proxies or paint any lancer figures, such as Wargames Foundry’s Crimean War British Lancers, whose jackets do not have plastrons.


National Artillery Battalion gunners wore brown shell jackets with blue collars and cuffs; brown trousers and peaked caps with blue bands; and had a single black shoulder and waist belt. The best way to portray them is to use the Perry Miniatures’ Carlist War BAL/Royal Artillery gun crew in shell jackets or Wargames Foundry’s First China War British Artillery crew or British Artillery in Shell Jackets and Peaked Forage Caps.

I must express my gratitude to Helion & Company for permitting me to use some of the plates from The War of the Two Brothers, and to Perry Miniatures for permission to use photographs of their wargame figures from their website to illustrate this article. 

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Hello, my name is Sérgio Veludo Coelho and I'am aldo the author of the War of the Two Brothers plates. Since last year this War is on WoFUN catalogue with this name. https://wofungames.com/collections/war-of-the-two-brothers-sc

Posted by Sérgio Coelho on Thu 25 Jan 09:37:39