Over the years as I conducted my own research into the soldados de cueras’ material culture, I kept returning to a key document, the Royal Regulations of 1772. I work from the invaluable publication, Lancers for the King; A Study of the Frontier Military System of Northern New Spain, with a Translation of the Royal Regulations of 1772, by Sidney E. Brinckerhoff and Odie B. Faulk (Phoenix, Arizona Historical Society, 1965). I treasure my own copy and keep it near.
The Royal Regulations of 1772 laid out a detailed plan for all of the presidios of the Spanish borderland between New Spain (Mexico) and the Provincias Internas (roughly, today’s American Southwest). Of particular interest to me, they provided detailed guidelines for the soldiers’ uniforms, arms and equipment.
One feature of Lancers for the King that I particularly value, and wish all publications of this kind followed, is that Brinckerhoff and Faulk included the Spanish language original as well as their translation. This allows the reader to compare the two and draw their own conclusions – kind of an early form of crowdsourcing, in fact.
For example, here is the original paragraph from the Royal Regulations covering uniforms for the presidial soldiers:
1. El vestuario de los soldados de presidio ha de ser uniforme en todos, y constará de una chupa corta de tripe, ó paño azul, con una pequeña vuelta y collarin encarnado, calzon de tripe azul, capa de paño del mismo color, cartuchera, cuera y bandolera de gamuza, en la forma que actualmente las usan, y en la bandolera bordado el nombre del presidio, para que distingan unos de otros, corbatin negro, sombrero, zapatos, y botines.
And here is my translation:
1. The clothing of the soldiers of the presidio will be the same for all, and consist of a short, sleeved waistcoat of blue wool velvet or cloth, with a small scarlet cuff and collar, breeches of blue wool velvet; wool cape of the same color; cartridge carrier, cuera and bandoleer of buff leather, of the sort that is currently in use and embroidered on the bandoleer the name of the presidio, by which to distinguish each [presidial company] from the others; black neck stock, hat, shoes and leggings.
My translation differs from that of Brinckerhoff and Faulk at a few points, especially the meaning of the words, chupa corta, tripe, encarnado, cartuchera, bandolera, gamuza and corbatin.
In future posts, I’ll explain what I believe these words meant in 1772 Spain and New Spain and how this might affect the ways we reconstruct the appearance of the soldados de cuera.
Illustration: A soldado de cuera, c. 1772, by David W. Rickman, from The Spanish Army in North America 1700 – 1793 by René Chartrand, © Osprey Publishing, 2011.
 Brinckerhoff and Faulk’s translation reads, “1. The uniform of the presidial soldiers is to be the same for all, and will consist of a short jacket of blue woolen cloth, with small cuffs and a red collar, breeches of blue wool, a cloth cap of the same color, a cartridge pouch, a leather jacket, and a bandoleer of antelope hide, as is presently in use (the bandoleer to be embroidered with the name of the presidio in order to distinguish one from another), a black neckerchief, hat, shoes, and leggings.” 1965, pp. 18-21.