E. 5. Uniform
The Spanish frontier soldiers fought without any prescribed uniform such as the regular regiments wore in the mid-eighteenth century. In Sonora the presidial troops dressed much like the rest of the populace according to Ignaz Pfefferkorn, the German Jesuit missionary. (See the description of dress below.)
The cavalry trooper did wear some defensive armor and carry a shield. The cuera was leather body armor. The shield consisted of three or four raw oxhides riveted together in the shape of an ellipse. It was perhaps three feet long, held by two leather loops, for the arm (Treutlein 1949:291). The shields of the Tubac troop were far from uniform, but in good condition under Anza's administration (Rubí Dec. 21, 1766).
The shoulder-belts worn by the Tubac cavalrymen were also not uniform but in good shape at the end of 1766 (ibid.). These were probably bandoleers introduced by Captain Anza to carry the accouterments for the carbines with which he armed his mounted troops, canteens, etc. One of the first adaptations Colonel Domingo Elizondo made in the equipment of the regular dragoons brought to Sonora a couple of years later was to simplify the harness used to carry a cartridge belt, powder horn and other paraphernalia (Rowland 1930:141). He acted largely on advice from Anza and Lt. Oliva, so it seems likely the Tubac officers must already have modified their own troopers' belts for frontier thorned-scrub conditions.
214The Tubac troop wore at least a semblance of a uniform by the and of 1766. The men had been issued a complete supply of capes, jackets, breeches and other clothing "in the most rigorous uniformity" so the individual trooper could no longer choose his costume at Tubac as perhaps he could in other posts. Only the cueras were not of the proper quality because of the great difficulty of obtaining proper hides from New Mexico (Rubí Dec. 21, 1766).
The Marques de Rubí suggested to Captain Anza that since scarlet cloth was "one of those which is considered least useful from its high cost, little durability and commonly bad quality, you can substitute for fatigues red-dyed worsted for jackets and blue for breeches, with metal buttons, preferring also for the use of the soldier the linen of Leon or domestic linen of Galicia, to the British and Ruoen cloths which cost considerably" (Rubí Dec. 31, 1766a).
Uniformity of color and devices was again urged on the acting comandant by Comandant-Inspector O'Conor in 1775. The latter ordered Lt. Oliva to issue clothing without purchasing it from the merchants residing at the post because of their excessive prices in the absence of the post quartermaster. The body armor and shields were still In poor shape at that time (O'Conor Aug. 16, 1775).
With the tightening up of the frontier military posts during the reforms instituted by Charles III, the Tubac cavalrymen were prescribed a uniform:
The clothing of the soldiers of this Company 215shall consist of a short jacket and breeches of worsted or blue-cloth, with a small ruffle, lapel and collar faced red, gilt buttons, a cape of blue Quereteran cloth, cartridge case, body armor and bandolier of hide in the style now used in the other forts of the Line, and on the bandolier sewed the name of the fort in order to distinguish one from another; black neckcloth, hat, shoes and leggings. From now on the ridiculous use of silver galoons on hats, jackets or breeches shall be prohibited under heavy penalties.
The uniform which the fort officers shall wear in town shall be blue dress coat and breeches, jacket ruffle, lapel
and collar faced with red cloth, gilt buttons, the use of galoon permitted only on the hat. (O'Conor Aug. 16, 1775).
Thus the king and his Irish Comandant-Inspector clamped down on the gaudy and individualistic use of silver decorations on coats and breeches which was so integral a part of Spanish costume in New Spain and so dear to the hearts of His Majesty's overseas subjects. By "galoon" O'Conor meant the rich silver lacing such as was and is yet used to stripe charro pants and jackets, and weight down the sombrero charro.
The Comandant Inspector had found the clothing worn by the Tubac garrison nearly completely worn out (O'Conor Aug. 18, 1775). 216The clothing furnished the soldiers for which they were responsible consisted of a cape, a hat, jacket, pair of breeches, two shirts, pair of long stockings and pair of shoes (Oliva Aug. 13, 1775, No. 6). The post commander rated the condition of his troops' clothing as good on the whole, in contrast to the inspector's more cosmopolitan and rigorous judgement.