The Cavalry Regiment El Rey, (In Spanish: Regimiento de Caballería El Rey), is the oldest cavalry regiment in the Spanish armed forces, and it was distinguished during the Peninsular Wars on several occasions. They are most well known for there charge at the Battle of Talavera where they dealt the decissive blow that lead to the ending of hostilities from General Jean François Leval's German Division.
The Cavalry Regiment El Rey is Spain's oldest cavalry regiment, founded in 1538 under the reign of King Charles I of Spain, and as such bore the title "The King's" in the Spanish Army. During the Napoleonic era it was considered as one of the best Spanish regiments and it distinguished its self during the Spanish War of Independence and it was often commented as performing very well while in active service in those years. In 1807 the regiment was sent as part of the Marqúes de la Romana's: Division of the North. However in 1808 it joined the fight against France after evacuating from Denmark.
Upon arrival in Cantabria from Denmark the cavalrymen marched to Extremadura where they were to collect horses. In 1809 the regiment would see much action while under active service in Gregorio García de la Cuesta y Fernández de Celis' Army of Extremadura, in General José de Henestrosa's 1st Cavalry Division. and would fight at the Battle of Talavera in 1809, where they captured four French cannons and would be highly honoured and praised in Cuesta's after battle report.
Its intrepid attack and destruction of a column of enemy infantry. Its colonel, Don José Maria de Lastra, was wounded during the charge and was succeeded with valour by lieutenant colonel Don Rafael Valparda. Captain Don Francisco de Sierra gained much distinction by taking a cannon while vanquishing its defenders; Ensign Don Pablo de Cataneo, of 16 years of age, slew four Frenchmen, and all officers and men of the regiment manifested proof of its valour and discipline.
However the regiment would see action again at the Battle of Arzobispo, under the command of José María de la Cueva, 14th Duke of Albuquerque, in which the cannons that the regiment captured at the Battle of Talavera were lost.
Later on in the year of 1809 the regiment saw action in the Army of La Mancha under General Juan Carlos de Aréizaga, in General Juan de Bermuy's 1st Cavalry Division, at the Battle of Ocaña. The battle was a disaster for the Spanish Army as large numbers of the well trained pre-1808 veterans had been killed or captured, leaving the army with a great need for more trained men, and the defeat also led to the second Spanish attempt to re-capture Madrid being halted.
In 1815 a review from the Estado Militar de España places the regiment as one of the units that was to remain as part of the regular army after the Peninsular War. This report/review was normally done annually, however due to the chaotic state of Spanish politics and state it had been difficult to make a full review of the Spanish Army until peace time came about.
The Cavalry Regiment El Rey in 1780 wore a blue coatee with scarlet cuffs, collar and lapels, white turnbacks, and yellow piping and had brass buttons, they also wore blue breeches. The troopers wore a black bi-corn hat with gold hat lace with a red cockade and gold cockade loop. Although during the Spanish War of Independence the unit wore a blue coat with scarlet cuffs, collar, lapels, turnbacks, gold piping and buff breeches.And as with all regiments at the start of the War of Spanish Idependence, they wore a red plume on their hat, to show their loyalty to the Bourbon monarch: Ferdinand VII of Spain instead of the "hated foreigner": Joseph Bonaparte.