Belt Plates: Medical and Administrative Services
Royal Order of 1869
The Royal Orders of May 24 and June 6, 1869 give us the first description of a belt plate for the enlisted men of the Cuerpo de Sanidad Militar. It simply mentions that the plate displayed the initials "SM."
Regulation of 1886
The Cartilla de Uniformidad of December 14, 1886 described the belt plate of the troops as brass and engraved with the initials "SM." While both the 1869 and 1886 regulations mention plates with the initials "SM", I have not yet found any artifact examples of these medical belt plates. However, some photos of the period do show several variations.
These two watercolors show a streter baerer (above) and a field medic (below) in campaign dress in 1899. Both depict brass belt plates with embossed initials "SM" placed side by side.
The image above shows a Peninsular soldier of the sanidad militar during the 1890s. The "SM" belt plate is clearly shown. (Courtesy: Todocoleccion)
Dating from the immediate post war period, 1901-1908, this photo shows a variant of the sanidad militar belt plate with interlaced initials within a wreath and a raised border around the edge. It is not currently know if this pattern was in use before 1898. Research is ongoing. (Courtesy: Todocoleccion)
1882 Bid Advertisement
An invitation for contractors to place bids to manufacture various articles of uniform clothing and equipment for the Brigada Sanitaria de Isla de Cuba was posted in the September 1882 edition of the Gaceta de la Habana. Among the other items called for were metal belt plates embossed with initials "SM."
Royal Orders of 1890 and 1893
Both of the uniform regulations of the 1890s authorized plain white metal (nickel) belt plates for the soldiers of the administrative corps. However, watercolor illustrations published in 1899, less than one year after the end of the war with the United States under the title Uniformes del Ejercito Espanol. show white metal plates pierced with a unit number. As these illustrations match the regulations current throughout the 90s and were done from life, there is little reason to question their accuracy.
An illustration of a Batidor (mounted pioneer) of the Courpo de Aministracion Militar published in 1899. He is dressed in his Peninsular army service uniform. Note the detail showing the unit number "1" pierce through the plate. The number resembles the letter "J" which was the Spanish font fashion at that time.
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