Created in March 1831 from the foreign regiments that had been in the Bourbon service, the French Foreign Legion was initially posted to Algeria. There it participated in the initial actions to force colonial rule on the local tribes. Algeria was to be the base for the Legion for the next 130 years and for the first forty years of its existence the Legion lived by its original intention to operate outside of mainland France.
In 1835 the French Government transferred the Legion to Spanish service in support of Isabella. Arriving with a force of 1,400 men in six under strength battalions, the commander, Colonel Bernelle, undertook to recruit a force that at its full strength counted as many as 6,000 men and contained three squadron of lancers and a mountain artillery battery. The Legion fought a number of engagements the most notable being Barbastro. By the end of 1838 the Legion, poorly supported by the French Govenment, numbered only 500 men and returned to France. Many of those who returned re-enlisted in the Legion in Algeria.
Followers of the Franco-Prussian War may well be aware that the future Marshal Bazaine transferred to the Legion as a junior officer in 1833 and served in Algeria, Spain and the Crimea with the Legion. In fact Bazaine became a favourite of Isabella and after his conviction in 1871 and subsequent escape from life imprisonment, lived out the rest of his life in Spain under Isabella's protection.
This unit is the first of what will be four Foreign Legion battalions in my Carist War army.