Add a submodule which can't be removed from the index

I'm trying to add a submodule that already existed (different git remote repository). As I didn't searched before how to do it correctly, I think I've messed up my repository and I need some help to fix it again.

I've already deleted all the relevant sections from the .gitmodules and .git/config regarding the submodules I want to delete. I've also verified that there is not modules directory inside my .git/ directory.

However, when I run the command git rm --cached path_to_submodule, the following message is displayed:

fatal: pathspec 'path_to_submodule' did not match any files

As the previous command fails, when I try to add again the same submodule with the new definitions, running the command git submodule add gituser@host:repo.git, this is the displayed message:

'repo' already exists in the index


  • The only way that message ('repo' already exists in the index) can be displayed is if 'repo' still exists in the index (see this chapter on submodule):

    $ rm -Rf rack/
    $ git submodule add [email protected]:schacon/rack.git rack
    'rack' already exists in the index
    You have to unstage the rack directory first. Then you can add the submodule:
    $ git rm -r rack
    $ git submodule add [email protected]:schacon/rack.git rack

    Even if 'rack' isn't a submodule, if it exists, it would prevent the declaration of a submodule of the same name.