Mexican Infantry Uniforms 1836

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This is the well-known painting by Claude Linati, featuring the controversial ’roundel’ on top of the shako. Otherwise, the uniform conforms to the September 20, 1821 regulations. These specified a blue single-breasted coat with red facings and piping. White linen trousers for summer and grey wool trousers for winter. Belts are white and support a black cartridge box and bayonet scabbard. The scabbard has a brass chape. This soldier has blue shoulder wings piped red, but these were replaced by epaulettes by 1836

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Along with the blue woolen coat, Mexico also authorized a white linen uniform for summer dress and tropical wear. Here the shako is worn with a white linen cover. It is fairly certain that one or more of the Active Militia battalions sent to Texas from the south were dressed in the tropical uniform, and suffered accordingly during the march north. Again this uniform from a decade earlier has the obsolete shoulder wings.

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An illustration of Mexican infantry uniforms from the time of the Texas War for Independence by Bill Younghusband from Osprey’s volume “Santa Anna’s Mexican Army.” Here the Fusilier NCO wears the 1831 double-breasted coat with red lapels and white piping. The shako features the tri-color plume with yellow lace and cords. The chin-scales and plate are brass. Shako decoration seemed to vary somewhat. Cords were often left with the baggage, and lace could appear at the crown or base, the crown only, or not at all. The tricolor plume might be replaced by a red plume or pompom, though this was mainly associated with grenadiers, but not always. Here the trousers are white linen, but medium blue or grey could also be worn. The grenadier has the white linen uniform with red facings. The lace on his cuffs signifies his membership in the grenadier company. There is some evidence that black belts might be worn with the white uniform, but as the 1826 illustration shows white belts, it does not seem to be universal.

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Another interpretation of the white linen uniform. Here the shako only has the cockade showing above the linen cover. Sandals are worn in place of brogans. The Mexican Army had a shortage of shoes, and many men wore out their shoes on the forced march to Bexar. Sandals were worn with trousers rolled to prevent the trouser bottoms from becoming tattered.

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An illustration of typical Mexican infantry by Paul Hannon from Osprey’s “The Alamo and the War of Texan Independence.” The uniforms here give a good indication of how the appearance of the shako could vary between units. On these four men the shako lace is indicated as a metallic color, but other sources indicate yellow. One minor error on figures 1 and 3 is that the 1833 coat is shown with white piping when it should be red. Numbers 2 and 3 wear the medium blue trousers that usually had a red trouser seam stripe. Grey trousers were an alternative to the white or blue versions.

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A simplified illustration of the coats and hats of the various types of the Mexican infantry. On the left is an 1832 fusilier coat and shako. The 1832 coat could be worn by any of the infantry types. Second left is a cazadore’s 1833 coat with green facings. The shako has a green pompom and cords with yellow lace, but the lace may also be green. Belts here are shown white, but riflemen could also wear black belts. White belts may indicate that the unit was armed with muskets as opposed to the Baker rifle. Third from left is a grenadier’s 1833 coat and shako. The coat is missing the cuff lace while the shako has a red pompom and cords. There is some evidence that the grenadier’s shako may also occasionally have had red lace in place of yellow. Second from right is a speculative Zapador’s coat. The zapadores’ uniform in 1836 is unknown, but in 1840 with black facings piped red. Here the coat has a black collar and cuffs and show crossed ax shoulder patches. Zapdor trousers may have been dark blue with a red stripe. Lastly, on the far right is the rear of a coat to show the turn-backs and show the blue piped red barracks cap.

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This Gary Zaboly plate of Mexican light company soldiers is a good illustration of how uniforms might vary in practice from the intended regulations. The rifleman on the right foreground, though missing his shoes, is likely the most representative of the regulation uniform. His comrades show variations in coats, trousers, and shakos.

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