Blue Moon Tennessee Volunteers

This morning I have another set of Blue Moon Texian figures to review; pack 15TRT-109 ;Tennesseans’, As with most Blue Moon 15/18MM packs there are 30 figures in the set, and in this case, all poses are unique. All the figures are dressed in hunting frocks and have varying headgear ( slouch hats, top hats, coonskin caps, etc.) and varying equipment. In the case of armament, nearly all carry the popular Kentucky/Pennsylvania rifle, though one man wields only a flintlock pistol and Bowie knife. As usual with Blue Moon, this is a most attractive set of figures in such a small size. Not only can these men make up your companies of Tennessee volunteers, they can pretty much represent any volunteers that happened to wear the hunting frock and carry the long rifle, which would likely have been a large proportion of men coming in from the southern United States. Another nice thing about the Tennesseans, is that they can represent American frontiersmen from the late 18th through the mid 19th centuries. Anyone wanting to game trappers and mountain men have 30 figures from which to choose their characters. 

Prior to painting a did a little research on the hunting frocks to help me select colors. I learned that that frocks were made from various materials including deerskin, linen, and ‘linsey-woolsey’ (a fabric made from a linen or cotton warp and a woolen weft). Frocks of these materials were often left naturally colored, but could also be dyed homespun-fashion with various vegetable dyes. These dyes are as follows:

                                White walnut bark = light brown

                                Black walnut hulls = dark brown to almost black

                               Sumac bark = dark blue

                               Black sumac bark = purple

                              Black oak balls and Indian paint root = red

It also should be noted that linen was fairly simple to bleach using animal urine  so white frocks are also possible.

Another possibility, that I myself have not tried yet, is to paint colorful patterns on a few men to represent Indian bead-work. 

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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.

Blue Moon Mexican Cazadores.

This installment will have a look at Blue Moon Manufacturing set 15TRT-205 Mexican Cazadores. Each Mexican infantry battalion had eight companies; six of fusileros and one each of grenaderos and cazadores. The two flank companies were considered elite and were made up of the best soldiers in the battalion. The cazadores were the light company trained in skirmishing and often equipped with British Baker rifles, the best firearm that the Mexican army possessed in 1836, but only available in very limited numbers. According to regulations, the cazadores had certain uniform distinctions to set them apart from the other soldiers in their parent unit. These distinctions included dark green cords and pompom on their shakos, green facings on their coats, and black belts. In practice, the light company uniforms could vary considerably. Blue Moon’s cazadores set has fifteen figures in five poses. I opted to paint my first company in a more regulation style as members of a permanente battalion.ImageImage Image

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Blue Moon Texians Skirmishing-Painted

Following on from the last post, here are the same figures painted. Naturally the bulk of the Texian Army was dressed in typical civilian garb of the 1830′s. I spent some time online, at the library, and looking at color plates to come up with a simple painting guide:

Coats- frocks were typically brown, grey, blue, or black. Sometimes collars,lapels,  cuffs, and pocket flaps might be a different color or shade of the rest of the coat-i.e. a light brown coat with dark brown cuffs, lapels, and pocket flaps. I do admit to being too lazy to paint them like this and no one would ever notice. The waist-length roundabouts/shell jackets appear to be most often a light shade such as off-white, tan, light grey. These garments originated as nautical work clothes so it’s possible they were left natural linen.

Waistcoats- During the summer waistcoats were sometimes worn without coats, but the Texas War for Independence was fought from October to April so if a waistcoat is visible it will appear worn under an open coat. These could be patterned silk for well-to-do gentlemen, or of plain wool, linen, or leather. Colors included  blue, red, burgundy, black, and brown.

Trousers- Typically wool in the colder months, but buckskin was also widely worn. Common colors were white, off-white, grey, black, and brown. A fop might have vertical stripes, but this was not too common.

Shirts-WhImageImageImageImageere visible shirts are most often white, but red flannel was also popular and appears on manifests of clothing that the Republic of Texas received from New Orleans. Some work shirts were left natural linen or sometimes dyed homespun fashion. Patterns were also sometimes worn-checks, stripes, etc.

Headgear-Felt slouch hats, planter’s hats, and ‘wide-awakes’ were most popular and practical, but stove-pipes are sometimes depicted. Various hunting and whaler styles might also be seen. The felt hats came in similar colors to the rest of the outfit: off-white, tan, brown, black, grey, etc. Bands could sometimes be a contrasting shade, but not always. Hunting caps could be made of animal skin in imitation of native Indian styles encountered in the Southeastern United States. Bright colors were unknown and likely frowned upon. (I frown upon brightly colored hats today!)

Shoes and boots-Mainly black or brown. The Republic of Texas also purchased russet boots that may appear as another possible color. Moccasins might be worn by frontiersmen.

Note: When I describe colors such as grey, brown, tan, etc these can vary considerably in shade.

Texians Skirmishing

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A few of the firing line poses. A typical mix of clothing and hats. The man in the center has a ‘whaler’-style cap and a tailed ‘uniform’ coat.

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Some Texians with rifles. The two men clubbing with their rifles remind me of the old Marx playset figures. Here four of the five wear frock coats while the fifth wears a roundabout.

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Two men with shotguns. The guy on the left is another example of the ‘whaler’ cap. I paint these as black sealskin.

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Fighting poses. The man on the left is firing a pistol and brandishing a knife in his other hand. He makes a nice leader figure. Second from left has no firearm, but wears a powder-horn so must have discarded his weapon in the heat of the moment.

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The fighting poses from the rear to show typical equipment.

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More firing and loading figures.

Next up in the continuing saga of the Texas War for Independence project, is Blue Moon’s set 15TRT-101 ‘Texians Skirmishing’. This set, like most of Blue Moon’s infantry sets, consists of thirty figures in various action poses. Most figures are unique, but this pack did include two or three duplicate poses. All the poses are nice and can be basically divided between men firing and loading rifles and muskets and men engaged in hand-to-hand combat. About half the set have Kentucky rifles, the majority of the rest are armed with muskets, though two have shotguns, one has a flintlock pistol, and one man is only armed with a hatchet. In the case of fighting poses, a few are clubbing with their rifles, two or three are charging with hatchets, and two poses are fighting with drawn Bowie knives. The fighting poses give a nice last stand at the Alamo or final few minutes of San Jacinto feel. 

Texians Advancing

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Sorry for the blurry photo, but these are the Texians in uniform coats.

Sorry for the blurry photo, but these are the Texians in uniform coats.

The volunteer in uniform coats from the rear to show the turnbacks

The volunteer in uniform coats from the rear to show the turnbacks

Most wear some combination of frock coats and slouch hats.

Most wear some combination of frock coats and slouch hats.

All 30 figures are different.

All 30 figures are different.

The two figures on the right wear hunting frocks. Next to them are volunteers wearing stove-pipe hats.

The two figures on the right wear hunting frocks. Next to them are volunteers wearing stove-pipe hats.

After a long hiatus due to circumstances beyond my control, I have returned with a few updates to my Texas War for Independence project. Today I will look at Blue Moon Manufacturing’s pack 15TRT-102 ‘Texians Advancing’, This set consists of 30 Texian volunteers dressed in the typical mix of civilian and military attire of the 1830’s. All the poses are unique. Seven figures are dressed in a long military coat with turnbacks, two men wear hunting frocks, two are in waistcoats, while the remaining figures wear frock-coats. Headgear is equally diverse with variously shaped slouch hats being the most common, three have stove-pipes, two wear forage caps similar to the contemporary U.S. Army model, and two have sombreros. Trousers and low brogans are universal and one man appears to have leggings of some description, In the case of equipment, most have a military-style cartridge box, many have powder-horns in addition, some have a water-bottle that looks like the standard U.S. Army version in use at that time. Some figures have a haversack. Most of the firearms carried are muskets, but three men have Kentucky rifles, three have double-barreled shotguns, and one man uses a flintlock pistol.

As you can see, despite my limited photographic skill, the figures are nicely detailed and up to Blue Moon Manufacturing’s high standards. Mold seams and flash were minimal to non-existent. For the great majority I only needed to carve a tiny burr off of the bottom of the base! The figures are also historically accurate and generally match what we know about the bulk of the volunteers. The uniform-style coats on a few of the figures are more the only mystery, since I can’t find a similar uniform other than later grey and blue coats with white turnbacks. But there is no reason to fret over such a small thing since not only was clothing supplied from various sources, but at least two volunteer companies were described by eye-witnesses to be dressed in uniform, but no information as to what these uniforms may have looked like has survived the 177 years between 1836 and 2013.

 

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