even wargamers, have little idea what Mexican uniforms of the period
actually looked like, and what little they know comes from a number
of films in which the Federales have usually filled the role of
villainous henchmen. They always seem to finish up as a sort of
Star Wars Imperial Space Marine in ill fitting khaki. Broadly speaking
the uniforms fall into one of two categories. The first type, seen
at the top of the page, is how I painted the very first Federale
unit that I ever built. The uniform consists of; a dark blue stove
pipe shako with black leather trim, a yellowish khaki uniform with
red piping, dark brown boots, and black leather work of a decidedly
Germanic pattern. Sometimes a backpack is worn, and sometimes a
blanket roll wrapped around the torso. This wardrobe is also frequently
worn by villains in Mexican (and I mean filmed in Mexico, by Mexicans)
cowboy adventure films. The trooper at the top of the page was a
very simple conversion from a Wargames Foundry Franco-Prussian Jaeger.
type of Hollywood Federale has wardrobe that is far closer to a
real uniform, at least one of the types issued around 1914. The
uniform consists of a khaki jacket, trousers, and a cap similar
to the style worn by the BEF in 1914. Again, leather work is black
and of a generally Germanic style, but there is never a blanket
roll. Troopers only wear backpacks topped by an inverted "U"
shaped overcoat or bed roll wrapped around the top.
an overview of the real Federale uniforms, let me
strongly recommend "Uniforms of the Mexican Army During the
Revolution" by C.A. Norman. The author is unnecessarily modest
about his level of scholarship. Trust me this work is an absolute
gold mine on the subject.
Dress uniform: 1910
Federal army introduced a new set of dress regulations 1905 and
officers, who purchased their own uniforms, successfully completed
the change to the new dress uniform before the outbreak of the revolution
in 1910. The 1905 regulations have been described as "a curious
mix of German and French styles" with dark blue jacket and
trousers, a German style spiked helmet, and rank indicated by a
combination of German style epaulettes and French style cuff lace.
The helmet appears only rarely in photographs of the period. Most
officers seemed to have preferred the 'Samur' style kepi, likely
because of the helmet's added expensive. Click here
to see a photograph of Colonel Emilio Kosterlitzky in full dress
uniform with his elegant, and no doubt expensive, spiked helmet.
Photographic evidence of officers' uniforms
indicates that service dress was usually a combination of components
from the 1898 and 1905 dress regulations. There are almost no photographs
of officer's campaign dress and so
one might suspect an even greater variety
of equipment than in use for service dress.
sensing the impending political upheaval, the army postponed introducing
the new regulations for enlisted men, who remained in uniforms corresponding
to the 1898 regulations. These uniforms were very similar in style
and cut to the uniform first introduced in 1870. The only enlisted
personnel actually issued the 1905 dress uniforms were the Presidential
Guard and the cadets of the Military Academy.
the enlisted man's service uniform consisted of a dark blue, and
probably faded, tunic with red piping along the edge of the collar,
cuffs, shoulder straps, pockets and down the jacket front. Piping
was the same color for both cavalry and infantry, but the cavalry
had buttons of white metal while infantry buttons appear to have
been brass. A white neck scarf was frequently worn under the collar
in what was described as 'the French style.' The trousers were of
the same blue with a red stripe down the outside seam. Most researchers
comment on how photographs from the period suggest that these garments
were usually of decidedly inferior quality and always ill fitting.
Rank badges for NCO's were indicated through a simple system of
red lace around the sleeve at cuff level. (Much easier to paint
than shoulder chevrons!)
was black and of a Germanic pattern. Boots were of black leather,
with cavalry wearing riding boots and infantry boots extending to
just above the ankle, much like British army boots of the period.
However, infantry boots were worn under the trousers and without
puttees or leggings. Thus observers sometimes referred to them as
'shoes.' Headgear was a black stovepipe shako with a red pompom.
The back pack was of brown cowhide with a roll (perhaps the overcoat
? ) wrapped around the top and sides. This possible overcoat was
a dark blue, but is described as 'not quite as dark as the uniform.'
I'd suspect that it was not so much a lighter blue as a more grey
shade than the rest of the uniform.
was the mysterious black cartridge box. Worn on the right rear this
seems to have been a large rectangular piece of leather, folded
in half to take on the appearance of a flat sort of cartridge box
from the Napoleonic Wars. Inside were rows of straps, or pockets
that held ammunition clips for the Mauser rifle. This does not appear
to have been a particularly popular item of equipment and was at
first augmented and then replaced by the ubiquitous bandoliers that
almost every fighting man is seen wearing over one or both shoulders
in photographs of the period.
makes a nice line of Mexican infantry from the 1880's which serve
as an excellent starting point for creating the uniform of 1910.
The cartridge box can pass for the 1910 cartridge pouch, and the
shako is the correct shape. However, the musket needs a bit of work
to make it look like the 1898 Mauser, and boots should be worn not
sandals. Another good source of conversion material would be Pulp
Figures set of German Seebattlion in service cap, rather than pith
helmet. Being as they're Germans, the rifle and leather work are
already correct. The cap will need to be filed and puttied into
a stove pipe shako, and the jack boots will need to be puttied over
to indicate long trousers. Otherwise they should be perfect.
And now a word
about 'Golpes.' These were a Mexican version of arm chevrons worn
by musicians. Begin by visualizing two sets of three red chevrons
on both arms, spaced evenly between the shoulder and elbow. Then
invert them so that the center point is facing up and the two outside
edges are pointing down. Then attach a red tassel at each corner
of each chevron. So each set of three chevrons will have nine tassels
hanging from it. On second thought, best to look up a drawing of
a Mexican bugler, or have a look at the figure of a bugler along
the right hand margin of this page.
On campaign a white cotton cover was worn over the shako with the
red pompom showing at the top. Sometimes a kepi might be worn instead
of the covered shako. At this point the easiest way I've found to
recreate a cloth cover on the shako is to make a mixture of; water,
white glue, and vinyl spackling putty. This is easier to brush on
the figure (make sure to use cheap, throw away brushes) than modeling
putty, and when it dries it retains a texture that dry brushing
will make look like cloth, unlike sanded modeling putty that finishes
up quite smooth.
Weather Uniform 1910
Under what the Federal Army considered warm conditions, both the
shako and the kepi would have a white cotton cover. Furthermore
the dark blue trousers would be replaced with white cotton.
Both the jacket and trousers were replaced with white cotton. Oddly
enough there is much evidence that when campaigning in the tropics
the kepi was worn without the white cotton cover. Infantry boots
were frequently replaced with 'Huaraches' (sandals). Trouser legs
were sometimes rolled up to reveal white long underwear or bare
legs. In the tropics ammunition bandoliers could frequently be made
of canvas instead of leather.
A Word on
the 'Mexican Kepi'
points above references were made to a kepi that was sometimes worn
instead of the stovepipe shako. This item was always dark blue,
although frequently faded and heavily battered when in the field.
The examples above are all from one photograph, of one squad, participating
in a charity event sponsored by the American founder of the San
Diego Zoo, after the troopers' participation in the second Battle
of Tijuana. In photographs from around the beginning of the revolution,
the kepi appears in disproportionately larger numbers for higher
ranking officers, but still seems to have been worn by some enlisted
personnel. After the governmental defeats in 1910, and consequent
losses of equipment, it seems to have been issued as a replacement
for the shako. This may have been as part of an effort at modernization,
or simply because the kepi was cheaper.
describe the type of kepi worn by the Mexican Federales it is invariable
referred to as a 'Samur style' kepi. To give some idea as to the
differences between the Samur and standard kepi, have a look at
the two photos on the right. The Samur kepi is larger and, although
the back is higher than the front, the top is much more level than
that of the standard French kepi of the period. The standard kepi
is smaller, is cut with a cinched in waist (or perhaps is always
squashed down so that the waist looks more narrow than the top and
bottom), and has a much higher back than the front. This means that
while it 'tips to the front' it doesn't do so in nearly as extreme
fashion as a US Civil War kepi.
figures to the Samur kepi is relatively easy, unless you're determined
to recreated that roll of fabric around the edge, and make sure
that every kepi is battered in its own unique way. At the club,
we just tend to plop modeling putty on top of any sort of hat that
has the appropriate peak n the front, and then sand it to an approximately
cylindrical shape. This results in a hat that's more of the 1940,
or maybe a Parisian Gendarme sort of shape, but by shading it in
painting it looks about right on the gaming table. On the other
hand, the Japanese infantry from Old Glory's Boxer Rebellion line
wear a hat that's pretty darned close without any putty.
It's my impression
that the kepi continued as official headgear under the Madero presidency,
but was phased out under Huerta in favor of a BEF style service
cap. However, there are lots of photographs from the Huerta army
showing the kepi still in use, notably in the cavalry and the artillery.
There is one well known photo, purportedly from the battle of Celaya,
in which the gun crew wears kepis, but the officer in the distance
is wearing a BEF style cap.
The photo immediately
below was taken during combat with US naval personnel in Veracruz
on April 18, 1914. Note that the two cavalrymen on the left (they
both have sabres and riding boots) are still wearing the kepi. Also
note the incredibly shoddy quality of their uniforms, and the fact
that the shooter has turned his kepi 'back to front' in a sort of
gangsta style to facilitate aiming. The infantryman on the right
(in the original, uncropped version of the photo his ankle length
infantry boots are clearly visible) wears the BEF style cap. This
profile view comes in very handy when recreating the cap with putty
on a figure under conversion.
For now it
might be best to infer that when the kepi was first introduced,
officers switched over first. Then when it was supposed to be replaced
with the BEF cap, officers switched over first again. I have no
real explanation as to why the cavalry and artillery would have
held on to the kepi, while the infantry switched to the BEF cap,
unless this was because many of the infantry units were newly raised,
and thus received the newer style headgear.
of the 'Federal' army by Carranza, and it's replacement by the 'Constitutional'
army accelerated the disappearance of the kepi, and if you're running
a game in which Black Jack Pershing is facing down the Mexican army,
then there shouldn't be any kepis in evidence. Although, a lot of
the Mexican regulars could still be wearing yet another style of
hat that they were issued when they joined up with the army of General
soon... Well, maybe eventually.
With a discussion of the change over to khaki
and 'lead grey' uniforms.
'Huerta' uniform, with the BEF style cap.
Really the uniform
of Constitutionalist battalions under Obregon's command. However,
many of these units were in effect federalized when Carranza defeated
Uniform - 1916 and after.
Technically, the Federal army was disbanded and replaced
by the Constitutional army. These were the troops hovering about
Pershing as he chased after Villa.