Other Side of the Coin: 3rd Mexican Line Regiment

When I foolishly agreed to jump fully dressed into the cement pond of the Mexican American War, I kind of vowed (to myself of course, nobody else takes my vows seriously) to do both sides. I didn’t promise to do piles of guys-this is not going to be the biggest Smyth project of all time. But I did want to have a representative batch of Mexican soldiers, and a reasonable group of Americans. The Mexicans are less effective than their northern neighbors so I’ll be doing a few more of them.

So the troopies I’ll be building look something like this


4 X 12 units of infantry (1st U.S. Artillery

1 X 6 unit of U.S. Dragoons

1 X 6 lb gun


4 X 12 units of line infantry (3rd Line Regiment)

2 X 12 units of light infantry (3rd Light Regiment)

1 X 6 lb gun

2 X 6 Light Cavalry

It may be a tish different, but not much. I still have some things to buy, but not a lot.

This week I’ve been working on the Mexican line infantry. I chose the 3rd Line and 3rd Lights because they fought at Monterrey. Monterrey was fought in northern Mexico and was a tough city-fight. The Americans chiefly fought for strong points in the city, and it wasn’t the walk-over they experienced at the earlier Palo Alto and Resaca De Las Palmas battles.

These are 1st Corps figures and I’m sticking with these for the project. I ordered the Mexican Brigade pack directly from the manufacturer in the UK. That gives me 72 figures including 48 line infantry with two command groups, and 24 light infantry with one command group. I also purchased a gun and crew. They weren’t super cheap. Including shipping, it was about $132, so less than two bucks per figure, a fair price point. 1st Corps was easy to deal with and prompt. I had my order within ten days or so.

I finished the Americans I had and quickly moved on to the Mexicans

The Mexican troops are problematic. They are, shall we say decorative, compared to the U.S. Army in Mexico. Very much influenced by French uniforms, they seem downright Napoleonic. However, Mexican troops also received one fancy schmancy uniform and then they were pretty much on their own for staying clothed and they wore a patchwork of linen and canvas and the attractive blue with colorful facings in wool became less available. More sombreros than shakos, more sandals than shoes.

The 1st Corps Mexicans show them at their best, which is fine. The figures look great and that’s always a plus, but they also give the painter a couple of options. Everyone is in their long blue tailcoat, with a shako or fore and aft barracks cap. Pants were a wear item and could be painted in blue or in off-white or white as replacements come in. I opted for a mix of blues and not blues. Some pants I painted Vallejo Ivory and washed with GW Agarax Earthshade (or Vallejo Brown Wash for those not playing GW Bingo.)

Finding a dark blue I really like is tough for me. I want something that does a great job on a first coat, that means a color that is pigment heavy. Dark blues often separate a bit on a first coat and I learn a lot about a color when it separates. Is it purply or greenish? I really love dark blues that have a hint of gray to them. I think that’s a great uniform color because, I believe blue uniforms that wore with the weather looked more gray. The best uniform color ever was Polly S Israeli Armor Blue. Unfortunately, Polly S was acquired by Testor’s long ago, taken out back and buried with the dinosaur bones. Sigh.

Enough of that. I tried a few different craft colors, an Army Painter blue and Howard Hues Union Blue, but finally decided on Vallejo Dark Prussian Blue. It’s a bit purple but quite dark. The figures took a great first coat. Then I gave it a dry brush after lightening with Vallejo Sky Grey. I gave it a second brush after lightening further with a little bit of white. I was really happy with the result, and expect that will be the way forward for me with similar uniform colors.

Facing colors are Vallejo Dark red, piped with Vallejo Sky Blue. Flat Red for the turnbacks and shoulder thingies. No other mysteries.

These are busy figures. The shako needs a lot of attention-chinscales, shako plate, cockade, shako bands are all there to be painted. Uniform buttons are recessed and I could just see making a mess so I passed on them.Some figures have a belt plate, some don’t.

In any case, I’ve now painted 4 X 12 units of these bad boys, and while I’m glad they are done, they were really fun and different for me to paint.

One comment on “Other Side of the Coin: 3rd Mexican Line Regiment

  1. John Gee says:

    Great stuff Kevin, as usual.    I’d do some 1846 Mexicans and Americans too if I didn’t already have a bunch.

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