Sunday 23 December 2012

Baron Alfred Van der Smissen and the Belgian Foreign Legion.

This week sees the release of some exciting new 28mm miniatures for our Maximilian Adventure range. Along with 7 new Republican Mexicans we have added the Belgian Foreign Legion to the range including their enigmatic commanding officer Baron Alfred Van der Smissen.

 Baron Alfred Baron Van der Smissen commanding officer of the Belgian Legion was born in Brussels on February 1, 1823. Enlisting in the Military in 1843 he was to see his first combat some eight years later in North Africa in 1851 fighting alongside French Troops in North Africa against rebellious Algerian tribesmen. It was here that Van der Smissen gained valuable experience on how to fight a war against revolutionary guerilla forces. This experience of fighting along side the French against irregular forces would see him given command of the Belgian troops sent to Mexico to aid in the suppression of the Mexican Republican Revolutionaries.

With typical paternal concern for the welfare of his daughter, the Empress Carlota, King Leopold III authorized the formation of the Belgian Foreign Legion . Consisting of two Battalions, one Grenadier and the other Jaeger, the Belgian Foreign Legion was deployed to Mexico in support of the Imperialist cause.

The Battalion consisted mainly of men in their early to mid twenties with little or no combat experience infact only Van der Smissen and his second in command, Major Tigdal, had ever experienced hostile fire.

Shortly after arriving in Mexico the Belgian Legion would be blooded in the battle of Tacambaro, when on April 11, 1865, just 300 Belgians would find themselves encircled by a Republican force of some 3000-3500 troops. Surrounded on all sides the Belgians held out for five hours, in the hope of reinforcements, but after losing over a third of their number, including their Officer in command, the veteran Major Tigdal and his adjutant Captains Chazal, did the surviving Legionnaires surrender. The hoped for reinforcements would arrive some four days later.

Just three months later on 11th July 1865 under the direct command of Baron Van der Smissen the Belgians would exact there revenge winning the Battle of La Loma de Tacámbaro. Van der Smissen and the Belgian Legion would continue to fight for the Imperialist cause until their eventual disbandment on December 6, 1866. When along with the majority of his men the Baron returned to his native Belgium.

Van der Smissen would go on to become commander of the Royal Guard, being promoted to Lieutenant General in 1879 he was given command of the Brussels Military district; where he ruthlessly suppressed a workers mutiny at Chaleroi in 1886.

He retired in 1889 and wrote his memoirs of his time in Mexico entitled “"Souvenirs de Mexique"” before committing suicide at the age of 72 on 16 June 1895.

To end we would like to wish all our customers and supporters a very Merry Christmas and a happy and prosperous New Year.

Tuesday 30 October 2012

Gringo 40's attending Crisis 2012 in Antwerp!

El Jefe y su mujer will be attending Crisis this weekend in Antwerp at HANGAR 29, Rijnkaai 150
2000 Antwerpen

They will be bringing all the very latest models in both 28mm & 40mm for all our European cousins to check out and purchase.

Colonel Dupin

 On display at the Gringo 40’s stand will be superbly painted minis by Onaria , Mark Dixon & Andrew Taylor.

Gringo 40's VIGINTIUNUS mini  The Zombie Hunter

Gringo 40’s is also launching our all new 28mm Science Fantasy & Fiction range, VIGINTIUNUS,  with the first mini The Zombie Hunter available to purchase.

 Hasta HANGAR 29 Mi Muchacos!

Monday 22 October 2012

Colonel Dupin's Contra Guerillas in 28mm by Gringo40s

"I am Colonel Dupin. Obey or you are dead! All resistance is futile. I protect the good but have no mercy for evil men. I kill men, I rape women, I murder children; I exterminate the enemy by fire, by steel and by blood; remember my words!" The above is typical of the warning issued by Colonel Dupin to locals when his Contra-Guerillas occupied a Mexican village during the Franco-Mexican War.

Charged with eradicating the Mexican Republican Guerillas (Juaristas), Dupin used terror as his primary method of control. Realizing that without the support of the populace the guerilla units could not function, Colonel Dupin launched a reign of terror across northern Mexico.

 His ferocity became legendary as stories spread of his troops hanging "invalids and cripples", executing civilians, even destroying entire villages. Those who Dupin even suspected of being sympathetic to Juarez were killed on the spot.

His brutality earned him the nickname of "The Hyena of Tamaulipas" of which, according to contemporary reports, he was rather proud of.

Dupin did his job up to the end of the French presence in Mexico with a vicious and ruthless efficiency that sickened even the cruelest of allies and enemies alike.

Tuesday 14 August 2012

New 28mm Foreign Legion Wargame Miniatures and Figures from Gringo 40's

On the 30 April 1863 65 men the 3rd Company of the 1st Battalion Légion Étrangère having halted for coffee, were attacked by a force of more than 800 Mexican cavalry. Their Commanding Officer Captaine Jean Danjou ordered his Legionaries to form a square and they rebuffed several cavalry attacks while battling their retreat to the Hacienda Camaron. An Inn protected by a three metre high wall.

While the Legionaries made ready to defend their position Colonel Milan of the Mexican Forces demanded that Danjou surrender pointing out the overwhelming odds that faced the men of the Legion. Danjou replied, “We have munitions, we will not surrender” The Mexican Cavalry were re enforced by more than 1,200 Infantry at approximately 1100 hrs, By 1200 hrs Danjou was dead shot through the chest but his Legionaries did not give up the fight.

Under the inspirational leadership of 2nd Lt Vilan they held out for another 4 hrs before Vilan fell in battle. By 5pm all that remained where 12 Legionaries under the command of their junior officer 2nd Lt Maudet. With their ammunition exhausted Maudet give the order to Fix Bayonets and led the charge. Taking fire before being beaten to the ground all save two were killed including Maudet.

Impressed by the sheer bravery of the Legionaries Milan stopped his men from killing the last two heroes of Camraon and offered them quarter. Stating that they would only do so if assured of safe passage, be allowed to retain their arms and recover the body of Captain Danjou. Milan agreed, replying. "What can I refuse to such men? No, these are not men, they are devils".

On the 30th April every year, on what has become Camarone Day, the Legion Officers serve the enlisted men coffee in remembrance of those who did not get the chance at Camaron.

You can purchase these exciting new wargame miniatures from our secure online store at

Wednesday 18 July 2012

Jim Bowie's Last Stand. 6th March 1836. The Alamo, San Antonio, Texas. March 16th 1836

On March 6th 1836 the Mexican Army of Santa Ana attacked the Alamo before dawn. During the attack all 188 men of the Alamo garrison perished. Santa Anna asked to see the corpses of Bowie, Travis, and Crockett; the Mayor of Bexar, Francisco Ruiz, identified the bodies.
Colonel Jim Bowie was found lying dead on his cot as he had been too ill, probably from advanced tuberculosis, to take part in the final battle. He had been shot several times in the head.

During his lifetime he had been described by his old friend Caiaphas K. Ham as "a clever, polite gentleman...attentive to the ladies on all occasions...a true, constant, and generous friend...a foe no one dared to undervalue and many feared."
There can be no more fitting an epitaph for Bowie than the words of his mother. When she was told of her sons death during the defense of the Alamo she calmly stated, "I'll wager no wounds were found in his back”. So it was in death Bowie, the slave trader, gambler, land speculator, idealist, and hero,  became immortal entering forever the annals of Texas history and American Folklore.
This stunning 40mm Vignette of Bowies famous last stand  is available now from our secure online store for just £19.95

Sunday 10 June 2012

New 40mm French Grenadier of the Guard Wargame Miniature for the Franco-Prussian War.

With the first in new range of 40mm Franco Prussian War miniatures, French Grenadier of the Guard in full marching order, we thought it would be interesting to look at the notorious Ems telegram. Which would be the touch paper that Bismarck used to ignite Gallic indignation against Prussia.

 Bismarck knew that a successful war with France, where France would be seen to attack Prussia, would unite the German nation. Thus he needed to force France into declaring war on Prussia. He did this by carefully editing a report of the Prussian king, Wilhelm I, meeting with the French ambassador. Bismarck succeeded in giving the published telegram the impression to the Germans people that Wilhelm I had been insulted by the French ambassador -- and to Frenchmen that their ambassador had been similarly insulted by the Prussian king.
Memorial stone to the Ems Dispatch in Bad Ems
Memorial stone to the Ems Dispatch in Bad Ems (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Bismarck would later write that using the royal authorisation communicated to him to publish the contents of the Ems telegram; “I reduced the telegram by striking out words, but without adding or altering, to the following form: "After the news of the reunification of the hereditary Prince of Hollenzollern had been officially communicated to the imperial government of France by the royal government of Spain, the French ambassador at Ems further demanded of his majesty the King that he would authorize him to telegraph to Paris that his Majesty the King bound himself for all future time never again to give his consent if the Hollenzollerns should renew their candidature. His Majesty the King thereupon decided not to receive the French ambassador again, and sent to tell him through the aide-de-camp on duty that his Majesty had nothing further to communicate to the ambassador."

Engraving of Otto von Bismarck
Engraving of Otto von Bismarck (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The difference in the effect of the abbreviated text of the Ems telegram as compared with that created by the original was not the result of stronger words but of the form, which made this announcement appear decisive, while Abeken's version (the original unedited report) would only have been regarded as a fragment of Franco-Prussian diplomacy with negotiations still pending, which was to be continued in Berlin.

Bismarck further commented;” After I had read out the concentrated edition to my two guests, Moltke remarked: "Now it has a different ring; it sounded before like a parley now it is like a flourish in answer to a challenge." I went on to explain: "If in execution of his Majesty's order I at once communicate this text, which contains no alteration in or addition to the telegram, not only to the newspapers, but also telegraph to all our embassies, it will be known in Paris before midnight, and not only on account of its contents, but also on account of the manner of its distribution, will have the effect of a red rag upon the Gallic bull. Fight we must if we do not want to act the part of the vanquished without a battle. Success, however, essentially depends upon the impression which the origination of the war makes upon us and others; it is important that we should be the party attacked.”

 French national pride was so outraged that the government of Napoleon III declared war on Prussia within two days. As Bismarck had hoped, the southern German states joined to defend Prussia against the French, thus uniting Germany and a war that saw Prussia victorious in just six weeks.
Napoleon III having a conversation with Fürst ...
Napoleon III having a conversation with Fürst Otto von Bismarck after his defeat and capture at Sedan. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The results of the Franco-Prussian war would eventually cause devastation and suffering on a scale as the world had never seen.
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Tuesday 17 April 2012

New 28mm Miniature; Julio Cardenas; Pancho Villa's El Dorado

Gringo 40’s latest 28mm miniature for the all new Panco Villa range of wargame miniatures is of Julio Cardenas.

Julio Cardenas the was the head of Pancho Villa’s personal bodyguard Los Dorados ("The Golden Ones") and Villa’s second-in-command . Despite only holding the rank of Captain in the Villista (Villa’s Army) he was called "General" by his men.

As a result of Villa’s raid on Columbus on 9 March 1916 the U.S. initiated a punitive expedition led by John “Black Jack" Pershing against Villa and his men. Scouring the Mexiacan countryside they were unable to find Villa. However Cardenas was not so fortunate.

While leading a foraging expedition (really an excuse to search haciendas of known Villa leaders and sympathizers) Lt. George S. Patton (who would go on to become General Patton and commander of the U.S. Third Army in Europe during WWII) found Cardenas holed up in San Miguelito Ranchero. Patton had pulled up along with 10 U.S. Troopers in three vehicles forcing Cardenas and two of his men to flee on horseback.

A gunfight ensued during which Patton is said to have gunned down all three men with his famous six gun. Carving a notch in the handle of his pistol Patton then strapped the body of Cardenas and the two other "Villistas" to the bonnet (hood) of his car before driving back to U.S. Headquarters.

Gringos new 28mm of Cardenas will be available at Salute 2012 and from our secure online store at
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