May 05, 2017

MTSC PRODUCT SPOTLIGHT: The Mexican Adventure and the French Foreign Legion by Morgan Miniatures

Morgan Miniatures recreates The Mexican Adventure and the famous Battle of Camarón featuring the French Foreign Legion with figures examining the organizations, weapons and uniforms of the forces who fought on both sides of the conflict including the FFL, Mexican Republican Army and Mexican Militia via unique 60mm scale, matte painted, white metal figures.

Morgan figures are produced in England and feature true craftsmanship not possible with todays mass produced figures made in China. Each unique and limited production figure is individually cast and hand-painted in the connoisseur style with no two figures will be painted exactly the same.

Michigan Toy Soldier is the exclusive North American distributor for Morgan Miniatures.
View The Mexican Adventure Listings

The Mexican Adventure also called the War of the French Intervention, the Franco-Mexican War or the Second Franco-Mexican War, was an invasion of Mexico by the Second French Empire, supported in the beginning by the United Kingdom and Spain. It followed President Benito Juárez's suspension of interest payments to foreign countries on 17 July 1861, which angered Mexico's major creditors: Spain, France and Britain.

Emperor Napoleon III of France was the instigator, justifying military intervention by claiming a broad foreign policy of commitment to free trade. For him, a friendly government in Mexico would ensure European access to Latin American markets. Napoleon also wanted the silver that could be mined in Mexico to finance his empire. Napoleon built a coalition with Spain and Britain while the U.S. was engaged in civil war.

The three European powers signed the Treaty of London on 31 October, to unite their efforts to receive payments from Mexico. On 8 December the Spanish fleet and troops arrived at Mexico's main port, Veracruz. When the British and Spanish discovered however that France planned to seize all of Mexico, they quickly withdrew.

The subsequent French invasion resulted in the Second Mexican Empire, which was supported by the Roman Catholic clergy, many conservative elements of the upper class, and some indigenous communities; the presidential terms of Benito Juárez (1858–71) were interrupted by the rule of the Habsburg monarchy in Mexico (1864–67). Conservatives, and many in the Mexican nobility, tried to revive the monarchical form of government when they helped to bring to Mexico an archduke from the Royal House of Austria, Maximilian Ferdinand, or Maximilian I. France had various interests in this Mexican affair, such as seeking reconciliation with Austria, which had been defeated during the Franco-Austrian War of 1859, counterbalancing the growing American Protestant power by developing a powerful Catholic neighboring empire, and exploiting the rich mines in the north-west of the country.

After the end of the American civil war the US government forced France to withdraw its troops and the empire collapsed. Maximilian I was executed in 1867.

French Foreign Legion at Camarón
The Battle of Camarón which occurred on 30 April 1863 between the French Foreign Legion and the Mexican Republican  army, is regarded as a defining moment in the Foreign Legion's history. A small infantry patrol, led by Captain Jean Danjou, numbering just 65 men was attacked and besieged by a force that may have eventually reached 3,000 Mexican infantry and cavalry, and was forced to make a defensive stand at the nearby Hacienda Camarón, in Camarón de Tejeda, Veracruz, Mexico. The conduct of the Legion, who refused to surrender, led to a certain mystique — and the battle of Camarón became synonymous with bravery and a fight-to-the-death attitude of the FFL.

On 30 April, at 01:00, the 3rd company — 62 soldiers and three officers — was en route. After a 15-mile march, they stopped at Palo Verde to rest and "prepare the coffee". Soon after, a Mexican Army force of 800 horsemen was sighted. Captain Danjou ordered the company take up a square formation, and, though retreating, he rebuffed several cavalry charges, inflicting the first heavy losses on the Mexicans that suffered from long-range rifle fire.

Seeking a more defensible position, Danjou made a stand at the nearby Hacienda Camarón, an inn protected by a 3-meter-high (9.8 feet) wall. His plan was to occupy Mexican forces to prevent attacks against the nearby convoy. While his legionnaires prepared to defend the inn, the Mexican commander, Colonel Francisco de Paula Milán demanded that Danjou and soldiers surrender, noting the Mexican Army's numeric superiority. Danjou replied: "We have munitions. We will not surrender.”  He and his men then swore to fight to the death.

At around 11:00. the size of the Mexican force was increased by the arrival of 2,200 infantrymen. The Hacienda came under fire and the French had lost all water early in the morning when pack mules were lost during the retreat. At midday, Captain Danjou was shot in the chest and died; his soldiers continued fighting under the command of Lt. Vilain, who held for four hours before falling during an assault.

At 17:00. only 12 Legionnaires remained around under the command of Lt. Maudet. By 18:00, with ammunition exhausted, the last of Danjou's soldiers, numbering only five, including Maudet, desperately mounted a bayonet charge. Two men died outright, while the rest continued the assault. The tiny group was surrounded. A Belgian Legionnaire, Victor Catteau, leapt in front of Maudet in an effort to protect him from the Mexican guns when they were leveled at him but died in vain, as both he and Lt. Maudet were hit in the barrage.

Colonel Milán, commander of the Mexicans managed to prevent his men from executing the two surviving legionnaires. When they were asked to surrender, they insisted that they should be allowed safe passage home, to keep their arms, and to escort the body of Captain Danjou, to which Milán commented "What can I refuse to such men? No, these are not men, they are devils", and agreed to these terms.

Captain Danjou was a professional soldier and had lost his left hand while on a mapping expedition in the Kabyia campaign. He had a wooden articulated prosthetic hand made, painted to resemble a glove, strapped to his left forearm. Overlooked by both French and Mexican comrades who came to bury their dead it was found by an Anglo-French farmer, Langlais. Two years later, it was sold and taken to the Quarter Viénot in Sidi Bel Abbès in French Algeria, the home of the Foreign Legion. When the Legion moved to France, Capitaine Danjou's wooden hand was taken to Aubagne where it remains in the Legion Museum. The hand is the most cherished artifact in Legion history[citation needed] and the prestige and honor granted to a Legionnaire to carry it on parade in its protective case is among the greatest bestowed on a Legionnaire.

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