First Division Museum at Cantigny

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Author and blogger Scott L. Mingus, Sr. stands in front of one of dozen or so World War II and World War I tanks that on the grounds of the First Division Museum at Cantigny, a fascinating free museum in Wheaton, Illinois.

I am in Chicago on business this week while visiting suppliers and customers and speaking at the Specialty Papers Conference 2009. I took an afternoon to meet with my good friend and long-time wargame scenario book publisher Ivor Janci and his charming wife Frani. Ivor and I toured the First Division Museum, which is on the grounds of the estate of millionaire newspaper baron Robert R. McCormick, who owned the Chicago Tribune and became known prior to World War II for his isolationist ideals.  During the first world war, he served in the 1st Battery, 5th Field Artillery Regiment, with the First Infantry Division and served in several battles, including Cantigny in northern France. He later named his sprawling estate for the battle and the grounds now house the wonderful First Division Museum.

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The museum boasts several excellent walk-through dioramas featuring “The Big Red One” in action in World War I in the trenches, in World War II at D-Day and the Battle of the Bulge, in the jungles of Vietnam, and in Desert Storm.

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This is one of the 90% scale dioramas of the World War II section of the First Division Museum at Cantigny.

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Graphic designer Ivor Janci stands by the Desert Storm diorama.

Ivor was an artist for TSR in some of the early classic wargames they published and with Frani has owned Marek Janci Design for many years. He caters to businesses that are looking for excellence in graphic arts and layouts for brochures, catalogs, and advertising pieces. Among his sidelights are producing beautiful wargaming scenario books, including my Johnny Reb 3 series and the Brothers Divided book he published this past spring for his Brother Against Brother rules system.

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The D-Day walk-through diorama is particularly impressive!

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In the entrance lobby / foyer to the FREE museum are mannequins dressed to represent soldiers of the American Revolution, the Civil War, and the Spanish-American War.

No, the First Division was not in the Civil War, having been organized decades later. However, some of the ancestors of Illinois members of the famed division served in the Civil War, including in the 8th Illinois Cavalry. That distinguished unit was part of John Buford’s brigade and its defense of McPherson Ridge during the Battle of Gettysburg (the subject of one of the wargaming scenarios Ivor published in Enduring Valor: Gettysburg in Miniature, Volume 1.

The First Division Museum at Cantigny is open year-round (until 5 PM in the summer and until 4 PM in the fall and winter months). Admissionis free; parking is $5. The grounds are open for walking even after the museum is closed.

Thanks Ivor for a great day!

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Categories: Wargaming in general | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

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One thought on “First Division Museum at Cantigny

  1. I remember going to this museum while in Boy Scouts and being very impressed bythe WW1 trench replica. The hike was wet as it rained most of the time, but it was a cool BSA trip for our troop.

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