Steve Miller’s diorama of Fort Phil Kearny

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Steve Miller was an Indian Wars reenactor off and on for some 20+ years during his Air Force career. He has also been a board wargamer, primarily WWII but with 8 or 9 Civil War titles in his collection.

Another of his interests is the Old West.  Back in the early 1960s he borrowed Dee Brown’s “Fort Phil Kearny, an American Saga” as a book from his high school library.  He also built a small perhaps 24 inch by 18 “cavalry fort” and “manned” it with HO scale Thomas figures purchased from K+L of Tulsa, Oklahoma, and with AirFix plastic Indians.  When he was commissioned as a 2Lt in the Air Force in 1968 and left for active duty, both the fort and the miniatures were left at his parents’ home. Over time they disposed of all of them.

Years later, Steve began Indian Wars reenacting in Tucson, San Antonio, and finally southern California, but never thought much about his boyhood diorama until this past January. He re-read Dee Brown’s book about Fort Phil Kearny again,inspiring him to try to build another diorama.  He had taken Terry Johnson’s “Northern Plains Indian Wars Tour” in about 1999 which included a visit to the Fort Phil Kearny HIstorical Site outside of Sheridan, WY. That museum contained a diorama.
Steve googled Ft Phil Kearny, found its web page, and saw a picture of that diorama and a note showing that it had been created by Bob Wilson, once the site superintendent but since retired. Steve was able to contact Mr. Wilson, compare notes, learn of some of the factual errors in Dee Brown’s old book, and begin planning his own diorama.
As for the layout of the post, “MIlitary Posts of the Powder River” was the most useful.  In it and in “Red Cloud’s War” Steve Miller learned that the fort was much larger that what was mentioned in Brown’s book (400 ft by 400 ft). It turns out that was the size of just the parade ground.  The actual size of the “main” fort was 800 feet by 600 feet, and attached to that was the Quartermaster Yard of 600 feet by 250 feet.  At a 1/72 scale, he was going to need a table 20 feet long and 8 feet wide.
Oops, he didn’t happen to have a room that would accommodate that.   What to do?
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Osprey has been busy recently!

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Osprey has recently published several new books of various genres covering several periods of military history.  Napoleonic Heavy Cavalry & Dragoon Tactics is self-explanatory, and is a useful treatise on the uniforms, armament, and tactics used by the Imperial troops and their many adversaries. Like most of Osprey’s past titles, this is lavishly illustrated with original artwork. Plates show the typical heavy cavalrymen, as well as illustrating their tactics on the battlefield.

The French Musketeer 1622-1775 covers the period made famous by Alexander Dumas in his classic book with the tale of Athos, Porthos, and Aramis, and their young friend D’Artagnan. Again, color plates show examples of uniforms. The books details the formation of the Musketeers, their rise to prominence, and their eventual downfall.

Manzikert 1071 details a critical battle between the Byzantine Empire and the Seljuq Turks at the start of the second millenium.  In a pitched fight, forces under the sultan Alp-Arslan defeated the troops of Romanus IV Diogenes in what is now modern Turkey,

Another of the recent publications is an army list for the popular rules set Bolt Action, written by Alessio Cavatore and Rick Priestley.  This new book covers the Armies of Imperial Japan.

Ronin is a new rules set covering skirmish wargaming in the age of the Samurai,  For more information, see Osprey’s webpage for the book.

Daniel Mersey’s new book King Arthur is the latest edition in the Myths and Legends series .

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Two new Civil War books from Osprey

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The good folks at Osprey continue to pump out new books with regularity, including titles focused on the American Civil War. Clayton James Donnell is the author of a new book entitled Shenandoah Valley 1862, an excellent entry-level treatise on Stonewall Jackson’s brilliant operations in the Valley in the spring of 1862. Other than a loss to Nathan Kimball early in the campaign at Kernstown, Jackson confounded a myriad of Union commanders and eventually cleared most of the Valley for the Confederate cause. Connell gives a sweeping overview of the movements, the battles, and the strategic and tactical implications of the fighting. Augmented with Adam Hook’s usual fine illustrations and maps and an array of period photographs and illustrations, this book is a useful addition to the Osprey lineup.

Long-time author and historian Ron Field is back with his latest work for Osprey, Lincoln’s 90-day Volunteers 1861.  This is a concise account of how the states responded to President Abraham Lincoln’s call for 75,000 volunteers for three months to put down the rebellion, a seemingly easy task at the time. Field uses period newspapers, letters, diaries, and other first-person accounts to describe the response, the numbers of men, their armament and uniforms, and their early days as soldiers. As with Donnell’s book, Adam Hook has provided original graphics with some excellent plates of the early war uniforms (often gray for many of the Union fledgling regiments, which created some confusion at Manassas/Bull Run).

Here are a few photos of selected pages from the two new books, which are great additions to the ever growing Osprey lineup.

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Farewell to Charge!

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After 10 years of publication, Debi and I have printed the final issue of Charge!, the official newsletter of the Johnny Reb Gaming Society. We published more than 100 American Civil War scenarios over the years, terrain tips, painting guides, and articles of interest to the ACW gamer.

It was a great run, but after 40 issues, it was time to stop and move on to other things. I will be focusing on writing more ACW books (I have 10 in print, with 3 more in various stages of pre-publication).

Farewell.

Categories: Civil War wargaming | 1 Comment

My 15mm wargame demo at the Chambersburg Civil War Seminar

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On Friday, July 26, 2013, I presented a demonstration of a wargame layout to the attendees of the Chambersburg Civil War Seminar at Wilson College in Chambersburg, PA.  Many people stopped to comment on the terrain, figures, and structures, and several expressed a desire to learn more about the hobby of miniature wargaming.

Here are a few more photographs of my 15mm ACW game.

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Categories: Civil War wargaming | 5 Comments

New book on the American Presidents

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Of the hundreds of millions of people who have lived in America, less than 50 men have been elected as President of the United States. Some such as George Washington, Andrew Jackson, Grant and Ike were military heroes  (a once common way of achieving the White House). Others with seasoned politicians at the local or national level (governors, senators, congressmen), many of which were attorneys before entering politics. A handful were brilliant global statesmen with impressive resumes of international experience. Some of these men have remained famous and readily come to mind. Others have drifted into obscurity and are rarely discussed today.

What they all had in common was the enormity of the task of leading the United States in an ever changing world, once which over the past three centuries has become more complex and challenging on the international level. Yet, all of these presidents faced challenges unique to their own times, as well as the more mundane tasks of fighting Congress and political opponents, stimulating and growing the economy, protecting the borders and dealing with immigration, and how to properly maintain a military. Some had to face these challenges while dealing with overwhelming personal challenges, either health-wise or family-wise.

Some succeeded. Some failed. All deserve recognition.

Author Kathryn Moore has assembled a comprehensive single-volume book which explores the men who held the position. The new book is entitled The American President: Detailed Biographies, Historical Timelines, from George Washington to Barack Obama (Fall River imprint of Sterling Press, 2013, ISBN 978-1-4351-4602-0, MSRP $19.95). At a whopping 678 pages, this book makes a useful reference work, replete with enough details on each man to give the reader a solid overview of the presidents’ views, challenges, family, political leanings, and key issues. She supports the book with a worthwhile website with even more information and background details.

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Massive new U.S. Army photo book is a winner!

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The United States Army, rooted in the Continental Army of the late 1700s, tested in battle against domestic foes and  international forces, is now into its third century of existence. Hundreds of thousands of illustrations, photographs, paintings, and other graphics exist of uniforms, commanders, common soldiers, battlegrounds, and equipment/weaponry/vehicles/ships. Author D. M. Giangreco has mined these and selected a wonderful array of photographs and other visual media to illustrate his new book, United States Army: The Definitive Illustrated History.

1,400 to be precise.

In a stunning work which easily lives up to its name as the “definitive illustrated history,” Giangreco and his editors and publisher have created a book which is sure to be popular with anyone who has ever served in the U. S. Army, knows someone who did, or simply likes war stories and military history. The illustrations are lavish, frequent, and appropriate to tell the sweeping story of the everyday U.S. soldier in camp, on the march, or in combat. Here are photos of famous leaders, the warriors they c0mmanded, and the fields on which they served, and in some cases, bled and died.

Here are a few sample pages to give an idea of the general layout of the book, which is a must have for anyone interested in the Army.

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Categories: Civil War books | Tags: , | 2 Comments

Wargamer Brad Butkovich issues new history of the Battle of Pickett’s Mills

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Brad Butkovich is known in Civil War wagaming circles for a series of excellent scenario books for regimental-level gaming, with a strong focus on action in the Western Theater. His research skills and attention to detail are evident in those scenario books, as is his grasp of the military tactics and objectives of the commanders.

Based in Lilburn, Georgia, Brad has maintained a keen interest in Civil War events in his region, including the May 1864 Battle of Pickett’s Mill. The old battlefield has remained free from major development, and in recent years has been preserved and nicely interpreted, sparking renewed interest in this early fight between William T. Sherman’s Union forces and the Confederates of Joseph E. Johnston. More than 2,000 men died in what became one of Sherman’s rare severe defeats, one which he conveniently neglected to mention in his post-war memoirs. It was a stinging loss, one which largely has also been overlooked in most histories of the fighting in North Georgia other than a passing mention.

Brad has corrected this oversight in his new book, which thoroughly recounts the fighting which Union soldier and later author Ambrose Bierce, sickened at the carnage to Sherman’s blue-clad ranks, deemed as “the dead-line.”

This 207-page book is divided into 17 short chapters which set up the battle in its military context, examine the leaders and major personalities, recount the movements of the opposing forces to come to the encounter, and then present the battle situation and unfolding combat action. Butkovich then dives into the aftermath of the fighting and what the next steps were for Sherman, Johnston, and their key subordinates.  He then finishes with an interesting account of the postwar history of the main properties where the fighting occurred and the efforts to preserve the old battlefield as a memorial park so that future generations may ponder what happened there.

Among the many useful features of the book are the excellent maps, which are plentiful and well crafted. Drawing from his previous experience in creating his own maps for his wargaming efforts, Brad has included more than a dozen useful maps of various phases of the Battle of Pickett’s Mill.  All are well done and serve the dual purpose of helping illustrate the ebb and flow of battle and to serve as an inspiration for tabletop wargaming the various phases of the battle.

All in all, this is an excellent addition to the historiography of the warfare in North Georgia and William T. Sherman’s movements toward Atlanta in the spring of 1863.

Brad Butkovich’s The Battle of Pickett’s Mill: Along the Dead-Line is a product of The History Press and is part of their popular Civil War Sesquicentennial  Series. The annotated,indexed book retails for $21.99 but can often be found at a lower price deeply discounted on amazon.com. It’s well worth the investment and should be a “must have” for anyone interested in the Atlanta and North Georgia military operations.

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Diorama of the old Confederate Soldiers Home in Richmond

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The Confederate Soldiers Home in Richmond was established after the Civil War through the efforts of the Robert E. Lee Camp #1 of the Sons of Confederate Veterans and others, including a letter of endorsement from an ailing ex-president U. S. Grant. According to the society’s website, “On April 18, 1883 a group of concerned Confederate Veterans met in Richmond, Virginia, to form the Camp Lee Soldiers’ Home (also called Confederate Soldiers’ Home, Confederate Veterans Soldiers’ Home, R. E. Lee Camp Soldiers’ Home, Lee Camp Soldiers’ Home, or Old Soldiers’ Home) as a benevolent society to aid their needy former comrades. The Robert E. Lee Camp, No. 1, Confederate Veterans was incorporated March 13, 1884. In the year that followed, the camp raised funds and acquired land in Western Richmond for a home. The Home opened on January 1, 1885, and it was located in the corner of Grove Ave. and the Boulevard in Richmond, Virginia. Plagued by financial difficulties, they sought money from the state. In 1886, the General Assembly authorized a small annual appropriation which was increased in 1892 in return for the deed to the property. The home was under the Dept. of Public Welfare until it closed in 1941, upon the death of the last resident.”

Here are some more photos of the diorama, which is located in one of the two surviving buildings, the Confederate War Memorial Chapel (also known as the Pelham Chapel). The other building is the Robinson Building. The rest of the old soldiers home is gone, and now the Virginia Fine Arts Museum and the Virginia Historical Society sit on the old site.

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Categories: Civil War wargaming | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

FREE rules for ACW wargaming – Give Them the Cold Steel!

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Ed McKie has graciously allowed the Johnny Reb Gaming Society to publish here on our website his new rules for miniature wargames for the American Civil War (ACW) period.  He maintains a support site which has more details on these new rules. It is a Yahoo site http://games.groups.yahoo.com/group/GiveThemtheColdSteel/ where quick play sheets and game counters can be found.

Give Them the Cold Steel is an interesting addition to the pantheon of published rules for ACW wargaming, and are worth a look, especially since Ed has provided them as a FREE service to the wargaming community.

Here are the rules and supporting files:

Please try out these rules when you get a chance, and report your likes and dislikes by adding comments to this blog post. Feel free to suggest any improvements or house rules, or any after-action reports!

Thanks Ed for your generous contribution to the JRGS and our CHARGE! website!

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