Posts Tagged With: Civil War diorama

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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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

Old photos of a private Civil War diorama in Connecticut

Cannonball reader Mark Anderson supplied these photographs which first appeared in the Birmingham News supplement on June 24, 1956. Identifiable figure manufacturers include Bussler, Wm. Britains, and Tru-Craft.

The 1950s marked the beginning of the golden era of toy soldiers. So many manufacturers came and went in the 50s and 60s, with so many wonderful memories for a generation of boys. I had a huge collection of 54mm figures, which included Marx, Timpo, MPC Ring-hand, and so many others. My kids, and now my grandsons, played with them as well, so we have received three generations of fun and entertainment from the toy soldiers.

One wonders what ever happened to the Connecticut diorama shown above and below?

Scan of another page of the old newspaper article from 1956. Ike was in the White House, and interest in action-oriented themes was high. It was the era of Davy Crockett, science fiction, toy soldiers, cowboys and Indians, and the like.

Categories: Civil War dioramas, Civil War toys | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

Pennsylvania Dutch farm in miniature!

I have recently completed a small vignette for my wargaming table, as well as to use to attract attention to my table when I am selling and signing my Civil War books I have written. This scene shows a Pennsylvania German farmer, let’s call him Jacob, nervously guarding his barn as he spots a distant dust cloud which indicates the arrival of Confederate foraging parties in his neighborhood. “Here come the Rebels!” has been the cry for weeks, and they have not come.

Until now, that is.

Jacob has failed to take his horses to safety (they are in the stable in back of the barn). He will attempt to negotiate with the raiders. He has a yellow membership card to the Knights of the Golden Circle, knows their secret password and identifying hand signals. For this information he has paid $1 to a couple of men from New York City who have visited his farm. They sold him the ticket and secret signs and told him the Rebels would leave his personal property, livestock, and horses alone if he showed them he was a member of the Southern-sympathizing K.G.C.

Click on the photos for better views of old Jacob and his farmstead.

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Categories: Buildings and structures, Civil War dioramas, Civil War wargaming, Terrain | Tags: | 1 Comment

A large Gettysburg diorama/wargame in Germany

How’s this for a very large gaming layout / Civil War diorama? The tabletop is 80 square meters (yes, 80!!!) in area and there are 25,000 carefully painted 25mm figures in miniature action! A gaming group in Germany has constructed this impressive layout for their planned refight of the Battle of Gettysburg in miniature.

Very nice, indeed!

For more photos by Uwe Wild, please click here.

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Some more from master dioramist Dennis Morris

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New York hobbyist Dennis Morris has just completed another section of his massive diorama of the Battle of Gettysburg. Here is a view of the Union defenses on Little Round Top, looking toward embattled Devil’s Den.

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Categories: Civil War dioramas, Civil War toys, Gettysburg | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments

Some more info on the old Dobbin House diorama at Gettysburg

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A vintage photograph of the Gettysburg Battlefield Diorama in the old Dobbin House on Steinwehr Avenue in Gettysburg.

Background post: The long gone Dobbin House diorama at Gettysburg

A Charge! reader sent me some interesting information on the Gettysburg Diorama that used to be located in the historic Dobbin House in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. The diorama was constructed by a York, PA, man, Curvin Heiss and his son. Heiss hard carved the molds and then cast the figures. He and his son Curvin Jr. then hand painted the 54mm Civil War figures.

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Categories: Civil War dioramas, Civil War toys, Gettysburg | Tags: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

The long gone Dobbin House diorama at Gettysburg

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Courtesy of Don Wiles, Carlisle’s Michael J, and the good folks at militaryhistoryonline.com, I present a few photographs of the old Civil War diorama that once graced the Dobbin House on the south side of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Pictured is a scene of Pickett’s Charge as Rebels slam into the Union II Corps line. Figures are 54mm from various makers.

The diorama was in its heyday during the 1960s when it was a relatively popular attraction. Curvin Heiss was the building’s owner during that time frame, and it housed a museum and gift shop. I remember riding by the Dobbin House during my first visit to Gettysburg in 1968, seeing the large banner hanging from the second story advertising the diorama, and wishing we had the time to stop and see it (we were on a tight schedule, but my Dad bought me a nice box of 54mm Britains “Eyes Right” ACW figures so I could play toy soldiers on the ride to Hershey).

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Categories: Civil War dioramas, Civil War toys, Gettysburg | Tags: , , , , , | 27 Comments

Gettysburg Diorama at Artillery Ridge Campground

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The prosperous rural town of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, is surrounded by swirling fighting between the Blue and the Gray in this impressive photograph of the Artillery Ridge Campground’s Battle of Gettysburg diorama.

Many years ago, I read an article in Civil War Times Illustrated about a Civil War diorama that had been constructed by a western Michigan man using 20,000+ hand-painted HO scale plastic Civil War toy soldiers (Airfix, Revell, Itali, and several other brands). The huge diorama portrayed the entire Battle of Gettysburg in scale, and was then on display in a shopping mall near Kalamazoo, Michigan. The owner’s dream was to eventually sell the diorama to someone who would relocate it to a permanent place in or near Gettysburg. That dream later became reality when the massive diorama was shipped to Artillery Ridge Campground on Taneytown Road in Gettysburg, where has been available ever since for public view for a modest fee.

Terrain maker and gamer Randy Miller was kind enough to send me a link to several dozen photographs of this diorama that he snapped while visiting Gettysburg during the 145th Anniversary celebrations last July. Here are a few more photos, as well as a hotlink to his photo gallery.

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Categories: Civil War dioramas, Civil War toys, Gettysburg | Tags: , , , , | 7 Comments

28mm Pickett’s Charge diorama at the old Cyclorama Center

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For the last couple of years that the old Cyclorama building was in use at the Gettysburg National Military Park in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, the lobby was graced by a large and quite impressive Civil War diorama of Pickett’s Charge. Constructed and painted by a local hobbyist in Gettysburg, the collection is no longer on public display. However, Larry Reber of Gettysburg Soldiers took a few photos to memorialize this now defunct diorama. Here are some of Larry’s photos.

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Categories: Civil War dioramas, Gettysburg | Tags: , , , , , | 9 Comments

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