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?