When my kids were little, we lived in northeastern Ohio. I used to enjoy perusing The Garage Sale Store on Mentor Avenue in downtown Mentor, Ohio. The owner bought leftover items that did not sell at area yard sales. On one such visit to his establishment, I spent $5 on a Cowboys and Indians playset for my kids to enjoy.
The set was almost intact, with nearly all of the 16 Cowboys and 16 Native Americans present, as well as the entire fort and most of the accessories. Here is the original advertisement for this playset:
As you can set, when new, the set sold for $13.99 in the 1970s.
My boys enjoyed playing with this set, as well as my old Fort Apache and Fort Cheyenne from my childhood.
22 Civil War books that I have written to date. 1 Underground Railroad book. 6 miniature wargaming books. 6,193 Civil War books from my inventory sold and signed in person at my frequent lectures and PowerPoint talks in the past 10 years. Thousands of books sold by book retailers and amazon. 67,000 miles on my Buick in six years just to give talks in 17 different states from Maine to Texas. The Legion of Honor for the Historical Miniature Gamijng Society. Some amazing friends. Two sons who are college history professors. A deep love for Civil War history that I am trying to pass down now to my six grandkids.
And it all started on Christmas morning 1962 in a village in southeastern Ohio.
Little did my parents know that a shopping trip to Montgomery Ward to look for gifts for my sister and me would change the rest of my life so profoundly. My dad, a WWII veteran who had landed on Omaha Beach on June 7, 1944 (the day after D-Day), was a man of many talents and a modest income working for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, using his degree in forestry.
He and mom shelled out several dollars of their hard-earned cash for a huge box of toy soldiers to give to me.
The Civil War Centennial edition of the classic Marx Blue & Gray playset.
Dioramist Stephen Schultheis sent me several photos of his revised and expanded diorama of the Civil War battle of Pea Ridge. Known also as the battle of Elkhorn Tavern, Pea Ridge was fought on March 7 and 8, 1862, near Leetown, Arkansas. Some 16,500 Confederates under Earl Van Dorn clashed with 10,250 Union soldiers under the command of Samuel R. Curtis. More than half of Curtis’s force were German immigrants led by Franz Sigel (of “I fites mit Sigel” fame).
My friend Larry Reber of West Virginia knows I wrote a popular, award-winning book on Confederate General William “Extra Billy” Smith. He was the oldest general in either army at the 1863 battle of Gettysburg and was the governor-elect of Virginia (Smith had previously served as the commonwealth’s governor during the Mexican War years).
A few years ago, Larry graciously made me a customized 15mm miniature of Extra Billy. Here, I show the tiny general sitting on his horse in the shade of his characteristic blue umbrella that he always carried with him (even into battle!).
The colorful Smith had been a five-time U. S. congressman from Virginia after being a 49er in California. He served in the Confederate Congress and was colonel of the 49th Virginia before becoming a brigadier general under Jubal Early. Continue reading →
Ian Fainges, Brad Smith, and the wargamers from Down Under (Australia) are back with another great 40mm American Civil War miniature wargame. This time, Ian has graciously sent me photos of their recent game depicting the battle of Helena, Arkansas, fought on July 4, 1863, during the Vicksburg Campaign. The Union victory secured eastern Arkansas for the Federal government for the duration of the war. The battle featured cavalry, a black regiment from Arkansas, infantry, artillery earthworks, and the USS Tyler, a riverine gunboat.
Here are some of the photos of this interesting-looking game!
Knowing of my interest in Civil War artillery battery commander, Charles Hazlett, who is buried in my hometown of Zanesville, Ohio, Dennis recently sent me an outstanding diograph of Hazlett and his men hauling a gun into position on Little Round Top. I admire the drama and action of this fine work.
Dennis sells his work though his website. Diographs make excellent wall hangings for your game room, man cave, den, or library!
John Zabawa’s Gettysburg Miniature Soldiers has long been a favorite stop for many wargamers, plastic toy soldier collectors, and those hobbyists who enjoy high-quality 54mm collectibles such as King & Country, Conte, Britains, etc. I always enjoy visiting with John; he’s one of the true gentlemen of our hobby — very knowledgeable, strong on customer service, and well informed.
Recently, I stopped by his shop on Steinwehr Avenue on the south side of Gettysburg during a visit to town with some of my family members. The store, as always, is filled with eye candy — row after row of every kind of plastic army men and military toys that one can imagine, vintage Marx boxes from my childhood, shelves stuffed full of model kits, bags of unpainted wargaming figures, finished dioramas that will dazzle you, hobby supplies, and so much more. It’s all here.
John has a back room where he maintains a large gaming table for the gamers who regularly meet in the store.
On my visit, he had a 15mm layout of Pickett’s Charge set up, ready to play. Here are a few photos. I really like the custom-built Lutheran Seminary that he placed at the end for visual effect (yes, it was not on the field of the assault, but it is a cool-looking model, designed and built by very talented modeler Gary Manville).