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.
And the rest, as they say, is history.
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).
Here are some of Stephen’s photos. Great work!
I received a series of photographs and the following narrative from veteran dioramist Stephen Schultheis, Jr., whose previous work has been featured here on the JRGS’s Charge! blog in the past.
Here is a selection of the photos he submitted of his impressive layout.
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
I took two of my grandsons to Cold Wars 2019 in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, a couple of weeks ago. My 10-year-old grandson Aidan Mingus took a few shots of some of the games. Here are some of his images.
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!
Over the years, I have frequently mentioned my friend Dennis Morris, a talented dioramist and miniaturist from upstate New York. He created a wonderful diorama of the battlefield of Gettysburg that has drawn raves. He subsequently combined his talents of created miniature layouts of Gettysburg with his passion for photography to create “diographs,” photographs of his dioramas.
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).
Osprey Publishing has released its latest book in its popular Campaign series, this one covering the 1864 Nashville Campaign. Private John D. Sisson, my great-great-grandfather on my mother’s side, fought on the Union side in this campaign as a 15-year-old musician-turned-rifleman for the 51st Ohio Volunteer Infantry. He carried the memories of the marching and fighting until his death in 1937, making him one of the last veterans from the battle of Nashville in the Buckeye State. My late mother relayed some of these stories to me, so the Nashville Campaign has always been of interest.
The new Osprey book, titled Nashville 1864: From the Tennessee to the Cumberland, is the product of author Mark Lardas and long-time Osprey illustrator Adam Hook. This is Campaign 314 from the ongoing series and is representative of the high quality that we have come to expect from the series. Accurate and concise prose, profuse illustrations, Hook’s excellent full-color maps and custom paintings, and a fine graphics layout make this as appealing as any Osprey title (perhaps more so for me with my personal connection to Nashville and Franklin).