Monthly Archives: June 2007

What Civil War figures do you have in your miniature armies?

Years ago, I started miniature wargaming in college at Miami of Ohio using 20mm lead-pewter figures from K+L, and Oklahoma-based casting company. I stumbled across their ad in the back of Civil War Times Illustrated and, having been introduced to miniature gaming by George Nafziger (now a well known author), I purchased several figures and combined them with my old HO-scale plastic Civil War “army men” into a cohesive force.

After college, I went to work near Cleveland, Ohio, for office products and self-adhesive label company Avery Dennison. My collection soon changed from a focus on 20mm to 15mm, a smaller scale with much more variety of poses and manufacturers. I invested rather heavily in Stone Mountain, Minifigs, and Old Glory figures, as well as Musket Miniatures. over time, I added in a few figures from Peter Pig, Naismith Design, RAFM, Falcon, Yucca, Empire, Essex, and other manufacturers of metal figures. A few years ago after moving to Pennsylvania, I bought some painted AB Figures from Larry Reber and I was hooked on this line, which blends well on a stand with Old Glory figures.

I eventually sold off my old Minifigs, Musket Miniatures, and Falcon figures to focus on OG and AB, which make up the bulk of the 15mm army I use today for gaming and conventions. I still have my old 20mm K+L / Thomas figures.

What figure manufacturer(s) do you prefer?

Categories: Civil War wargaming | 4 Comments

Learning from the master

The past couple of days, I had the distinct privilege of tramping the fields of Gettysburg with some outstanding tour guides, including the incomparable Ed Bearss, who led two tours on Saturday and accompanied us on today’s battlewalk. Ed’s delivery and style are certainly unique, and his memory for details is simply amazing. He’s in his early 80s, but walked briskly up steep slopes and hillsides that readily winded men half his age in the 100+ trampers. The event was the annual spring muster of the Gettysburg Discussion Group (GDG), and attendance was way up due primarily to Ed’s presence as a tour leader.

I missed the Friday presentations and group dinner at Gina’s restaurant due to work and family commitments. However, I was there for all the rest of the weekend events, starting with Tim Smith and Gary Adelman’s 7 a.m. battlewalk of Spangler’s Spring and the events on the lower elevation of Culp’s Hill (that portion was actually owned by Spangler, not Mr. Culp). Then, it was time hike miles in the heat and humidity with Ed Bearss and Dean Schultz (the local guru on Gettysburg people and places). Ed and Dean led the trampers in the path of Hood’s Division from the Alabama Monument on Confederate Avenue across the Bushman and Slyder farms, up the slopes to the deceptively steep knolls near the G.W. Weikert, later known as the Timbers, farm. Ed was talking in his rapid fire all the way up the slopes while most of us were gasping for air. He finished at Devil’s Den and the Slaughter Pen.

In the afternoon, Ed led a second tour, this one of Early’s attack on Cemetery Hill, focused on the North Carolinians’ advance (Col. I. E. Avery’s brigade). Nearly 1/3 of the earlier trampers were too tired to take the second walk of the day. Ed had just as much energy when he was done talking and hiking as when he began.

During a two-hour break, I drove over to the battlefield of Fairfield, a scant 10 miles from Gettysburg. I also took time to look over the terrain for one of the forgotten skirmishes of the Gettysburg Campaign – the June 21, 1863, skirmish along Muddy Run northeast of Fairfield between Bell’s Adams County Cavalry and part of Jenkins’ Brigade of Rebels. Then, the muster attendees were treated to a wiener roast at the GAR Hall in Gettysburg, followed by yet another talk (no walking this time) from Ed, whose stamina and energy were unmatched.

On Sunday, Ed hiked along on Dave Schultz and Dave Wieck’s Battle Between the Farm Lanes walk, offering occasional nuggets of information.

A very satisfying weekend, to be sure!!! Sunburn, several ticks I had to shoo off of me, several blisters on my toes, but a lifetime of memories of great fellowship and solid Gettysburg information gleaned from the master, Ed Bearss.

Huzzah! Huzzah! Huzzah!

Categories: Gettysburg | 1 Comment

100 years ago…

A fairly large number of American Civil War veterans lived into the 20th Century, with a small percentage still alive during World War II. My father, born in 1914, clearly remembered a number of aged ACW vets who lived near the Glouster, Ohio, farm where he was raised. He used to tell the story of an local vet named Huhn who used to fall asleep at the general store leaning back on his chair with his feet propped up by a potbelly stove. His own snoring would occasionally startle him, causing him to crash to the wooden floor. Dad used to chuckle at the memory of Private Huhn.

In 1907, tens of thousands of Civil War vets were aging, some gracefully, some not. Here is a snapshot at their world, a far cry from today. It shows how much society had progressed  from the 1860s, yet how far away it was from today’s world. Here are some interesting stats from 1907, only 42 years after Appomattox Court House…

 * The average life expectancy was only 47 years. Every ACW veteran alive in 1907 had already beaten the odds by quite a bit.

* 14% of American houses had bathtubs installed in them. The telephone had been invented and 8% of homes had one. A three-minute call from Denver to New York City cost $11, a staggering sum for that day for this luxury only the rich could enjoy.

* There were 8,000 cars in the USA, and a number of veterans enjoyed rides in “horseless carriages;” America boasted a whopping total of 144 miles of paved roads. The maximum speed limit in most towns was 10 mph.

* A number of ACW veterans had moved to sunny California, which in 1907 had only 1.4 million people, making it the 21st most populous state in the Union.

* Some aging Civil War vets were still in the workforce. The average salary for an American worker was 22 cents a day, and most wage earners could expect between $200 and $400 in annual income. Some professions (as during the war and today) paid much more than others. The typical accountant could earn up to $2000 a year, a first class mechanical engineer often could garner $5,000 a year. Dentists earned about $2,500.

* By 1907, most Civil War veterans were grandfathers; some were great-grandfathers. 95% of all births still occurred at home, a far cry from today. Only 6% of Americans had graduated high school.

* In some cases where inflation during the Civil War was rampant due to an imbalanced supply-demand curve, prices were actually lower for the veteran warriors in 1907. Sugar was 4 cents a pound, eggs 14 cents a dozen, and coffee 15 cents a pound.

* The five leading causes of death in the USA in 1907 were pneumonia / influenza, tuberculosis, diarrhea / dysentery, heart disease, and stroke. Pension records of ACW soldiers from the period are rife with these common causes of their demise.

* The American flag boasted 45 stars; only Arizona, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Alaska, and Hawaii had yet to enter the reunited Union. In the sparsely populated state of Nevada, a total of 30 people in 1907 lived in the tiny hamlet of Las Vegas. Elvis was no where to be found, nor was Wayne Newton or Penn and Teller.

* The tallest building in the world in 1907 was the Eiffel Tower; very few veterans had seen it.

* Some Civil War generals were still alive in 1907 and even during the couple of decades that followed, and there are still a few elderly people alive in 2007 who distinctly remember speaking to them or meeting them. The last general to die, IIRC, was John W. Geary while FDR was President in the early 1930s.

One can only wonder what the next 100 years will bring? One thing is for sure – scholars and ACW buffs in 2107 will still be debating Dan Sickles’s merits as a field commander!

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