Monthly Archives: May 2008

A marvelous day at Antietam

The Dunker or Dunkard Church (photo by SLM)

Today, I took my two-year-old grandson and his uncle (my younger son) to the Antietam National Battlefield for the day. The weather was delightful – sunny and warm, and the comraderie outstanding. We were disappointed that our favorite fast food restaurant in the area was out of business (Fazoli’s in Hagerstown) and replaced by a Roy Rogers (which we hate). We ended up at Mickey D’s… quite a come down from Fazoli’s all-you-can-eat breadsticks!

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Categories: Antietam, Civil War sites | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Speaking engagement at the Chambersburg Civil War Seminar in July

I will be speaking at the annual Chambersburg Civil War Seminar on Friday, July 25, prior to heading to Ohio for some meetings (yes, I will miss this year’s Historicon as a result). My talk will be on Human Interest Stories from the Gettysburg Campaign, and I will relate several anecdotes and incidents from my book of the same title. I will also be autographing copies of my three books, and, with some luck, we may have my fourth book on sale at that time. We shall see..

Categories: Civil War anecdotes, Civil War books, Gettysburg | Leave a comment

Through the eyes of a child

I am on vacation this week helping my wife babysit our two-year-old grandson. What an absolute joy! My own kids have all completed their college undergrads and the two oldest hold master’s degrees in their fields. All of their toys from when they were little kids are still in a whole bunch of boxes in our “warehouse room” in our basement, along with my old toy Marx playsets and toy soldiers. I have dug out some of my oldest son’s old Fisher Price playsets and other vintage toys for my grandson to enjoy, and this morning he has been happily playing with them.

You can tell that he is a product of a family who loves history and frequents the nearby Gettysburg battlefield. In our yard, we have a series of small round flat stepping stones that have mythical faces of the moon, sun, and various stars on them. We use them to mark the four corners of our property. As these are gray in color and stone in texture, the little guy delights in running around the yard and finding them. To my surprise, he informed me they are “sol-jers” like at Gettysburg. He apparently compares them to the many stone monuments at the Gettysburg National Military Park. Yesterday, at least six or times he asked to see the “sol-jers,” and spent many happy minutes walking the perimeter of my subdivision lot to find them.

It won’t be long before he and I are debating the merits of Stuart’s ride or the wisdom of launching Pickett’s Charge. His love for the battlefield monuments and grandpa’s yard “sol-jers” are themselves stepping stones to what hopefully will be a lifelong interest in learning about what our past was so we can dream about what tomorrow may be. 

Categories: Gettysburg, Uncategorized | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Making your battlefield terrain look better!

Click on the photo to enlarge it. This is an example of filling all of the open space on a gaming table with low cost, easy-to-make terrain features. The photo is of Scott Mingus’ s 15mm layout of Union II Corps troops (“Red” Carroll’s Gibraltar Brigade) marching through a northern Maryland village en route to Gettysburg. The gaming table looked almost like a diorama using the proverbial “two-foot rule.”

I really enjoy gaming the Eastern Theater of the American Civil War, because I had ancestors who fought there, as well as some in the Western Theater (my great-great-uncles, the Chambers boys, were in the 7th West Virginia Infantry at Antietam and Gettysburg, and my great-great-grandfather Pvt. John D.  Sisson of Dover, Ohio, was a drummer in the 51st Ohio Volunteer Infantry). Many eastern battlefields were in rolling, open farm country, which offers the opportunity to add considerable color and variety to the gaming table.

The key, to me, is to fill as much of the open space as possible with terrain features. Fields of various colors and textures, large quantities of fencing and stone walls (a diversity of styles of fences helps!), scattered trees even in non-wooded areas — all serve to break up the sightlines and add depth and variety to the observer.

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Categories: Civil War dioramas, Civil War wargaming, Terrain, Wargaming in general | Tags: , , , | 9 Comments

Complete collection of the Official Records for sale! [SOLD]

A reader contacted me to ask if I would publicize the fact that he is offering for sale a complete, 128-volume hardback bound set of the The War of The Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies. This is the 1971-72 republication (a limited edition of 1,500 copies) published by the National Historical Society. Half of this set is still in the original sealed wrappers the books came in orginally and are pristine / mint condition. The other half have been opened and read, but are still in excellent condition. The owner is looking for a good home for these valuable reference and resource materials. These could be purchased and donated to your local historical society or library if you did not want to keep them for personal usage. Please send me an e-mail if you are interested in obtaining more information about these books and I will put you in contact with the seller.


Categories: Civil War books | Tags: , , , , | 22 Comments

The best Civil War diorama???

South Carolinia Confederates from Kershaw’s Brigade approach the Rose Farm at the Battle of Gettysburg in this photo of an outstanding privately-owned Civil War diorama. Click on the photos to enlarge them.

Fellow message board poster Dennis Morris may have the very best Civil War diorama I have ever heard of. He sent me a few photographs with permission to reproduce them in my upcoming Brother Against Brother ACW scenario book, Brothers Divided.

Here are a few more photos – note the detail and quality of this layout! Huzzah Dennis, huzzah! Watch for the new scenario book to see photographs of several ACW layouts from the masters. And, if you have a Civil War diorama you have made, please inform me and I will consider adding yours!

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Categories: Civil War dioramas, Civil War toys, Gettysburg | Tags: , , , , , | 6 Comments

Charge #19 mailed to JRGS members!

Photograph by Thomas M. Mingus of York, PA. Copyright 2007. All rights reserved.

Issue #19, as with all previous issues of the hard copy Charge! Civil War newsletter, has been mailed on-time and should arrive in your various mailboxes within the next few days. Debi and I are winding up our fifth year of publication of this “fanzine,” which has become the most popular Civil War-only miniature wargaming publication in current print. We thank you, the readership, for your support all these years, especially when I was thinking of stopping the effort, and with renewed energy and passion, we look forward to the 6th year!

This issue begins with a revealing interview with gamemaster and Charles S. Roberts Award winner John Hill, whose authorship of the Johnny Reb rules have provided so many hours of entertainment (and a little controversy at times!) for thousands of ACW buffs and wargamers around the world. We present three original ACW 15mm scenarios that are convertable for other rules sets such as Regimental Fire & Fury, Mr. Lincoln’s War, Johnny Reb 2, Civil War Commander, A Glint of Bayonets, and others. These scenarios are for the battles of Cloyd’s Mountain (in the early campaign for what became the new state of West Virginia), Ezra Church (in the Western Theater’s Atlanta Campaign), and Peralta (way out west in the Southwest). Three widely different scenarios from three widely different campaigns!!!

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Categories: Charge newsletter, Civil War wargaming, Johnny Reb 3 | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

“Reunited, and it feels so good!” NOT!

Peaches and Herb had a hit record many years ago when I was a kid entitled Reunited and It Feels So Good. I grew up in a lakeside resort town in southern Ohio, and the jukebox in one of the dance halls at the lake used to blare out that song. I got to the point where I was sick of hearing it. I heard it again recently on the radio, and, this time, what came to my mind (after all those pleasant memories of girl watching on the beach in back of my parents’ house) was the recent reunification of the Indy Racing League and the rival Champ Car circuit.

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Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

Old War of 1812 veteran’s gravesite in jeopardy

Photo by the Associated Press

There has recently been a controversial legal case in the news where a Vermont man purchased an old farmstead and wants to build a house on the site of an old family cemetery. Because the cemetery holds the grave of a veteran of the War of 1812 and his family, the proposed move of the cemetery to accomodate the prospective new owner’s wishes to use the site for his new house has created a firestorm of controversy. Once again, the bottom line seems to be property owners’ rights versus the historic interest of the general public. Not dissimilar to battlefield preservation efforts (but on a much smaller scale), this battle promises to be of considerable interest to ACW preservation buffs and anyone else interested in the topic of preservation.

The new owner bought the property on the contingency that he would be allowed to relocate the cemetery, although it is not clear exactly how many people are interred in the site. He is claiming individual rights as a property owner. The preservationists have been joined by a family member, who does not the land and her ancestors disturbed.

What do you think? Should the government allow the man to move the cemetery and build whatever he wants on his own land? Or, should the man be forced to keep the cemetery where it is, thereby negating his purchase contract? Or, what compromise would you suggest?

Categories: Preservation efforts, Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Some more photographs of my 15mm AWI gaming

Some of you have asked for a few more photographs of my 15mm American Revolution games. Here are some more, as taken by Tom Poston at a past Cold Wars gaming convention in Lancaster, Pennsylvania (the heart of Pennsylvania Dutch and Amish county). Click on the four photos to enlarge them for better detail.

British infantry masses for an attack on the American center. It should not take long to clean up this minor affair. The Americans are an undisciplined lot, and the training and experience of our officers and men will carry the day. “Steady, men, steady,” comes the reassuring word from the colonel. “God bless King George. Fix bayonets!”

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Categories: AWI gaming (American Revolution), Johnny Reb 3, Wargaming in general | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

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