The 3rd Michigan Volunteer Infantry on the dusty road en route to an unknown fate at the next battle. The men and boys are confident, knowing that they are in the capable hands of their beloved Colonel Gentile, who has been carefully preparing them for action.
Antietam Park Ranger Mannie Gentile is a long-time fan of toy soldiers, a passion we share. He lived for many years in Michigan, where I am sure he had plenty of cold winter nights to produce and paint his own customized 54mm ACW toy soldiers.
The lads get ready to resume the road after a brief 10-minute rest break the colonel has granted.
Mannie has been working on a project for a dozen years to make a complete set of toy soldiers depicting the 3rd Michigan at the Peach Orchard during the Battle of Gettysburg. Their strength at the time of the July 2, 1863, action was 287 men, and Mannie’s goal has been to paint that many figures.
The 3rd Michigan was organized in June 1861 at Cantonment Anderson near Grand Rapids, Michigan. It saw its first combat action the next month during the First Battle of Bull Run, and served in many of the largest battles of the Eastern Theater. A part of Dan Sickles’ III Corps at Gettysburg, the regiment suffered considerably in the Confederate assault on the afternoon of the second day of the battle.
When Mannie moved from Michigan two years ago, he had finished about 250 of these toy soldiers. All are cast in pewter and painted in vintage toy soldier style with bright, colorful, glossy paint jobs. About half of them were cast from commercial toy soldier moulds; the other half are unique designs Mannie made himself. He made plastic prototypes, and then made high temperature silicone moulds which he used to cast these “Mannie originals.”
The regiment was mustered out of Federal service in Detroit on June 10, 1864. The remaining soldiers whose term of enlistment had not yet expired were consolidated with the 5th Michigan Infantry.
The next time any Charge readers are at the Antietam battlefield, make sure to look up Mannie and let him know if you like his custom made, custom painted 54mm figures. Mannie, these are terrific, and you should be proud of this little band of pewter heroes. Nice job, and thanks for sharing these photos with our readers!