My friend Larry Reber of GettysburgSoldiers.com was kind enough to send me a series of recent photographs he took of the old diorama of downtown Gettysburg as depicted on June 30, 1863, as Brig. Gen. John Buford leads his cavalry into the town square. They are headed west of town to the ridges near Marsh Creek, where videttes and patrols will keep an eye out for Confederates advancing from the west. Additional troopers will fan out north of town, watching for Ewell’s Corps coming down from Carlisle.
The diorama originally was part of the old Charley Weaver Museum on Cemetery Hill, which went under new ownership after “Weaver” died (his real name was Cliff Arquette). The diorama is now in the Union Drummer Boy relics shop on Baltimore Street. Over the next few days, I will post nearly two dozen shots of this interesting diorama. While not exactly historically accurate, it does give a good useful representation of the Gettysburg that John Buford would have seen.
The diorama is set against a hand-painted background. The plastic HO scale figures are mostly from Airfix, a popular brand in the 1960s (I had several boxes of them when I was a kid, so this diorama brings back a lot of memories of me setting up cardboard houses and playing Civil War battles with my own Airfix warriors).
The peaceful existance of Gettysburg will be altered forever on July 1, 1863, when the lead elements of the Union Army of the Potomac and the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia will clash in what will become the largest engagement ever fought within the United States – the Battle of Gettysburg.
The old McClellan Hotel is still extant, although heavily modified. It is now the Gettysburg Best Western on the town square. In the weeks before the Battle of Gettysburg, it had been the headquarters of the First Troop, Philadelphia City Cavalry. Troopers had beat a hasty retreat to York County, Pa., on June 26 when Jubal Early’s division arrived near Gettysburg.
Buford’s men were warmly greeted by the populace, who had endured Early’s occupation of their own a few days earlier. On that occasion, Confederates had went from door to door seeking supplies and food from the residents. Michigan cavalry from the Army of the Potomac had visited Gettysburg the day before Buford’s arrival, and they too received a rousing reception.
For different diorama depicting the 1863 train station in downtown Gettysburg (adjacent to the McClellan Hotel), see my previous post.
For several other Charge! posts with photos of other dioramas, please see this listing.