The prosperous rural town of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, is surrounded by swirling fighting between the Blue and the Gray in this impressive photograph of the Artillery Ridge Campground’s Battle of Gettysburg diorama.
Many years ago, I read an article in Civil War Times Illustrated about a Civil War diorama that had been constructed by a western Michigan man using 20,000+ hand-painted HO scale plastic Civil War toy soldiers (Airfix, Revell, Itali, and several other brands). The huge diorama portrayed the entire Battle of Gettysburg in scale, and was then on display in a shopping mall near Kalamazoo, Michigan. The owner’s dream was to eventually sell the diorama to someone who would relocate it to a permanent place in or near Gettysburg. That dream later became reality when the massive diorama was shipped to Artillery Ridge Campground on Taneytown Road in Gettysburg, where has been available ever since for public view for a modest fee.
Terrain maker and gamer Randy Miller was kind enough to send me a link to several dozen photographs of this diorama that he snapped while visiting Gettysburg during the 145th Anniversary celebrations last July. Here are a few more photos, as well as a hotlink to his photo gallery.
More than 50,000 soldiers (nearly a third of all the combatants) were casualties of the Battle of Gettysburg, which raged from July 1-3, 1863, with sporadic skirmishing carrying over through July 4 before the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia began its long retreat to the Old Dominion. Here, fighting rages in the fields, pastures, and woodlots south of the town. Names like Barksdale, Semmes, Vincent, Zook, Weed, Cross, and thousands of others would fill the casualty lists.
The Louisiana Tigers of Harry Hays and the Tar Heel Brigade of Col. I. E. Avery ascend East Cemetery Hill in this depiction of the assault on the Union XI Corps position (actually a night-time attack). Jubal Early’s semi-brigade succeeded in reaching some artillery batteries near the crest, but were unsupported and had to fall back. This action, of course, is the culmination of my autumn 2009 book, A Spirit of Daring: The Louisiana Tigers in the Gettysburg Campaign, coming out from LSU Press.
The Union XI Corps, one of the most controversial in the Army of the Potomac, ringed Cemetery Hill. Much maligned for their performance at the Battle of Chancellorsville, the corps contained an unusually large percentage of regiments with strong German heritage, and a roster of the individual regiments reveals thousands of names associated with that country. Their Day 1 performance was erratic, with some regiments stubbornly fighting hard, while others panicked during the retreat from the fields north of the town.
Gettysburg had less than 3,000 residents in 1863. Many had fled, taking livestock, horses, and valuables away to safety to keep them from seizure by the Confederates, which had already occupied Gettysburg on June 27 when Jubal Early’s division arrived in the vicinity and chased off Pennsylvania emergency militia under Col. William W. Jennings.
For more photographs taken by Randy of this massive layout, please see his photo gallery.