Civil War dioramas at Gettysburg Miniature Soldiers


How’s that for a grouping of beautiful figures??? These little gems are a new product from Conte, and had just arrived at their new quarters at Gettysburg Miniature Soldiers on Saturday. Owner John Zabawa has tens of thousands of other figures for sales at his Steinwehr Avenue store, which your Charge! editor featured in a previous post. And, yes, this is the first time ancients have ever appeared in any Johnny Reb Gaming Society medium, either in hard copy or on this blog. Perhaps these guys might have been useful to Major General George Pickett for the final rush on the angle during Pickett’s Charge????

When I was a kid in southern Ohio, my Mom always used to tell me not to play with pointed sticks. Now I know why.


OK, now back to what the JRGS is all about – Civil War miniature wargaming and Civil War dioramas! In John’s glass-enclosed front counter are a pair of interesting 54mm dioramas. Let’s have a look…


This eye-catching diorama features scores of 54mm Civil War toy soldiers and collector figures. The battlefield smoke effect is in the diorama, not retouched into the photograph, and was done with wisps of cotton. It adds a lot to the visual impact of the vignette.


A pair of officers bark orders while flanking an artillery limber. That’s not exactly the safest place to be standing on a battlefield.  The Battle of Gettysburg featured several massive explosions when artillery limbers or caissons were struck, and the incidents are mentioned prominently in several written accounts from eyewitnesses.


Another unsafe place to be was in front of a firing artillery piece. For the sake of John’s little guys, I hope the piece is not firing canister, or there will be some vacant chairs. Even with firing rifled shells over friendly troops, occasionally there were mishaps. In my September 2009 book on the Louisiana Tigers and the fight on Cemetery Hill, I tell the story of an XI Corps man who was killed along what is now Wainwright Avenue when a spent sabot drilled him in the back. It came off a shell fired from Wiedrich’s Buffalo battery uphill.


If the little guys in the diorama had looked up, they would have seen a mythical American military figure in miniature – Brigadier General George Armstrong Custer of New Rumley, Ohio (not far from where I grew up). Custer was my hero when I was a kid – a local legend. As I got older, I realized how vain the man was, but also came to appreciate his charisma and boldness during the Civil War. What worked against Tom Rosser‘s Virginians in 1864 did not necessarily translate into similar success against Crazy Horse‘s Sioux and Cheyennes in 1876.

John can be reached at

Categories: Civil War dioramas, Civil War toys | 4 Comments

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4 thoughts on “Civil War dioramas at Gettysburg Miniature Soldiers

  1. John Corley

    A couple of years ago I stopped by John’s shop on a whim. I had played with many of the Marx sets as a child ( especially the Civil War) and I was curious as to the current state of miniatures. To make a long story short, I now have a large collection of 54 mm. metal soldiers and am in the process of converting a bedroom/library into a Civil War diorama room/museum and library. Gettysburg Miniature Soldiers is a great shop, John and his son are a pleasure to deal with… and my wife is a saint.

  2. Great article. These toy soldiers looks so amazing in pictures and even in real. I always found them amazing and love them.

  3. Anonymous

    These are really cool..!

  4. Patrick

    Very nice photos! I love the Gettysburg Toy Soldier Shop! Feel free to check out some of my pictures as well. Some of my figures came from there! Thanks!

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