I recently purchased a collection of painted and assembled 1:600 model Civil War boats, all of which are from Toby Barrett‘s Thoroughbred Figures. I went out and bought two yards of dark blue denim from Wal-Mart in historic Hanover, Pennsylvania, to use as coastal waters, and will later pick up some black denim when available for the darker, muddier look of the Mississippi River. At the suggestion of veteran naval wargamer Tim Marshall, I also purchased 2 yards of clear, thick vinyl to add gloss and sheen to the layout, and to make it very easy to move the boats (they tend to catch on the fabric). The denim has some directionality, so the ridges follow the direction of the water movement and the hint of white adds to the look of the layout.
The Union boats include the heavy ironclads Benton and Essex, as well as two City class ironclads (the Cairo and Mound City; this class was often called “Pook’s turtles” or “Eads’ turtles” for their distinctive shape and appearance in the water). In the back are a pair of Ellet rams, the Monarch and Queen of the West, plus the timberclad gunboat Tyler, which served at the Battle of Shiloh.
The Confederate boats include the ironclads Arkansas and Tennessee, the cottonclad rams General Price and General Bragg, and some support vessels such as torpedo boats and barges.
I will be touching up the paint jobs, and will likely either rebase the vessels or eliminate the basing altogether, which is what Tim Marshall has done with his models. Here the Queen of the West steams forward. I will add some cotton puffs dyed blackish to simulate smoke. I have been modifying the “River Wars” rules set for my own usage.
Another view of the powerful Union fleet in miniature. The opposing Confederates suffered significant defeats at Plum Point and at the Battle of Memphis, and the control of the river was pretty much decided by early 1863. All that was left was for Grant to send the fleet past Vicksburg. There was some occasional fighting further south during the Red River Campaign, but much of the action was confined to 1861-62.
What useful tips and ideas do you have for a fledgling naval wargamer???