Monthly Archives: March 2010

Book review: So You Think You Know Gettysburg?

Johnstown, Pennsylvania, authors James and Suzanne Gindlesperger have written what will surely become one of the more popular books for tourists to take home after their visits to the Gettysburg National Military Park. When I am sitting in Gettysburg’s bookshops for my frequent autograph / book signing sessions, I often overhear people discussing which book they should purchase to take home to show their friends and families what they had seen on their battlefield visit, and there have been a few good choices in the past that have been representative.  Now, the Gindlespergers’ colorful new book, So You Think You Know Gettysburg? The Stories Behind the Monuments and the Men Who Fought One of America’s Most Epic Battles, has been added to the line-up of titles that I will point out to the inquirers.

Filled with visually appealing photographs of the battlefield, monuments, buildings, and town, the book is laid out in a format that facilitates taking it along on battlefield tramping expeditions. Detailed maps (with exact GPS coordinates) show the location where each picture was taken, making the book useful as a driving tour guide. Each photo is accompanied by a brief passage that explains the history of the subject matter. None of these story lines are detailed, nor are they supposed to be, but collectively they give the reader a good overview of the highlights of the Gettysburg experience.

While this book has obvious appeal to the casual Gettysburg visitor, there is some relatively obscure information that will be of interest to more seasoned buffs, such as the brief story of John Congdon of the 10th New York Cavalry, who in December 1861 fell from the roof of a train passing through the area, and thus became the first Civil War soldier killed at Gettysburg.

In a size, format, and price that are appealing, So You Think You Know Gettysburg? is a book that should be a part of your collection if you enjoy touring the Gettysburg National Military Park and the town. While not nearly as detailed or comprehensive as J. David Petruzzi and Steve Stanley’s landmark 2009 book The Complete Gettysburg Guide (which stands alone at the very top of the list of battlefield guidebooks), this new work will find its niche in popularity and appeal.  It’s well worth the money, and is laid out well with some very nice photographs.

* CLICK HERE to read my recent interview with the Gindlespergers!

James and Suzanne Gindlesperger

So You Think You Know Gettysburg? The Stories Behind the Monuments and the Men Who Fought One of America’s Most Epic Battles

John F. Blair, Publisher, Winston-Salem NC, 2010

188 pages, soft bound, illustrated with maps.

ISBN 978-0-89587-374-3

$18.95 list price, discounted on and other on-line retailers

Categories: Civil War books, Gettysburg | Tags: , | Leave a comment

My 1:600 Mississippi River town

(Click on each photo to enlarge it for better viewing of the details)

I purchased a few 1:600 scale model Civil War buildings from Bay Area Yards a couple of weeks ago. After painting these tiny structures (that was a painstaking task!) I decided to mount them as modular mini-vignettes that I could adjust and expand for various future ACW naval wargaming scenarios. These buildings were a buck or two apiece and are useful for detailing and modification.

The docks and piers are busy places as the riverfront bustles with activity. No one suspects that the next day will bring the specter of war to Johnson’s Bend, Mississippi. A Yankee fleet under Admiral David Dixon Porter is steaming downriver to capture the supplies being stored in the town’s many warehouses.

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Categories: ACW naval gaming, Terrain | Tags: | 5 Comments

Road trip: The End of the French & Indian War

One of my sons, Dr. Thomas M. Mingus, lives near Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania. I stopped by his place this weekend on my way to Pittsburgh for a speaking engagement at the Greater Pittsburgh Civil War Round Table. On a gorgeous Sunday afternoon, we went exploring some of the historical sites in the area. Less than two miles west of Slippery Rock along Wolf Creek is the site of an old Delaware Indian village dating from the 18th century and earlier. Archaeological studies have revealed the location of some of the structures associated with the settlement. During the French & Indian War, this village was an active site for some of the French-allied warriors. A peace treaty signed near this marker was among the important steps that finally led to a cessation of hostilities between the colonial settlers and the natives. A Moravian missionary named Christian Frederick Post convinced King Beaver (aka Tamaqua) of the Delawares to lay down the hatchet.

I find it interesting that this out-of-way and very obscure historical site marks the location of the signing of the “most important treaty ever concluded with the North American Indians…,” a strong claim considering how many other treaties were signed in the ensuing decades across the continent as white civilization expanded westward in accordnace with the “manifest destiny” movement.

Wolf Creek is barely discernible in the left center of this photo; it is much more visible in person. The ground slopes off in a series of low shelves down to the creek bed. King Beaver and his “turkey clan” of Delawares lived in this general vicinity in log huts.

Missionary Christian Frederick Post also met with King Beaver at Fort Duquesne near present day Pittsburgh on August 23, 1758. He recounted in his diary, “We continued our journey to the fort; and arrived in sight, on this side of the river, in the afternoon, and all the Indian chiefs immediately came over, they called me into the middle, and King Beaver presented me to them, and said, “Here is our English brother, who had brought me great news.”

For more information, click here. The site is now a public park, with a very relaxing hiking trail through a wooded creekside environment. Parking is somewhat limited and there are no bathroom facilities, but this is a neat area tucked in the middle of a farming area that is slowly being developed. The historical society and local government is to be commended for preserving the site of the Delaware village as a public park.

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A large Gettysburg diorama/wargame in Germany

How’s this for a very large gaming layout / Civil War diorama? The tabletop is 80 square meters (yes, 80!!!) in area and there are 25,000 carefully painted 25mm figures in miniature action! A gaming group in Germany has constructed this impressive layout for their planned refight of the Battle of Gettysburg in miniature.

Very nice, indeed!

For more photos by Uwe Wild, please click here.

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On-line ACW naval ship registry!

Some of my fleet of 1:600 Thoroughbred and Peter Pig American Civil War riverine / naval ironclads and ships.

Scott Downing, a veteran gamemaster from the Carlisle region of central Pennsylvania,  recently came across my CHARGE! blog and subsequently contacted me. As I am a neophyte at ACW naval gaming, I am always interested in soaking up more information on the Civil War navies and fleets, and their battles and tactics. He has his own blog on WordPress as well and we have since recently exchanged link to each others’ wargaming blogs.  Scott just recently started an ACW Naval Shop and Boat Registry, which he is hoping to have it to a point where it becomes a one-stop shop for information on a particular vessel.

This is the registry:

Scott welcomes your input as to your own research and findings on ships of both the Confederate and Union navies, including brownwater and other riverine, deep sea, and coastal.

He is looking for people that can provide info that is missing on the current registry. Users can simply leave comments on the ships page with the info and its source, and he will update the page.

So, pay a visit to his neat blog and type away! Any and all documented information is appreciated!

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21st Annual Civil War Re-enactment at Neshaminy State Park

Civil War diorama at the Dobbin House in Gettysburg, PA. Circa 1960s.

The 21st annual Civil War Re-enactment will be held on Saturday-Sunday, May 1 – 2, 2010 at Neshaminy State Park, located on 3401 State Road in Bensalem, PA, from 9:00 AM – 4:00 PM, rain or shine. Admission is free!

This event is the largest Civil War re-enactment on the East Coast outside of Gettysburg and the theme for this year is “The Appomattox Campaign – April 6, 1865”. Over 1,000 re-enactors will converge on the park for this two-day event featuring:

· Authentic battle re-enactments

· Camp life scenarios

· Military and civilian life demonstrations

The Appomattox Campaign consisted of a series of battles to the south and west of the capital of the Confederacy, Richmond, Virginia in early April of 1865. These battles ended with the surrender of Confederate forces on April 9, 1865, lead by General Robert E. Lee. April 6, 1865 is notable for two actions: “The Battle of Sailor’s Creek” and “High Bridge”. “The Battle of Sailor’s Creek” occurred when the Union cavalry exploited a gap in the Confederate line and cut off two Confederate corps, resulting in a Union victory. “High Bridge” saw Confederate cavalry capture Union forces, resulting in a Confederate victory. These two battle actions will be staged during this year’s re-enactment.

While admission is free, a voluntary collection will be taken each day of the re-enactment and all proceeds will go toward Civil War preservation efforts. Proceeds from this year’s collection will go to the Civil War Preservation Trust, ( a non-profit organization dedicated to the conservation of Civil War battlefields. The Neshaminy Civil War Re-enactment has raised close to $30,000 during its 21 year history, for various Civil War organizations.

This event is a joint project sponsored by Neshaminy State Park, the Bensalem Historical Society, the 28th Pennsylvania Historical Association, the Army of Northern Virginia Reenacting Organization, the Delaware Valley Civil War Round Table, The G.A.R. Museum and Library, and Waste Management, Inc.

For more information, please visit or contact Ken Gavin, Event Chairman, at 610-809-6540 or

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Third annual Johnny Reb 3 mega-game to be held in Belgium! Second Manassas!

A past Johnny Reb 3 mega game at the Tin Soldiers of Antwerp (Belgium)

Patrick Roovers of the Tin Soldiers of Antwerp club sent me a notice that his group is planning its third annual Civil War mega game using the popular Johnny Reb 3 rules set, with a few in-house variants. This year’s American Civil War Weekend will be held May 22nd to 24th, 2010. It will boast three full days of ACW regimental-level gaming in their clubhouse in Antwerp. The scale will be 28mm using a 12 x 18 foot (yes, you read that correctly) layout on multiple tables. The layout will be visually appealing, with all sorts of excellent terrain and all those goodies you need for JR3 gaming such as lots of fences, streams, woods, stone walls, corn fields, woodlots, farms, etc. The game will be run in English, although several other European languages will also be supported. The price to play is quite reasonable if you are already in Europe: just €15.00 EUR. This admission includes a commemorative T-shirt, two meals, and a full weekend of wargaming fun

For much more information, photos, maps, etc, please visit the club’s website at

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Saturday games at Cold Wars 2010

Phil Viverto’s impressive Battle of Alesia, an ancient Roman/Gaul battle

I spent much of Saturday, March 13 at the annual Cold Wars miniature wargaming convention in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. I sold a lot of books at the flea market and shopped at the dealer hall. In between, I took a few photos of several different games being presented in the Distlefink Ballroom and in the meeting rooms of the Lancaster Host Resort and Conference Center, as well as a couple nice mini-dioramas / vignettes on display in the dealer hall.

The above photo was my favorite game to view during the entire convention. The gamemaster has a small fortune (well, maybe a large fortune) tied up in the spectacular fortifications, which the picture does not do justice to. It was quite simply, one of the finest layouts I have yet seen for the ancients period.

Here are some photographs… click on them to enlarge the images for better viewing.

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Categories: Conventions, Wargaming in general | Tags: | 4 Comments

More Cold Wars 2010 pix of my Pipe Creek game

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Book review: Hiram’s Honor

“But you people up North are different than us southern folk. You Yankees don’t respect the old ways, every thing is money, money, money, hustle, and hustle.  We’re different, you know.” – Virginia woman

“Ma’am, every state in the Union has different customs and such. We’re here to preserve the government that allows us to be free, you, me, even the Negroes.” – Private Hiram Terman, 82nd Ohio Volunteer Infantry

“Why you blasted abolitionist… I will never live under an abolitionist flag!” – the Virginian

As a native Ohioan and the descendant of numerous Civil War soldiers who served the Union in Ohio and West Virginia regiments, I have always had a strong bias toward books and articles relating to the Buckeye State during the Civil War. Normally I shy away from historical fiction, much preferring historical accounts of people, places, and battles, but in recent years I have become more interested in the genre of Civil War novels. Dr. Max R. Terman’s new book, Hiram’s Honor: Reliving Private Terman’s Civil War, is among the very best of these recent additions to the fictional literature of the Civil War.

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