Fantastic custom diorama of the Pea Ridge battlefield!


Cannonball reader Stephen Schultheis sent me some photos of his fantastic diorama of the Civil War battle of Pea Ridge, fought March 6-8 in northwestern Arkansas. The Union victory essentially allowed the Federal armies to recapture and hold the region for the rest of the War Between the States.

Here are some more photos, plus commentary from Stephen!


“Name is Stephen, born and raised and still living in a border state.  I have been tied to the Civil War since before 5 years of age.  Grew up learning more about the Eastern Theater, but being so far away from where I lived, the Western and Trans-Mississippi battles grew to take more of my interests of the war.  I have visited many battlefields and always have a hard time pulling myself away from any display that resembles a diorama.


This being my first EVER diorama.  It is one section of the battle of Pea Ridge in Northwest Arkansas, March 7th and 8th 1862.  Precisely, my replica of the battle that formed to the north of the small town called Leetown.  In the woods called, Morgans Woods and the Leetown road on March 7th. The diorama is 4 4 ft. and it took me approximately 9 months to almost finish.  I am still missing some important items such as battle smoke and a little snow on the ground and finish with some trim around it too.

We have been in the process of moving and I want to add those last items when we are situated in our new place. I learned a lot as I took my time with a visit to Pea Ridge/Elkhorn Tavern National Battlefield.  Took photos and read the book Pea Ridge civil war campaign in the west by authors William L. Shea & Earl Hess.  It was a nice read but most if not all records of the Confederate side were destroyed at some junction during or after the battle.  Limited information from that one side.
I am the type of person who craves realism in anything regarding this war.  So, as I thought of my layout, I studied a lot about the lay of the land.  This part of the country at that time  was not very well populated and was poor.  I had contact with 2 people who worked at the battlefield, they were Troy and  Greg.  They were always helpful in getting me ANY type of information.  Without there insight to the history, my diorama would not feel as realistic.

I also used a few photos of the paintings of Andy Thomas to help in understanding how my layout would be.  Mr. Thomas has done many fine works that involved Trans-Mississippi battles.  And I used the Internet to help fill in other holes where I lacked information.


I prefer a variety of figures, that are 15mm.   The ones used are Frontier, Minifigs, Peter Pig, Essex, Freikorp15 and some SM.  It is hard to see many of the soldiers in the woods but according to war records, the sides had a hard time seeing each other in the woods due to it being thick with trees, underbrush and smoke.

Look forward to my next Civil War diorama.”

So are we, Stephen, so are we! Feel free to send me photos of your next effort, and I will be happy to post them here on the Charge! Civil War miniature wargaming and diorama blog.


Categories: Civil War dioramas, Terrain | 15 Comments

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15 thoughts on “Fantastic custom diorama of the Pea Ridge battlefield!

  1. Victor Cina

    Great piece of work!!! Well done!!!

  2. Thank you Victor.

  3. Anonymous

    Really well done ! If I might offer one suggestion….remove the bases from the figures. Drill a hole in the heel and insert a small brass rod. You can use that to temp mount the figure while painting, and then use it to mount the figure to the diorama groundwork. The visible figure bases detract from otherwise nice realism in the scene. Joe

  4. Great Idea Joe. But these are 15mm/5/8 inch miniatures. Maybe, trim the bases though. Thanks.

  5. Anonymous

    An alternative if the figures are meant to be permanent in the diorama is to build up the ground to be ‘even’ with the bases so they don’t show – use something as simple as ready mixed spackling compound but mix a little color into so if it ever chips the white doesn’t show.

  6. Michael Zeiler, M.A. Amereican Civil War history, Re-enactor Douglas 1st Dallas Battery,

    Truly impressive wargame scenarios. XLNT use of natural material and well-crafted fields. Height of trees is as practical for wargame opns as it is for improved reality. These dioramas invite visitors into the game.

  7. Will Anderson

    Do you have an email or phone contact in Brisbane?. I’ve been over a couple of times and intend to return in about 12 months from now. Be interesting to ‘catch up’ and discuss ACW. Drop a line & I’ll respond. Cheers.

  8. Will Anderson

    ps I am really only interested in 28mm metal figures combined with MDF buildings.

  9. No Brisbane here…..

  10. Kipp Ryon

    I live in Texas, and not surprisingly – have many relatives from Arkansas. Have been to Pea Ridge many times before while visiting them…I MUST say this is the most realistic diorama in this scale that I have ever seen. Period. Well done sir.!

  11. Thank you Kipp.

  12. Darrell Combs

    Excellent work. I’ve been there and did some of the Diorama work at Wilson’s Creek Museum years ago. when I was stationed there in the Marine Corps. I like and respect your efforts!

    Good job! D.L. Combs

  13. Anonymous

    Thank you Darrell. I recently did my version of Bloody Hill. Scott posted my pics in May this year. Would love your opinion on that diorama.
    Thank you again.

  14. Michael Zeiler

    Halt that Charge, put your line prone and commence fire, Major!

    Meanwhile, send me more info about enjoying ACW gaming,fast!


    Mike Zeiler

  15. Hi Mike! There are lots of websites with information on ACW gamers out there. My own site, of course, relates to gamers who use the popular Johnny Reb gaming system, a rules set that was first developed in the 1980s and went through three iterations. Before beginning in gaming, you need to decide whether you want to game using individual figures, company size, regiment, brigade, or larger. That, of course, determines which type of rules set to buy. Then, you need to decide on the scale of the figures (10mm is popular, as are 15mm and 25mm but larger (54mm) and tiny (6mm) are also used by some gamers). I suggest finding a wargaming club near you or a game store and checking out what folks are using.

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