Osprey Publishing has released two new titles related to the American Civil War. Timothy J. Orr and Steve Noon again have collaborated to produce the second volume of the series on the July 1-3, 1863, Battle of Gettysburg. This volume covers the second day of the battle; the third book will cover Pickett’s Charge and the fighting on Culp’s Hill and East Cavalry Field. In this second volume, Orr and Noon discuss the struggles for Little Round Top, the Wheatfield, Rose Farm, the Peach Orchard, the Union center, East Cemetery Hill, and the night fight for Culp’s Hill.
The prose is concise and accurate, providing a good overview of the battle. A bibliography offers suggestions for further reading for those wishing to study the battle in more depth.
Noon’s maps and paintings, as well as the liberal selection of period photographs and engravings, add depth and color to the new book. These are of the typical quality that one has come to expect from Osprey’s publications over the years. This book does not disappoint.
The book checks in at 96 pages, with an index and bibliography. The ISBN is 978-1-4728-5464-3.
The other new release is long-time author Ron Field’s book on the U.S. Marine Corps from 1775 to 1859, immediately on the brink of the American Civil War. Artist Adam Hook is also no stranger to Osprey customers, having illustrated many past books.
At 64 pages, this book is a useful general overview of the early history of the U.S. Marine Corps. Hook’s paintings are profuse and colorful.
Osprey Publishing has long been a staple of the wargaming industry, as well as the general military history community. The company has long been noted for its consistently high-quality combination of original commissioned paintings and map graphics, succinct and accurate text, profuse illustrations, and incredibly diverse array of topics from all periods of world military history.
The latest group of offerings concerning Civil War topics does not disappoint. Each of the most recent five books in Osprey’s catalogue are of the usual high standard we have come to expect from this global publisher.
Osprey’s Campaign Series is arguably the company’s most popular grouping of titles. Mark Lardas’s Nashville 1864 is #314 in the long string of interesting books in the Campaign Series. Adam Hook, long a key part of the Osprey team of illustrators, provides his usual excellence in interpreting battle action through his detailed paintings. Steve Moon likewise capably illustrates the first volume on Gettysburg, title #374 in the series. Author Timothy J. Orr is no stranger to Osprey readers. Both books check in at 96 pages apiece, making them long enough for the reader to get a good grasp of the respective campaign while not getting bogged down into details. Useful bibliographies provide source material for those readers wishing to explore the topics in more depth.
Each book provides an outline of some of the key fighting that led up to the titular battle. For example, the above illustration shows the description of the battle in the ravine at Decatur, Alabama. Similar pages cover other aspects of the lead-up to the Battle of Nashville. My own great-great-grandfather, Pvt. John D. Sisson, fought at Nashville in the 51st Ohio Volunteer Infantry, so this book is of particular personal interest. My late mother knew him quite well when she was a girl; her stories of him are still vivid.
This map of the action on July 1, 1863, on the first day of the fighting at Gettysburg neatly shows the relative positions of the opposing forces, key terrain features, and tactical situations the commanders faced.
Ian MacGregor’s interesting little book, U.S. Civil War Battle by Battle, exceeded my expectations. From the size and dimensions, I was surprised by the amount of useful text that accompanies his battle maps. This is an excellent overview of some of the Civil War’s best-known battles, with a few more obscure ones tucked in. The author includes more than 30 battles, including examples from the Eastern Theater, Western Theater, Trans-Mississippi Theater, and the Old Southwest. Each battle has a series of full-color illustrations to accompany the verbiage. At 128 pages, this is an easy-to-read, well-illustrated booklet that would make a great gift for folks just starting to learn about Civil War history or who desire a broad overview of battles they may not know much about.
Sharpshooters grew in importance as the Civil War progressed over its four-year course. The Union army began raising specialized regiments of sharpshooters, the most famous of which was Berdan’s Sharpshooters. Colonel Hiram Berdan hand-selected marksmen after public tryouts. The men that he deemed as the finest shots to volunteer became part of the 1st and 2nd U.S. Sharpshooters. They were noted for their distinctive green uniforms, said to better blend in with their surroundings than the traditional dark blue coats and light blue trousers. Andrews’ Sharpshooters from Massachusetts and other designated units also received praise for their contributions to battlefield success at Gettysburg and elsewhere. Similarly, Blackford’s Sharpshooters and other Confederate skilled riflemen also became famous for their skills.
Martin Pegler’s Sharpshooting Rifles of the American Civil War: Colt, Sharps, Spencer, and Whitworth and Gary Yee’s Union Sharpshooter Versus Confederate Sharpshooter (Volume 41 of the Combat Series) nicely dovetail with one another. Together, they provide a complementary overview of the typical sharpshooter, his tactics, and his rifle of choice.
The battle of Gettysburg remains one of the most-studied battles in American history. However, few authors have ever used military miniatures, wargames, dioramas, and scale model soldiers and battle scenes as the means of fully illustrating a sweeping overview of the battle, campaign, key personalities, and the aftermath, including Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. A team of gamers and dioramists from across North America and Europe have joined multiple-award-winning wargamer and author Scott Mingus to present more than 200 photos of their finest works related to Gettysburg. This is aimed at teenagers but should satisfy most Gettysburg buffs of all ages, as well as gamers and modelers. The book is available in either a black-and-white or full-color version.
When my kids were little, we lived in northeastern Ohio. I used to enjoy perusing The Garage Sale Store on Mentor Avenue in downtown Mentor, Ohio. The owner bought leftover items that did not sell at area yard sales. On one such visit to his establishment, I spent $5 on a Cowboys and Indians playset for my kids to enjoy.
The set was almost intact, with nearly all of the 16 Cowboys and 16 Native Americans present, as well as the entire fort and most of the accessories. Here is the original advertisement for this playset:
As you can set, when new, the set sold for $13.99 in the 1970s.
My boys enjoyed playing with this set, as well as my old Fort Apache and Fort Cheyenne from my childhood.
22 Civil War books that I have written to date. 1 Underground Railroad book. 6 miniature wargaming books. 6,193 Civil War books from my inventory sold and signed in person at my frequent lectures and PowerPoint talks in the past 10 years. Thousands of books sold by book retailers and amazon. 67,000 miles on my Buick in six years just to give talks in 17 different states from Maine to Texas. The Legion of Honor for the Historical Miniature Gaming Society. Some amazing friends. Two sons who are college history professors. A deep love for Civil War history that I am trying to pass down now to my six grandkids.
And it all started on Christmas morning 1962 in a village in southeastern Ohio.
Little did my parents know that a shopping trip to Montgomery Ward to look for gifts for my sister and me would change the rest of my life so profoundly. My dad, a WWII veteran who had landed on Omaha Beach on June 7, 1944 (the day after D-Day), was a man of many talents and a modest income working for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, using his degree in forestry.
He and mom shelled out several dollars of their hard-earned cash for a huge box of toy soldiers to give to me.
The Civil War Centennial edition of the classic Marx Blue & Gray playset.
Dioramist Stephen Schultheis sent me several photos of his revised and expanded diorama of the Civil War battle of Pea Ridge. Known also as the battle of Elkhorn Tavern, Pea Ridge was fought on March 7 and 8, 1862, near Leetown, Arkansas. Some 16,500 Confederates under Earl Van Dorn clashed with 10,250 Union soldiers under the command of Samuel R. Curtis. More than half of Curtis’s force were German immigrants led by Franz Sigel (of “I fites mit Sigel” fame).
My friend Larry Reber of West Virginia knows I wrote a popular, award-winning book on Confederate General William “Extra Billy” Smith. He was the oldest general in either army at the 1863 battle of Gettysburg and was the governor-elect of Virginia (Smith had previously served as the commonwealth’s governor during the Mexican War years).
A few years ago, Larry graciously made me a customized 15mm miniature of Extra Billy. Here, I show the tiny general sitting on his horse in the shade of his characteristic blue umbrella that he always carried with him (even into battle!).
The colorful Smith had been a five-time U. S. congressman from Virginia after being a 49er in California. He served in the Confederate Congress and was colonel of the 49th Virginia before becoming a brigadier general under Jubal Early. Continue reading →
Ian Fainges, Brad Smith, and the wargamers from Down Under (Australia) are back with another great 40mm American Civil War miniature wargame. This time, Ian has graciously sent me photos of their recent game depicting the battle of Helena, Arkansas, fought on July 4, 1863, during the Vicksburg Campaign. The Union victory secured eastern Arkansas for the Federal government for the duration of the war. The battle featured cavalry, a black regiment from Arkansas, infantry, artillery earthworks, and the USS Tyler, a riverine gunboat.
Here are some of the photos of this interesting-looking game!