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Saturday, November 20, 2010

more on the 141st Pennsylvania

In reading the accounts of the 141st Pa I am struck with some seemingly odd things. After each chapter there is a description of many of the members of the regiment and there is a paragraph or two about them and how they died in battle. Now we know the literacy rate in the US at that time was very good but you are struck with the wealth of knowledge we can get from these histories. It’s very fascinating even if the writing is rather bland and let’s face it, many of these unit histories are. The key is you don’t really read and/or buy them for an edge of your seat thriller. You are interested in the story of that unit and many details you can never get from a book on any particular battle. There is so much there that only the veterans can tell.

I’ve been buying, collecting and reading these unit histories and memoirs from the veterans own private experiences for over 30 years now. It never ceases to amaze me how much stuff you can find out. Today’s glancing struck me in particular about the accounts of the soldiers dying in battle. With Veteran’s Day just having past and even thinking back to stories my Dad told me about what he did in WWII, the individuals in the 141st Pennsylvania hit home. Here a few of the types of little anecdotes you can find in the section after the battle of Gettysburg:

“Daniel Baumgartner, a brother of George, of Company K, who was killed at Chancellorsville, had since a lad been in the employ of J.T. Stafford, Esq., of Wyalusing, where he enlisted with Capt. Jackson. He was a brave soldier and fell at his post severely wounded in the thigh. After the battle he was removed to a hospital where he lived until the afternoon of July 23rd, dying at the age of 25 years of age. He was buried in the National Cemetery, Section C, grave 24.”

“Amasa Wood, a descendent of Lt. James Wells, slain in the Meadow massacre, and the son of Abner Wood, of Pike, township, near LeRaysville, a single man, and at his death about 23 years of age, was instantly killed by a Minie ball striking his head. He was Color Corporal of the regiment.”

The mention of the Meadow massacre happened Sept 1857. The Mountain Meadows massacre was a mass slaughter of the Fancher-Baker emigrant wagon train at Mountain Meadows, Utah Territory, by a local Mormon militia. You can read more about here if you are interested.

“Loren Bennett was wounded in the leg above the knee, the limb was amputated, but he died at the Third Corps hospital on the 9th of July, leaving a widow and six children to mourn his loss. He enlisted from Towanda.”

There are teen pages of this kind of thing from Gettysburg. The regiment fought in the Peach Orchard on July 2nd.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

another batch of Gettysburg pics

The Alabama State monument.

17th PA cavalry regiment

Fight for East Cemetary Hill, evening of July 2nd.

NY Fire Zouaves near Peach Orchard.

Detail from the Virginia State monument.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Civil War Sun and Shade

I've been looking more closely at the pics I've taken recently. Not just how bad they are painted but at what the colors look like. I've been thinking that the pics don't match the real things. It's also important when you consider that painters might be looking at them and thinking the colors they see are what the colors should actually look like. Sometimes it is all in how the pics were taken determines the hue of the colors seen in the pics. They don't always accurately show the colors. That's misleading. Below are some photos as an example in different lighting situations to illustrate what I mean.

Here's a pic that look pretty good in terms of color. The sack coat should be dark blue, almost Navy Blue and it does. The trousers have the right hue of the sky blue colored trousers. This pic was shot with an overcast sky.

Here's the same sack and trousers. This was shot in full  direct sunlight. Notice that the sack is very grayish-blue. It's the wrong color! What the...?! It's all about the color temperature of the sun measured in degrees Kelvin. Google that. Incandescent bulbs have a low color temperature (around 3200 degrees) while sun light has a high color temperature around 5400 degrees. It should be noted that the way the object reflects the light also counts for how saturated with color it is too. I don't want to bore you too much with this but it is kinda fascinating if you get into it... at least to me.

I did a small amount of Photo-shopping here, not a lot, but I wanted to show you what the same uniform looks like in shade. It's dark obviously but also has more color.

Here's a Frock coat and a vest in the direct sun light. Kinda looks like the Sack, washed out but they should be the same color. The Vest is actually darker in real life. It is made of a finer wool so it is probably reflecting the sun differently.

Here's the same Frock in the shade! It's a big difference, eh?

Okay so... there's a little lesson of colors for you. I'll post miniatures soon.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Some close ups

I tried re-lighting the models still on the table. I also recently bought a new camera and lost the damn disk that comes with it! They don't give you a complete manual anymore. They give you a 'quick guide' and want you to print out the doc yourself from the disk... bastards. Anyway I'm trying to get the hang of the Macro without the stupid PDF files. Grrrrrr... anyway here is what I shot just now.
This is a Redoubt model of Col. Joshua Chamberlain of the 20th Maine. His uniform is darker but the lights washed it out. I could fix it in CS5 but... I'm a bit lazy tonight.

This one is just a lower angle of what I already shot a few days ago. Oh and 'yes' I do need to flock the bases on many of the models. I just figured I'd do it as a group sometime in the future. Probably when I have too many (which stands at over 300 now) to do and I'll complain about it. Yup... that will happen.

What do miniatures say to each other?

Yeah.... what DO they talk about when we're not looking? Just thought I'd have some fun.

141st PA in Line

I playtested my game this past weekend. Had two good tests and when it was over I started to put the miniatures away. At the last second I stopped and thought I should line up one regiment one to one and see how it looked on the table. The basing is one model on a 20mm base. This isn't how the spacing would look in real life. As I spread the regiment out, filled in with file closers, company officers, general guides, field music and other assorted supernumeraries I realized I had a big problem. The regiment of models is HUGE! It was hard to take the pics and most of all with nice terrain. I packed up all the terrain and just layed-out the regiment for what it is worth. I gotta tell ya... it is REALLY cool looking! The pics don't do it justice. This regiment is supposed to represent the 141st Penn. at Gettysburg commanded by Col. Henry Madill in one to one scale. I might have more drummers than they had (I don't know for sure) and no fifers but I do have all the extra men needed to make a convincing looking regiment, don't you think?

 Here is Col. Madill himself with his bugler and staff officers.

Here is Major Israel Spaulding who was killed at Gettysburg.

Here's the regiment is all it's small glory. The models take up 63" from end to end. The book Regimental Strengths at Gettysburg lists it engaged strength as 209. I have portrayed it as its June 30th strength which is the very last official muster/PayRoll strength before the battle 2 days before as 283.

Just for giggles here's a B&W view of the Color Guard.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Discovering a 'new' book... sort of

After being very busy the past 3 weeks, I finally started on a ‘new’ book. After finishing the last CW one and the Chapter’s Due I really didn’t have a lot of time to read anyway. Now that the dust has settled a little I spent Sunday night trying to come up with something a bit different. Strangely enough the choice was not a real search at all but fell into my lap.

I have a big bookshelf all to myself but it isn’t big enough. I have books piled on top of books and books in front of books. In between I have an odd miniatures unit of something or other in front of all these books. Yes, it is too cluttered but I’m at maximum density with books and miniatures. Wherever there is a 4 inch square of space I can find something to park in the open spot. It hurts me but I have to do it. As you might expect books always get somewhat forgotten because they are hidden for a few years unless I am actively looking of it.

On Sunday night I was actually looking for two miniatures that had fallen off a movement tray (a British Celt if you must know) and the fallen models had vanished into thin air. I moved stuff around thinking, ‘It’s got to be here somewhere. It’s not on the floor… as far as I can find.’ I shuffled this or that and knocked two books onto the floor in the process. *sigh* I hate it when that happens. This is when the book called my name.

Many years ago there used to be a book fair in Gettysburg on the closest weekend to the anniversary of the battle. I always attended it because the bargains were good plus they also had a relic show the same weekend. This was way before the Ken Burns’ documentary so it was before the CW became popular again and prices got out of control. Anyway, I used to buy 1st edition books for very low prices. At that time I couldn’t afford the books in mint condition so I’d settle for ‘good’, ‘fair’ or ‘reading’ copies. Aaaaahhhhhh… those were the days my friends and I thought they’d never end. Oh sorry… just traveling down memory lane for a moment.

At one of these book fairs I bought The History of the Hundred Forty-First Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers by David Craft. The book was published in1885. The author was a Chaplain of the regiment. The regiment was in the 3rd Corps, 1st brigade, 1st Division at Gettysburg, Gen. Graham’s brigade and fought in the Peach Orchard. The book is a ‘readable’ copy. The price was great and I bought it not because I had a REAL reason to buy it other than it was in the Army of the Potomac. I bought many books or memoirs of soldiers if they fit into the AoP or the Army of Northern Virginia. So while trying to find those two Celts I rediscovered this book and decided I’d give it a shot and see if it was worth what I paid for it over 25 years ago… probably about $20 or less!

So far the book is better than I thought it would be. Sometimes these memoirs or unit histories are boring to read but this one is pretty good so far. It is also chock-full of small seemingly overlookable observations and incidents. They are the kind of thing that brings the plight of the ordinary soldier’s life into focus for us now. There are many incidents of long marches and suffering through the choking dust clouds. After 24 hours break storm broke on them. It became a quagmire of mud and non-stop rain. The soldiers are forced to sleep in the mud. One account tells of the march north trying to keep up with Lee’s invading army in the Gettysburg campaign. For 6 days straight they were marching in high heat and dust covering everything and getting into their food. Between the forced marches, heat, dust and blistered feet many fell out of the ranks in droves. One particular Lieutenant in the 141st complained that he got almost no sleep or food in the 6 days. After a brief cool spell it rained in torrents. He writes, “Every man was wet to the skin and covered with mud, but the wet blankets were spread on the wet ground and the men in their wet clothing flung themselves down to rest the best way they could.” The Lieutenant said he fell fast asleep even though he was lying uncovered in the rain with wet clothes, wet blankets, no dog tent and a useless gum-rubber blanket. He said he had the best night of sleep in a whole week! When it was time to fall in again, he collected his wet gear and fell into the ranks without breakfast and kept marching… but at least he got a good night’s sleep!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Warstore Weekend

These Civil War shells had nothing to do with this weekend but just thought I'd post them. Top to bottom:
  1. canister for 12 lbs. Napoleon
  2. shell with fuse for same
  3.  solid shot for same
The white cloth material holds the powder.

Well it was a great event this weekend. The hotel was a very nice location for the convention. It is the Crowne Plaza just off the NJ Turnpike at Exit 16W. The hotel had plenty of parking and easy access in and out if you had a bunch of stuff to haul. The hotel room rate with convention discount was LESS than what we've been paying at the Host hotel in Lancaster for the HMGS East shows too. Can't beat that! For me the drive was just one hour which was a first ever attending a miniatures show in under 4 hours! The weather was nicely mild and sunny so you can't get any better than 2 days of gaming with your buddies and new friends! Rumor has it that there will be another one next year. I hope so.

Neal and his staff did a fabulous job running the event and there was plenty of room for everyone. There were tournaments and lots and lots of demo games all weekend. For me the MOST impressive were 3 games put on by a gentlemen, Matt R. He put 3 different games on and the miniatures and terrain was really really nice. They were pretty damn cool looking.

They had a silent auction for stuff, kind of like a flea market sale. The difference was that the prices were VERY good. I'm not sure enough of the gamers there knew or cared to look into it. I got two HUGE deals and I was shocked how cheap it was because there were so few bidders. If I had known there would have been so much good stuff and so few bidders I would have bought everything not nailed down! A buddy of mine ran up one of the items I was bidding on. Wise guy. He didn't really want it; he just wanted to bust my chops. Grrrrrr......

We ran 3 games and had lots of fun. Neal himself played in our Hastings game. He commanded a few Saxon unit/regiments and Harold the Saxon King. The game went right down to the turn. It was a very close game decided right at the very end. Next year I'll run a massive Civil War game to playtest a scenario for my game. I didn't do it this time because I didn't have enough time to make the needed terrain.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

more fun on McPherson's Ridge

This these views show you a little more and closer to the ridge. You'd be standing behind the Union lines. The Union battle lines would have been beyond the ridge's crest.

This view is taken from the swell of ground beyond the dip behind the barn. The ground here rises again just south of the famous rail road cut. behind the camera it dips again. It rises once more on Seminary Ridge.

Next up is a view from right in a deep part of the dip. It's closer to the barn as you can guess. The barn would be about... a 45 degree turn to the left from here.

How's that? I'll post more pics from different angles in a few days and pics of all sides of the barn in case you had ideas of making the barn itself. I can also post pics of the monuments.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

McPherson's Ridge today

The picture above is taken from the famous Rail Road Cut. The camera angle is facing SouthWest. In the same pic below I've pointed out features of the terrain in case you have never been there.

You will notice the Union side of the Ridge and once on the reverse slope (the Union side) you can't be seen by Rebs approaching from the West along the Chambersburg Pike. If you read accounts from the participants they used the reverse slope for an aid station until the Union lines began to collapse. When you read them it doesn't make sense but looking at the picture or going there you can see why.

The Herbst's woods was where the Iron Brigade fought. Near the barn and house is where Stone's brigade fought after Cutler moved out. The open ground around the barn is very exposed to the West, North West  and the North (where Rodes division entered the battle) where all the Confederate artillery was unlimbered to pounded the area. The few trees along the top of the rise on the right side of the pic were not there during the battle. When you go there you can understand why Stone's brigade and the Union artillery stationed there had a hard time, receiving flanking fire.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Looking for the next book

I just finished a new 40k novel, The Chapter's Due by Graham McNeill. I enjoyed it. I take a break every now and then from reading books about the Civil War. I have to do that so I don't get burnt out. Anyway I'm trying to decide what next to read and I hate it when I just can't decide what will be next. So many good ones to choose from and so little time to read them. Rats!

While I'm arguing with myself I thought I'd post a few more pics from Gettysburg. Enjoy.

They are on the way! *Whew*

Okay so this past Friday I shipped my package off to be painted up. There were 432 miniatures packed and ready to go. These guys will helped to swell the ranks for the big 150th Gettysburg game. This means only about... oh... about 1300 more to paint! In 25mm the game will look VERY cool. Since it is also just a slice of the game and not the whole thing The amount of regiments and batteries will make everyone's head explode. Hopefully when that happens the blood, bone and gray matter won't splatter on the tables.

Just recently I have taken a short break from ACW to paint up some WWII German tanks: two Mk IV's and four 38(T)'s. The last minute painting is for a game this coming weekend Warstore Weekend convention in New Jersey.  We are putting on a WWII Disposable Heros early war Soviets vs. Germans demo and also the battle of Hastings using WAB rules. The tanks were the only things needing paint, everything else needed for these games I already have covered for my part. I'm bringing the Germans and the Saxons. If I remember I will bring my camera and take some pics. The tanks look pretty damn cool if I do say so myself. I muddied them up a lot so they look well used.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

another web site

If you haven't seen this site before it's worth a look. This is a webcam looking West towards the McPherson's Farm at Gettysburg. The camera is located on Seminary Ridge so you get an idea of the distance between the two ridges. The Chambersburg Pike is on the extreme right of the frame. The white rectangular thing on the right-center horizon is the McPherson's barn and the clump of trees to the left of the barn are the woods where the Iron Brigade fought. There is a traffic light at the top of the rise to the ridge in case you were wondering what that was.

There used to be a MUCH sharper camera located there but someone stole it and it was replaced with one a bit fuzzier. The picture is updated every 15 minutes. It is interesting (at least to me anyway) to see the changing weather conditions and the day light changing over the field.

Click on the title of this post to get to the site.

nice website

Hey... check out these websites. There are LOTS of cool stuff in there. There is a wealth of info on the website and the blog is very good as well. I bought the two books and they are very good (Union & Confederate). There is a CDV and a page or more on the person shown on the CDV. Some great stories and some very very sad ones too.


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Books and lists

Last year a list came out of the top 50 ACW books. It was compiled by a CW Round Table. Below is part of their list and I've added my own. Their list is good but… it misses others that are invaluable to gamers and bunch more that it chock full of fun reading. I have chopped out what I thought is ‘okay’ but doesn’t deserve to be that high on the list. The order has not been arranged in any particular order so ignore the numbers.

Two books that I added deserve a special note. First is Corporal Si Klegg and His "Pard" - Wilbur F. Hinman. It's in paper back now so it isn't as expensive when I bought an original for $125!!!! Damn! This book is quite different than the others. Hinman was a veteran from the CW. He wanted to write his auto bio of the war but decided against it. Instead he made up a character that was just like him and went through the same experiences that he did. Si Klegg enlists in the war and is mustered out at the end of the war. Many of the stories in the book are very funny and also very sad, just the thing a soldier would have gone through. Hinman describes everything about a soldier's life through this fictional character and fictional events. The B&W drawing in the book are VERY good too.

The other book is The Bloody Crucible of Courage - Brent Nosworthy. This book is a what/how/why of strategy, tactics, supply, logistics, infantry, artillery, cavalry, navies, guns etc and all the rest of the nuts and bolts of the war. He explains how the equipment and tactics evolved into what happened in the war. He describes in detail the advancement of weapons and tactics which went back 30 years before the CW. This is really good stuff but not an exciting battle book although he does speak of battles but how it relates to development of the above systems, they are more examples to illustrate his points. If you have the CW written by Paddy Griffith you can throw Paddy's stuff away or burn it. Your choice. It's junk and he gets his numbers and facts wrong.

2. Battle Cry of Freedom – James McPherson
4. Lee's Lieutenants – Douglas Freeman
6. The Gettysburg Campaign – Edwin B. Coddington
7. Co. Aytch – Sam Watkins
8. A Stillness at Appomattox – Bruce Catton
10. Fighting for the Confederacy – E. Porter Alexander
11. Landscape Turned Red: The Battle of Antietam – Stephen W. Sears
14. Gettysburg: The Second Day – Harry W. Pfanz
15. Generals in Blue – Ezra J. Warner
16. Gettysburg: A Journey in Time – William A. Frassanito
17. Team of Rivals – Doris Kearns Goodwin
19. Centennial History of the Civil War – Bruce Catton
23. Confederates in the Attic – Tony Horwitz
25. This Terrible Sound: The Battle of Chickamauga – Peter Cozzens
28. The Life of Johnny Reb: The Common Soldier of the Confederacy – Bell Irvin Wiley
33. The Official Records of the War of the Rebellion – Participants
34. Antietam: The Soldiers' Battle – John Michael Priest
38. Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant – Ulysses S. Grant
39. Hardtack & Coffee – John Billings
43. Generals in Gray – Ezra J. Warner
44. Battles & Leaders of the Civil War – Various
47. Three Years in the Army of the Cumberland – James Connolly

That’s the list chopped down. Now, I would add these few right off the bat:

Corporal Si Klegg and His "Pard" - Wilbur F. Hinman

The Bloody Crucible of Courage - Brent Nosworthy

The Gettysburg Companion - Mark Adkin - this does have a few errors but decent primer

Gettysburg: A Testing of Courage - Noah Andre Trudeau

Reminiscences of the Civil War - John B. Gordon - great fun read by a CS General in the middle of it all

Civil War Artillery At Gettysburg - Philip M. Cole - nuts and bolts of art. and some history. this book will actually make you a better artillery battery commander in the game!

The Artillery of Gettysburg - Bradley M. Gottfried - history of the battle via artillery. a look inside a glanced over topic

Maps of Gettysburg

Maps of Chickamauga

Monday, October 11, 2010

Drummers anyone?

The picture above is from the web site of Co. H, 119th NYSV Historical association. You get an idea about what the drums and drummer boys might have looked like.

I've had questions about drummer boys and drums before. I had this discussion with a friend of mine (Mike E.) and decided to just cut and paste it here to save myself the trouble of re-doing it. Why go through all the trouble again and reinvent the wheel?!

Different companies made the drums. You could have special stuff painted on the side... or not. Usually an eagle was there but sometimes a state emblem.

"Then I shall pose the question: did they actually use drums on the battlefield or were they "little drummer boys" who got sent off the field (I think that there is a reference in "Stillness at Appomattox" that the drummer boys were sent from the field prior to Petersburg)."

----Many Companies when they formed recruited drummers and fifers. Once the regiments were formed they pooled all these into one big 'field music' unit. They could be boys or men; it all depended but no requirement. In times of battles they would normally be stationed well back of the firing and many times detailed to aid the wounded. They NEVER ever were with the Color Guard, never! Many were kids and they didn't want them killed or wounded. NO ONE wanted to write a letter home to little Johnny's Mom telling her 14 year old boy took a bullet in the head. The kids were their neighbors.

---------Gamers mistakenly use drummers and officers in the Color Guard. I can go with officers because even though they were not assigned to the Color Guard there would be officers right near them but never drummers or fifers. You know… very very few companies make models of fifers. Okay so what are you NOT going to do? Yes, never put drummers in the Color Guard... EVER!!!!

"Let me guess - at the start the drummers were men who took the field. As they all got shot they were replaced by boys who did not take the field."

---No, they could have started as kids or adults. One drummer boy in Co. H, 119th NY, G. Mott was 15 years old and was killed at Chancellorsville.

****We had a discussion about the Perry plastics and the drum in the box set of infantry:

----You can give the plastic drummer guy a rifle instead of the drum. I did that with mine. Take the plastic drum out to the driveway. Take a hammer and smash it so no one can use it ever again. It is WAAAY too big and it hangs wrong on the model. The Perrys messed up this in their set. Not enough research.

Links of drummers and drum pics.

Here’s a link to a drum at an auction. The dark color would have been a dark blue surrounding the middle. ... -drum.html ... 320CA2.jpg ... r-Drum.jpg ... 0photo.jpg ... 0ItemA.JPG ... -14-04.jpg ... ardrum.jpg ... ndDrum.jpg ... 415B0A6636 ... /music.htm

I just double checked and some of these links got messed-up by this blog thingie. Sorry about that. You might have to click on additional links if it seems to drop you at a main/home page. Drats!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Even more pics

Action Front title

A few people are a bit puzzled by the name or term Action Front. It actually comes directly from the U.S. War Department's drill manual, Instruction For Field Artillery, originally published in 1861. On page 313 there is a section for "Formations in Battery". Number 530 is written when pieces are in line, to form in battery to the front by throwing the caissons to the rear. Basically what that means is your battery is already halted and you want to unlimber and get ready for action to the front. It's business time!

I had read many years ago that the 9th Massachusetts battery (led by Captain Bigelow) at Gettysburg was facing the Wheatfield Road (just east of the Peach Orchard) waiting at the halt for further orders. The command was shouted and the battery sprang into action. Limbers would have been moved forward and turned around to unlimber the guns. Artillerymen spring to their assigned posts ready for action. Section commanders order the targets to the Gunners and the Gunners in turn choose the appropriate rounds to be loaded.

The NPS had a sign posted along the road with a drawing of the action above with the 9th Massachusetts. Of course the battery would cover themselves with glory fighting later that day at the Trostle farm. I tried finding it this trip and it's gone. It could have been removed a few years ago, I don't know for sure. Anyway, the words "Action Front!" written on the plaque has stuck with me all these years.

There it is... the title.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Pics from Gettysburg

Here are but a few of the pics I took last week. Hope you like them. They are from various parts of the field.