Wednesday, December 7, 2011
If you read American Civil War books and love them what would you do if you lost them? Would you replace them immediately or just replace a few that you love most of all? Which ones would you replace? Which ones do you need or love the most? I have been thinking about this recently. I’ve created my own list of the top 12. Why 12? Well… these are the ones I would buy ASAP. There are another 25 or so that I’d reacquire but they would be in the second tier of ‘next in line’ books, they can wait. The top tier are books I leaf through frequently, sometimes mindlessly while doing nothing important or I read bits or completely re-read all the time. I have the fondest memories of these so I’d need to replace these old friends first and foremost.
While trying to eliminate the wheat from the chaff I had to make some very tough choices. I figured 10-15 books would be the max on the list. I was hoping to stay at the top 10 but that didn’t work so well. With this in mind it was agonizing to cut some really good books. To be honest if I had to shorten the list further Battle and Leaders would go next… with sadness. I haven’t picked up any of the 4 volumes in years but I used to sit and read it all the time way back when. I also was hoping to add Gettysburg: The First Day by Pfanz but… I’d certainly buy the Second Day first so… I don’t know. Also on the chopping block was the Photographic History of the Civil War and Echoes of Glory. Both of these are great books but they are mostly pictures so they got cut.
The books below made the list most of all because they are very readable and are NOT bland and dry. They read like great historical fiction in the best sense apart from Battle and Leaders. So… in no particular order of preference (because I don’t feel I could do that) here is my list. What’s on your list?
A Stillness at Appomattox – Bruce Catton
Gettysburg: The Second Day – Harry W. Pfanz
Gettysburg: A Journey in Time – William A. Frassanito
Antietam: The Soldiers' Battle – John Michael Priest
Hardtack & Coffee – John Billings
Battles & Leaders of the Civil War – Various
Corporal Si Klegg and His "Pard" - Wilbur F. Hinman
Gettysburg: A Testing of Courage - Noah Andre Trudeau
Reminiscences of the Civil War - John B. Gordon
The Artillery of Gettysburg - Bradley M. Gottfried
Shiloh Bloody April - Wiley Sword
Campaigning with Ulysses S. Grant - Horace Porter
Sunday, December 4, 2011
The table we played on was 9’ x 5’. We didn’t bother with much of the fencing. I don’t have enough worm/snake rail fences yet but I do have plenty of post and rail so we stuck with that. I didn’t set up fencing around where we thought the Union artillery batteries and infantry regiments might have pulled it down prior to the fight on July 2, 1863. When setting up the table we laid out peach trees but after a bit I pulled them off for the test. They just got in the way. Since I also have not finished all the regiments and their Color Guards we used stand-ins for some and used the correct flags for the others. I also plan to assemble the correct historically accurate looking buildings but since I don’t have them yet, again, I used stand-ins from my collection and Mike’s.
If you look at a real map of the action at the Peach Orchard fight you will get a better idea of the fighting and what we used and what we left out. The space wasn’t big enough to encompass all I wanted to test but we couldn’t fit every thing on the table. Consult the horrible maps below that I have made to get an idea. Confederate artillery was off-board and Barksdale’s and Kershaw’s (two regiments only) brigades started the game ¾ of the way to the Emmitsburg Road. Seminary and Warfield ridges were off board. Not pictured on the above maps was the 8th Alabama from Wilcox’s brigade. I goofed when making the maps and left it off by mistake. It was on the extreme left of Barksdale and helped push the Union line back as well. Sorry.
I took a bunch of pictures early on and then forgot all about the camera as the action heated up. The game got intense and… I just forgot to take more pics. Oh well.
|Part of the 17th Ms.|
|The basic table set-up for this scenario. North is the right table edge.|
|Thompson's battery monument faces South but the picture is directed looking West. Barksdale's brigade crossed the fields in the distance. The road on the right is the Wheatfield road and the one across the photo is the Emittisburg Road.|
|Overhead shot with the 68th Pa along the Emmittsburg road fence (top) and the 2nd NH to the left facing south awaiting the South Carolina men.|
|The 2nd N. H. and 3rd Me face South.|
We started the game with two turns of just counter battery fire. The Union artillery fired at Barksdale’s brigade ‘as well, coming out of the woods West of the Union line. We didn’t have enough board space and wanted to also simulate the artillery duel. The Rebs firing counter battery fire was horrible. Most of the shots slammed into the Wentz house and didn’t bother anyone else on the Union line. That was lucky for me because I knew I’d need to either stop or slow the Confederate infantry. I would need my artillery fire to come up big. Big is what I got. I ignored the solid shots flying all over the place and concentrated on two regiments in Barksdale’s brigade, the 17th Ms and the 18th Ms. I thought if I had a chance on winning I’d need to take these out of the equation or lose badly. Bucklyn’s gunners were told to stop the 17th and Thompson’s gun near the Sherfy house was supposed to direct all their fire at Barksdale’s smallest regiment, the 18th. I didn’t stop them but I put a severe hurting on them as they crossed the open fields to the West. By the time they were within Confederate rifle range they had both lost about 35% of their strength. Normally I roll very badly when it counts but in these instances I rolled so well that Mike was howling with agony. Coupled with his poor artillery rolling you could tell he wanted to make a beeline for my infantry and tear them to shreds in the worst way. He hardly stopped to fire as be got closer and closer which was exactly what he should have done.
|Gen. Barksdale and staff drives his men.|
For this scenario we thought it prudent to keep certain regiments in reserve and not activate them until turn Five and Six. For the Union we withheld: 7 NJ, 73rd NY and the 72 NY. These regiments historically were kept in reserve so it made sense. For the Rebs we kept the two South Carolina regiments out until turn Five and the 8th Alabama until turn Six. All these Rebs had a lot further to march than Barksdale’s regiments so this made some sense to us.
|Gen. Graham and his staff direct traffic.|
As the Rebel infantry came within rifle range I had two huge problems to deal with right off the bat. The 68th Pa received some well directed artillery on their flank from Reb guns to their Southwest. They had to make a Panic test after getting hammered with shell and caseshot. They suddenly broke and fell back leaving a huge and ugly hole in my line as the 21st Ms came dangerously close. This hole opened up the right flank of the 2nd NH and then had to refuse their right to avoid a similar disaster to the 68th. I pushed the 141st Pa into the gap and stemmed the tide while the 68th managed to rally and get themselves reorganized. The 21st Miss is a big regiment and they overlapped my entire left. Not only did I have to scramble to plug the hole but I knew the two SC regiments were coming on and I had no real way to hold them all back.
|141st Pa comes to the rescue.|
|Bucklyn's battery hammers away while the 114th Pa stands idle.|
In the middle of my line Bucklyn’s battery was doing some good work and I was itching for the chance to give the battered 17th a taste of canister. The problem with their position was it was too exposed and the 114th Pa had no way of helping with their rifles since they blocked their view. Historically, Capt. Randolph, the commander of the 3rd Corps artillery, rode up to the 114th Pa and shouted, If you want to save my battery (Bucklyn’s), move forward!” The 114th rushed through the artillery battery and slugged it out at close range so Bucklyn’s guns could withdraw. They saved the guns but paid a price with their blood. I only wish I had thought of that. I was too excited to fire canister into the faces of the on coming Rebs and miscalculated the time I’d need to withdraw the guns. I had the 114th move up a little and opened lanes to let the guns pass through. This was a big mistake on my part. It allowed the 17th Ms to captured two sections but the right section was able to get away.
I became so angry with my foolish move that I sent Gen. Graham to lead the 114th Pa in a counter charge to try and recapture the guns. The 114th was able to set the 17th back on their heels but not enough to break them. They still outnumbered the 114th and I knew it was only a matter of time until they would either come right back and sweep the Zouaves from the position or Volley them to death with the aid of the 13th Ms. to their left.
At the Sherfy house things were going very well for me. The 18th Ms regiment was the smallest Confederate regiment on the field. It had been battered by Thompson’s section north of the house and I had 3 regiments, albeit small regiments, to hold the line as long as I didn’t get into trouble before the 8th Alabama got closer. The 8th was a big regiment and I wanted desperately to punish the 18th before the 8th was engaged.
Mike was sensing a big victory and he got a little greedy. He sent the 18th directly at the artillerymen to capture the guns. I got the section out of trouble well enough, not wanting to repeat my stupid mistake twice. I pushed the idle 57th Pa into the fray and shifted them by the Right Oblique. I waited until the 18th was at close range and let him have it with volleys from both the 57th and the 105th Pa. I seriously considered not even firing at the 18th fearing I might stun them so bad he’d pull them back and I’d miss the opportunity to charge. I wanted a bucket of blood to make up for my earlier mistake. Some measure of common sense came over me and I settled for the volleys delivered at point blank range knowing that if things went against me I would get hammered even worse when the 8th Al. was engaged. Well, it was the wise move and the 18th was torn up so badly that the only thing left of the Mississippians of the 18th was their Color Guard and they limped back with a Corporal’s guard to the west and out of range. They lost most of their officers and the Colors were shot from the splintered flag pole.
|57th Pa near the Sherfy house.|
Back to the southern section of the field things went from bad to worst. The 3rd Me was having a rough time with Kershaw’s two regiments. A few volleys from them and the 3rd had had enough. They routed off the table. The 2 NH didn’t do much better but at least they stayed on the field, huddled around their beloved colors. They couldn’t be much help any more and they were in the way of the 68th and the 141st so I had them back-peddle off the table so I could reestablish my line. The 7th NJ was coming into line and they needed room if they were going to stabilize my left.
The 114th was valiant but they couldn’t hold out much longer. I brought the 73rd up at the Double Quick to fill the gap. I was hoping to retire the 114th and fill their spot with the 73rd but with the Rebs collapsing my left it was going to be a difficult maneuver to balance. I managed to swap them but the 17th and the 13th delivered a crushing volley on the 73rd just as they halted and dressed their line. They could not handle it and broke almost immediately. I cursed my usual bad dice and they fell back. The two Confederate regiments poured through the gap between the Sherfy barn and Wentz house and was almost in my rear.
|monument of the 114th Pa with the Sherfy house in the background.|
With my left now in a hopeless state, my center busted wide open and the 8th Al. exchanging volleys with the Union regiments north of the Sherfy house it was hopeless. Couriers were sent all over asking and begging for fresh Union regiments but there were none to be had. The line had finally broken into bits. The game was over.
|The Sherfy house looking west from the Emmitsburg Road.|
|Mississippi state monument along Confederate Ave. on Seminary Ridge.|
|The Sherfy barn with the Peach Orchard in the background. This view is on the Confederate side or the west side of the house and barn.|
Monday, October 10, 2011
|Monument of the 32nd Penn. Infantry (3rd Reg. Penn. Reserves) at Antietam. I think he's trying to attract my attention to start painting faster . He's saying, "Hey fool! Get out of that cornfield and get painting!"|
74 companies or about 19 regiments
12 Color Guards
66 companies or about 17 regiments
15 Color Guards
Okay... that's horrible! I thought I had been working at a better pace than that. In my defense I have finished oodles of drummers, more artillerymen, casualty markers, officers and... that's about it. *sigh* I do have 13 CSA & 1 USA Color Guards almost done. There are also a bunch of random models being painted... so I got THAT going for me. It's pathetic, no doubt about it.
Wednesday, October 5, 2011
|Artillery demo on Antietam Battlefield|
Let’s separate the kinds of artillery pieces they used and what they fired at the enemy, alright? As the war progressed the myriad of types changed and older tubes fell out of favor. In the beginning both armies used whatever they had but over time smaller caliber guns and howitzers disappeared for the most part. Since the production of all guns was time consuming and expensive to produce the Southern forces found themselves behind the eight-ball and most importantly their production and quality control in the making of fuses REALLY hurt this service for the Confederates.
Whether we are talking about smoothbore pieces or rifled pieces the rounds they fired were essentially the same. They might have acted differently depending upon what fired it but right now we don’t need to get into too much detail for now.
Solid shot – This is what you might expect, they were solid rounds with no bursting charge and was not hollow. Any piece classified by a weight designation refers to its solid shot weight. So for example, the 12 pound Napoleon means that the solid shot for the Napoleon weighed 12 pounds. This type of round was used to batter earthworks/buildings into rubble, fired in counter battery roles or skip along the ground vs. infantry or cavalry to mow down long lines of the enemy.
In counter battery roles the key here was to destroy the gun carriage, kill the horses pulling the limber (and gun) and disable the piece itself. Even if an opposing crew could place a shell to explode directly over an artillery crew it might be very hard to cause many casualties because of the fact that the crew was somewhat dispersed while performing their duties. This fact never dissuaded them from trying but firing solid shot was the preferred method. Strangely enough, at the battle of Gettysburg the entire amount of rounds expended by the Union army tells a very strange story regarding solid rounds. You read account after account of counter battery action and the officers write that they fired solid shot, knocking out and putting Confederate guns out of action. You read about the success the Union batteries had over their Southern counter parts yet very very few solid rounds were actually used. Why is this? Well, if you read carefully you notice that they used a high percentage of their Case shot rounds. What I think happened is the gunners used the lighter weight case shot without punching the fuses to get the longer range instead of the shorter ranch of the heavy solid round. Obviously a lighter shell flew further and performed almost as good. More bang for your buck. One additional note: howitzers did NOT fire solid shots.
|Walcott's battery at Antietam|
At some point someone thought, ‘The gun was in the act of being loaded at the time the ball got stuck. That means that the powder charge was inside the barrel… about 2 pounds of black powder. Oh my God! There is still black powder down there and has been for the last 100 years… aiming at visitors to the State House! ‘ Ooops.
Ever skip a rock along the surface or a lake or any body of water? It skips, skims and plows its way until momentum or a very solid object stops it. This is what the gunners did with solid shot fired at infantry and cavalry. Of course it is pointless to fire it perpendicular to a single line of troops because at most it might hit two men if you are lucky. The optimum situation is when you have a line of troops wheeling across your front. The Union gunners were presented with this opportunity during Pickett’s Charge when Confederate infantry wheeled to align their attack on the clump of trees. It was a nightmare for the attacking Confederates and a wet dream for Union artillery. It was payback for what the Reb gunners inflicted upon Union infantry at Antietam.
The difference between Case shot and Shell was what was inside… or not! Shell was completely hollow and filled with just black powder. The idea was the shell would explode and send large chunks of the metal outer shell flying in all directions causing massive damage. It’s a fine idea but in practice it rarely happened like this. You couldn’t predict whether it would break into two pieces or more. Some soldiers at the time wrote home how a shell exploded right over their heads and surprisingly hurt no one! An equal amount of stories would tell of metal chunks tearing someone apart. At Gettysburg a Union brigade commander from the 2nd Corps, Col. George L. Willard, had his face torn off by a chunk of shell.
Case shot was much more predictable and deadly. As long as the fuse worked and the shot was on target it could cause horrible damage to the enemy. The round was hollow, had a powder charge but the shell was also filled with dozens of iron or lead round balls larger than a Minie Ball. Once the outer shell shattered the spray of metal was almost like a canister round fired from above, below or among. This eye witness account from Gettysburg tells the story better than I can ever explain. Union officer, Lt. Robert Carter with the 22nd Massachusetts infantry, at the battle of Gettysburg, was with the skirmish line advancing to the Peach Orchard at the end of the battle. He reported, “Our tour extended across the swale, which had been swept by the 5th and 9th Mass batteries. The scenes of that spot, as revealed its dreadful horrors to our astounded gaze, still linger on our memories. Masses of Kershaw’s and Wofford’s brigades had been swept from the muzzles of the guns, which had been loaded with spherical case, with fuses cut to one second, to explode near the muzzles. They were literally blown to atoms. Corpses strewed the ground at every step. Arms, heads, legs, and parts of dismembered bodies were scattered all about, and sticking among the rocks and against the trunks of trees, hair, brains, entrails, and shreds of human flesh still hung, a disgusting, sickening, heart-rending spectacle to our young minds. It was indeed a charnel-house, a butcher’s pen, with man as the victim.”
Canister – This was a very simple and easy to use round and probably the most effective round fired at closer ranges against attackers. It was just a tin can filled with iron balls. Once fired the can would tear apart and fill the air with the deadly missiles. It was like a giant shot gun. Not much skill was needed, just load, point and shoot. Many people assume that the range of canister was extremely short but that wasn’t the case at all. Artillery crew fired it into the air around the 300 yard mark to rain down on the heads of the enemy. Certainly firing it close up did the most damage. You could even fire two cans of canister but with only one powder charge. During Pickett's charge, a small group of about 100 Rebs broke off from the main assault at the Copse of trees and tried circling the 'rough ground' to the south. The only Union force in this area was Captain Cowan's 1st NY battery of 6 x 3 inch rifles. Seeing the Rebs rush at his guns he heard someone yell "Get the guns!" He ordered, "Double canister at 10 yards!" The six guns fired all at once. He reported that amid the smoke and flames he saw knapsacks, rifles, canteens, heads, arms, legs and chunks of flesh fly into the air. After the smoke cleared there was no one standing.
|Cowan's battery at Gettysburg|
Saturday, September 17, 2011
Also pay attention to the Forage caps (yes... not Kepis) and slouch hats worn by these Union artillerymen. The hats are different styles and colors. The same can be said for their shirts. A few here have the issue shirts and some do not. One soldier is also wearing boots and not Brogans. They also are not wearing Sack coats which is generally a social and military no-no when out-of-doors unless they are doing manual labor.
See what fun we can have?!
Friday, September 16, 2011
As I have been writing and thinking about the blog, people have asked a few particular questions of me. If you have a question or two that you need answering just let me know. I’d love to help. It might be simple or complex but I’m always will to try and find an answer. It’s FUN!
Next up: on the Painting front will be artillerymen of both sides and their equipment.
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
|Lt. Gen. James Longstreet at Gettysburg|
Certain items were used all the time when they could get a hold of captured goods. The most popular item was actually the common gum rubber blanket/poncho. It was a prized item for the Rebs to acquire because there was no substitute in the Confederate inventory that was so versatile and lasted. The other items were black leather goods such as; waist belt, cartridge box and sling, cap pouch, and bayonet scabbards. They would just remove the box plates, Eagle sling plate and if they could not acquire a new belt buckles they would turn the US belt plate upside down. They also used Federal knapsacks, haversacks, canteens, shoes and blankets. Using Federal clothing (coats and trousers) was a particular no-no. The Confederate armies issued orders from time to time specially stating that no soldiers should be wearing Union uniforms. Did they do it? Yes, it was done. Was it done to any real extent that you would see it in many miniatures you paint? The answer should be no unless you have a specific scenario/period in which you know. The take home message is: don’t have more than one in a hundred models.
Forage Caps and Kepis. The Forage caps and Kepis were worn but not anywhere near the frequency in which Union soldiers did. The colors for Forage caps would be just about any color within the shades of grays and browns. The bill of the cap/false shin strap was black. The strap was attached to the side of the cap with small brass buttons. The Kepi was worn but it was probably the most expensive to produce so as the war progressed fell out of use. Many gamers like to paint the Forage caps and Kepis either all blue or parts blue but this, if and when it did appear was an early war variation. Certainly blue on the Kepi was a fancier cap but… it is WAAAAY too overdone with gamers to a startling degree. I sometimes see colored bands around the bottom of the cap or on the top round piece, the crown. Don’t do this!
Slouch hats. The Slouch hat is a civilian styled hat worn by the men before they became soldiers. It is also the most common for the Rebs. The colors could be black, grays, and browns. Rarely would they be white, mostly shades of the other colors. Instead of white use a very light colored gray as the Rebs wore this more than their Yankee counterpart. Both Eastern and the Western armies predominately wore the Slouch hats. Most of your models should be wearing this and the least should be a Forage cap.
Hats usually had hat bands around the base of the hat. These were generally black or some similarly dark color. Most good sculpts already show this. Some hats have hat cords added by the soldiers themselves. These can be the color of the branch of service so for infantry it would be blue. The entire cord would be the same color.
Caps and Hats had cloth linings on the inside. If you have an officer or soldier waving his cap or hat paint some kind of subdued color for the inside lining.
Shell jacket. This isn’t the place to write a dissertation on the Confederate Shell jackets. There were many and different varieties during the course of the war but unless you are sculpting it really doesn’t matter too much. Basically, on anything between 8mm to 25mm a Shell jacket is a Shell jacket. Early war jackets might have blue or black colored cuffs and collars. Some might have piping as well. The mid-war and late war Shells would have very little other colors than the main colored cloth. Paint the Shells grays and browns (mostly grays). Many gamers seem to have the false impression that the Rebs were always in ripped and ragged clothing. Yes, at times they did suffer this fate but mostly this is not true. They were issued new clothing and when issued it would all be the same color so an entire regiment would look identical. You’d see more similarities than a wide range of colors.
Sack coat (or Fatigue Blouse). This was not a common issue coat with 4 brass buttons for the Rebs. This style should be seldom seen in your armies. It had no piping or other colors, even on the color and cuffs. It was somewhat baggy and roomy. Paint the Sack grays and browns.
Frock coat. This was worn more than the Sack coat but by the war’s end it might not be seen at all. It required so much more material to produce and more time consuming to sew than the Shell jacket so contractors stop making them for soldiers. They were tighter fitting so in the summer heat you sweated a LOT more wearing this coat. Paint the Frock coats grays and browns.
Shirts and Underwear. The Confederate Government had a hard time producing shirts and underwear so most Rebs got them from home. I’m not going into the fabric or styles here. The colors for non-issue shirts is almost limitless but would not be overly too bright and crazy.
During this period every man in America wore long-john type underwear from head to toe all year-round. Yes… even during the summer with long sleeves. It was the custom and actually it went right into the early 1900’s as well. If you read personal accounts from the soldiers you read that some soldiers wore only their undershirts and did not wear shirts over this.
Trousers. These were wool pants in grays and browns. Gamers seem to think it was common to strip the dead of their Union sky-blue trousers. This wasn’t really the case (unless perhaps in winter if your trousers were blown out) and the Confederate Government was adamant about NOT doing this. It was supposed to be the standard color (sky-blue) but that idea went out the window when they could never produce enough even in the VERY early days of the war. The trousers were held up by canvass or leather Braces or suspenders as we call them now.
Socks. They were made of wool and there were a whole slew of colors but mostly in the earth-tone family of colors. See Union section.
Shoes/Brogans/Jefferson Bootee. See Union section.
Leather goods. This category applies to cartridge boxes, cartridge box slings, waist belts, bayonet scabbards and cap pouches. All of these are black leather for the most part. There was supposed to be brass plates on the cartridge boxes and the sling that are made of brass. The plates were generally eliminated because of the brass needed for the rest of the war effort so generally you didn’t see them on Confederate produced goods. A popular style for the belt buckle was two pronged style similar as seen even today. It was made of iron/steel. The bayonet scabbard had a brass tip (or ferrule) on the bottom and some had a brass throat at the top as well but... less likely for Confederate styles. Towards the second half of the war you started seeing russet colored leather goods produced in the Confederate states so if you feel the urge you should mix in both black and russet brown colors into your regiments.
Note: as a general rule Union soldiers wore a cartridge box sling for their cartridge boxes and the Rebs did not. All cartridge boxes can be worn without a sling, attached through their waist belt. Usually Union soldiers wore the sling and usually the Rebs did not. I have read a regimental surgeon’s report to his regimental commander stating that the soldiers had not been wearing the slings. He had speculated that the soldiers should be made to put the slings back on their boxes because it would cause the soldiers to get hernias without the slings.
Canteen. The canteens produced in the South ran the gamut of different styles: smooth side tin, a tin drum-like style (not covered with cloth), canteens made entirely of wood and a bunch of other strange looking types. You probably should have all your models reflect the different styles even within a company. All canteens over time leaked so they didn’t last that long in hard service. The tin canteens were issued with wool or wool/cotton mix material covers and the colors varied. There was no standard color for this item but generally they would be; gray, brown, sky blue or dark blue. Safest colors to go with might be grays and browns. Some times the cover ripped off or just fell apart so you can also paint the canteens in their ‘naked’ tin color. The canteens were issued with slings made of canvass in an off-white color. Some soldiers bought or made their own with a brown or black leather with a roller buckle. There was a cork stopper which either tied to the canteen with string, leather or a chain.
Haversack. This was a bag which held all their food, coffee, plate and utensils. It was made of either plain white canvass or painted black. Confederate soldiers probably had a majority of white haversacks. The Union section covers much of the same material since they were very similar.
Tin Cup. This was a tin cup that was used to boil coffee and it was usually attached to the Haversack not the canteen. It started out a bright tin color but after a few times in the campfire would turn the outside very black.
Knapsacks/blanket rolls/hobo rolls. In the beginning of the war soldier usually were issued a knapsack but this ran out or fell out of favor. They would use captured knapsacks if they liked that particular way of lugging their stuff around. See the Union section for this.
Blanet rolls were popular and could be worn on either shoulder. There was no set rule or rule against using either shoulder. If you weren’t carrying too many extras items it was a little more comfortable to wear as opposed to a knapsack. They would roll all their earthly possessions into it, twist it and tie the ends to hold them together. The twisting avoided stuff slipping out during a long march.
Hobo rolls were similar in concept to a blanket roll but the blanket is not rolled into a long ‘log’ but it is more like a Union blanket, rolled and stored on TOP of the knapsack. With the blanket rolled up you could take a knapsack straps or rope and tie it tight. Next they would use a rifle sling and slip it through the roll and sling it over a shoulder as you would the haversack. You don’t often see this configuration too often on miniatures but it was a popular style (even for Yanks). There is a famous photo of a Union soldier with a hobo roll standing near burned out rail way cars near Manassas.
Blanket. There aren’t too many standard or common types of colors. Soldiers were issued blankets from time to time but their usual source would either be captured ones, ones sent from home and other oddities. In a pinch soldiers used what ever they could get their hands on like parts of rugs. The blanket colors were mostly grays/browns and not so many reds or weird and colorful kinds seen on miniatures painted. Bold colors and styles didn’t exist in anywhere near what painters churn out today for their armies. Homemade blankets had more muted colors and anything with real color would be too expensive so not common at all. Besides, even IF they could acquire them some how they would be so dirty that the color would not be seen bright any more. Sleeping on the ground, outside all the time in the rain and mud had a tendency to do that.
Gun Rubber ground cloth/poncho/blanket. See the Union section for details as they used the Federal issued ones if they could get them.
Rifle. See the Union section for details as they used the same types as them.
Bayonet. See the Union section for details as they used the same types as them.
Thursday, August 18, 2011
Old Glory 2nd Generation Union infantry marching at Shoulder Arms
Okay so you want to know what an average Union infantry soldier wore and what color was it? Remember, this is geared towards the MOST Union soldiers by mid-1862 until the end of the War. This probably makes up 99% of ALL Union soldiers. Again let me remind you that the US Government issued clothing and equipment to all troops unless they provided their own equipment. Those early benefactors ran out of money or patriotism very fast so they stopped shelling out the big bucks to re-issue fancy uniforms. Zouave and Chasseur regiments were the exception but even many of these early regiments went to the Government issue when the private funds dried up.
One last cautionary tale… farby reenactors (these are guys that will wear whatever they like because it might suit their fancy regardless of facts) will explain to you why they wear such and such a piece of equipment or clothing. They will get very defensive and explain… and here’s their reasoning… ‘well they COULD have worn it or MIGHT have worn it.’ Well okay… instead of driving my car to work I COULD fly a helicopter or MIGHT fly a helicopter to avoid heavy traffic. Sure! It makes sense to avoid traffic so… I think I will. It’s just plain bullshit. It will never happen. Okay so if you want to paint your toy soldiers in non-historic ways/colors then go ahead but don’t defend your actions. Just tell everyone, ‘I like colorful looking models regardless of history so I don’t care what you say.’ I’m actually fine with that! Really!
Forage Caps and Slouch hats. Pick one based upon your best guess but not Kepis… not Kepis. The Forage caps is the same color as the Sack coat (dark blue) and the bill of the cap/false shin strap was black. The strap was attached to the side of the cap with small brass buttons. The Slouch hat is a civilian styled hat worn by the men before they became soldiers. The colors could be black, grays and browns. Rarely would they be white, mostly black or darker colors. The Forage caps was Government issue and the Slouch hat was not. Eastern armies mostly wore the Forage cap and the Western armies mostly the Slouch hats.
Don’t paint all sorts of colors on the Forage caps, don’t. I sometimes see gamers with colored bands around the bottom of the cap or on the top round piece, the crown. Don’t do this! If there were men wearing something like this it would be rare. It is and was not U.S. Government issue. By mid-1862 you would probably not see any of these for re-issue by even privately funded regiments.
Caps and Hats had cloth linings on the inside. If you have an officer or soldier waving his cap or hat paint some kind of subdued color for the inside lining.
Frock coat. Even though you don’t see the Frock coat portrayed very often with CW sculptors it was actually a Government issue item. Most regiments were issued them but many chose not to wear them in the field. They were tighter fitting so in the summer heat you sweated a LOT more wearing this coat. The coat had 9 brass buttons down the front and was made of dark blue wool just like the Sack coat. There was sky blue piping around the collar and the sleeve cuffs. There were also 2 or 3 brass buttons on the sleeves.
If you search the pictures taken during the War long enough you see the frock coat worn. One thing I found intriguing were several photos of NCO’s wearing their Frock coats and all the privates dressed in all Sack coats! I have 3 pics of different regiments dressed this same way. You might want to do this if you feel so inclined but don’t over do it.
Shell jacket. I hate to even mention them for Union soldiers. These would have been worn by States purchasing them from contractors. These were NOT U.S. Government issue so the percentage here was very low. Some States supplied them early on but over time the States usually discontinued this issue. Bottom line; skip this unless you are painting a particular regiment in a particular time frame. Do some research for find out more about them for Union infantry.
Shirts and Underwear. The Government issued a shirt that was an off-white color item. I’m not going into the fabric or styles here. Since it was given to the soldiers they wore that most of the time. Since it was not always the most comfortable or the best fitting some soldiers wore shirts made and sent from home or purchased from Sutlers in the field. The colors for non-issue shirts is almost limitless but would not be overly too bright and crazy.
During this period every man in America wore long-john type underwear from head to toe all year-round. Yes… even during the summer with long sleeves. It was the custom and actually it went right into the early 1900’s as well. If you read personal accounts from the soldiers you read that some soldiers wore only their undershirts and did not wear shirts over this. Of course it really does not change how you paint the colors too much because for the most part this would be another off-white item. I’m just adding this for your enjoyment and/or reference.
Trousers. These were wool pants in a sky blue color. Government contractors felt the established color was very hard to match and complained often. They claimed that there would be a color shift even within the same dye lots. The trousers were held up by canvass or leather Braces or suspenders as we call them now.
Socks. They were made of wool and there were a whole slew of colors but mostly in the earth-tone family of colors. Soldiers liked to get ones made at home since they lasted longer, were better made and fit better. The soldiers liked to tuck their trouser legs into the top of these socks and this was called “Blousing your trousers.” It was not the sort of thing to be done during dress parades or even photographs but in the field it was popular. It kept bugs from crawling up your legs and also helped during the colder temperatures to keep your legs warmer. Try it next time you go hiking to help prevent tick bites. It works!
Shoes/Brogans/Jefferson Bootee. They all were the same black shoe but were called different names. These shoes were actually made with the rough side of the leather on the OUTSIDE. Consequently these shoes are nearly impossible to polish to a shine. In this case shouldn’t use a shinny black color, a dull black is perfect. The laces should be mostly black or brown leather. Note that because of they rough side-out they get very dirty and dusty easily… like in minutes after walking with cleaned up Brogans.
Leather goods. This category applies to cartridge boxes, cartridge box slings, waist belts, bayonet scabbards and cap pouches. All of these are black leather. There are brass plates on the cartridge boxes and the sling that are made of brass. The waist belt also has a brass oval belt buckle. The black leather should be somewhat shinny but over time it does get duller. The bayonet scabbard had a brass tip (or ferrule) on the bottom and some had a brass throat at the top as well.
Canteen. No, they are not called water bottles but they do hold water. The U.S. Government issued canteens with smooth or ridged (called Bulls-eye) sided canteens made of tin. They were issued with wool or wool/cotton mix material covers and the colors varied. There was no standard color for this item but generally they would be; gray, brown, sky blue or dark blue. Safest colors to go with might be grays and browns. Some times the cover ripped off or just fell apart over time so you can also paint the canteens in their ‘naked’ tin color. The canteens were issued with slings made of canvass in an off-white color. Some soldiers bought or made their own with a brown or black leather with a roller buckle. There was a cork stopper which either tied to the canteen with string, leather or a chain.
Haversack. This was a bag which held all their food, coffee, plate and utensils. It was made of either plain white canvass or painted black. The soldiers joked that after a few months in the field they ALL turned black, dirty and greasy from the salt pork stuff inside. They had either a black leather roller buckle or a button to close the flap.
Tin Cup. This was a tin cup that was used to boil coffee and it was usually attached to the Haversack not the canteen. It started out a bright tin color but after a few times in the campfire would turn the outside very black.
Knapsack. For the most part Union soldiers were issued a double bag knapsack. It was made of canvass painted black. It had black leather shoulder straps and black leather chest straps to hold it snuggly to your body. On top of the pack are black leather straps that could hold a rolled up Greatcoat, blanket, rolled up Dog tent (shelter half), blanket/Great coat with a Gum Rubber blanket rolled around it or nothing at all. Sometimes you would see camp hatchets, shovels, frying pans or tin pots attached to the back of the pack.
Blanket. The most common type would be the medium gray rectangular woolen blanket with black stripes across the short ends and sometimes “US” stitched into it. There were also brown blankets but these were less common.
Sometimes the blanket was strapped to the top of the Knapsack and sometimes it had personal items rolled inside it, twisted, folded in the middle and tied at the ends with leather string or rope. This was worn over either shoulder instead of a Knapsack. It was often seen this way with Confederate soldiers but Union soldiers did wear it this way as well. It was also worn tied like this OVER the Knapsack, so you wore both at the same time. This was useful in case you were ordered to quickly drop your Knapsack and move on. If you dropped your pack there was a good chance you’d never see it again so having the blanket separate insured you at least retained something for the cooler evenings when sleeping.
Gum Rubber ground cloth/poncho/blanket. This item was a piece of canvass that had vulcanized rubber fixed to the front or top side. It was ‘mostly’ waterproof but after time the gum rubber would crack and peel off. It was developed by the fledgling Goodyear Rubber Company. It had grommet holes around the outer edges as well. It had many uses, everything from ground cloth to sleep on, poncho to keep you dry, a blanket and also a substitute tent half of sorts. It had a useful life to the soldier. It was one of the most valuable items for the soldier.
Rifle. Regardless of which kind of smoothbore or rifled musket they essentially had the same look for our miniatures. They had brown fine grain wood (usually oak) which was stained medium to dark brown. Even on 40mm scaled miniatures there would be no way to see any grain. Even standing a few feet away from a real rifle it would be pretty damn hard to see. They were not lacquered as modern reproduction muskets are today. The finish would appear like a satin finish. Over the early months of use sweat and dirt would also darken the finish.
|Springfield on top and 69 cal. "Pumpkin slinger" below|
All rifles were issued with slings made of brown or russet colored leather. After time these became darker from the sweat from dirty hands. Some soldiers removed the slings and used them for other purposes.
Bayonet. They were made of steel not always very clean since the soldiers used they for other purposes besides stabbing.
Refer to my earlier post about the colors for the Sack and Frock coats.