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Saturday, December 29, 2012

3rd Corps... DONE!

Whew... done! All Color Guards, Brigade officers, Regimental officers, Field Music and MEN painted and flocked... all done! Add to this I'm also totally done with 5th Corps brigades of Tilton and Sweitzer and ALL the brigades of Hood's and McLaws' brigades means I am on the home stretch. I still have to finish Caldwell's division, Willard's brigade and the two U.S. brigades of Day and Burbank is easy now. The artillery is about half way done. All 3rd Corps batteries are done so what remains are the scattered batteries of the Reserve Artillery. Hip hip hooray!!!

I also finished up all my peach orchard trees. Okay well... honestly I have to touch up the fruit and turn apples into peaches but... it goes down in my book as 99% done.

Gen. Phil Kearny charging at the battle of Williamsburg ahead of his men.

Gen. Sickles says, "I agree with whatever Gen. Kearny said!"
Gen. Butterfield says, "Yeah...I agree with whatever Gen. Kearny and Gen. Sickles says!"

Friday, December 21, 2012

Very intriguing....

Brig. Gen. Alfred Pleasonton
I spent about 2 hours combing through the Official Records tonight looking stuff up on a research project. I stumbled across telegraphs totally unrelated to what I was looking for. I found one really really cool thing. On June 12th 1863, there was a telegraph back and forth between Army of the Potomac Cavalry Corps commander Gen. Alfred Pleasonton to the Army of the Potomac Chief Quartermaster Gen. Rufus Ingalls.

Brig. Gen. Rufus Ingalls
 The exchange was about supplies and holding on to them around the various depots. CSA cavalry leader Col. Mosby was raiding and evading Union cavalry patrols even though Union cavalry was trying to pin him down into a trap. Mosby kept escaping. I don't know the exact particulars that precipitated this telegraph exchange but Pleasonton  wrote to Ingalls, 

"Your dispatch is received. Ask the General (don't know who this is) how much of a bribe he can stand to get Mosby's services. There is a chance  for him, and just  now he could do valuable service in the way of information as well as humbugging the enemy. 

There is no news. The Rebs are like that boy the Present tells about, who stumped his toe, and was too big to cry."

Gen. Ingalls replied, 

"I think your scheme can succeed in regard to Mosby, do not hesitate as to the matter of money. Use your own judgement, and do precisely what you think best for the public good."

Nothing in the Official Records that I can find follows this up. I don't know what they were talking about, what happened and who was this "General" in which Pleasonton speaks. Very intriguing....

Col. John Mosby, "The Gray Ghost"
Anyone have any ideas about this? I'd love to know more.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Another painting or collecting update

Color Guard of the 7th New Jersey

I have been a busy beaver trying to finish all the Color Guards I will need. It's tough work but someone has to do it! Above you will see the 7th NJ Color Guard. They were from Burling's brigade (3/2/III) at Gettysburg. Strangely enough the entire brigade wore Frock coats during the battle. I have left these on the back end of the painting schedule.

Recently I put an order (or 3) with Foundry for their Frock coated Union models. I had purchased the needed amount of Frock coats from Redoubt but... I was never in love with them. The heads are separate, they never really fit on very well, the hair styles are wrong in some cases, the mould line run over the FRONT of their faces (grrrrrr...) and the coats are either too short or just lousy models. The good thing is before I painted lots of them Foundry lowered their prices so I jumped on that. Now, they are a bit chunkier in stature (than Redoubt) and they suffer the same problems as all the Perry Civil War models face (both the old Foundry models and their OWN stuff recently) their equipment is not really to scale. It's annoying but honestly they just make my life a lot easier since I need well over 180 of them. In the pic above the standard bearers are Redoubt and the back two models are Foundry. Sadly the Perrys nor the Foundry have Frock coated Standard Bearers so I'm stuck with Redoubt for that.

This is my box of 100% done Color Guards.
For the Rebs it is all the brigades of Hood's and McLaws' divisions. There are also I think one or two from Wilcox's division as well. Mostly the III Corps is done (apart from Burling and 1 or 2 of Carr's) and most of Tilton and Sweitzer's V Corps brigades are done. I think I randomly did two II Corps regiments too.

Color Guards that need some touch-ups and Flocking.

Just thought I'd throw this pic in for giggles. It is a Brigade C.O. and his staff. Each brigade will eventually get this treatment when I get around to them.

Stuff in the early stages of painting. There are 6 more Color Guards and more Frock coated Burling's men.
Of course if you want to play a scenario of the Peach Orchard you need Peach trees. I need to base a bunch more. So far 6 are done. *sigh*  I'll get there.
I think after the latest batch of Color Guards (above) are finished I might switch off and get back to my Union artillery. They need loving too. It gets tedious to do the same thing all the time. Oh and BTW, all the flags are GMB. I love them.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Two Days of Gettysburg by Henry Edwin Tremain

Capt. James Smith's 4th NY Lt. Artillery battery on Devil's Den

I am in the process of reading the book, Two Days of Gettysburg by Maj. Henry Edwin Tremain. You may know that he was on Sickles' staff at Gettysburg. It is interesting to read his views and observations. Some of them not normally used in histories of the battle. They might seem of minor importance to most readers/historians but I always find these interesting to note.

He had an expression that seems to be quite common at least to his contemporaries. Being a staff officer he frequently was called upon to ride to other corps, division, brigade commanders and even army HQ’s with reports or requests for orders. The staff officers had a term that they used describing their reception and dealing with officers unknown to them. The term was “frosting”.

Before dawn on the first day of July, Tremain was instructed to ride north to ask Gen. Reynolds if he had any orders for Sickles. By the time he arrived in Gettysburg and met Reynolds the battle had begun but it was before the 1st Corps infantry was engaged fully. Reynolds was sitting on his horse all by himself, without staff, and Tremain had never met him before. He rode up while Reynolds was looking through his binoculars and apparently did not sense or hear his approach. He remained quiet expecting the General to speak. Tremain said there was an awkward very long pause and not knowing Reynolds he didn’t know the correct etiquette and how he dealt with his staff. According to Tremain some Generals treated their staff as messengers only and some as confidants  Sickles was the type of man that always listened to comments in addition to reports so there was a by-play with his staff in a very familiar manner. Tremain said the pause was almost beyond awkward and he assumed Reynolds either didn't know he was there or was “frosting” him. He explained that to mean treating the other person coldly and belittling them. He gulped and was about to speak when Reynolds seemed to awaken from his concentration, excused himself and greeted him warmly. Tremain identified himself and asked for orders. He told Tremain to ride back to Sickles and have him bring the 3rd corps up and continued with his field glass inspection.

statue of Maj. Gen. George G. Meade

On the 2nd day he was instructed by Sickles to ride to army HQ and report to Gen Meade about the skirmish that took place on Seminary Ridge woods between Berdan’s sharpshooters and the 3rd Maine with the Confederate column which we now know was the lead brigade of Hill’s corps. Again, he rode to Army HQ not having met Meade ever so he was unfamiliar with his HQ etiquette. He arrived at the widow Leister’s house (Meade’s HQ for the battle) and was met by Meade’s staff in the yard. Meade’s staff asked what it was he was reported and Tremain explained his mission and was told to go into the house to report his finding to the General himself since it was something he might want to hear directly from him and perhaps ask questions. As he stepped into the doorway he noticed Meade alone, stooped over a map spread out on the table.  Just like Reynolds Meade was intently scanning the map and did not notice him enter the room. After another awkward pause Meade looked up and half smiled and asked if he had any information for him. Tremain said he did and reported his findings adding that Sickles thought the recent development might mean that the Rebs were trying to flank the army on the left. . Meade thanked him and commented that every General thinks the enemy is getting set to attack their line in particular. He stated in his book that he felt “frosted” after Meade’s remarks.  Meade then said that he could ask Gen. Hunt for some additional artillery to be posted on his line if needed and that he would have cavalry posted on the left to patrol the area. He had no other order for Sickles so Tremain saluted and left.  After the War, Tremain in speaking with other officers on Reynolds’ and Meade’s staff that both Generals were genial fellows which did not normally “frost” junior officers.
Maj. Henry Edwin Tremain
The other interesting bit I read so far was the habit of knocking down all fences in front of and around their lines. This was done to alleviate the need in case of a future movement. The fencing always slowed their marches and having them out of the way made their movement faster and on the morning of the 2nd Tremain asked and received permission to get all the fences pulled down, “before the troops moved than to be annoyed with fences wrecking while maneuvering.”

The Klingel farm viewed from southeast of the farm.

 Now as gamer designing scenarios, whether they are historical or otherwise, this brings up an interesting debate. Should you layout extensive fencing everywhere or not? If Tremain’s statement can be used as a ‘normal’ tactic then perhaps you should. If battles are more of a meeting engagement then more then likely not. Something to think about, eh?

Farm lane to Slyder farm at the western base of Big Round Top 

One last thing that I have been more excited about: my Kindle! I’ve had it for 2 years now. Previously I had never thought I’d get one. I love books and an electronic book just isn’t the same! Who would want it? It’s absurd. I bought one thinking maybe it might be more cost efficient for a few books since a Kindle version is cheaper, takes up less space on my overcrowded book shelf and if the book is not that interesting to keep long term why not buy a Kindle version? At first I bought only books that I’d never need for research, did not include an extensive photo and map section. In a way I still use this guideline but an unexpected development has entered the fray… the website Open Library.

Open Library is a God-send for people like me looking for old and out of print books. A good example of what is available is the Tremain book. That’s how I am reading it. You can’t buy this book unless you can get through a collector or some search library. The price to purchase this book would be very high and who knows what condition it but be in. Well you can download this book and read it in minutes! Just think of research possibilities! While giving my Gettysburg tour in April I was talking with 3 college Professors about this. They scoffed at E readers in general for the exact same reasons I had. I tried to explain how it can help find those obscure books but I don’t think I was very successful. Oh well, their loss.

There are books I would NOT buy with an E reader like Kindle though. For books that have charts, table, pictures and maps I think it might make it very difficult to flip back and forth. The bonus with the E reader is the very nice searchable tool built in and you can bookmark pages and/or passages. That’s a GREAT feature. As long as the book is mostly text it is an amazing way and cheap way to read new and old books. Sure I love the feel of a book and a new book smell but… I gotta say when you have no place to put books any more you need options.

Thursday, September 13, 2012


Monument of the 14th  Connecticut looking towards the Roulette farm

The Civil War Trust has just posted some really dynamite stuff on their website for the 150th anniversary of the battle of Antietam. You have to check them out! The animated maps and the battlefield 360 tour is first rate. Of course this doesn’t mean that is all! Find out now!

While you have a chance please donate to the Civil War Trust to help save our battlefields. The CWT is a non-profit organization that does not keep a bunch of your money for them either. No no no… they pour that money back into saving land so developers don’t turn it into strip malls, Walmarts, McDonalds etc. I urge you to donate whatever you can before it is too late.

I am headed for Antietam myself next week and then on to Gettysburg again. 

Looking South and the Hagerstown Turnpike on the right

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Painting update

Finished painting and spraying these models. They still need basing though. They will join the 5th Corps.

It has been a while since I updated the blog. I have been kinda busy but... I also have had lots of things plan and half finished to post but have been lazy posting. Sorry.

Anyway, I have added more stuff recently so I thought I'd show some progress. The models done recently have been 80% Union since I need more and more of them. Waiting patiently are 176 Rebs that are painted but need to be based. I hate basing them. It's annoying, time consuming and very tedious.

These models are in line waiting for either paint, basing, flocking... and other final touches.  You will notice all those 12 Lbs. Napoleons on the right side. They will fill-in the 3rd Corps and Reserve Artillery batteries. Once these guns are finished I have about 6 to 8  3-inch Ordnance rifles to be completed and I'm done with the guns.

I am currently trying to work my way through all the Color Guards of the various regiments needed for my huge project. So far all the 3rd Corps regiments are done except for Burling's brigade. I am almost finished with Barnes's division of the 5th Corps. After that I just need to do Caldwell's 2nd Corps division. All the regiments of Hood's and McLaw's divisions are done. I plan to do a few of Wilcox's regiments as too and... maybe Perry's brigade as well. We'll see.

The pictures of the tool box shows some of what is done. I have 3 of the Sears, 3 - drawer tool boxes. Each tool box is full. I have to figure some other method of storage since the boxes themselves are very heavy. I recently bought a few Really Useful Boxes and that might work out well. All my models are based with magnetic peel and stick on the bottoms or metal bases with trays. I lined the bottom of the Really Useful Boxes with the paper steel so everything works together well. In addition to all of this I have 8 foam trays filled with individual artillery crewmen, officers on foot, drummer boys, buglers on foot and casualty figures.

Here you can see part of the Really Useful Boxes with mounted officers, brigade flag bearers, buglers and some Zouaves that didn't fit into the tool boxes.

I need to get back to work now. Only 23 million more models to paint! It's all down hill now. Hoorah!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Old NPS loading and firing video

Union soldier at Support Arms

Do you remember the old video from the NPS at Gettysburg that showed infantry loading and firing and cannon loading and firing? The first time I went there it was in the old Cyclorama Center before they had the Visitor Center. Eventually the video players moved into the Visiotr Center. After they opened the brand NEW Visitor Center the films have disappeared... or so I thought. I was searching on Youtube and found them! Someone posted them. Oh the memories. Cool.


Here is a shot of the old Visitor Center in the middle of the demolition. This shot was from the Gettysburg Daily, posted on their website on April 1, 2009. You can visit their website and see a whole bunch of great photos and videos. I have the link on the right.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Snake rail fence (or worm fence) gate opening

There seems to be some confusion about how to make a snake rail fence gate opening. Obviously this would be needed to move in and out of a fenced off area to plow or whatever the farmer wanted to do. There is no fence here now but to make one yourself is not that tough and you can do it right.

If the farmer wanted the corners of a snake rail fenced area squared off he could use the same styled post for a 90 degree angle. He just needs to drill the holes on two sides and not straight through.

You can use a typical post from a post and rail fence and slide the tapered ends of the rails into the holes. This is shown above. You can either add an additional post that connects the swinging gate as close as needed. The alternative is to use only this side as the closing side and it would not be a weight bearing end. You can use rope or a metal loop to hold the gate shut.
Here's a close up shot of it from the other side.

This is a close up of the piece  (one of the two)  that is drilled into the post
 that actually holds the weight of the gate so it  is hinged here.

The gate would have two metal pieces that has a round ring that fits the metal bit pictured here. If you look at the picture at the top you will see the metal piece in relation to the whole opening. Make sense?

BTW... if you follow this link:
You will see the WRONG way to make worm fences. It's a nice articles and would be better if the authors knew anything about these fences. Don't do it. Look at pictures of real fences! Just sayin'...

Monday, May 28, 2012

Our first Memorial Day?

If you are looking for a nice article about our first Memorial Day celebration go to the link below. The site is Gatehouse Press. They publish Civil War books and print the superb Gettysburg magazine. The link below is about our first Memorial Day and how it came about.

Now remember, we are talking about our AMERICAN Memorial Day not other Memorial celebrations in other countries. Some smart alec posted a snide comment after the article. He was probably annoyed that the article has the title "The first Memorial Day?" The article is about OUR first. Sheeeccchhhh!

BTW, the site frequently updates the article section with new ones so check it out or subscribe so you get the note that there is a new post. That makes it easy.

Sallie was the mascot of the 11th Pennsylvania. Sallie stayed with the dead and dying of the regiment at Gettysburg while the rest of the regiment fell back to Cemetery Hill. After the battle was over the men of the regiment found Sallie dehydrated but lying patiently with her friends, protecting them. Years later when it came time to erect a monument for the regiment the old veterans chose to have her likeness at the base. People visiting the battlefield today often leave dog treats for her on the monument.

Father Corby of the Irish Brigade blessing the regiments before they went into the fight.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

A sad sad day....

Here's a pic from the Gettysburg Daily web site posted in March. It shows the 38th PA near Little Round Top and the soldier is probably very sad today. Here is the caption posted with this photo:

The 38th Pennsylvania Infantry monument is always well-lit in the afternoon light this time of year … This view was taken facing east at approximately 3:40 PM on Wednesday, March 28, 2012.

If you have been reading the Gettysburg Daily as I have over the past few years you will appreciate the sad news posted on their web site today. If you have NOT been reading the daily posts you have been missing some outstanding Gettysburg/Civil War goodness. Every day they post panoramic photos or video blogs/series about a whole host of topics. It is truly the first place I check every morning. Anyway... this morning when I checked I saw the message which I cut and pasted below. Read it and weep with me:

After over four years and thousands of hours of putting up daily posts on things kind of related to Gettysburg, the Gettysburg Daily is going to be taking an indefinite break, starting today. We’ll still be posting some content in the weeks to come, but no longer on a daily basis. Rest assured, everyone behind the scenes is in good health, but other obligations have made this hiatus a necessity.

We have learned an immense amount doing this project and have been amazed by the support we’ve received over the years and at seeing how many people have visited the website — your kind comments, emails, and donations allowed us to become a much stronger site today than we were at the beginning. For now, think of us as “Gettysburg, Every Once in a While.” Please subscribe to our feed if you are interested in future updates.

All the best,
Gettysburg Daily

Well if you like all stuff Gettysburg and Civil War in general you should check it out. Go to the Archive Section on their site to to look at a daily listing OR go to the section that has the Guides listed. They have a whole particular series there. This makes it easier to see what catches your fancy and you can click the links for each episode.

I sure hope they come back soon. Perhaps they just need a break to re-charge their batteries. I know it is a LOT of work. With the 150th anniversary coming up next year they will hopefully be posting many more daily gems. We can only hope. 

Go to the Links to check it all out.

And for all you Mothers out there Happy Mother's Day! Thanks Mom. Even though I know she doesn't have a computer (or "puter" as she calls it) or even know how to turn it on if  she had one, remember to thank your Mom too. Well... call her for sure. 


Wednesday, May 2, 2012

I just don’t get it

The Coffee Coolers by Edwin Forbes
These guys were notorious for falling out of the march and hiding until they were not missed. After all the fighting had taken place they would find their units again loaded with excuses why they couldn't keep up.

My Civil War library is huge. The amount is a problem of space but the amount of good CW books is NOT a problem. Well, let me back up a bit… it is not a problem for me that my collection is too big, only my lovely wife has a problem with the amount. Like most CW buffs I’d like to see it double today and perhaps triple by tomorrow. There are so many books I’d love to own and I probably will, given enough time and assuming I don’t get abducted by aliens or get hit by a bus any time soon. For the past 3 years I have begun stacking books on the floor and I could be featured on the TV show “Hoarders” soon. *gulp* I don’t have a problem… seriously!

The issue I have is that there are some people who think there are enough books published already. Yeah… they do exist! When I was in Gettysburg last month I spoke to quite a few people (who shall remain nameless) that feel there are… say… enough books about Gettysburg for example. They also will say with a straight face that ‘why do you need a book about so and so? He was only a brigade commander.’ I don’t get that. The people I’m talking about are not just ordinary passersby but CW buffs, Rangers and Guides. It is mindboggling. I’ll give you that we do not need another book about Gettysburg that states the exact same primary material, secondary resources and idiotic theories (the kind of ‘what if’ off the wall stuff that would NEVER have happened) that has been reprinted a billion times. I know these books because I have waaay too many of them. So I’m not talking about these books but who wouldn’t want a book that provides new primary material or greater detail with more accurate maps about the battle?! Well there are some and I just don’t get that.

I had a discussion at Gettysburg when the topic came up about the battle of Antietam. I had told this gentleman that I wished that every battle had a book that described the action with the detail and depth as the book Antietam: The Soldiers' Battle by John M. Priest. I have put this one in my all time best 12 CW lists. The gentleman said he thought that Landscape Turned Red: The Battle of Antietam by Stephen W. Sears was a MUCH better book. I told him I wasn’t disputing that the Sears book wasn’t very good, it was just that I have 4 very good books on the battle and loved them but I wanted MORE detail than just an overall “battle book”. (“Battle book” is the term I use to describe a book in which an entire battle is written in a broad over view. These books can have detail but they essentially cover the entire battle evenly as if you didn’t know anything. There is nothing wrong with that of course.) The fact is I have tons of battle books but now I want more and this is why I loved the Priest book so much. If you read this book first you might get very confused and I get that. The book is chock full of antidotes that describe the battle in the eyes of the soldiers themselves, not McClellan’s grand strategy (he had one?!). The gentleman had a problem with the book because of this. I just couldn’t get him to understand that once you read a dozen battle books on one battle you want MORE. Half jokingly I said that if I could I would like to know the name of every soldier that fought in every battle, what he was wearing, how he was wearing it, what he had to eat that day, how/where did he sleep the night before, where did he came from, did he have a family, how old was he, was he wounded or killed, did he suffer, what company/regiment was he from, did he survive the war, did he write down his experiences, where is he buried, are there photos/letters of him that still exist today… etc etc. I want to know it all! Any book that can get me closer to that level of detail is good in my mind.

Okay I do admit I’m a bit over the top here but why wouldn’t you want details if you are really into the Civil War? It is perplexing to see book after book about the Irish Brigade and they all tell the same old story. You might be surprised to know that the Irish Brigade won the war all by themselves! Well… if you read these books that is almost the way the story turns out. It’s like the boring 12,865 books on Gettysburg that never needed to be published. Bring something new to the table or find another subject. You’d be shocked to know how much could still be written yet no one has touched them but of course if you just read battle books or books on the Irish Brigade you don’t need anything else.

Sorry, I just don’t get it.

40th NYSV monument

Monday, March 26, 2012

The Sunken Road at Antietam

132nd Pa, 1 Bri./3 Div./2nd Corps
I thought I'd throw some pictures up that I took last September at the Antietam Battlefield. I spent an entire day driving and walking around the field and all the pictures posted today are from the area around the Sunken Road. If you have never visited the field I guarantee you do not have an accurate appreciation of the undulating hills and broken terrain in general. You must go because it will blow your mind.

Looking towards the right of the Rebel line
Looking to the right flank from inside the Sunken Road
Looking northeast from the Confederate's perspective. The Union 2nd Corps came from that direction. This ground looks flat but it is actually somewhat uphill. The ground slopes off about 200 yards and anyone approaching from this direction is unseen until they rise above the ground below.
Detail from the Irish Brigade monument near the Observation Tower.
Brigade commander of the Irish Brigade.
Looking towards the left of the Reb line from atop  the Tower.
The Sunken Road from the area which the 2nd Corps attacked.