On parade! Troops of the American Civil War


I’ve been wargaming since the 1990s, and during that time have amassed many miniatures across a range of periods. However, I’ve never really catalogued them all, and some of them haven’t seen the light of day for many a year. So I’m now parading each army for inspection so as to take stock of what I’ve got.

Some of my earliest wargaming figures were for the American Civil War. My original plan was to paint both sides in 28mm, but by the time I had finished these three units, my interests had moved onto other periods, and that was that! But they’re still beautiful units, and so I’ve kept them all these years for old time’s sake.


1st Maryland Infantry at Gettysburg


At about 10.00am on the third day of the Battle of Gettysburg, the 400 men of the 1st Maryland Battalion launched their attack on Culp’s Hill. They charged towards the Federal breastworks, but were eventually repulsed and had to fall back. By that time, they had lost nearly 50% of their number.

Band of Brothers

The sacrifice of the 1st Maryland has been immortalised by noted artist Don Troiani in his painting ‘Band of Brothers’. Redoubt Miniatures produce a set of 28mm figures partly based on this picture, which are the basis of the miniature regiment shown in these photos.

Painting Confederate troops was a real pleasure, as they tended to wear a range of uniforms and equipment. The 1st Maryland were dressed somewhat “nattier” than other Confederates, being uniformed mainly in grey, and nearly all wearing the little kepi cap instead of the hodge-podge of hats worn by other units. But they still have a range of different accoutrements (especially the blanket rolls that some of them have slung over their shoulders).

Redoubt also produce some very animated groups of casualty figures. I included six extra wounded men in this unit. The casualty figures didn’t come with rifles, so I glued some spare ones onto the falling figures as though they were in the act of dropping their weapons.


It is known that a mongrel dog went into action with the 1st Maryland that fateful day (and was shot down). If you look very carefully, you will see it in this picture. It didn’t come in the Redoubt set – I advertised on the internet for a miniature dog, and was kindly sent this miniature. It is probably the wrong sort of dog, looking a bit too lean and thoroughbred!

The flags of my 1st Maryland Battalion were by GMB Flags, who produce stunningly beautiful paper flags for many famous Civil War units. I folded them so that they look as if they are streaming out as the standard bearers run forward.


The figures were glued in groups onto 4cm wide cardboard bases, about four or five figures to one base. This size of base was not selected to go with any particular set of wargames rules, but rather because 4cms is just wide enough to show off these figures to their best advantage.


5th New York State Infantry (Duryea’s Zouaves)


Some of the most colourful units of the Civil War were those who styled themselves as zouaves, named after the French colonial troops of that time. And one of the most famous zouave units was the 5th New York Volunteer Infantry, known after their founder as Duryea’s Zouaves.

Redoubt’s 28mm zoauve figures are beautifully sculpted. This is especially so for the typical baggy trousers, where the folds of cloth look very natural. And of course these are set off by the distinctive red colour worn by Duryea’s Zouaves, giving rise to their nickname, the ‘Red Devils’.

The flags were again products of GMB Flags. These flags are absolutely exquisite! I also added Front Rank finials and cords to the top of each flag pole.


The officer figure wears a frock-coat and trousers which are not quite so baggy as those of his men. He is running forward, holding his pistol out in front of him. I purposely made my bases quite deep so that I could have the officer running in front of the double line of men.


The bases were textured with real sand and small stones, static grass, and clumps of long model railway grass, to give the effect of rough ground – perhaps the field of Gaines Mill, where in 1862 the Red Devils first made their reputation.


Major Pelham’s Artillery Battery


Redoubt don’t specifically say so in their advertisement, but I suspect they were modelling the moment at the battle of Fredericksburg in 1862, when ‘the gallant Pelham‘ used two guns (a Napoleon and a Blakeley rifle) to great effect against the Federal flank. Certainly the models and the poses of the figures lend themselves to recreating this event.


Back when I bought these figures, miniature artillery units were often sculpted with gunners in very static poses, or in a mix of action poses that are not coordinated together to show a particular part of the gun drill. These Redoubt teams, however, all appeared to be working together. One team is positioning their Napoleon 6-pounder ready to fire, while the other team is lifting a 3″ ordnance rifle gun by the trail, ready to swing it around to a new firing angle. Note that the latter should have an iron rather than bronze barrel – I must correct it one of these days!


The figures include:

  • Major Pelham himself. He wears tall riding boots, and is standing with his arm held up behind him, as if to say “hold it there, guys!”. His shell jacket is secured only by the top button. On his belt is a pistol holster and a cartridge pouch.
  • Two men holding the trail of one of the guns. Very cleverly animated – you can just feel them heaving the weight of the gun. One is in a shell jacket, while the other is stripped down to his shirt and braces.
  • Two figures pushing the wheels. One is really exerting himself. He is wearing a shell jacket and long baggy trousers. The other is a bit more subdued in his efforts, pushing with one hand on top of the other. His shell jacket is nicely cast falling open.
  • One figure levering the gun round with a bar. He is leaning forwards very realistically. Once again, he is wearing a shell jacket and baggy trousers.
  • A gunner standing with his hands down by his sides. This fellow adds a bit of variety, as he is wearing a waistcoat and trousers. I wasn’t really too sure what he was supposed to be doing, but he looks OK just standing there, waiting to do whatever he has to. He could also be a gun-corporal, ordering his men to push harder.
  • Another gunner sighting along the barrel of his gun, with his hand out behind him, indicating to his men “this way a bit more!”.


Next time in On Parade! we’ll move to a totally different army from my wargaming collection. I haven’t decided which period yet, but it could perhaps be samurai, pirates, WW2 French or Dutch, the Wild West … or something else. Who knows! 

On Parade: Napoleonic French carts, camps and cantinières

A French army on the march always had a long tail of camp followers. There were the wives and children of soldiers following their spouse or parent’s army from place to place. You would also find the many informal army service providers, selling goods or services that the military did not supply—cooking, laundering, liquor, nursing, sexual services and sutlery. And of course there were the ne’er-do-well soldiers, stragglers and walking wounded.

This latest instalment in my ‘On Parade‘ series shows the mini-dioramas that represent the camp followers of my French army. These are intended to add visual interest to the miniature battlefield, and would seldom take part in anything other than scenario-driven skirmish games.

A well-laden supply wagon trails the French army on the march. This is the Perry Miniatures model, sculpted full of baggage and even including an overflowing rack at the rear. The model can be assembled either with or without the canvas tilt cover. I’ve just left it unglued, so I can choose whether the wagon will be covered or not.

The wagon is driven by a soldier wearing a shako and greatcoat. He is giving a lift to a cantinière in the passenger seat. I’ve just blu-tacked these figures on so that I can remove them if I want to use the wagon for other periods. In this picture you can also see some of the Perry Miniatures civilians set.

Speaking of cantinières, besides the one hitching a ride on the wagon, I’ve got another two. The one on the left is from Foundry, whilst Warlord Games make the running cantinière. The latter’s donkey is tied to a convenient rail, and is even carrying a bunch of daffodils in its pannier!

This French campsite scene looks great placed as a decorative vignette on the table-top. The chap in a brown greatcoat looks like he’s returning to his campfire after finishing his turn of sentry duty. These figures all come from a set by Wargames Foundry.

The New Zealand company Wildly Inspired make a nice line of pack horses and donkeys. In this vignette two horses are being led by a Redoubt Miniatures recruit, or ‘Marie-Louise’ as the recruits were nick-named. He wears an over-large greatcoat with a rope belt, patched trousers, fatigue cap, and wooden clogs. His musket strap is made out of string.

At the right is a rather relaxed looking Foundry infantryman with two pack donkeys. One of the donkeys is carrying a body in a bag—there must be a great story lurking behind this model to drive a scenario-based skirmish game!

Visit my previous ‘On Parade’ postings:

In police hands – my miniatures under arrest!

Displaying your miniatures in a police museum might seem an odd venue, but that is what happened to me recently when I was asked to take part in a police hobbies exhibition at the New Zealand Police Museum.

While I do actually have quite a large collection of police badges and miniature police vehicles (maybe the subject of another posting sometime, if anyone is interested), the event was intended to also show off other hobbies enjoyed by police staff.  So I was asked to exhibit my model soldiers.

I decided my display would be based on the adage that “few is more”.  Rather than ladening down a table with huge amounts of figures, I would put out only a few units to give give a taster of several different periods.  This also helped with transport and setting up, as I only had a very limited time.

But I wish I had pulled that tablecloth straight!

The main part of my display featured my New Zealand Wars collection, made up of the wonderful 28mm Empress Miniatures figures.

This was quite an appropriate period for the police setting, as the history of the New Zealand Police is inextricably entwined with those wars.  The particular part of the wars that my miniatures portray is a decade or two earlier than when the Armed Constabulary (forerunners of our modern police) came on the scene.  But it was a talking point for the audience, nevertheless.

I also displayed one of my 18th century battalions of Minden figures, painted as a British regiment from the movie Barry Lyndon.  This showed how impressive a large unit of figures could look.

In the background I set up one of my painting resources (in this case Mollo and McGregor’s Uniforms of the Seven Years War 1756-63). Many of the audience were very interested to see how detailed the research for our hobby could be … and laughed when I told them that I had painted my models to  faithfully replicate the inaccuracies from the movie!

The final exhibit was my entire American Civil War collection.  This is a period I’ve half-started, as you can see, but never really got anywhere with.  But those colourful zouaves certainly were show-stoppers at the display.  These, and the Confederates facing them, were all Redoubt figures.   Again, a colourful book in the background added interest.

Overall, it was great to be able to show off my figures to an audience who were more interested in them than most.  It was a evening function for the Friends of the Police Museum organisation, so everyone there had a natural inclination towards history anyway.

Oh, and one other thing.  Browsing through the Police Museum itself, I came across a picture of my much younger self.  What a creepy 1980s police-issue moustache, aye?!

My ‘bits and pieces’ display case

Do you find that when you are playing a wargame at someone’s house where they have their other armies in display cases or on shelves, your eyes are continually drawn to their arrayed troops?  Whenever there is a break in the play, I love studying other people’s miniatures collections, no matter what the era. 

Often the most interesting display cases are not the ones with the owner’s main armies, but the cabinets that store all their extraneous bits and pieces.  I particularly like it when there is an element of clutter, where you just can’t predict what units will be sitting beside each other, or what individual figures, bits of scenery or even non-related items get tossed into the mix.   

So that is what I want to show off on the blog today: my ‘bits and pieces’ display cabinet.  I’ve photographed it exactly as it is, without any attempt to tidy up or re-arrange.  So, let’s take a look (and, as usual on my blog, don’t forget to click the pictures to get a closer view!):

[above]  Well, here’s my bits and pieces display cabinet opened up for you.  Later we’ll explore what’s in each of the shelves.  But for now, in this photo you can see that on top of the cabinet itself are parts of the 28mm Spanish town and some 40mm houses I made a few years ago.  A 1:43 diecast Swiss ‘Polizei’ VW Beetle seems to have made it up there, too … not sure why I put that there!  And there’s also an old board game called Campaign that I’ve never played (and is missing some of the pieces anyway).

On top of the drawer unit lies part of the overflow from my bookcase, my beloved Sharpe DVD set, a couple of 1:72 Italeri houses  and a lovely resin La Belle Alliance inn from Waterloo.  Also a baby picture of one of my children seems to have migrated from the dresser in our lounge.  The little parcel on the right is an old one from Minifigs – a friend sold me some cannon still in the box he got them in years ago. 

I can’t recall where I got the American flag that hangs to one side – I’m a New Zealander, not from the USA.  But the flag looks splendid hanging there, anyway. 

[above] OK, let’s start with one of the top shelves of the cabinet.  This one contains a selection of 28mm Napoleonic British and Spanish command bases.  There are also a few British and Spanish figures based singly to act as ‘Big Men’ for the Napoleonic skirmish ruleset, Sharp Practice

In the background there’s a resin house and also a couple of hangovers from my days of collecting model police cars  – a 1:43 Citroen H van of the French ‘Gendarmerie’ (isn’t that shape of van so Gallic?!) and a Dutch ‘Rijkspolitie’ (State Police) Shorland armoured car. 

[above] This shelf contains my 28mm Napoleonic French command bases, along with a unit of voltigeurs that there isn’t room for in my main display case. 

The houses in the background are low relief ceramics that my wife and I bought during our honeymoon in Paris some 20 years ago.  They were quite expensive compared to wargaming scenery, but do look nice, and oh so French!

[above] This shelf has a really eclectic selection.  First, more 28mm Big Men for Sharp Practice, both on foot and mounted.  On the right are several colonial New Zealand wars figures by Eureka Miniatures –  Maori warriors and also NZ Armed Constabulary in their distinctive blanket-wrapped bush uniform.  In the background are some units from the small Warhammer Empire army, which was the first army I painted on my return to the wargaming hobby about ten years ago. 

In the left background is a diorama made up of German 30mm flats, showing the poet Schiller reading to some of his friends – even the tree is a lead flat.  I bought these flats on my trip to Europe in the late 1970s, in the tin figure museum at Kulmbach (Germany) if I recall correctly, and painted them on my return home. 

[above] Another rather odd mish-mash of figures.  On the left are some 28mm Spanish civilians by the Perry twins.  Front centre are a quintet of  cowboys I painted for use in Western games – though sadly they haven’t walked the dusty streets of Laredo yet.  Behind them is one of my favourite pieces, but one that again hasn’t seen a tabletop as yet: my Brittannia Miniatures armed longboat.  Off to the right are a couple of Napoleonic French vignettes, including a rendition of the famous David painting of Napoleon crossing the Alps. 

Sitting at the back are a couple of Napoleonic French vignettes (including a lovely Foundry cantiniere), some of my British rocket troops, and a miscellaneous Front Rank cart.   There are also a few other little odds and sods if you look carefully, including a Front Rank conversion to the Scarlet Pimpernel (wearing a natty yellowish coat), and another conversion to his nemesis French policeman (in a rather fanciful black outfit).

[above] This shelf contains my entire collection of 40mm Napoleonics, made up of a number of makes such as Sash and Saber, Perry Miniatures, Trident Miniatures and the Honourable Lead Boilersuit Company.  You can see French on the left, British on the right (including the ubiquitous Sharpe and Harper figures) and even some sailors at top right.  At the back are a few Spanish guerillas.  The resin windmill is a 28mm Grand Manner piece that really sets the scene for any Peninsular War game.  

[above] The final shelf is again a real mixture of periods and pieces.  Most of the miniatures are 28mm American Civil War by Redoubt.  In fact, this is my entire ACW army!  While it is a period that I like, it is not one that has enthused me enough to continue collecting the armies.  The banknote is an obvious fake!  Also shown are some Conflix resin carts, and a well by the same maker. 

Finally, yes, some more police vehicles:  a Cadillac Gage armoured car of the Los Angeles Police Department (sadly the long ram on the front has snapped off – on the real vehicle the ram was used to smash into crack houses, and was adorned with a smiley ‘have a nice day’ face!), a tiny German ‘Polizei’ BMW Isetta, and a Dutch ‘Rijkspolitie’ Porsche 911 – particularly meaningful for me as I did a police exchange to the Netherlands in 1992 and actually went on patrol in one of these iconic and ultimate patrol cars!

So, there we have it … my bits and pieces display case as it stands this cold and rainy weekend in late May 2010.  I hope you’ve enjoyed the browse round, and do leave a comment if you can.

What is your favourite wargaming MIDI/MP3 file?

Music and wargaming are intricably entwined for me.  When I play a horse-and-musket wargame, in my head I hear the beating of drums, the trilling of fifes, the skirl of pipes … or even the plaintive melody of a violin or harmonica around the campfire .

So I keep my ear out for nice pieces of music to accompany my gaming and painting.  My absolute favourite piece (which goes ideally with American Civil War gaming) is the atmospheric  Ashokan Farewell by Jay Ungar ©1983 by Swinging Door Music.  The MIDI file of this tune is on my old Gettysburg website, and is, in my opinion, one of the nicest MIDI files of music anywhere: very atmospheric, quite restrained (only a single instrument), but oh so moving. 

Click here to listen to ‘Ashokan Farewell’

This tune is best remembered as the soundtrack of the television series The Civil War by Ken Burns.   Oddly, considering it is so appropriate, it is a relatively modern piece and was not written to do with the Civil War at all.

 If you open my Gettysburg site, the music will play automatically.  Yes, I know, it is bad website design to have an automatically-starting tune, but this is one of the first sites I ever made, and I’ve now lost the passwords to update it! But the site shows how well this tune goes with pictures of miniature Civil War soldiers in action.

The 5th New York State Infantry (Duryea's Zouaves) - a photo on my Gettysburg website made so much more evocative with the music (28mm Redoubt figures, GMB flags)

So, what are your favourite pieces of wargames-related music, preferably available as easy downloads (eg MIDI, MP3)?