Friday, November 14, 2008

Opening moves

Well the first activity on this project has begun.

The first point was obviously to decide which side to plump for. Of course, there is always the possibility I'll end up doing both, but one has to start somewhere.

The Confederates are of course where all the romance is, where the uniforms are most interesting and varied, and are also the underdogs in many respects. However, they were quite obviously pro-slavery, something I find rather nasty in such a recent 'civilised' era. So I went with my long standing principles and opted for the Union, even though, as history buffs will attest, many of them were keen to stress how little the war had to do with slavery at all! Yes, it was an issue for Lincoln, but McClellan, sometime general in chief of the Union armies, for example, thought it irrelevant.

Anyway, that out the way, I wanted to field some historical units. Based on some early reading of one of the Osprey Campaign series, I selected a sixth Corps command, IIRC the Division of General Franklin to begin with. Bear in mind I don't have my notes to hand as I write this! Beneath this is Bartlett's Brigade, which will be my starting point; with four regiments of infantry.

Based on the contents of the boxes of figures I had, and the chosen rules of my local club(s), I opted for a regiment being 18 figures strong. That way I can field all four with no additional outlay. The contents of the boxes make for two units marching and two firing.

Assembly was next, and being plastic figures this is easy enough, but slow. Removing mould lines and gluing on Kepi's. I personally decided that the perry figures looked weird with the kepi simply sat on the figures as moulded, it sat too high on the head; the solution was to cut the top of every head off, and trim the edges to get it to sit flush. Doing this over 60 times slowed the process even more but aesthetically it looks much improved. The handful of other parts to add were a breeze, especially the firing poses, which are perfectly created.

The conversion potential of the models is, to be honest, limited, and there are the obvious compromises of them being generic, many ardent historians believe the Union troops never rolled blankets over their shoulders for example. Still I did start to tinker a little, such as the standard bearer here; having a sword hilt added and his head reposed.

One of the units under Bartlett was the 16th New York, who were notable for wearing straw boater hats instead of Kepis. I chose this brigade on the strength of the variety that might add to the models (though as it turned out the formations saw plenty of service too). I got a little manufacturing process together and turned out 16 little hats, the officers keep their regulation attire.

The tops have been filled by the way. Having since found a photo of men of the 16th online, I now find that the hats they wore had a much wider rim though! So not at all like the 'Buster Keaton' styled boaters I opted for. Am I enough of a perfectionist to redo the rims; I fear I may be.
Still a long weekends effort saw the four units assembled and bagged up ready for painting; the next task for them is to get a window of opportunity in the next week to spray undercoat them all.

However in the meantime the Corps Cavalry is already started. Undercoated with Humbrol acrylic (good for this as it doesn't bub off, no good for anything else as the coverage is dismal), and a start made on the horses. I find cavalry tiresome to paint, so I'm glad this is the only unit I need of them.

So anyway, I'm off to a good start.

1 comment:

  1. Even for Lincoln, Lincoln himself is quoted as saying he would allow slavery to continue if that would save the union. There were certainly people on both sides who felt strongly about slavery, but no attempt was made to free the slaves until 1863, and then only the Southern slaves were declared free by the Emancipation Proclamation. It was mostly an attempt to cause a slave uprising in the South. Northern slaves, of which there were many (though fewer than the South) were not freed until the Constitutional Amendment ending slavery post-war.