Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Woodlawn Cemetery

     I recently had occasion to visit Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx, a place of great historic interest and the site of the graves of many noteworthy people.  Among others, I found:

General Sigel

Admiral Farragut, surrounded by members of his family.

     Remarkable also is that Mansfield Lovell, Confederate commander of New Orleans, is buried in the same cemetery as his victorious adversary Farragut.


     There are many other noteworthy burials here, including Albert Ellis, whose grave I searched for for quite some time before learning it is unmarked, and the extended Borden family, whose patriarch Gail invented powdered milk.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Used Many Cartridges Here

     I've finished a few bases of U.S. Sharpshooters for Second Bull Run.  Though these seem to be rather over-represented in a lot of tabletop Union armies, both Sharpshooter regiments saw action during the battle, and by using only six miniatures on "skirmish bases" I have kept them visually balanced with the rest of the force. 

     The 1st Sharpshooters were sent out in advance of Porter's assault on the 30th.  Even at the edge of the Groveton Woods they were hit by a ferocious fire from the Confederate lines, and after emerging into the fields they raced for the shelter of the Schoolhouse Branch watercourse.  From the mostly dry streambed they attempted to keep rebel heads down.  There were so many targets that almost every sharpshooter fired all of his forty rounds within a half hour. Years later, a former sharpshooter touring the battlefield erected a post of cedar wood at Schoolhouse Branch bearing a sign that read simply, "used many cartridges here."

     The 2nd Sharpshooters were also present at the battle but played a less conspicuous role.  Their first taste of real combat was during the confused and violent evening action along the Warrenton Turnpike, where part of Hatch's division, sent forward after a supposedly retreating foe, collided with Hood's division, which was conducting a forceful probe of the Union lines.  The engagement was thoroughly bungled by Hatch and Butterfield and is perhaps best remembered for a spectacularly ill-conceived and bloody cavalry charge ordered by Judson "Killcavalry" Kilpatrick.  By happy coincidence (for me), the two brigades that arrived to stabilize the line were Patrick's and Stahel's, so there is an unintentional link between the two main brigades I'm working on.

     I didn't enjoy painting these figures - they're great sculpts, but they were badly affected by the flash and moldline problems that sometimes trouble Perry miniatures.  The bases however were enjoyable to work on.  There is a lot of misinformation about the uniforms, in particular regarding the tone of the green, which is frequently shown as much yellower than it really was.

Friday, May 26, 2017

The Old Twentieth

Here's a regiment I've been working on for a very long time, the 20th New York State militia, sometimes called the Ulster Guard.  The men were drawn from the Catskill region, primarily from Ulster County but also from Greene, southern Albany, and eastern Delaware counties.  After war broke out, the regiment was promptly entered into army rolls for a 90-day enlistment.  When the three-months term wore out, the regiment and its sponsors rushed to secure its re-registry under the old number (a matter not only of pride but of financial importance), but in the jumble of regiment-raising, its old spot in the order of precedence was taken by the "Turner Rifles," a German regiment from New York City, and it was redesignated the 80th NYSV.  Officers and men alike were deeply resentful of this change and continued to refer to themselves as the 20th or the Old 20th.

     At Second Bull Run, the 80th (20th) was part of Marsena Patrick's 3rd Brigade, Rufus King's 1st Division of the III Corps under McDowell (Army of Virginia).  King's division, under the temporary command of John Hatch, assisted Porter's assault on Jackson's line.  Patrick's brigade went forward in two lines, with the 23rd and 35th NY in front and the 21st and 80th NY in the rear.  The 80th, trying to press the assault, advanced through a woodlot into an angle between two Confederate regiments, was enfiladed dreadfully, and suffered 279 casualties, including Col. Pratt, who was given a grievous wound, of which he died two weeks later, having been transported to Albany, NY.

I tried to imitate a painting of the regiment by Mark Maritato.
The Ulster Guard (Mark Maritato)

At this stage, the regiment carried a distinctive flag presented by the ladies of Poughkeepsie.  A dozen or so men were killed or wounded carrying the national and regimental colors during the assualt.

The drum is speculative, but the militia company and later the regiment used the Red Hand of Ulster as an emblem in various ways, and I wanted to add a bit of variation.

     The 80th had a distinguished career throughout the rest of the war, most notably at Gettysburg, where it sustained appalling casualties.  The thinned ranks were filled with three years' men from other NY regiments, including the 35th, its old companion from Patrick's brigade, and the regiment mustered out in '66.

It's common to find the graves of men from the 80th (20th) in the Catskill region.  On a personal note, as a child I knew (and was taught to shoot a blackpowder rifle by) a descendant of George Showers, the last surviving veteran from Greene County and a soldier in the 80th, though I didn't know this at the time.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Where Are My Green Flags?*

The next regiment up is the 28th Massachusetts of Farnsworth's brigade.  The 28th was held in reserve of Schurz's division on August 29th and saw little action, despite the battle raging to their front.  On the 30th, however, they partook in the bloody back-and-forth that characterized the Union retreat and lost upwards of 110 killed, wounded, or missing.

At this time, the regiment carried the so-called Pilot Flag and not its later, more famous standard.  The Pilot Flag was difficult to reconstruct, since the few existing images of it are incomplete or somewhat unclear, but I think I got it just about right - apart from the grey blob on the right side, which I learned later should really be an Irish wolfhound.  At the front is Lt. Colonel George Cartwright, wounded during the day's action.

For information on the 28th Massachusetts, I direct all interested parties to the website of the "recreated" regiment, from which I learned much of what I know about the 28th.

*On the Peninsula,  Edwin Sumner, when calling for the Irish Brigade to be sent into action, would ask, "Where are my green flags?", though the 28th would not join the Irish Brigade until late in 1862.  This will likely be my only "Irish" regiment, however, and in any case there were a substantial number of Yankees in the 28th.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

The Grass is Greener

The Bull Run project continues - somewhat haltingly, and slowed by my habit of working on units piecemeal based on funds and availability of desired miniatures.  I've also finally gotten around to basing the soldiers properly; for months I was unable to figure out how to get the "right" green for the grass.  In addition, I was always disappointed by how dull my flags looked - until I realized I had never done the fringes, cords, and tassels. So all that has been adjusted, and there are more units in the works.

In no particular order:

Col. Addison Farnsworth

Brig. General Julius Stahel (converted from a plastic cavalryman)

27th Pennsylvania

41st New York

10th New York

5th New York

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Christmas Tithe

Here's the annual Christmas package for my young relative.  I've never enjoyed painting horses before, but these were fun, especially the Appaloosa.

And a rail fence for him as well.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Good News, Everyone!

It's been hard to find time to work on my projects, hard to find the money for new miniatures, and hard to summon the energy to keep at it.  But I've been chipping away at things steadily.  The real difficulty is that it's been hard to finish units because I don't have enough men for the regimental bases, so there are two nearly-done regiments and two nearly-done command stands.  I was able, however, to complete one brigade-level command base, that of Col. Addison Farnsworth, who led the 3rd brigade, 1st division of Jesse Reno's (IX) corps.  Which means, of course, that his two regiments will follow in due course.  I like to imagine that he's a distant ancestor of that most famous of Farnsworths:

The blue jackets (and colors generally) came out a bit bright in the photos, but I may start switching to a darker blue altogether for some of the regiments to show the variety of shades of blue that would have been found in Union armies.  The dyes used were of better or poorer quality, differed in hue from contractor to contractor, and often turned lighter over time as they were bleached by sun exposure.  The base of course will get more interesting when I eventually have enough change to order the right static grass.