Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Workbench and a problem with the American Civil War

Well, I made my decision about my new black powder period armies and have gone for... the American Civil War, and now I wish I hadn’t!   I ordered a couple of packs of Perry figures and bought a box of the plastic Zoauves in Orc’s Nest (they smile at me when I go in now, whereas in the past they always seemed a bit stand-offish).  As you can see from this picture I have based 12 Union infantry and really like the look of them but now I have got stuck as to who they will represent.  I’m so stuck that instead of undercoating them today, as I intended, I actually did some more work on the 24th Foot, who have been sitting on the workbench for far too long.

The reason for this is that I have come to realise over the last few days quite how complicated ACW uniforms were and that the Perry range has some huge holes in it.  I had intended these troops to be US army regulars at Bull Run but it seems they wore Hardee Hats on the day and the Perry range doesn’t contain anything suitable.

Originally I had intended getting some Rhode Island militia for part of First Bull Run but the problem with that battle is that many of the uniforms present are not catered for by the Perries. For example in the Brigade with the Rhode Island regiments were the 2nd New Hampshire who had both a very distinctive hat (at least according to one of my books) and a unique long tailed coat. 

Worse still, the uniforms changed over the course of the war and it seems, in many cases, far harder to get uniform information than it does for the Napoleonic War, for example.  I suppose I can solve all this by just painting up a few regiments where the uniforms are well known and use them in some fictional actions but I just have real trouble getting away from actual history.

I am not intending to paint enough units for a big battle but just for some skirmishes.  I was reading some scenarios in a copy of Wargames Soldiers and Strategy today and it looked quite promising; involving the battle for Blackburn’s Ford during Bull Run.  But then, after a bit of research, I discover that one of the principal regiments engaged had a chasseur style uniform which, again, the Perries don’t make.

The solution, probably, is to go for a later period in the war when the uniforms had become more standardised, at least on the Union side.  

Bit stymied at the moment, therefore.  Never mind made good progress on the Zulu War British instead.


  1. I really think you are making this harder for yourself than need be. As you say the uniforms changed over time through course of war, especially the Rebs, due to shortages of equipment etc. I would simply do each unit a miss mash of styles and colours - I did mine a predominance of grey but threw in butternut and blue pants too to break up the look of the unit. I really wouldnt worry overly, just stick the correct flag on the unit and all will be well.

  2. I think it's very easy to get hung up aboug ACW uniforms. Some people get very excited about figures having exactly the right sort of haversack, but does it really matter?

    I'm sure the Perries said they'd make more Bull Run figures. The approach I'm taking is to do the 1862 Eastern battles with my Dixon figures and then First Bull Run with Perry.


  3. No worries. BTW love the work on the 24th foot! Excellent.