Monday, March 8, 2010

Hill's Division arrives at Sharpsburg!

Victory Wood Working and Toy Soldiers Forever teamed up to provide some woodworking and toysoldier fun for Antietam National Battlefield which is launching a new Educational program for 8th through 12th graders this year.  The program explores the challenges of gathering accurate intelligence, specifically estimates of the strength of opposing forces based upon visual observation and the limitations of the modes of battlefield communications during the American Civil War.

I volunteered some design and fabrication time to make the physical components for this new program which included nearly 800 BMC/Americana soldiers in representative regiments of approx 40 men each mounted on poplar flats and two cool looking cases in which to safely store and transport them.

Here is one of the box carcasses prior to clamping and glueing.  Soliders, mounted on one of the poplar flats are in the foreground.  Note the slots milled into the sides of the box and the flats fitted into storage position.  The flats are grooved and I had to melt holes into the base of each of the plastic soldiers to maximize the adhesion abilities of the "Liquid Nails" used to affix the one to the other.

Mounting the horses was particularly challenging as the hooves provided very litlle surface area to attach to the flat.  To provide more secure anchorage, I used coathanger wire, bent in a flat-bottomed "U" shape   The base of the "U" was then fitted and glued onto a groove on the flat after heating the uprights to red-hot and passing the through the body of the plastic horse.

This resulted in a very stable (nice pun!) and durable mount for the horse.  (note: no horses were harmed in the making of this photograph).

Though Liquid Nails is not recommended for plastic, the grooved flats and the dimutive cannon wheels provide plenty of surface area to assure good adhesion.

Artillery and infantry units were mounted in both deployed as well as "on the march" positions.
As BMC/Americana sells only mixed lots of blue and gray soldiers, and that this is A.P. Hill's Division, all soldiers, once mounted on the flat and regardless of their actual loyalties, were given a nice overcoat of gray spray paint.

These are the finished transport cases.  With heavy duty handles and casters they are very easy to transport...

and they provide organized protection for the soldier-covered flats.

Its surprising how many soldiers can fit in those two cases.

Confederate artillery  in  battery with infantry support moving into position behind.

Confederates on the firing line hitting the 16th Conn. in the flank on the afternoon of September 17th along the Harper's Ferry Road just outside of Sharpsburg.  A bad day for the Nutmeg State.

One flat is the headquarters group with mounted officers, dispatches being sent off, signal, state and battleflags.  Easy to identify, even at a distance, as a high-value target.

Artillery column arrives just in the nick of time...

as A.P. Hill's Division arrives to save Lee from defeat.

All in a days work for Victory Wood Working and Toy Soldiers Forever.

Soldier on!



Fat Cat Hatcheter said...

so the Confederates are issued boring grey horses while the Union soldiers get to use prancing Lipizzaners? What show-offs!

Mannie Gentile said...

FC Hatcheter,

I should have noted that I was using both blue and gray troops (as they come packaged mixed) and spray painted them, once mounted, a nice medium gray befitting our popular perception of Confederate soldiers.

ThanKs for stopping by.


Anonymous said...

Truly amazing army-in-a-box.

Scott B. Lesch said...

To think that I keep the BMC Head Quarters buildings and throw away the soldier! Maybe I should send them to you Manny.


tom said...

I guess you know you have an awesome job.

Mannie Gentile said...


Nobody knows that better than I do!



good blog. check out mine some time.fairs fair

Dave said...

Are these sets only for schools, or can we in the general public buy them?

Dave W.