PICKETT’S CHARGE/July 3, 1863
The figures shown in this gallery are the oldest in my collection. I began painting them about 23 years ago and finished (to the degree that any period is ever finished) about three years later. My Civil War collection consists of approximately 6,000 painted figures. Obviously, I fell in love with the Civil War. I have no other explanation for the huge size of my collection. As with all figures shown in my galleries, I painted each figure myself.
For this gallery, I selected Pickett’s Charge (the 3rd day of the Battle of Gettysburg) because the nature of the battle made for an excellent display of figures. For those not familiar with Pickett’s Charge, here’s a little background. This was Lee’s second invasion of the North. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia had been successful against each Union commander it had met on the field of battle. General George Gordon Meade had been given command of the Union’s Army of the Potomac only a few days before the battle opened. On July 1, Lee’s army was drawn into battle by Union cavalry under General John Buford. That first day, fighting centered around Culp’s Hill, and the day ended without decision. On July 2, Lee ordered General James Longstreet (commander of Lee’s 1st Corps) to assault the opposite end of the Union line at the Round Tops. Once again, Lee was unable to gain a victory.
On July 3, against the recommendation of General Longstreet, Lee ordered Longstreet to organize an assault on Cemetery Ridge, the center of the Union line, using fresh troops from General George Pickett’s division. After a Confederate bombardment of the Union position by all available Confederate artillery, the Confederate attack began. Unfortunately for Lee’s troops, his artillery bombardment overshot the Union line and resulted in no significant damage to the Union defenses. The Confederate attack involved approximately 15,000 Confederate soldiers forming a front of about a mile’s width. To attack the Union position, the Confederate forces would have to leave their position on Seminary Ridge and move across ¾ of a mile of open ground. Lee was attacking a force that was holding the high ground and knew he was coming. In December of 1862, the Army of the Potomac attacked the Army of Northern Virginia at Fredericksburg. In that battle Lee held the defensive position on the high ground, and the Union troops were slaughtered in their attack. This time the positions were reversed, and this was not lost on the Union troops of Winfield Scott Hancock’s 2nd Corps who from their positions on Cemetery Ridge chanted “Fredericksburg, Fredericksburg, Fredericksburg” as they watched Lee’s soldiers advance. With the exception of General Dick Garnett, the Confederate brigade commanders advanced on foot rather than horseback to reduce their exposure to Union fire. Garnett rode because he was too ill to walk and feared he would be thought a coward if he did not join the attack. He is not shown in this gallery because rather early on he was hit by Union fire; his body was never found. It is probably safe to say that this attack, as much as any event in the war, broke Lee’s ability to conduct offensive operations against the Union. As to why Lee ordered this attack, perhaps the best answer came from Longstreet who said, Lee’s “blood was up,” and his faith in his soldiers was absolute.
This gallery shows the silent artillery of the Army of Northern Virginia along Seminary Ridge. Pickett’s advance has begun. They have crossed the Emmitsburg Road and are aiming at the copse of trees above the stone wall that marked the center of Hancock’s 2nd Corps. My roads are by Quick Reaction Force, but I believe that they are also available through Monday Knight Productions. I believe the fences are by Stone Mountian. I’ve had them for many, many years, and I’m not really positive of the manufacturer. There are three areas of structures on the board. The large farm and fields are the Trostle farm, the other house on the battlefield is the Codori house, and the building just behind the Union line is Meade’s headquarters. All these buildings are by Gallia Miniatures which, unfortunately, has been out of business for many years now. The farm fields are by Musket Miniatures. The wagon in the Trostle farmyard is an HO wagon, but I don’t know the manufacturer. The Union and Confederate supply wagons are by Peter Pig. Most of the limbers and caissons are by Old Glory although I do have some by Peter Pig as well. I don’t remember who manufactured my ammunition wagons. My ambulances are by Minifig. Most of the soldiers on both sides are by Old Glory, but include Essex and Battle Honours. The standard bearers standing on the Union line are by Essex as is the case with the Confederate command group back on Seminary Ridge. I can’t remember the manufacturer of my signal tower. The stone wall is the same I used in the Rorke’s Drift Gallery; I can’t be sure of the manufacturer, but it was probably Gallia. The trees are the same I have used in all previous galleries.
The flags are all hand painted. I mention this because today when I have complex flags I usually do all or part of the flag as a homemade decal, but when these figures were painted, I didn’t have that ability available to me. The flags on the advancing units (Union and Confederate) are metal blanks made by Stone Mountain. I selected Confederate regiments (from my collection) that took part in the attack: Virginia, North Carolina, Alabama, and Mississippi.
I hope you enjoy the gallery. As always, it was photographed in our backyard by my daughter. The set up and take down of this gallery took six hours from start to finish. It was a long day, but it was great to see it displayed. Believe it or not, this is the first time I have ever seen these figures displayed in these numbers. I didn’t really count the number of figures I used in this gallery, but they probably represent no more than 25% of my Civil War collection.