Tuesday, 27 September 2011

The Mosby Myth

"In retrospect, slavery seems such a monstorous thing that some are...trying to prove that slavery was not the cause of the war. Then what was the cause?"

                       -  John Singleton Mosby

I have just started reading The Mosby Myth: A Confederate Hero in Life and Legend by Paul Ashdown and Edward Caudill. My copy is part of the very handsome edition reprinted for The American Crisis Series published by SR Books.  I bought the book at Harper's Ferry over six years ago, but until last summer it remained lost in my parent's attic. Now seems like a perfectly good time to give it a go. 

I have always found John Singleton Mosby one of the most facinating characters of the Civil War. Dashing, daring, and with a harsh but strict code of honor, he always seemed a little closer to Robin Hood or one of the legendary Old West gunfighters than a Civil War officer.  Well, perhaps this book will help me decide if that image is true. While I have read at least one biography and many accounts of Mosby's activities during the war, this is the first (and almost certainly only) book that examines not only the true story of Mosby, but also places a large emphasis on the development of his legend through his portrayal in various media, most especially contemporary newspapers and his own post war writings.

It should be an interesting read.

Saturday, 17 September 2011

The Confederate Army of Oxford – An Update

When I began working on the Confederate Army of Oxford a year or two ago, I had a specific goal I was working towards. This has changed slightly over time, but basically it consisted of the following:
4 Brigades of Infantry (20 Figures Each)
1 Brigade of Cavalry (8 Figures)
3 Batteries of Artillery (1 gun and crew each)
5 Generals

Well, I’m very quickly closing in on my goal. In fact, here is what I have left to paint:

1 General
18 Infantry
1 Cannon plus Crew

Now even when I reach my goal, that doesn’t mean the army is finished. I don’t suppose it will ever be finished. I’m sure I will continue to add bits and pieces to it for years to come. In fact, I already know several units and individual figures that I would love to add to the army. However, once I reach my goal, I will be switching my main attention to the boys in blue. It’s all well and good having a miniature civil war army, but if they don’t have anyone to fight...

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

J. S. Walker's Twenty-First Letter

King’s Mill Landing,
Camp Adams,
2d August, 1861

My very dear Wife:

                I merely write to keep you advised that I am well. I received the bread and tomatoes, and they were very grateful to my palate. We are laying in our oars without any prospect of any immediate action, but a soldier does not know what a day may bring forth.
                Yesterday was the anniversary of the death of our dear little Amanda and while it recalls past sorrows, makes me thankful that she rests with the good away from the trying troubles of this present time. Oh, that we may be ready when called to meet her in the skies, to die ready we must live ready, and I pray God to help me to live right that I may die right.
                The crying evil of the camp is intemperance and I have put my face against it and have given our Colonel a talk, and as officer of the day having command of the camp in my report say: “The unashamed introduction of liquor into the camp and the increasing evil of drunkenness calls for the most stringent orders to prevent the one and arrest the other”, and I hope we will succeed in arresting it. Entre nous.
                As dry goods are running low and it may be difficult to get flannel shirts or drawers in the fall, had you better buy me one shirt and one pair of drawers of thick flannel and save them for the winter?
                Kiss the dear children and give Luly and Mary these little shells Papa picked up on the river side. Write often and long and let me know all that is going on.

                                                                Yours very affectionately,

                                                                                Jno. S. Walker.

Sunday, 11 September 2011

The Louisiana Boys

I have just finished up my first regiment of Louisiana troops.

Basically, I wanted an excuse to do a unit of guys wearing straw hats, and these Steve Barber miniatures fit the bill. I'm thinking two regiments of these guys are a must for the Confederate Army of Oxford. 

Monday, 5 September 2011

J. S. Walker's Twentieth Letter

Camp Adams
King’s Mill Landing
29th July, 1861

My very dear Wife:

                I write you by every favourable opportunity and as I have time, and if you do not hear from me regularly attribute it to my engagements and not to sickness, as I am now very well and hope I may continue so. One or two members of my company have had chills, and I fear if we are kept here that the whole company will have to pass through them, as it is a chill and fever country. I will not, however, take trouble or interest, as we may at any moment be ordered to another part of the State, as a soldier has nothing certain to rely upon in this life. Our Col. August has been on a big frolic for two weeks, too drunk to discharge his duties. I have found him tolerably sober a day or two ago and I have him an earnest, honest talk which he took kindly and I did hope and pray that I had done him good in soul if not in body, from his promises to amend, but as a hog returneth to her wallow so the drunkard returns to his cup, and I fear he is no better. I told him I had determined ever since I entered the service that I would not agree to be exposed or expose my company under a drunken commander and if he does not speedily reform more stringent measures will have to be adopted.
                I do not know how long it will be before I will see my family again, as the General has issued orders stopping all forloughs. I willingly commit them to the keeping of my kind Heavenly Father, knowing that his protection is better than any earthly father can afford. Give my love to all friends and loving kisses to our dear little ones, and continue constant in prayer that the lord may continue to smile upon our arms and bring soon peace to our land and a restoration of friends, and should it please Him to give us peace and return us to the quite of our homes, won’t we appreciate the blessings of quiet.

                                                                Yours very affectionately,
                                                                                Jno. S. Walker.

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Back in Butternut

It’s been a few very quiet months here on the blog, for which I have two excuses. The first is softball, where I captained my Knights to a 2-11 record. The other is house hunting.

Oxford has recently been named the worst place in the United Kingdom to buy a house, based on average salary versus average house price. Thankfully, with the generous help of my father-in-law, we are just able to grab hold of the bottom rung of the property ladder. After several weeks of searching, my wife and I had an offer accepted on a house about 100 yards from where we presently live. Hopefully, if we can survive a couple of months of paperwork and lawyers, we’ll be able to move in!

The house is only slightly bigger than the one in which we presently live; however, this slight difference could mean a big difference for me. Assuming it all works out, I’m hoping to get the cupboard under the stairs as my wargaming domain, and (dream of dreams) a big miniatures display cabinet! We shall see. I’m trying not to get too excited about it at the moment.

For now, the Confederate Army of Oxford lives on a shelf in the kitchen. (Did I mention that my wife is a very understanding woman?). The wooden backdrop works well for them.

So, hopefully, in the coming weeks and months, you’ll start to see a greater frequency of posts again, except perhaps, when we finally make our move.