Russ at Old Glory sent me both new packs of Civil War personalities to review. Each contains ten named generals. I finished the Union figures last night.
Back L-R: McClellan, Hooker, Burnside, Custer, Meade, Sheridan, Sherman
Front L-R: Thomas, Grant, Howard
George Armstrong Custer
I think this is my third Burnside. He is very distinctive looking. That hat and those whiskers do all the work. This is a very undramatic pose, perfect for Burnside. Now does he look like a London cop from the 1880s, or did London cops in the 1880s look like Burnside?
Grant sits very firmly, very erect. He has a cigar in his teeth. He looks very determined. He looks, in fact, like the boss. This is the best lead depiction of Grant that I have ever seen. The body language is perfect. I picked out a horse that matched Grant's attitude. So far as I can tell, Cincinnati had no blaze and no socks.
Here is Hooker, riding back over the U.S. Ford. He already looks beaten, doesn't he? I like the slouched shoulders, the drooping head, and the slack hand on his thigh. I picked out the horse that most looked like it was retreating.
Poor Hooker. I have always thought he was a great general. He took an army demoralized by Fredericksburg and the Mud March, sick from poor administration, suffering from mass desertion, and he gave it new spirit and new professionalism. He concentrated the cavalry into a corps. He moved artillery away from brigade and division commanders and gave professional gunners more of a role in its deployment. He reformed the signal corps, systematizing telegraphy and intelligence gathering. He came up with a superb plan to turn Lee from his position on the Rappahannock and crush him.
Then it all fell apart. I feel for the guy. He was at times a superb general, fearless and aggressive, but when he most needed his keen killer instinct, something just happened, or didn't happen.
See, now this must be a great sculpt, because it has obviously communicated something about Hooker's story to me.
Oliver Otis Howard
Howard's right sleeve is pinned to his chest. This is another undramatic figure, perfect for Howard of course, but also well suited to be a generic one armed general.
George Brinton McClellan
"That gunboat right THERE. That's where I'll be. Good luck men!" There is nothing about this figure that screams "McClellan" to me, but then McClellan's face shouldn't jump out at you. He had a nice, normal looking face. A nice, normal looking mustache. A nice, normal looking build. Maybe it could have looked more like McClellan if he were removing his hat to acknowledge some cheers, or maybe he could have had a more fearful pose, looking back over his shoulder to make sure his line of retreat was still open. This pose is a little too decisive looking to capture McClellan's personality.
This one is a pretty good likeness. The upper eyelids are even a little over-sized, something which I am not painter enough to bring out. He looks competent, if a little plain. Perfect for Meade. I imagine him saying, "no, General Sickles, I wanted your corps over there, with the rest of the army. Idiot."
William Tecumseh Sherman
I went back and forth on whether this figure was supposed to be Sherman or Thomas. Only after I finished painting it did I see that the sculptor has done a great job with Sherman's facial features. So his hair should be red, or light brown with some red. Instead I painted Thomas's gray beard. I have always thought Sherman looked like Clint Eastwood, and this face looks just right.
This is another great likeness. True, most of the work is done by that hat, but the face is right on. I mounted Sheridan on Rienzi, of course. It might have been nice to have Sheridan galloping, carrying his headquarters flag, rallying the troops at Third Winchester. Still, this is a more useful pose, as it could be Sheridan at Pea Ridge, Perryville, Stones River, Chickamauga, Chattanooga, The Overland Campaign, or Appomattox. The little man sure saw a lot of action.
I imagine I will use this figure to command forlorn hopes. Sheridan seems to me to have been an awful human being, so I will not be too broken hearted if he dies in battle. Yes, I am one of those who thinks Sheridan should be exhumed and buried in Laredo, so he can be in Texas and Hell at the same time.
George H. Thomas
Thomas was a pretty plain looking man, but a big one. This figure is, in fact, the tallest of the lot. I painted his hair thinking he was Sherman. His beard should be shot through with gray. This is another figure that will work well either as Thomas or as a generic general. The only thing I did not like about this sculpt is that the binocular case strap just sort of ends on his chest. Still, this sculptor seems to know what he is doing, so maybe it disappears under a lapel or something, and my eyes are just not good enough to make it out. I love horses that act like horses, rather than equestrian statues, so this horse, grazing a little, is my favorite of the bunch.
So there we are. Not just a competent pack, but a brilliant one, with some of the best sculpting I have seen in 15mm. Not everyone can be Anthony Barton, and these figures lack the clean elegance of some of AB's better sculpts. But they capture the look, and even better the personalities, of some of the Union's top commanders.