Civil War Photo Contest
Featured Book Reviewer
- Feb 23, 2013
- East Texas
The Confederate assault rages on Little Round Top.
I've always been a sucker for things like this, so when I spied the Gettysburg Diorama and History Center on Steinwher Avenue ( the Emmitsburg Road to the knowledgeable here ) in Gettysburg while on my trip there last month I simply had to stop. One of my very favorite attractions on my early trips back in the 1960's was the famous/infamous Confederama at Chattanooga which we have discussed here fairly recently; and a similar knock-off of it at Murfreesboro during the Centennial which depicted the Battle of Stones River. I remember another earlier one here at Gettysburg as well called the Dobbin House Diorama, but though its larger 54mm scale figures jammed into that much smaller space was delightful to a kid like me, it was not as effective in portraying the battle.
A similar venture was "the famous Electric Map" a long-time feature of the so-called Gettysburg National Museum, which the NPS continued to operate as part of that museum after they acquired it back around 1980 but eventually did away with for the opening of the current and PC non-NPS Visitor Center. The old Electric Map was less a true diorama, however, than it was a simple flat road map with electric Christmas tree bulbs marking the positions and movement of divisions, pretty low-tech in this age of fiber optics.
This large diorama is pretty low-tech too - and not a thing wrong with that! Unlike its predecessors named above, it's in HO scale, using a variety of commercial and scratch-built structures and model railroad scenery. I was at first dismayed to see the "armies' were nothing but cheap plastic soldiers made by the British Airfix company, originally sold in boxes of 48 for $1; but decided on further examination that the little fellows were admirably ( and reasonably ) suited to the purpose! The blurb in the travel brochure proclaims it to be ...Carefully researched and meticulously assembled, the diorama contains over 20,000 hand-painted soldiers, horses, cannons, and buildings.
Above and below, two views of the Lutheran Seminary on the first day of the battle.
The fight for Devil's Den above, and Little Round Top below.
The huge model features an approximately half-hour narration and lighting effects that highlight various parts of the battlefield, and which looked especially impressive in "night" views with the overhead lights subdued and interiors of the buildings lighted and "campfires" outside them. Below, the field of Pickett's Charge.
For some unknown reason, one corner of the small exhibits in the History Center included this life-size manikin of My Hero and His, Dan Sickles!