Sunday, June 3, 2018

DC TRIP: The Battle of Gettysburg (in miniature)

The Gettysburg diorama, in downtown G'burg, says it features over 20,000 hand-painted soldiers. Could be. I didn't count them. Heck, they're so small I could hardly see them. They might be as big as 1/72 scale, but it was hard to tell.

The diorama, which is the size of five or six ping pong tables, purports to accurately represent the entire battlefield. That may be true, except for the "entire" part. They'd need two or three more ping pong tables to feature all the important areas of the battle. Still, it does provide a good bird's eye view of the overall lay of the land in a way you can't get on the field itself.

I took photos of various scenes to show you how they look with the naked eye, then blew up a few details to give you a squint at the figures. I know these pics leave a lot to be desired, but I'm surprised they came out even this good. 

Little Round Top

More Little Round Top

The Devil's Den

The Railroad Cut

Cemetary Hill

Oddly, this scene depicts a cavalry skirmish, when there was no such encounter anywhere on the battlefield proper. The nearest thing, between troopers under J.E.B. Stuart and G.A. Custer, took place several miles away.

More Cemetary Hill


Rick Robinson said...

War was a whole 'mother thing then, wasn't it. This looks pretty interesting, and with your knowledge, I'm sure you enjoyed it a lot.

Cap'n Bob said...

I would argue that the cavalry engagement between the opposing forces were as much a part of the battle, and battlefield, as any other action during those three days. In fact, had Custer not checked the Confederate charge the Union would have been outflanked and lost the battle, leaving Washington open to Lee's army.

Evan Lewis said...

That would be a great project for you, Cap'n. To include East Cavalry Field, where George and Jeb had their tussle, the diorarma will have to be about six times wider than it is now, so the museum will have to acquire the lot next door (maybe two), and add a whole lot more landscape. Then you could paint them about 7,000 little troopers to do the fighting. Get to work!

Art Scott said...

I went to G'Burg in 1957 (!) on a school trip (I think I sent you a picture), and one lingering memory is of this diorama - or at least an earlier version, I imagine it's had some refurbishments over the decades. But is this the same display, or another similar one, that retold the battle by lighting up bulbs (red & blue, I think) showing position and progress of various engagements along particular lines, synchronized to a narrative track from a loudspeaker?

Evan Lewis said...

Near as I can learn, Mr. Scott, this particular diorama has only been in Gettysburg since 1997. It does, however, have an accompanying film, and flashing lights for cannons and campfires. I never did find the site of the cannonballs in the photo you sent. Our guide was sort of an ass, and would only stop the car to let us out when it suited him.

Art Scott said...

Yeah, now that I think of it, the lighted diorama I described is hopelessly ancient mid-50's tech, and probably has been (or should be) replaced by 3D immersive videogame-style animation to keep the kiddies interested.

Cap'n Bob said...

No mention of the cyclorama. Did you see it?

Evan Lewis said...

Yeah, it's pretty damn impressive, but photographs were verboten.

evildm said...

Looks like the majority of the figures on the diorama were Airfix figures from their HO/00 later 1/72nd line.