Saturday 6 July 2019

Refurbishing an Army

According to his biographers, Grady McWhinney and Judith Hallock, Confederate General Braxton Bragg was a “naturally disputatious” individual throughout his entire life. His career, both before and during the Civil War, was a string of conflicts with superiors, subordinates, peers and the government.

I think that nothing sums up his awkward personality better than the story told by U.S. Grant in his memoirs about Bragg when at a pre-war posting the held the dual roles of company commander and post quartermaster. As company commander he made a formal request in writing for an item which as quartermaster he rejected, noting the reason for the refusal on the reverse of the request. Still feeling the need for the items for his company he felt obligated to contest the rejection which as quartermaster he felt equally obligated to reject again. Unable to resolve the dilemma he went to the post commander who responded: “My God, Mr. Bragg, you have quarreled with every officer in the army, and now you are quarreling with yourself.”

For anyone interested in Civil War biographies “Braxton Bragg and Confederate Defeat” (volume 1 by McWhinney and volume 2 by Hallock) is an excellent critical review of a pivotal Confederate general and is highly recommended.

But why am I discussing the eccentricity of Braxton Bragg? Two reasons really. The first is that the story of his dilemma came to my consciousness on Thursday when dealing with some frustratingly difficult individuals, and second it creates a nice segway to the main point of this post which that while my lead pile is at this point flattened, my options of things to paint are not exhausted. This is because a few months ago a long time member of our group found himself struggling to get to games. He had moved to a more remote area out of of the city and advancing years combined with family health issues drove him to the decision to down-size. While he has kept his huge collection of Napoleonic ships, he very generously donated a number of his collections to the group.

One of those collections is his  American Civil War Union army. Made entirely of figures from Dixon Miniatures range the army is in poor repair and in need of some care. I have undertaken its refurbishment.

The first unit is the only zouave unit in the collection. Originally painted as an all dark blue uniform I opted to redress the unit as Duryee’s Zouaves, 5th New York Volunteers with red trousers and blue jackets. The repainting was not a huge task - the sharpening of some of the colours and applying some washes - although I did find the Dixon figures a little awkward to work with, and they were rebased in my usual manner.

This task will proceed with some pace and will act as a useful filler between now and my return to figure purchases in August.


  1. Great work on the Zouaves Mark - and the story about the Confederate general is fantastic - sounds like exactly the kind of thing that might happen in the British Army!

    1. Thanks Keith. I am trying to get a good number of these ready for Tarawera. The Civil War is great for characters. At the Battle of Olustee in Florida in 1864 there was a Confederate artillery Lt John Rambo who commanded a 30lb railway gun...a very big gun! And in the Peninsular Campaign in 1862 there was a Union infantry officer with the name of Captain James T. Kirk.