On the face of it the Confederacy faced a mammoth task in the civil war, with a far larger population in the North that had a better industrial base and could more easily cope with the new large-scale war that now faced the country. Nonetheless there was no doubting the courage of the men, and they have proved one of the most popular subjects for model soldiers over the years. This set from Italeri was a fairly late entrant to the long list of such sets, so is it any different to those that came before?
To accommodate the officer's horse there are only 14 poses, and it's fair to say they are workmanlike without being anything special. The second figure on the middle row above is a dismounted cavalryman, which is a useful inclusion as many cavalry found themselves acting as infantry for various reasons. The drummer is clearly a boy, which is an authentic touch, and we liked the man kneeling while reloading his musket as this tricky manoeuvre must have seemed well worth while in the face of concentrated fire from the enemy.
With regard to uniform, most of the men wear more or less the typical outfit and appropriate equipment, and all of it is authentic. The majority of the figures wear the kepi cap, though surveys of photographic evidence suggest perhaps as little as a quarter of the men wore this, with the slouch hat being far more popular. Only one man diverges significantly from what might be described as the regulation look (fourth man on top row), and he wears a slouch hat, short coat and boots. He also wears a rolled blanket or greatcoat, which was commonly used to carry all the kit many soldiers felt they needed. Far too many of the figures here have full packs which they would have usually left behind when in action. Our solitary 'scruffy' figure also has a star at the front of his hat, suggesting he hails from Texas.
Of course officers are usually concerned about their appearance, and both the examples here are very smart. The dismounted officer wears a short frock coat and sports a feather in his hat, but strangely has an open holster for his revolver, which could prove impractical and would certainly be very unusual. The mounted man looks very smart as he brandishes a revolver, but he too has been given a very small and open holster for his weapon which just makes no sense. One of the infantrymen also has a feather or piece of fur in his hat, possibly a unit distinction or a personal affectation, but perfectly plausible.
To say the set is Italeri should be adequate to describe the delightful sculpting, good anatomy and clear and precise detail. Such small things as the several choices of facial hair give the set much character, and there is no flash to be found. The flag was rather small, though some examples of this size did exist, and as usual we were disappointed that it is already engraved (with the common battle flag, but with the correct number of stars this time, unlike the cavalry!). The drummer's drum is too small, even though the drummer is clearly just a boy. Still this is a good quality set that certainly delivers something not seen before and should prove a popular addition to the range.