There can be no doubting that life for the average US soldier in the West was very hard. Quite apart from hostile natives there were extremes of cold and heat, minimal rations, hard discipline and endless kilometres of marching. Life in camp was often little better, whether at a permanent fort or a stop on the campaign trail. Boredom was the most constant problem, and it is little wonder that approximately one in three US soldiers deserted. Something of a challenge then for Atlantic to faithfully depict this in a set.
As with other Atlantic US sets, there is a high proportion of officers here. Two of the six poses are officers, and these could just as easily be on campaign as in camp. The marching figure is fair enough but it is the remaining three poses that depict the single feature of camp life addressed here - eating. One figure is carrying loaves, another is ladling something into the pot and the third is tucking in to the fare. The poses are OK, although everyone is 'looking at the camera', which is a common Atlantic feature, so none of the three privates in the top row are looking where they are going or at what they are doing. Also why is the marching man throwing his arm out so far? Certainly it is a novelty to have the catering considered for a military set, although as we all know an army does march on its stomach. The man eating seems to have a less than happy expression, as well he might since rations mostly consisted of poor quality salt or fresh beef or pork, bread, beans, rice and occasionally vegetables. In the field the rations were usually still worse. All the figures wear what Atlantic considered the normal uniform, which is in effect shirt order with the classic braces, and pretty far from the reality most of the time.
One of the horses in the set has not been saddled up, and the other is ready to go but yet to have a rider. Naturally these are essential elements for a cavalry camp set. The accessories are again all based around cooking, with a pot heating over a fire and a rather fine brick oven. This last is a nice piece, but not really practical. No-one bothered to build such a device on campaign, and only the larger posts had ovens and mess halls. When they did, of course, they were much larger than this, which only has room for a couple of loaves. The next item is a rail to which horses would be tied, and the last is a saddle. On the bottom row there is a row of pots and mess tins rather precariously balancing on a bench supported on one side by some stones.
The last item is for some the most useful. Each sprue contains three models of this A-tent, a common form of protection for the soldiers on the march. It stands roughly shoulder high on these figures, which is about right, and is a reasonable representation. Though by no means the only form of tent used, placed in reasonable numbers in fairly neat rows a nice camp scene can be created.
The style of sculpting is the same as the rest of the Far West series - the figures look malnourished and quite small (they are actually HO scale). There are some mould marks as usual, though detail is not too bad. The uniform is not authentic, and the design of the oven is pretty unlikely, but the other parts are reasonable. This is one of the more unusual sets from Atlantic, and as a result it is much in demand by collectors today. Though more recent camp sets have covered the subject much better, this quirky one is always likely to have its admirers.