The American Civil War found a country still based to a large extent on working the land, and as a result huge numbers of men on both sides had come straight from agricultural work and knew nothing of military life. That so much was achieved by both armies to turn such boys into soldiers in such a short space of time is remarkable, but the endeavour in which they participated was to change their country dramatically.
Italeri chose to include both 'normal' infantry and zouaves in this set, which naturally cuts down on the range of poses for each. As a whole the poses are fine and include all the most important ones. Unusually there are three officer poses, all of whom are brandishing a sword and apparently encouraging some advance. The only other pose of interest is that of the kneeling cavalryman, whose inclusion in an infantry set might seem strange, but reflects the fact that cavalry often had to perform skirmishing and other infantry duties when the need arose (or horses were lacking!).
Though not as bad as in the Confederacy, the Union's soldiers sometimes suffered from supply problems, and there was a considerable amount of privately acquired uniform and kit, so such a set should not show beautifully uniform men, and this does not. Nearly all wear the popular fatigue hat, but the Hardee hat is also to be found. Frock coats or sack coats combine with various levels and types of accoutrements to give a satisfying mixture, though all of it is perfectly plausible. Of course the zouaves stand out, and while zouaves were even less uniform than their plainer comrades, all here wear authentic uniform - a uniform that often got replaced by more regulation items when it wore out.
A generally good set, but it still has some problems, including some fairly obvious ones that are tricky to correct. Several men have their cartridge pouch on their left hip - awkward to get to during action and simply wrong - and the cavalryman has an infantry pattern model, again on the wrong hip. One of the officers has a pistol but no holster, and the other officers have open holsters gunslinger-style when they should be closed for obvious practical reasons. None of these men have a sash under their belt, which was a sign of their rank, though frequently not worn in the field. However one seems to have the dangling ends of a sash, but not one round his waist! Also the last figure in the top row has both canteen and haversack on his person, as you would expect, but lacks any of the straps by which these were carried. Finally there are two all too common errors in so many sets. First, the drum is much too small - a real tiddler - and hangs by the knee in a manner bound to cripple the drummer before too long. Second is the flag, which is an item Italeri repeatedly do very badly. This flag should be about two metres square and attached to a staff of nearly three metres in length, but this one is about 11 mm by 16 mm (800 mm by 1150 mm) and carried on a staff 30 mm (2160 mm) in length . The toy carried here has been fairly crudely engraved on both sides with a design approximating to a regimental flag.
One thing Italeri do not disappoint on is the sculpting, which is first rate, with plenty of lovely crisp detail and realistic folds in clothing. Anatomically natural and well proportioned, with no flash, these are a quality piece of work, with nice touches like the ostrich feather in the hat of one of the officers. To our mind the scattering of zouave poses are too few to be entirely useful for wargamers, though they do bring some colour and interest to the package. American Civil War infantry is one of the more popular subjects made in this scale, and Italeri were hardly the first when they produced this set. However they made a pretty good job of it, if you try and ignore the drummer and flag-bearer, and the result is a set that any enthusiast of this conflict will find both useful and enjoyable.