Despite the obvious perils of the battle, it was marching that could be the major hardship for Confederate soldiers. Progress would depend greatly on the terrain and other factors, with roads that could be thick with mud in winter or choking dust trails in summer. Boots – always a preoccupation of soldiers – were often shoddily made, but even the good ones frequently wore out long before they could be replaced, and on many occasions men marched bare-foot or with rags tied round their feet. Although railways played their part in moving troops, marching was usually the only way to get troops where they needed to be, and the Southern thrusts into Union territory meant the Confederate soldier spent a great deal of time on his feet.
A Civil War marching pose is basically just a man with musket on shoulder walking forward, and there is not much more to say about that. Naturally marching was not done in neat parade fashion; men walked in a relaxed manner, and in any case some troops initially had so little training that they could not have done anything else. The generous 14 poses doing just that in this set are an assortment on that theme, with variety coming in subtle differences in the position of either arm, the manner in which the musket is being held, and of course the uniform and kit. Several of the figures have slung their rifles over their shoulder, which is not commonly depicted, and indeed many muskets were supplied without a sling. To our eye some of the muskets look to be too upright, yet are only being supported by the right hand under the butt, making it look like it could easily fall forward, or at least the full weight is on the hand rather than shared with the shoulder. One or two hold it by the lock, as was common, but some of the rest look more awkward to us. We particularly liked the man (top row) who has his hand in his haversack, but for some reason the officer and drummer are not marching. Naturally officers rode much of the time, so perhaps this one has dismounted for a break and to enjoy his pipe.
The uniform worn by these men has all the variety that you might expect of such a subject. There are frock coats and short jackets, there are peaked fatigue caps and brimmed hats, plus one cap of a design that is hard to make out (perhaps misshapen by rain and hard use) but still civilian. We were pleased to see several men with patches, tears or apparent repairs, which is certainly very realistic, but all seem to have boots or shoes (no bare feet here). Most of the men have cartridge pouches (the rest might simply have them in their pockets), but cap pouches are largely obscured, although again some carried these in their pockets anyway. There are many haversacks, water bottles, bayonets and knives, again scattered randomly about these figures, with good variety in shape and design, and a couple are fortunate/unlucky enough to have a pack too. Three of the others have resorted to the popular method of rolling items in their blanket and wearing this across their body.
The officer, as usual, has done rather better for himself. He wears standard officer’s uniform of a double-breasted frock coat with standing collar and shoulder straps, a broad brimmed hat, gloves and good boots with a flap over the knees. He carries both sword and pistol. He has a cartridge pouch on his belt, and a water bottle which must also be attached to the belt by some means as there is no strap, which looks curious. He also seems to wear a sash under his belt (often not worn in the field), but there is no sign of the two ends, which should be on the left hand side. What he does have is a very strange triangular attachment to his belt at the back, which looks a bit like a powder horn but cannot be, so we are stumped as to what that is.
Looking at the other ‘command’ figures, uniform is no different to the men, which is fine. The first two figures might well be used as NCOs, though no chevrons or other indication of rank is on display (which also happened in reality). The drummer has a good sized drum which he is evidently not beating at present, but the drum has been nicely done without resorting to a separate piece. The flag is quite small (about 12mm square, which is 86 cm to scale), and not the correct proportions to be a national flag, but there were plenty of Confederate battle flags that were square and roughly this size, so no issues with this.
Sculpting is reasonable but certainly has a rough feel to it. Slim items like the drumsticks are rather too large, and the pipe being smoked by the officer is enormous to scale, but detail (which is not so vital here) is there for the most part. One area largely without detail is of course the firearms since they are all side-on to the mould, and in some areas things get a bit scrappy, with proportions that at times don’t feel quite natural. A lot of the men have been given whiskers, which is a nice touch, but one man has shoulder-length hair, which seems unlikely for the time and would present its own problems during a long campaign. There is little flash, and not a lot of excess plastic, but something has gone wrong with the making of the mould as the first man in the third row has his left arm malformed.
While we have no problems with the accuracy of these figures, the poses are sometimes less than natural to our eye, with too few of the muskets leaning back on the shoulder, and the sculpting is not up with the best these days either. They don’t have the old chunky Strelets look, so will work well with other manufacturer’s products, and all placed together they would make a decent body of men marching to battle. The chief positive of this set is it is dedicated to just one activity, rather than being dissipated over many, so anyone looking to put together a march will find plenty of use here. However we like to enjoy our figures as little works of art in themselves, and these don’t reach that kind of level.
Note The final figure is of a soldier from the Streltsi of 17th century Russia. Though he is unrelated to the subject of this set, he is one of a series of 'bonus' figures which when combined will create a set of this unit for the Great Northern War. See Streltsi Bonus Figures feature for details.