In good weather and on good, dry roads, a large body of civil war soldiers might be expected to march at a speed of about four kilometres per hour (‘common time’), but there might be frequent stops not just for rests but because of congestion, passing traffic such as wagons or artillery, and major obstacles such as rivers. If battle was imminent or the need urgent then faster speeds could be achieved, though only for a limited time, and by the end the men might well be suffering badly from fatigue and blistered or swollen feet. Good shoes were essential but all too rare, and many men would drop out along the way, sometimes in larger numbers than the provost guard could cope with. It is incredible that despite these difficulties such men might be expected to fight a battle at the end of it, and to perform as well as rested, fully healthy individuals.
This set is very much the sister of the first set of marching civil war infantry from HaT, which we have reviewed here. Four of the eight poses here are also in the first set, but all of them are basically the same pose. This is 'carry arms', where the musket is held by the pinch in the stock and alongside the body, trigger facing to the front. This was a common pose when on the march, so very useful. Other sets have depicted such men in more informal poses as might be seen during a long march, but these are more formal, so perhaps actually moving into position on the battlefield itself.
The differences between these figures come not in the pose but in the uniform they wear. Five wear the common forage or ‘bummer’ cap, while the other three wear brimmed hats, two of which look to be of civilian style. Such hats were very popular because they offered better protection from sun and rain, but were much more common in the Confederate ranks than those of the North. Two of these men seem to wear just a shirt, of pullover style, while two more have a sack coat and the rest have a short waist-length jacket known as a roundabout. This last garment was also more common in Confederate forces, which helps to give these men a bit more of a Confederate feel to them. Also, since shirts of the day were often off-white or grey, Union soldiers were advised not to go into battle without their blue jackets as they might otherwise be confused for Confederates. Two of these poses have turn-ups on their trousers, and three have stuffed the legs into their socks, which was common practice.
The kit these men carry includes all the basic items; a cartridge pouch from a belt on the right side and a haversack and water bottle on the left. Every man has his cap pouch on the right side of his waist-belt, and two also have a rolled blanket slung across their trunk. Apart from a bayonet scabbard no one here has anything else, so any other items such as knapsacks are either being carried on the baggage, have been thrown away sometime earlier, or were never issued in the first place. This is light marching order, and was probably the norm in many campaigns.
The sculpting generally is very good, with good faces and hands where they are visible. These are not the sort of subject covered in intricate detail, but these have all the necessary detail, although some of the jackets and trousers are too smooth and lacking in natural creases, particularly at the back of the figures. One detail we could not understand is a long thin strip along the middle third of the barrel of each and every musket. We would have expected a sling here (though not all muskets were issued with slings), but what we have here is anyone’s guess. The figures mostly have very little flash, but around some of the legs there is quite a bit of it.
All the poses in this and the first set have the same left leg forward, so are intended to be placed together in formation. The differences in poses are very subtle (sometimes no more than a change in the face), so it is the differences in uniform that really allow you to create a mixed force on the march, for which the Confederate forces will work better as they were often more varied than those of the North. However no one figure here or in the first set is unique to one side or the other, and as these two sets are the first time this common pose has been produced in quantity, both sets should be very useful to enthusiasts of the civil war.