Union Infantry Part 1

20 03 2011

Infantry formed the backbone of both the Union and Confederated armies during the American civil war.  In my union order of battle I have 31 regiments of on average 5 stands a pop (155 stands).  By contrast I have 10 artillery batteries (20 stands) and 5 battalions of Cavalry (40 stands).  The vast majority of work in painting an American Civil War army is tied up in painting infantry.

Rather than painting a nearly infinite number of units all at once and NEVER finishing, I have divided the painting of regiments roughly into thirds.  Like to paint whole units when I can so rather than drawing the line at 10 regiments I have decided to paint the 12 relatively small regiments  of Garrard, Lindsey and Hovey’s brigades.  Of these 12 regiments one contains 3 stands and rest have 4. 

A stand of infantry represents 90 men so a 4 stand regiment equals 360 men which is  about the size of a “veteran” unit.  A 3 stand regiment (270 men) or smaller is most likely an “elite” unit on its 3rd or 4th campaign.  5 stands(450 men) could be either “veteran” or “green”.  6 or more stands is most certainly a “green” unit on its first campaign.

To begin with I count out 12 command strips and 82 regular infantry strips.  Command stands (of which each regiment get one) has one command strip and one regular infantry strip


The Command strips are different in that they have flag bearers, a drummer and officers.


The flag poles on these stand are frankly pathetic.  Soft metal has a low melting point and is easy to work with but it not NEARLY as stiff as it needs to be not bend during play.  I have just painted flagpoles on a miniature before and its super distracting to someone as anal as myself.  I end up spending the whole game straightening the flags.  To get past this I replace the flag pole with a .025 gauge piece of piano wire.

To do this I first remove the tip of the vestigial pole…


Next I trim as much of the pole as I can away from the unit…


I then use a craft knife to cut the pole away just above the left hand of the flag bearers…


I don’t bother to cut away the bottom half of the pole.  Its really small, not in the way and I couldn’t get to it with wire cutters if I really wanted to.  Next step is to drill really small holes using a #71 .026 pen drill into the tops of hands/arms of the flag holders…


Finally I attach using super glue a short piece of piano wire in the new hole…


This is faster than it looks.  I did all twelve stands in less than an hour.

Next step is to white glue all the stands to popsicle…


Popsicle sticks are a GREAT solution to the “how the hell do I hold these guys while painting” conundrum.  Sometimes you can paint them on their final base but this won’t work here because I will be mounting them two deep.  Also… white glue works best here because the miniatures stick until I want them to come off.

Next step is to prime them black…


Black is THE right color at this scale.  Purists prime with white so the colors pop but you mistakes really stand out in white.  If a bit of black sticks out on the minis it looks good.  In fact it looks like will defined lines between colors even.

Time to start painting!  As a rule you should paint the bottom garments first and move towards the items on top later.  This has me painting either pants or coats first.  I choose coats (and hats) because it harder and I can be sloppy as its my first color…


This is an icky step.  The soldiers have bags and guns and stuff all over them and I need to squish the paint into all the gaps.  Blue is hateful on these guys. 

I know what you are thinking… I could spray-paint them blue.  I have tried this before… it sucked… a bunch. 

  1. Spray-paint, despite its reputation, does NOT get into all the gaps.  You WILL miss things. 
  2. I don’t have a pot of paint that matches the spray paint so when I mess up later, I can’t cover it up with matching paint
  3. I don’t get the cool black undercoat advantages.  If I make a mistake then blue sticks out. (imagine a line of blue between a face and hair.  ick.

The Blue is the hardest step.  All told it took me 4 hours to paint all 47 stands.

Here is a stand painted blue front and back…



I paint the pants next a light grey blue…


This step took me 2 hours.

Next I paint black onto the minis.  All Civil War soldiers carried a leather ammo bag on their left shoulder across their body so that it would be sitting handily on their right hip so they could use their right hand to draw new cartridges during a fight.  This bag would have been very dark and in virtually all drawings I have seen, black.

I also painted officer belts and the bills of the soldiers kepi’s black…


If you can’t tell what I painted here then you are not the only one.  I could not talk myself out of doing this step but it really is hard to tell what I did.  This step took two hours.

Next I paint haversacks.  Soldiers of this era kept their food and stuff in a giant canvas sack they wore over the other shoulder.  Think a man-purse with raw bacon and apples in it.  This bag was made out of a natural fabric and was a shade of off white…


Though not pictured, drum heads also get a shot of off white.

Next I paint  canteens and some of the guys hair a mediums shade of brown…


After this I paint rifles, drum sticks bases and some hair dark brown…


Next, I paint the blonds in my army.


Finally I paint the units faces and hands a flesh color…


This is a magic step.  Once you have flesh colored dots poking through all the darker colors they look like something.

Here are the completed units…


Next time I will walk through basing, labeling and flags for these 12 regiments!




6 responses

21 03 2011
jerry choate

I am offended. You take the time to paint blonds and brunettes in your army. But, NO RED HEADS!


21 03 2011
Douglas G. King

Aren’t you supposed to be colorblind or something?

21 03 2011
Will Gore

Green heads, then!

23 03 2011
jerry choate

I want you to paint just one mini in the entire lot with red hair. It will be like Finding Waldo.

23 03 2011
Douglas G. King

I did that last night… only in green. 🙂

24 03 2011
jerry choate

You Bastard!

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