Union Artillery

25 03 2012

Artillery is a relatively small but critical part of the America Civil War battlefield.  They provided the only means of attacking units at ranges beyond a couple of hundred yards and at close ranges they could be used to mow down troops en masse.  Battles would sometimes hinge on the placement of a few pieces of artillery or the lack of these big guns at a particular place and time.

Artillery miniatures come in two parts; the gun and the limber.  A gun and limber stand combined represent a “battery” of artillery.  This was usually from 4 to 6 cannons, 50-100 men and the horses and limbers for carrying them.  (To find out more about my understanding of artillery please see my artillery blog entry)

Battery’s were further sub-organized into sections which where two guns.  Sections represent a “unit” of strength in my game and therefore are represented on the miniature itself.  A cannon stand will ether be a 2 or 3 section battery.  This is represented by the number of figures tending the gun. 

Note: Two and Three section artillery have the same footprints in my game.  They are NOT represented by a different size of stand or limber.  This is perhaps inconsistent and not 100% accurate.  I do not believe this inconsistency crosses a realism line given that artillery tended to spread out.  There could be as much as 20 yards between guns set up to fire because artillery tended to get shot at with by other artillery and they frequently exploded for no good reason all on their own.  With this low density its easy to cram in other guns.  The problem with having different sizes for units is that the larger batteries would need to be longer stands when be moved and wider stands when they fire.  Awkward.  You can see below why this would be difficult to represent in miniatures.

A bunch of bits

Below are all the minis I need for two batteries of smoothbores and two batteries of rifles


I look at this picture and immediately think “Wagon wheels… why did it have to be wagon wheels.”  These guys are small.


They are roughly the same width as the word “liberty” on a penny.  Fun!

Here are the bits for a rifled artillery piece. 


These are super glued together in a process that can only be described as haphazard.  A sort of “absence of process” if you will. I wish I could photograph this and glue at the same time but trust me I can’t.  Honestly this is hard.  Looking at this picture makes my fingertips hurt from the memory of prolonged exposure to superglue.  BTW… metal coated in super glue prefers to adhere to flesh than any other substance…. ask me how I know.   I couldn’t publish a video of me gluing these wheels on as it would get an NC-17 rating for language alone.  That reminds me… I need a beer.

Where was I?  Ah yes… miniatures.

Here is the smoothbore miniature from Baccus6mm…


Notice that the wheels come attached!  These miniatures are my very bestest friend.

Limbers are small wagons that are used to cart the gun to and around the battlefield.  They have detached wagon wheels as well.  More Fun!


Finally, here are the horses for the limbers.


These guys are cleverly cast.  They come in strips of three like a string of teamed horses.  If they are not needed this way then they can be clipped apart and used individually.  This saves a ton of work for spacing when being mounted as a team.

In addition to the minis I will need two types of bases; Gun and limber.  The gun base is a 1 inch by 7/8 inch piece with a bevel on one of the narrow ends.  This looks just like my infantry basing process but with bigger pieces of metal.

My limber stands are trickier as I use two 1” by 7/8” pieces of cut sheet metal to produce the right size.  It’s a bit of a pain to order 2” by 7/8” metal as they would need to be custom cut and I only need a few of them.  1’” by 7/8” is a standard size for me; I use it for my officers, my guns and and mounted Cav.  More importantly I can also order this size as a standard from Wargame Accessories who sell me my bases.


Here I have glued the bases to create a 2” by 7/8” stand.

Unlike my infantry projects, I mount my artillery BEFORE I prime them.  There is plenty or room to get a paintbrush between the minis and the artillery pieces and limbers will be just as difficult to attach to a popsicle stick as they will the final miniature stand so I just mount them up front.

To get the limbers and guns good and attached I will need to pin them to the stand using piano wire.  As you can imagine, given the wheels came detached, these guys are not sturdy enough for me to glue directly to the base.  To do this I will need to use a pen drill to drive a small hole into the bottoms of these pieces.



Once I’ve successfully drilled a hole on each of the wheeled bits I then attach a piano wire to it and clip it off at the desired height.


Before I attach the guns I need to glue the figures that will be servicing the gun.


Two figures are used for a two section gun, three figures are used for a three section gun.

The dudes manning the gun are cast with a “ground” surface.  The guns don’t.  This means that I will need to put my ballast (sand) on the stand before I attach the gun to get it to look like everyone is standing on the same surface.

To create a ground surface to my artillery stand glue is applied using my handy dandy nifty neeto one of a kind glue applicator (regrettably not pictured).


The stand is then dunked in fine ballast.


I clean up the edges of the stand with my finger and let the result dry.

Next I spot and drill a hole using my pen drill for attaching the artillery.


I then super glue the artillery piece to the stand.


I perform a similar process on the limber stands.  The first step is to get two sets of horses on the stand making sure to leave enough room on the end to hold the limber itself.


I then add glue and ballast.


Oddly enough, the horse stands I have are not quite flat.  The tend to be leaners so I deal with this by gluing some ballast directly to the stand and then using the horses to a bed of this glue ballast mix and then pressing it into a level disposition.

Once the ballast has had a chance to dry I then add a the limber.


Now that this is done I prime everything!


That is it for today.  Next time we will get these guys painted up.

Note:  I like taking my hobby pics with the data stamp turned on.  Sometimes the date chronology gets a bit mixed up because I forget a pic and go back to retroactively change the continuity of my project documentation (called a RetCon for those of you that are serious geeks) as needed to document what I am doing. Other times I get large breaks in my project because I get distracted so you can see the gaps.  This blog may be the high water mark for both of these phenomenon.  I have photos in this blog from April and September of 2011 and March of 2012.  I am pretty sure I did the basing of the minis last year while waiting for paint to dry on something else. 

In going back to my photo’s I can see that last summer I was really desperate to get pictures of me moving figures on the table so we could talk about rules such as fire and movement.  I got these guys based and realized that I didn’t need artillery for my blog just yet.  I needed confederate infantry and officers so I put the artillery (way back) on the back burner.