In 1995, we made our first Civil War cat-soldiers out of modeling clay. At first, we did not think about dioramas. The Civil War bug had bit us, and as we read more books, we learned about gallant officers and heroic actions, peculiar officers and brilliant ones. Each time we read about someone we liked, we made a cat of him. In time, we ended up with hundreds of cats—infantry, cavalry, and artillery—and we began setting them up in little dioramas. Pickett’s Charge has always held a fascination for Rebecca (our “Reb”), so that was our first major diorama, eventually morphing into our current diorama, “The Fate of Gettysburg.”
One unique feature of our dioramas is that we have hand-made all of the miniature soldiers and most of the other items. The last time we checked, we had made over 80% of our horses. Various features of the dioramas include stone walls (yes, those are individual stones in the wall on “The Fate of Gettysburg”!), fences, trees, and rocks (there are 2,600 rocks on “The Boys Are Still There,” modeled from period and modern photographs of Little Round Top). We also make equipment and accessories such as artillery, locomotives (the General and the Texas, for the Great Locomotive Chase), and the Leister house at Gettysburg. Other items were made as visual aids for lessons we have taught on the Civil War, including Prof. Lowe’s observation balloon Intrepid. We’ve also made the USS Housatonic (sunk by the submarine CSS Hunley) and the ironclads CSS Virginia and USS Monitor.
While many of our dioramas are in storage, we hope to bring them out over the coming years as they are made ready. And, of course, we will continue to be inspired by new stories we read to make entirely new dioramas!
We currently have over 6,000 miniature cat-soldiers on display in dioramas including:
- The Fate of Gettysburg: the moment in time during Pickett’s Charge when the fate of Gettysburg hung upon “a spider’s single thread”
- Give Them Shell: Capt. James Smith’s battery being hauled into position on Devil’s Den
- A Very Hell of Fire: Gen. Meade’s Headquarters during the bombardment before Pickett’s Charge
- The Bombardment of Fort Sumter
- The Horrid Creation of a Nightmare v. The Little Pygmy: the battle between the ironclads
- This Hell on Earth: Andersonville prisoner-of-war camp
- The Boys Are Still There: the fight for Little Round Top (diorama under construction)
Civil War Tails at the Homestead Diorama Museum, LLC 785 Baltimore Street, Gettysburg, PA 17325 info@CivilWarTails.com (717) 420-5273