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.”

This Hell on Earth 02

A portion of “This Hell on Earth” (Andersonville, Ga)

One unique feature of our dioramas is that we have hand-made all of the miniature soldiers and most of the other items. As of early 2021, over 88% of our horses are ones we have made. 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, an ambulance, 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 USS Housatonic (sunk by the submarine CSS Hunley) and the ironclads CSS Virginia and USS Monitor.

We currently have over 8,700 miniature cat-soldiers, most of whom are on display in dioramas including:

Hauling the cannons up by hand.

Hauling the cannons up onto Devil’s Den by hand.

  • The Bombardment of Fort Sumter
  • The Horrid Creation of a Nightmare v. the Little Pygmy: the battle between the ironclads
  • Desperation at Skull Camp Bridge
  • Give Them Shell: Capt. James Smith’s battery being hauled into position on Devil’s Den
  • At All Hazards: the 9th Massachusetts Battery at the Trostle Farm
  • The Boys Are Still There: the fight for Little Round Top (diorama under construction)
  • A Very Hell of Fire: Gen. Meade’s headquarters during the bombardment before Pickett’s Charge
  • The Fate of Gettysburg: the moment in time during Pickett’s Charge when the fate of Gettysburg hung upon “a spider’s single thread”
  • Come On, You Wolverines: the charge of the 1st Michigan Cavalry at East Cavalry Field (Gettysburg)
  • I Want You to Prove Yourselves: the assault on Battery Wagner by the 54th Massachusetts Infantry
  • This Hell on Earth: the prisoner-of-war camp at Andersonville