Wednesday, 7 January 2015

An ACW ambiance – Ambulance and Campsite

The Perry ACW ambulance, based as a roadside pick-up of wounded confederates.

In preparation for our recent behemoth replay of Chancellorsville in 28mm, resulting in an unhistorical Union victory and neither Stonewall nor Hooker harmed, I painted some useful ACW “fluff” units, which helped set the right atmosphere on the gaming table.

The Union campsite - perfect for portraying the 11th Corps under Howard.

Both sets are from the excellent Perry Miniatures ACW collection, and especially the campsite setup came in handy as they would act as the slumbering and unprepared 11th US Corps under Howard, getting their coffee stuck in their throats as 20.000 Rebs under Stonewall came out of the woods next to their quiet camp.

Some great pictures from the game can be found through Mark’s blog and also Michael’s.

Close up - some tobacco in the pipe and bacon in the frying pan,
not bad for camp life.

The ambulance was a larger project with many parts, and I decided to piece the whole thing together on a mini diorama, depicting a roadside pick-up of wounded confederates by the master surgeon and his assistants.


The Confederate Medical Service

Staged photo showing the principle service of the Ambulance Corps.

During battle, when casualties started to mount, it was custom for men to fall out of rank to help carry the wounded away to safety and medical attention. However, this “good deed” had many volunteers once the firing started, as it presented soldiers scared of the on-going battle with a pretext to leave the front line, depleting the ranks. To counter this development a regulated ambulance Corps was formed, containing men who was no longer fit for active combat.

The driver and old Jolly Jumper wait while loading is completed.

Build as a copy of the Federal system, each regiment had its own surgeon and assistant surgeon, who both held officer's ranks. The senior ranking surgeon could, based on either merits or simple inadequate manpower, be promoted to divisional surgeon with added tasks and adhering directly under the surgeon general.

Wounded await transport to the field hospital.

This system might look effective on paper, but in reality most of these surgeon, while sporting the best of intentions, were not up to par professionally to the great regret of their “clients”. The only treatment for complex bone-shattering musket ball wounds was amputation, or crude surgery, with non-sterilized tools and bandages.

An unlucky fellow gets loaded onboard - next stop the surgeon!

This meant, that the real fight for survival was not on the battlefield, but in the army hospitals, were infected wounds and unsuccessful amputation along with different camp diseases, would be the big killer.

William Blackford of the 1st Virginia Cavalry, on amputations in the field hospital: "Tables about breast high had been erected upon which screaming victims were having legs and arms cut off…the surgeons and their assistants, stripped to the waist and bespattered with blood, stood around, some holding the poor fellows while others, armed with long, bloody knives and saws, cut and sawed away with frightful rapidity, throwing the mangled limbs on a pile nearby as soon as removed…"

A Civil War surgeon kit - perhaps more fitting for home improvements
than precision surgery...

About 174.00 Union soldiers suffered extremity wounds during the Civil War. Of these, 30.000 resulted in amputation. If the amputation was preformed within the first 24 hrs, you had a 75% chance of survival. After 24 hrs complications like blood poisoning or bone infection could set in and your survival rate dropped to about 50%. (Source: Museum of the Confederacy)

ACW ambulance - in a somewhat impractical white color.

The uniform of the surgeon was similar to that of Confederate officer, while the index color on cuffs was black for this branch. The ambulance crew and helpers in the Ambulance Corps would wear a red hat-band to distinguish them from the men of the ranks.

Wounded soldiers wait in the cool shade of the tree.

A British observer following the war as part of the Army of Northern Virginia later reported that: “In the rear of each regiment were from twenty to thirty negro slaves, and a certain number of unarmed men carrying stretchers and wearing in their hats the red badges of the ambulance corps – this is an excellent institution, for it prevents unwounded men from falling out on the pretense of taking wounded to the rear”.

Thank you very much for reading!

31 comments:

  1. A great subject! Each vignette is splendid, details are amazing, love the paint job and the ground, so realistic!

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    1. Thank you very much Phil, I'm happy you liked the subject - it was great fun to do something different from the rank and file troops. That fence on the ambulance mini-diorama is actually from the Rendera house for the same period, and it seems to add that last detail so the road becomes believable.

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    2. Such details transform good dios in amazing dios...

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    1. Thanks for dropping by for a read and a comment, appreciate it Steve!

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  3. Lovely work indeed – painting and modeling to the highest of standards, with lots of nice details to discover.

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    1. Thanks Jonas, you're very kind to say so - hope we'll get a chance to roll some dice with the ACW collection at some point.

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    1. Thanks Stephen - I really think these kind of character miniatures add life to the rank and file collection, but they must be near to uncommercial when looking at production-cost to actual turn over - we'll have to thank the twins for making these wonderful toys:0)

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  5. What tremendous pieces, I particularly like the field ambulance - that surgeon's set is terrifying though!

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    1. Ha ha, yes I thought of your Ripper vignette when I saw that kit - perhaps Old Jack was practicing his skills over seas, before hitting Whitechapel some years later.

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  6. Magnificent vignettes!

    I had spotted both of these pieces in your club mate, Rattlesnake's, account of Chancellorsville. Great to see both of these in much better detail.

    Both vignettes have much to keep the eye busy!

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    1. Thank you very much Jonathan! I'm happy you went by Mark's blog as well, he is a former ACW reenactor, with a huge knowledge of the war. A great compliment to our club here in Stockholm.

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  7. awesome and stunning work!

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    1. Thanks Phil, glad you dropped by for a read and a comment!

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  8. Some outstanding work again! I can remember having read a novelle about the civil war as a child and in it there were a quite dramatic scenes taking place in a field hospital behind the lines. I suffered from nightmares for many nights to come. Sadly I can't remember the name of the novelle...
    The camp scene is fantastic! One can almost smell the bacon and Coffee!

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    1. Thanks M! Yeah, when researching this blog post, I googled ACW surgery - let me say that the surgeon's kit was the least horrifying image I came across. No wonder that stuff could give you nightmares!

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  9. They are amazing - well done :)

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    1. Thanks Mike, I really appreciate the visit and the comment!

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  10. Very nicely portrayed diorama; a tribute to the medical corps.

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    1. Cheers Dean, it certainly gave the wargaming table a more realistic feel to have units like these on there, and it was very interesting and to some extend horrifying to research on the standards of civil war medical service! It almost seemed like it was more lethal to stay in camp for a long time, than to take part in a battle!

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  11. Outstanding Soren, simply outstanding dioramas!

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    1. Thanks Chris, appreciate it! Hope you've had a good start to 2015!

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  12. Very nice work indeed! Also excellent background information!

    Christopher

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    1. Cheers Christopher - the excellent Troiani book came in handy yet again for both uniforms and background info!

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  13. Exellent blog post matey! Love your viginetts, really add to the games

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    1. Thanks Michael, it was a great game - and a beautiful brigade you've painted. They broke Lee's back that day :0) Hope your boys will be ready to defend the Union position at Shiloh soon!

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  14. Another great job and they added a lot to the game!

    Thanks for putting the game on and for painting up so many miniatures.

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    1. Thanks Mark, appreciate it! It was great to break the usual format and get to play one of these bigger games. I look very much forward to our coming Shiloh replay!

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  15. Lovely dioramas, and very informative post - I particularly enjoyed your work, as one of my ancestors was an Army surgeon in the XIXth century. Thanks for sharing :D

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    1. You're very welcome, thanks for dropping by for a read and leaving such a nice comment!

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