Saturday, May 20, 2023

North Bridge Diarama Updated


  As I have mentioned earlier I love dioramas and they have instilled in me my love of model soldiers.  While the Lexington Green one will always be my sentimental favorite this one of the North Bridge fight is up there with it.  Because it was local whenever I was in Concord I would try and stop by to visit it.

   This great diorama is at the Concord Museum in Concord Massachusetts.  It was commissioned by the historian Allen French and built by  Guernsey and Pittman in Cambridge Massachusetts in the 1930's.  Allen French provided the historical research for the builders.  If you are not familiar with him,  his books, "Day of Lexington and Concord" and "General Gage's Informers" are the foundation of any study of the battles.  While working at Minute Man National Historical Park I took some time going through the Allen French papers.  Included was his  correspondence about the diorama and notes to the builders.  After all these years I was curious how it held up and what shape it was in.  I am very happy to say it still looks great!

   Guernsey and Pittman are famous for their quality of dioramas.  They had a office in Harvard square In Cambridge Massachusetts.  Both men had been professors at Harvard University.    I plan on doing a blog posting about the in the future in which I will showcase some of their work.  Here is a picture from the Concord Museum of the two men bring the finished diorama into the museum in 1930.

British Light companies in street fighting position.  


Nice detail of the fight.

The front rank of British soldiers are retiring to the rear to reload after firing.  Note the soldier leaning on his file mate and standing in his tip toes to get a better view!

Although the miniatures are very crude by today's standards they are still works of art. Each figure us individually made.

There are neat little details in the diorama that reward multiple viewings.  Note the planks pulled up on the bridge.  

Or the man knocking the cap off the head if his file mate.

  In the picture here Lt. William Sutherland calls for volunteers to join in him to flank the Americans.

Wednesday, May 17, 2023

Congratulations Nathaniel


Good news and a celebration for my family.  My son proposed to his girlfriend Adriana and she accepted.  This is very good for us all.  Congratulations Nathaniel! 

 Here we all are at the party;  Alexandra, Nathaniel, Adriana, Janine and myself.

Monday, May 1, 2023

More Early Troiani Battle Paintings

  Back in day (1972-76) I eagerly awaited the arrival in my local library of the latest edition of American Heritage.  This was a hard bound magazine with always interesting articles on American History.  I was esp impressed by a series on battles of the American Revolution that featured a battle painting of some incident during that action as well as a couple uniform figures.  These were done by a new young artist named Don Troiani.  Although familiar to most of us now, back then he was the new kid on the block.  His style of painting was much different then today,; less realistic but with great charm.  And the uniform details were amazing to someone just studying the period and learning about it. The battles he did were outstanding.  I think Fort Griswold and White Plains were my favorite.

Interestingly through my friends in a reenactment group (the 43rd Regiment/2nd Pennsylvania regiment:  Hello Tom and Mark Vogley!) I not only knew people who were models for his paintings but once quickly got to met him.    Since then I have always had a affection for his early work much more then his newer more realistic work.  So recently it was fun to find on the internet a bunch of his battle studies from these works.   I am posting them here for mine and others enjoyment.  Because they are displayed in the book the entire picture is divided by binding.  Then I will be adding details from them.

Lexington and Concord

Fort Griswold:

Guilford Courthouse:

White Plains:


Monday, April 24, 2023

How was the march conducted?


  On the afternoon of April 19, 1775  Ensign DeBerniere, 10th Reg’t of Foot, wrote “…we began the march to return to Boston, about twelve o’clock in the day, in the same order of march, only our flankers were more numerous and further from the main body… "

     How on April 19, 1775 was march  to Concord and back to Boston performed by Lt. Col. Smith and later Lord Percy?   It is interesting that the two men took similar but slightly different approaches to the problem.  Where would the officers get inspiration or suggestions on how to conduct this march?  Although there were few colleges or schools for officers at the time, there were a great number of books which appear again and again in military libraries.  These "how to books" gave advice and suggestions for young officers to learn their trade.

   One of the most  influential military books of the 18th Century was “A Treatise of Military Discipline” by Colonel Humphrey Bland.   Officers learned how to be a commander by reading text books.  This book shows up in the libraries of numerous officers in the British and also American  Army officers libraries at the start of the American Revolution;   including George Washington;  who's personal library included Humphrey Bland "A Treatise of Military Discipline (9th ed., London, 1762)"; Lancelot Théodore, comte de Turpin de Crissé, "An Essay on the Art of War, translated by Capt. Joseph Otway" (London, 1761); Roger Stevenson, "Military Instructions for Officers Detached in the Field" (Philadelphia, 1775); Captaine de Jeney, "The Partisan: or, The Art of Making War in Detachment," translated by J. Berkenhout (London, 1760); and William Young, Manœuvres, or Practical Observations on the Art of War "(London, 1771).

  What did these books tell us in how to conduct a march?  Let us quotes from Bland who had a chapter entitled “…Marching of a Regiment of Foot, or a Detachment of Men, where there is a Possibility of their being Attacked by the Enemy.”  He suggested forming a strong "van guard" and a "rear guard." The purpose of the van-guard was “to reconnoiter, or view, every place where any number of men can lie concealed, such as woods, copses, ditches, hollow ways, straggling houses, or villages, through which you are to march or pass near…” The rear-guard was “to take up all the soldiers who shall fall behind the regiment” and to provide security for the rear of the column and prevent it from “being fallen upon (attacked) in the rear, before they have notice to prepare for their defense.”  In addition “small parties, commanded by sergeants, marching on the flanks (sides) of the battalion with orders to examine all the hedges, ditches and copses which lie near the road…" 

  Lt. Col. Smith organized his march to Concord with the combined  ten Light Infantry companies* first followed by the eleven Grenadier ** companies.  As they got closer to Lexington he detected six Light Infantry companies to march ahead of the column and capture the bridges in Concord.  

  It is known from the statement of private James Marr 4th light company that there was a "advanced guard of a sergeant and six or eight men."   In addition a number of volunteers who went out with the march joined the advanced guard as we know from the account of  Lt. William Sutherland.   

  Within the column how did the individual companies form?  According to  Captain William Souter who commanded the Marine light company;  "our companies were not able to march more then half of its  front on the open road, or more properly speaking, in two platoons, the second in the rear of the first."

   Brigadier General Hugh Earl Percy who led the reinforcements  that afternoon had been commanding his Brigade for over a year now.  On a number if occasions he marched the entire Brigade out if Boston into the countryside for exercise.   Lt. Frederick MacKenzie of the 23rd Royal Welch Fusiliers, who marched with Percy, wrote that the brigade “… marched in the following order, Advanced guard of a captain and 50 men; 2 six-pounders, 4th Reg’t, 47th Reg’t, 1st Bttn of Marines; 23rd Reg’t, Rear guard of a Captain and 50 men.” This tactic was straight out of Bland’s Treatise.  In the Lord Percy papers there is a drawing of a march by the 1st Brigade.  The drawing is a brilliant illusion of how to conduct a march with advanced guards and flankers. 


* light infantry companies- 4th, 5th, 10th, 23rd, 38th, 43rd, 47th 59th and 1st and 2nd Marines.

** Grenadier companies - 4th, 5th, 10th, 18th, 23rd, 38th, 43rd, 47th, 59th and 1st and 2nd Marines.

Sunday, April 23, 2023

The British Army in Boston: Order of Battle, April 18, 1775


Commander in Chief and Staff

Lieutenant General the Hon. Thomas Gage (Colonel, 22nd Foot), commander in chief 

Major General Frederic Haldimand (Colonel commandant, 2nd Battalion, 60th, or Royal American Regiment), second in command

Col. James Robertson, Barrack Master General

Major Stephen Kemble, Deputy Adjutant General

Major William Shirreff, Deputy Quartermaster General

Lieut. Harry Rooke, 4th foot, Aide de Camp

Capt. Brehm, Aide de Camp

Capt. Oliver De Lancey, 17th Light Dragoons, Aide de Camp

Samuel Kemble, Esqr., Confidential Secretary

1st Brigade

Brigadier: the Rt. Hon. Hugh, Earl Percy (Colonel, 5th Foot)

4th Regiment of Foot, or the King’s Own (Lt. Col. George Maddison)

23rd Regiment of Foot, or the Royal Welch Fusiliers (Lt. Col. Benjamin Bernard)

47th Regiment of Foot (Lt. Col. William Nesbitt)

1st Battalion, British Marines (Major John Pitcairn)

2nd Brigade

Brigadier: Robert Pigot (Lt. Col., 38th Foot)

5th Regiment of Foot (Col. the Hon. Hugh Earl Percy)

38th Regiment of Foot (Lt. Col. Robert Pigot)

52nd Regiment of Foot (Lt. Col. Valentine Jones)

3rd Brigade

Brigadier: Valentine Jones (Lt. Col., 52nd Foot)

10th Regiment of Foot (Lt. Col. Francis Smith)

43rd Regiment of Foot (Lt. Col. George Clerk)

59th Regiment of Foot (Lt. Col. Ortho Hamilton)

18th Regiment of Foot, 3 companies (Capt. John Shea)

65th Regiment of Foot, 2 companies (senior officer unknown)

Troops not brigaded in garrison, Castle William, Boston harbor

64th Regiment of Foot (Lt. Col. the Hon, Alexander Leslie)

4th Battalion, Royal Regiment of Artillery (Col. Samuel Cleveland)

35 Battery (Capt. William Martin)

38 Battery (Capt. Lt. W. Orcher Huddlestone)

39 Battery (Capt. Anthony Farrington)

42 Battery (Capt. Lt. Robert Fenwick)

British Marines, shipboard detachments (Adm. Samuel Graves)

Royal Engineers (Capt. John Montresor)


 Thomas Gage, Distribution of His Majesty’s Forces in America,” July 19, 1775, Gage Correspondence, II, 690; Gage to Richard Rigby, July 8, 1775, with enclosure, “List of General and Staff Officers on the Establishment in North America, from 25th December 1774 to 24th June, 1775,” ibid., II, 687-89.

 Vincent J.-R. Kehoe, “We Were There!” April 19, 1775 (mimeographed typescript, 1974), vol. I,

11-27; Barker, British in Boston, 9, 11; Mackenzie, Diary, I, 8; Regimental Rosters, Muster Books and Pay Lists, W012/2194-7377, PRO

Tuesday, April 18, 2023

Lexington Green Diorama Update


  Back in 2020 I posted a out the diorama of the fight on Lexington green.  This weekend Janine and I stopped by to see it in person.  They have built a nice new case for it and it gets its own display room in the visitor center in Lexington.  


 There is a nice new display case around it.  Above and below are drawings of it and a key which identified the individuals.  This makes it easy to follow and very informative.  Unfortunately there are windows opposite it which reflects the light against it and makes taking pictures difficult.


   It was made by John Scheid in the early 1960's.    His technique for making the British Grenadier caps look like fur still amazes me.  There is a very nice write up about him and better pictures of the diorama in Peter Blum's book "Military Miniatures" The Odyssey Press, New York, 1964.


As a very young boy I was thrilled to discover an exciting diorama of the Battle of Lexington Green in my public library.  My parents would drop me off at the library and after getting a arm full of books I would stand in wonder in front of it.