Tuesday 11 September 2018

Kurz and Allison Civil War Prints

This is the book I have been really keen to get a hold of. I finally tracked a reasonably priced copy down and am waiting to take delivery. Naturally I am very excited about this and for a variety of reasons the timing is extremely fortuitous....

The Battle of the Wilderness - one of the 36 prints produced by Kurz and Allison

I am really pleased to have finally tracked down a copy of the book published by the Fairfax Press in 1987 that includes reproductions of all 36 American Civil War prints produced by Kurz and Allison. In fact it is possible to buy actual prints from the series but I doubt I would have room to display them all - not to mention the fact that SWMBO would probably take a dim view of such imagery adorning the lounge! I was not sure I would be able to get a copy of this as secondhand versions seemed to be exclusively available in the US for, frankly, silly money - especially when you factor in shipping and customs etc. I know it would be posted as 'printed matter' but the HMRC can be a little belligerent about these things on occasion...

For those that are interested I got this for £12.80 all in which I am very pleased with. I will post a fuller review when it arrives.

The reason I was so keen to get this book is because my plan is to use the uniform details depicted in the prints as the basis for my old school Spencer Smith 30mm collection. Taking the pictures above as an example you can see some quite wonderfully neat and tidily attired gentlemen going about their martial endeavours. It is very stylised for sure but but for me therein lies the attraction.

For the most part it is safe to say that Union troops looked a little tidier than their Confederate opposition - a situation that deteriorated even further for the South as the tide of war turned against them and the blockade of their ports tightened. certainly one would not have expected to see troops such as depicted above in 1864!

The wooden and stylised nature of the Spencer Smith 30mm ACW range is ideal for replicating on the table top those images from the great war between the states.

I am really looking forward to starting this project.


Ross Mac rmacfa@gmail.com said...

Wonderful inspiration! Enjoy!

David Crook said...

Hi Ross,

My head is telling me that they are inaccurate and are very much in the ‘based upon’ school - my heart on the other is savouring the imagery!

I am really looking forward to this and no mistake!

All the best,


arthur1815 said...

I like the idea of painting your armies in accordance with those contemporary engravings. Wargaming - at least hobby gaming, as opposed to military training games - is an artistic interpretation of warfare, both as regards the rules and the modelling/painting of the toy soldiers.

When you think about it, using 12 or 20 figures to represent a battalion is so stylised that painting each man to the degree of accuracy of a Keith Rocco illustration will do little to offset the fundamental visual unreality of the scene on the tabletop, in which troops are often modelled in poses that are frequently completely inappropriate to their current situation: men charging with the bayonet or firing whilst waiting in reserve in the rear or marching in column down a road, for example. So, you might as well not worry about 'realism' and employ whatever system of portrayal you find aesthetically pleasing and simple to use.

One could argue that recreating a contemporary style of illustration in the toy soldiers creates a kind of period atmosphere; not that of the real battlefield, but that of the civilian perception of warfare at that time. Our miniature battlefields can more easily resemble the stylised, sanitised artistic depictions of battles than the grim reality, so why not embrace it!

I've heard of Western wargames in which the figures were painted in various shades of grey to resemble the black and white 50s movies that were their inspiration. I did think about painting my Napoleonic troops in the style of the 'penny plain, tuppence coloured' aquatints by such as William Heath that were published in Jenkins' Martial Achievements of Great Britain at the end of the Napoleonic Wars, in which French troops are often shown wearing red trousers - years ahead of their actual adoption, but have actually gone for ImagiNations instead.

Looking forward to seeing how this project develops.
Regards, Arthur

David Crook said...

Hi Arthur,

What a well written and considered comment! It is funny that in many ways I, and a few other if truth be told, seem to have gone full circle in respect of how we translate military history on the table top. I like to call it the Hollywood approach in that our armies are 'based upon' rather than detailed representations. Over the years I have spent hours agonising over the smallest of details of uniforms or equipment but you know what? It is a game after all and if we accept it for what it is rather than what we think it should be it makes life a whole lot simpler!

I have always liked these stylised prints - I will check out the ones you mentioned - and these ACW versions are just so atmospheric. Whoever decided to use them as the covers of the four volumes of Battles and Leaders was a genius!

I am going to enjoy this and savour the pleasure of painting old style figures in an old style way and savouring the results in action on the table top.

Many thanks Arthur, your comment was very much appreciated.

All the best,


BigLee said...

Nice find! I love sources like this. Both inspirational and educational.