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The Civil War: Grooming the Next Generation

I have had the privilege over the past decade to speak to history-related groups in more than a dozen states from Texas to New Hampshire about specific events during the Civil War. I have enjoyed introducing to a national audience the oft-overlooked subject of Jubal Early’s invasion of York County, the $100,000 ransom of York, and the burning of the Columbia-Wrightsville Bridge. The topic of York County’s role in the war still fascinates me. I continue to pore through old newspaper accounts, letters, and diaries for pertinent new information. Every now and then, I find something not previously known. As a career scientist and new product development specialist, the satisfaction of discovering new things brings particular satisfaction.

The Civil War has always been a passion. I grew up hearing stories of my ancestors in the military service; most notably from my father, a WWII veteran. An equestrian statue of Union General Phil Sheridan towers over the town square in Somerset, Ohio, some ten miles from my boyhood home in southeastern Ohio. “Little Phil” was a particular early favorite, as was fellow Buckeye Maj. Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman. His house was along US Route 22 a few miles west of Somerset in Lancaster, Ohio. My parents gave me a Marx Civil War Centennial playset for Christmas when I was six. Soon, I was recreating battles on our living room floor using the colorful maps from The Golden Book of the Civil War which I frequently checked out of the local library.

That early fascination with toy army men, sparked by my playset and many additional army men coupled with the great photos of dioramas in the Golden Book, returned during my college years. I became involved in miniature wargaming at Miami of Ohio. After moving to NE Ohio after graduation, I began painting thousands of tiny 15mm-tall metal soldiers for my frequent wargaming battles with my two sons and their friends. The boys developed their own keen interest in history and both have been college professors for many years now.

Enter another generation with the births of my beloved grandchildren.

Fertile ground to continue to plant a love for history, I believed… and it was so.

My oldest grandson Tristan (shown above back in 2009 at Gettysburg) became my first little third-generation battlefield tramping buddy. He endured many trips to the battlefield, including stops on Little Round Top where I would tell him about one of my hometown heroes, artillery battery commander Charles Hazlett. Killed on July 2, 1863, on Little Round Top, Hazlett is buried in my native Zanesville, Ohio. I also told him about my great-great-grandfather Johnny Sisson, a 15-year-old drummer for the 51st Ohio in the Western Theater of the war.

Over the years, Tristan and my other grandsons played with some of the same plastic Civil War army men from my childhood. As Tristan became a teenager, knowing my long interest in miniature soldiers, he suggested that we co-write a new book on the battle of Gettysburg illustrated with photos of toy soldiers. I asked my fellow hobbyists to send me photos of their model soldiers, dioramas, wargames, toy soldiers, and collector figures. Then, we selected the photos and wrote the accompanying prose. The result is a very unique book that I hope will be the first of many history-related collaborations with each of my grandkids as they get older.

We hope this new book will appeal to junior high and high school students, giving them a sweeping overview of the Gettysburg Campaign and the battle as they enjoy the 200+ black-and-white photos of miniatures. It is our small attempt to introduce Gettysburg to a new generation and keep the interest in the Civil War alive.

A sample series of pages from Gettysburg in Miniature.


Scott L. Mingus, Sr. with Tristan S. Mingus, Gettysburg in Miniature: A Battle Overview Illustrated With Model Soldiers and Dioramas (Amazon KDP, 2019), 151 pages, 200+ illustrations/maps, not annotated, includes a bibliography, paperback, MSRP $14.99. ISBN 1091751498. Available from; Gettysburg Witnesses 2 History, Civil War and More in Mechanicsburg PA, and other selected retailers.