Friday, June 20, 2014

Classic Toy Soldiers Union 6-Horse Limber, Caisson, 24 Pound Howitzer

When I was growin' up there were three Civil War limbers and cannon combinations that I can think of. First, there was MPC's rather large limber and cannon meant for their 60mm figures. At the other end of the spectrum, Giant of Hong Kong made HO scale Civil War figures which included a nice little limber/cannon set-up. Right in the middle sat Marx with its 54mm limber, cannon, and four horse hitch with driver and outrider. It wasn't just a toy, it was a nicely detailed replica and the standard by which other toy makers would have have to measure their efforts. It took about forty years but finely Classic Toy Soldiers (CTS) stepped up to the plate and had this absolutely gorgeous rig rig produced for the hobby market. 

A detachment consisted of one gun and it's crew. At full strength  it could appear as you see it here or the caisson (twin ammo chests on one frame) may have been pulled by a separate team of horses. While six horses may not necessarily be required to pull the rig, extras were required to replace battlefield casualties and exhausted animals. The Chief of the piece was a sergeant while a corporal was put in charge of the caisson and another tasked with aiming the piece. The crew was rounded out by: 

1) the swabber who swabbed the bore and rammed the load 
2) the loader who inserted the charge and ammo into the muzzle
3) the person who tended the vent
4) the person who primed and fired the piece at the command of the sergeant
5) assistant who carried the round to #2
6) a person in charge of the limber
7) assistant who carried the round to #5

A battery at full strength would have consisted of six guns plus a battery wagon, ambulance wagon, forge wagon (18 wagons for a full battery) and all the personnel required to support these vehicles. The battery was segmented into three sections of two cannons each and was commanded by five officers: a commanding captain, a lieutenant in charge of the caissons, and a lieutenant in charge for each section.

If you're interested in Civil War toys or modeling and want to try and replicate a battery this will give an idea of what's required.  For 54mm collectors there's two items missing from the line-up. First, no one makes a forge wagon in this scale. Also, while you could use the terrific wagons offered by CTS as supply and battery wagons they simply don't have the exact profile of those type. The wagons made by Americana have the profile but they're not true to 54mm scale. Well, without further ado: Enjoy! Bettina & Fritz Berg :)

This is one long drink of water at 22" (55.9cm)

This is a caisson: two ammo chests on a truncated frame with a spare wheel mounted in the rear.
Many people refer to the Marx limber as a caisson but that would be incorrect. I was in the same habit until I started reading up on Civil War artillery.

This is a limber NOT a caisson
Beautiful Pictures Deine Frau Gattin Bettina :)


  1. The usual team consisted of six horses, although four sometimes were used (especially by the Confederacy toward the end of the war when horses became more scarce). The team NEVER pulled the limber, caisson AND gun as you show them. It was the limber and gun OR the limber and caisson. A fully-loaded limber and caisson weighs 3,811 pounds. A fully loaded limber and 12-pound Napoleon weighed 3,865 pounds. Either combination is close to the limit for a 4-horse team. The gun weighed 2,353 pounds so all three pieces together would have weighed 6,164 pounds, a struggle even for 6 horses. Remember, these were not heavy draft horses.

    Each pair of horses had a driver who rode the near (left) horse but the cannoneers walked or rode saddle horses. They seldom, if ever, rode the limber. Aside from sparing the horses some weight, it would have been a bumpy ride over the terrain of the time.

    1. When you buy these from CTS they come as 2, 4, or 6 horse lash-ups with or w/o caisson and always with a cannon (your choice of three different). In real life this would be a very tough load to pull, but the photos reflects the toys as one of the combinations sold. It does look impressive even if not prototypically accurate.

  2. We have a several things for 54mm
    a forge and other stuff.