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Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Americana Item#98513 Andersonville American Civil War Set

They say history is written by the victors and this was so true of of the Andersonville Prison saga. Andersonville prison has gone down in history as one of the most notorious prisoner of war camps in history. That's because the Union won the war and Union atrocities at Elmira Prison in New York and Camp Dixon in Chicago were largely swept under the rug. Basically, mortality rates on both sides were about the same. Andersonville's commander, Captain Henry Wirz, was tried and hanged in November of 1865. But during the trial it was stated that prison guards were given the same rations as prisoners and that they too suffered losses from starvation as supply lines all during the region were disrupted during the war. On his behalf, Capt. Wirz said he pleaded with the Confederate government for more food and supplies for the prisoners but in the end, the Union tribunal could see no other alternative but to pronounce him guilty of war crimes. On a side note, I remember watching the 1970 PBS special The Andersonville Trial starring Richard Basehart (Voyage To The Bottom of The Sea), William Shatner (Star Trek), and Buddy Ebsen (Beverly Hillbillies) and it was quite stirring.

I thought it was time for another American Civil War toy cuz I've been slacking off of late (I took the photos for this set back in July but quite frankly got burnt-out with ACW posts) but when you think of it, a prison stockade is rather an odd toy for the mass market! Maybe you'd expect it as a specialty offering from some small company but Americana toys can be easily found at hobby shops and on-line. That being said, let's get down to the toy. Obviously it's much smaller than the 26.5 acres of the original. The stockade was rectangular in shape with 15' -17' (4.6m-5.2m)) high walls and the Stockade Branch of the Sweetwater Creek flowed through it - the only source of water for the prisoners. At 90' (27.3m) intervals were guard towers called "pigeon roosts" and inside about 19' (5.7m) was a simple post-&-rail fence called the 'dead line' which prisoners were forbidden to cross or risk being shot to death. 

Americana's version is fairly big at 23 1/2" (59.7cm) L x 12" (30.5cm) D (without the outer doors or 16" (40.6cm) D including the outer doors but of is not nearly as big as the original. There are eight 'pigeon roost' towers at 7" (17.8cm) H and ca 1 3/4" (4.4cm) square. The kit had a lot of flash which needed to be trimmed off and the doors were a bear to assemble and required lots of carving and trimming. In addition there were many splice plates missing. These are required to assemble the walls properly. Yet, when finished, this is a nice representation of an unusual Civil War location with potential for a dioramist, or student studying the Civil War. It could also be used as an early American frontier fort!

Enjoy! Opa Fritz and Oma Bettina



The instructions only show two towers but there are eight in the set


I also ended up with a mis-matched number of parts for the towers but I managoaed to cobble together all eight towers with the parts provided


The door hinge pins are so darn thick they don't fit into the holders. It took a lot of careful carving (so as not to cut them off) to get them to fit




There are two doors one on each opposing long wall



There are three sets of alignment holes per side requiring a total of six splice plates...


...my set only had three splice plates





That's one way to save money on plastic!




The finished stockade










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