Tag Archives: Civil War

A thousand minifigs in Blue & Gray assemble for the Battle of Bricksburg [News]

History is rarely accurate when written at the time. The first comprehensive History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire wasn’t published until 1776, and William L. Shirer’s The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich wasn’t published until 15 years after the end of World War II. And so it goes with the great Battle of Bricksburg, which took place October 1-4 at BrickCon in Seattle this year. Now, nearly three months later, thanks to the intrepid battlefield photography of Sean Edmison, we have an unprecedented view of this historic engagement between the Union and the Confederacy.

Battle of Bricksburg:  Overview

The idea for the Battle of Bricksburg was conceived during BrickCon 2014. We envisioned a realistic, historical contrast to our many years of sci-fi displays such as the original Zombie Apocafest 2008 and Numereji 2421.

In the end, about a dozen TBB readers and staff members participated in building a cohesive display that ​was assembled from individual segments as well as loose brick​ in the two days before the public exhibition hours on Saturday and Sunday. The display featured about a thousand troops, including cavalry, sharpshooters, supply trains, medical corps, and even a pair of ironclads on the nearby river.

1800's farmhouse

Union troops charge forward in front of an 1800’s farmhouse built by Caylin. Another group of Union soldiers has captured some Rebels.

Our friends over at Beyond the Brick produced a video overview of the display, in which I describe some of the display’s highlights and show off details like the BrickArms stackable cannon balls that are hard to see in photos.

Particular thanks go to Will Chapman of BrickArms, who supplied huge quantities of stackable cannonballs, cannon muzzles, caplock muskets (by the thousand, in gallon bags), bayonets, cavalry sabers, and pistols. We would not have been able to achieve the level of historical realism in the display without these accessories, many of which Will custom-designed and injection molded in small batches by hand just for this display. Similarly, we relied on historical flags and unit banners printed and donated by Dave Ingraham of Cape Madness.

Click through to see more photos and details!

Four score and seven years ago...

This 19th of November marks the 150th anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. The Battle of Gettysburg, which took place several months before, was the bloodiest battle of the American civil war and many of the dead were hastily buried in temporary graves. They were subsequently reburied in what was to become the Gettysburg National Cemetery. The Address was one of several speeches that marked the official consecration of the cemetery.

The Gettysburg Address, November 19, 1863

Gary Brooks (Gary the Procrastinator), who is no stranger to TBB, has expertly recreated the scene of President Lincoln giving the speech. At the time, the reception of the speech was mixed, but it has gained a prominent place in the history and culture of the United States.

Brickfair Va 2013 Military highlights

Some of the great models that were on display at Brickfair Virginia have already been blogged here in the last few days. I haven’t posted much of anything recently myself, because I’ve been taking a vacation in the US and have been traveling around since before Brickfair. However, today I have a little time to share some of my favorites from the show. Since the models I took to the event were in the military theme, the military tables were more or less my home for the duration of the show and I’ll highlight some of the builds there for now.

Military vehicles at Brickfair Va 2013

The guys I hung out with the most, Matt Hacker, Evan Melick (Legosim), Corvin Stichert and Aleksander Stein, built a collection of military vehicles, mostly based on existing vehicles, with a few fictional near-future vehicles thrown in for good measure. The quantity was impressive, but it was the quality that impressed me the most. Almost all of the vehicles have working features, such as opening doors and hatches or suspension. Even though they were built by four different people, they all seemed to fit very well together.

As good as these were, the award for best military vehicle went to the M1070 Heavy Equipment Transporter built by Christopher Jenkins (Jenkballs), which is well deserved as far as I am concerned. I saw this model a few months ago and liked it then, although the photo wasn’t all that great. Seeing the vehicle with my own two eyes makes all the difference, however.


The M1070 is the standard heavy hauler for the US military and is used to transport M1 Abrams tanks, for instance. It is not the most common choice of subject, but I like trucks and have long been thinking about building one myself. This model is superbly done, with every detail painstakingly built out of tan elements.

Also on display was a collection of models from the Battle of Gettysburg. This famous Civil War battle took place 150 years ago this year. The ‘Defense of Little Round Top’ diorama, by Gary Brooks (Gary the Procrastinator), won the award in the ‘Best Historic’ category.

Defense of Little Round Top, Overview

Little Round Top is a rocky hill South of Gettysburg. A counterattack by the defending 20th Maine Regiment against Confederate troops was a pivotal moment in the battle. There is nothing I don’t like about this diorama. It’s the sort of model where you keep noticing new things as you turn around it. The landscaping is fantastic. The hill looks muddy and slippery somehow and that is no small feat.

These were just some of the highlights at the show for me. I spent a lot of time meeting other builders and looking at their models. I still have dozens of photographs to go through and will highlight some of the other models that I saw in the next few weeks.

USS Queen of the West

New Guy (or gal) Saturday rolls down the mighty Mississippi river with JBIronWorks, who provides today’s exploration into American military history with his interpretation of a Civil War era warship. According to the builder:

The Queen of the West was a side wheel steamboat launched in 1854 for service on the Mississippi river and its offshoots. In 1861, she was bought by Colonel Charles Ellet Jr., along with eight other vessels, and was converted into a fleet of rams, ordered by the War Department. Sent into service in early 1862, they served in many engagements, including The Battle of Memphis, where Ellet was mortally wounded aboard the Queen, his flagship.

USS Queen Of The West broadside view.

Devil’s Den

My homeboy from Florida, Mike Yoder (M.R.Yoder) has been on a roll lately, building like a tweaker locked in a room with uncut product and plenty of LEGO. Yoder’s latest project has nothing to do with epic microscale spaceships or mecha hiding in barns. Instead Yoder takes us back to the “War of Nothern Aggression” as some in the southern portion of this country like to call it. The setting is incidental though; the real star of this diorama is the meticulous and dare I say original landscaping.

Devil's Den

This display is part of a collaborative effort Mike is hoping to bring to Brickfair VA in August, his first convention. Unfortunately, unless Mike can find a like-minded soul to split hotel expenses with, it won’t happen. Mike is a good guy, so if you’re headed to the convention anyay, why not save a few bucks and help get this diorama to Virginia? Hit Yoder up on Flickrmail if you’re interested in helping.

Col. Strong Vincent marches to Gettysburg

Okay, just one more — I couldn’t pass up the beautiful landscaping in this scene by Gary the Procrastinator, who managed to finish his diorama well in advance of the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg. Gary has depicted Col. Strong Vincent leading the 3rd Brigade, 1st Division of the V Corps of the Army of the Potomac in an overnight march to the decisive battle that would place the Union Army on the road to victory. Strong was mortally wounded defending Little Round Top during the battle.

March to Glory - Col Vincent and the 3rd Brigade

Gary built this as part of a collaborative display for BrickFair Virginia this summer.

And then there’s religion...

We’re nearing the end of Black History Month here in the US and Canada. In the American South, prior to the Civil War and the abolition of slavery, religion played a key role in justifying the centuries-long exploitation of men, women, and children of African descent.

In a new Epistles section of The Brick Testament, the Rev. Brendan Powell Smith has some examples of the New Testament passages that slave-owners used to rationalize treating another human being as property.

LEGO Brick Testament - Epistles on Slavery

Ironclad + Tank = Bone Rattler

What do you get when you cross an old Civil War ironclad ship with a tank?  Nathan Proudlove’s Bone Rattler, a uniquely-shaped attack vehicle that Nathan says “was one of those builds that one might have in the back of ones mind for a long time and then one day, after nearly 12 hours straight building, it practically falls together.”

I really like the design of the smokestacks and the use of the triangular Knight’s Kingdom swords.

(Yes, I actually do post once in a while. :P )

Dred Scott

Name: Dred Scott
Dates: 1795-1858
Dred Scott was an African-American slave who sued for his freedom in the antebellum (pre-Civil War) period of United States history. Born as the property of U.S. Representative Henry Taylor Blow‘s parents, when the family had financial problems, Scott was sold to Dr. John Emerson. Emerson traveled frequently, including to states where slavery was illegal.

When Emerson died in 1843, Scott became the property of his widow Irene, whose brother John Sandford became the executor of her late husband’s estate. Attempting to follow the principle “once free, always free” (since he had traveled to states such as Wisconsin and Missouri), Scott sued for his freedom in 1846, financed by his former owners, the Blow family.

After 11 years of lawsuits, the United States Supreme Court handed down a decision, ruling that no person of African descent (regardless of their status as slaves or free people) could be a U.S. citizen, and could therefore never have the right to sue for their own freedom.

In the meantime, Irene Sandford Emerson had married a noted abolitionist, who was unaware that his wife owned one of the most famous slaves of the era. Irene’s new husband returned Scott to the Blow family, who were now living in Missouri and could therefore emancipate him. In 1858, Dred Scott died of tuberculosis, only nine months after earning his freedom.

Learn more: Wikipedia