When the anticipated civil war finally began in Charleston Harbor on 12 April 1861, the US government initially called for 75,000 volunteers to augment the existing US Army of just over 16,000, most of whom were stationed in the West. The term of service was to be three months, and while more troops were thought likely, people still talked of the war being over in a matter of weeks, giving little time for either side to train new troops properly. In the event the war was to last four bloody years, and by its end nearly 2.8 million men had served in the US Army in some capacity. The vast majority were infantry, rapidly trained and learning their craft much like most of their leaders, from bitter experience in the field. The war made soldiers of all of these men, and for many it was to be their final endeavour on this Earth.
Although initially somewhat random and confused, the US achieved a good level of uniformity amongst its troops as the war progressed, and all these figures are dressed much alike. All wear the familiar peaked fatigue cap, and all have a frock coat. This is perfectly suitable wear for such troops, but in reality there remained more diversity than this, particularly with regard to the shorter sack coats many wore. While just about everyone has his cartridge pouch and his cap pouch, surprisingly this is all the kit many carry. There are a few canteens or haversacks, and everyone has been provided with a bayonet scabbard, but these men are extremely lightly equipped, which seems very unlikely in most situations. Leaving packs behind is fine, but all should have both canteen and haversack.
The set title tells us these men are doing just one thing - standing - so 19 poses is particularly generous for such a tightly defined subject. The poses are nicely varied, with men holding their weapon in various relaxed ways, and apparently not expected to be disturbed by the war any time soon. We particularly liked the man taking the opportunity to smoke his pipe (second row), and while we could not make out the item held by the second man in the third row, he too may well be holding a pipe. The bugler and drummer are both clearly not using their instruments, and the officer is equally nonchalant. Only the flag-bearer shows any sign of animation, since he has uncased and unfurled his colours, which normally means something is likely to happen soon. In short then the poses are great.
Like many recent sets from Strelets this is an improvement on the old chunky style, with better proportions, and in particular heads that are of the correct size for the body. There is still a certain vagueness in places such as the hands, but these figures are nicely produced and thanks to the chosen poses exhibit no suggestion of flatness or awkwardness. There is very little flash and although there are a couple of areas with excess plastic, these are minimal.
As with several other Strelets sets of late, the flag is much too small for a proper battle flag, and is almost flat. However the pose lends itself to having a longer staff and larger flag substituted, which many will want to do. Otherwise this is a very creditable set. The lack of good levels of kit are the main concern, but some very nice poses and a good sculpting job make this a set well worth having for any scene that does not actually involved battle.
Note The final figure is of a soldier from the Streltsi of 17th century Russia. Though he is unrelated to the subject of this set, he is one of a series of 'bonus' figures which when combined will create a set of this unit for the Great Northern War. See Streltsi Bonus Figures feature for details.