June 30, 2020 – January 30, 2022
A Spotlight Exhibit of Miniature Civil War Military Figures by Joe Seibold
This spotlight exhibit features 26 custom miniature figures of Civil War soldiers created by Joe Seibold from our permanent collection.
The discovery of an army of small soldiers in the tomb of Egyptian Prince Emsah, a warrior king of the 12th Dynasty (about 2000 BC), denotes the long legacy of miniature military figures in human culture. By the fifteenth century, it was common practice to give European princes miniature soldiers as playthings so they might engage in tabletop battles as part of informal education. Because these soldiers were finely crafted of silver, they remained the privilege of royalty and the wealthy until the mid-eighteenth century, when, thanks to the development of tin alloys, military miniatures were mass-produced for the first time. These lead soldiers, generally 54mm in size, were prized toys for young boys. As these boys grew to men, nostalgia coupled with an interest in military history led to the hobby of collecting or creating miniature military figures for display. Enthusiasts engage in painstaking research on military regalia and battles to accurately paint sculpted military figures.
Meet Joe Seibold
Joe Seibold studied Automotive Design with a focus on three dimensional styling and clay modeling at the Art Center College of Design in Los Angeles, CA in the late 1950s. Following his studies, he worked as a clay modeler for Ford Motor Company but eventually moved into the position of Modeling Supervisor of mid-sized cars at the company. He had the good fortune to work on many advanced designs at Ford Motor Company including the first Ford Mustang, the Continental Mark II, the 1961 Lincoln Continental and the 1971 Mustang among others. His last assignment as modeling supervisor was the 1996 Taurus and Sable. He retired in 1996 after 40 years with the company.
In his free time Joe was actively involved with youth sports and dabbled in a variety of hobbies from flying powered model air planes, restyling military rifles to civilian configuration, stamp collecting, wood working, photography and painting and sculpting miniature military figurines. His work with military miniatures was a favorite hobby in the 1970s and again in the 1990s. Joe no longer sculpts in miniature.
Joe Seibold’s Creative Process
Beginning with a lead antimony figure, Joe Seibold would first assess the posture of the sculpted soldier and modified the stance and position of the figure by cutting it apart and repositioning the limbs into a pose that he felt suitable for the character. The pieces were then glued back together and filled in with plumber’s putty as needed, including sculpting details such as folds in fabric. Joe liked to work with plumber’s putty because he could sculpt fine detail on his figures uniforms such as fringe and braid with the material. Once the figures were stable, Joe painted them with enamel paints. Enamel paints were Joe’s pigment of choice though they are difficult to shade. With patience and practice, Joe developed his skill with the paints. He continued to use enamel even when oil paint became more popular with most miniature military figure hobbyists.
Embossed flag designs required several steps to complete. First Joe took a thin sheet of steel to an embossing company along with a drawing of the design he wanted to put on the flag. The embossing company created a double-sided die for him. Once he had the die he sandwiched a lead sheet in the die and used pressure to emboss the lead sheet. The final step was to paint the design.
After completing the figures, Joe designed and scratch-built a landscape setting for each piece using a variety of materials.
Guide to the Miniature Military Figures
Confederate Army Soldiers
1. Sergeant, Mississippi 44th Regiment, Confederate Army, 1864
This Sergeant is carrying a Battle Flag of the Confederate Army. The Confederate Army changed their flag several times over the course of the war.
2. 1st Georgia Volunteer Militia, Confederate Army, 1860-61
Militia uniforms created before the start of the Civil War and at the beginning of the battle, were generally very colorful and decorated as demonstrated in this volunteer’s attire. This Savannah based militia formed in 1808 and was known as the “Republican Blues.”
3. 1st Louisiana Special Battalion, Confederate Army, 1861-1862
In the early stages of the war the Confederate Army had trouble acquiring cloth for uniforms. The trousers of this Zouave soldier’s uniform are made from bed ticking, which earned the soldiers the nickname “Wheat Tigers”. The commander of this battalion was killed in battle and the battalion disbanded in 1862 due to battle loss and a lack of discipline.
4. Sergeant, 1st South Carolina Volunteers, Confederate Army, 1861
This soldier carries a regimental flag that is based on the South Carolina State Flag.
5. Confederate General Robert E. Lee, 1864,
6. 1st Texas Cavalry, Confederate Army, 1862,
This cavalry soldier is carrying a rendition of the Texas State Flag.
7. 1st Virginia Cavalry, Confederate Army, 1861
At the start of the Civil War the Confederate Army had a much better Cavalry than the Union Army despite their lack of a centralized government.
8. Confederate Artillery Drummer, 1864,
This figure represents the condition of the Confederate Army between 1864 and 1865 at which point the soldiers were on their “last leg”. Though the figure doesn’t wear a distinct uniform, the red trim indicates that he is an artillery soldier.
9. Virginia Sussex Light Dragoons, Confederate Army, 1861
This first Confederate Cavalry Regiment nicknamed the “Black Horse Cavalry” fought throughout the entire Civil War. A unique characteristic of this regiment was that they carried shotguns and used bullets as large as the gun barrel as opposed to pellet-size ammunition.
10. 1st Kentucky Cavalry, Confederate Army, 1861
These Southern sympathizers joined the South and fought at the Battle of Fort Donelson. The State of Kentucky was defeated at the very beginning of the Civil War.
Union Army Soldiers
11. Union General Ulysses S. Grant, 1864
12. New Hampshire Volunteer, 2nd Regiment, Union Army, 1861
This militia fought at the 1st Battle at Bull Run or The Battle at Manassas.
13. New York 39th Garibaldi Guard, Union Army, 1862
The New York 39th Garibaldi Guard fighting for the Union Army wore uniforms based upon the attire worn by Italian soldiers who fought under Giuseppe Garibaldi.
14. Light Artillery Officer, Union Army, 1863
15. Michigan Volunteers, Union Army, 1863
The Michigan Volunteer soldiers fighting for the Union Army were recognized by their knit caps.
16. 2nd Wisconsin Volunteer Drummer, Union Army, 1863
This Wisconsin Volunteer Regiment known as the “Iron Brigade” and “Black Hat Fellas”, had such a widespread reputation as fierce soldiers that even the Confederates recognized them in battle.
17. 2nd Ohio Militia, Union Army, 1861
This Union Militia soldier’s garments probably look like street clothes to you. At the beginning of the Civil War, every State in the Union wanted a uniform. Unfortunately the United States Government didn’t have enough uniforms for everyone who wanted to enlist. Since many militia regiments didn’t want to wait for uniforms to go into battle, the officers selected a specific colored shirt and pants and told their men to dress in these colors and they would provide them with arms.
18. Corporal U.S. Army 6th Infantry Regiment, 1862-65 with Regimental Flag
19. Rhode Island Zouaves, 10th Regiment, Union Army
The name Zouave indicates the style of dress worn by the soldier, which is a balloon trouser, and a short open-front jacket decorated with a lot of braid. The Zouave style was adopted by many militias because it was such a colorful stylish uniform.
20. 3rd Pennsylvania Cavalry, Rush’s Lancers, Union Army, 1861
By the latter half of the 19th century there were still a number of lancers in European armies, however, they were really just for show since lances hadn’t been used in battle since the Napoleonic Wars. This unit of lancers was the only one of its kind in the American Civil War. Though they had lances they didn’t use them in battle.
21. Sergeant Beardan’s Sharpshooter, Infantry Unit of the Union Army, 1863
These sharpshooters were some of just a few that carried rifles instead of muskets during the war. The rifles had a longer range and were therefore more accurate, yet they took much longer to prepare for firing, and therefore weren’t issued to many regiments.
22. Naval Petty Officer, Union Army, 1861
23. Midshipman, U.S. Navy, 1861-1865
24. Sergeant, 11th Indiana Regiment, Wallace’s Zouaves, Union Army, 1863
Author Lew Wallace, best known for his novel Ben-Hur, financed this regiment. Wallace was a General for the Union Army during the Civil War. Later he served as Governor of the New Mexico Territory. These troops wore a modified Zouave uniform.
25. Sergeant U.S. Army, New York Militia, 79th Regiment, Union Army, 1861-1863
This militia regiment was nicknamed the “Highlanders” because it was made up of people of Scottish descent who lived in and around New York City. The uniform of these soldiers was designed to resemble the 79th Cameron Regiment of Scotland. This regiment fought at the 1st Battle of Bull Run and 57 other battles between May, 1861 and May, 1863.
26. Sergeant 3rd New Jersey Hussars Mounted Militia, Union Army, 1861-1864
Hussars are a light cavalry unit who wear very decorative uniforms. Notice the heavy use of braid on this Sergeant’s jacket. A higher ranking officer, such as a general, would wear a jacket with even more braid and may even have such extravagant trim as fur lined sleeves.
Our 2020 Exhibition Season is supported in part by Tucson Lifestyle Magazine. Tucson Lifestyle Magazine is Tucson's only glossy, monthly city magazine, targeting Southern Arizona’s affluent residents. With over 35 years of publishing experience, Tucson Lifestyle is committed to highlighting the people, places, cuisine, and attractions that make our city unique.