Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Exploring History on Travels in Florida

First, let’s be honest. The primary reason to leave Michigan and go to Florida in late March/early April can be summed up in one word: Weather. Here, it sucks. There, it’s awesome.
So yes, there was plenty of time spent on the beach, visiting the land of the Mouse (more on that in a bit), visiting dolphins and movies stars at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium and (for me, at least), watching racecars tackle the streets of St. Petersburg.

History tends to take a backseat on trips like this. Oh, I would love to stop at some Civil War sites along the way, and the Dade battle site in Florida has been on my list for some time, but there just isn’t time, and it would surely bore the heck out of the rest of the family.

However, almost purely by chance on the way home, I stumbled on this. Fort Fanning on the banks of the Suwanee River, a Seminole Wars historic site. The main priority was a bathroom break/picnic lunch stop, but still it turned into something for me to at least get a look at and think about. The sign in the photo pretty much sums up what it’s about. I can’t help but think this must have been an awful place to be posted back in the day. Isolated. Hot. Buggy. God knows what lurking in the swamps, human and other. Must have been like Vietnam – or worse.

Seminole Wars have been on my “to do” list for quite some time, and as luck would have it, just a few weeks ago I started painting some. The Seminole figure is actually a maroon, most likely an escaped slave from Georgia who joined the tribe. He is from Conquest miniatures. (Now available from Warlord Games.)

The other fellow is actually a frontier militia figure from Knuckleduster’s War of 1812 line. Certainly he looks the part for the First Seminole War, and possibly beyond. I also have some US regulars from the 1812 range that can be used for the First Seminole War. Second Seminole War will most likely require regulars from Old Glory, as I am not aware of any other manufacturer.

The intent is to adapt Muskets & Tomahawks to this period. Should be doable – small groups groping around in the wilderness.

As for the land of the Mouse – we visited Epcot this time after seeing the Magic Kingdom two years ago. My daughters were mostly interested in princesses, but much to my surprise they were utterly fascinated with the China exhibit. (If you don’t know, a significant part of Epcot is given over to various country displays, sort of like a permanent World’s Fair type of deal.) Of course, meeting Mulan helped, but they were amazed at the terracotta warrior display, and the other historical exhibits. But what really caught there attention were the Fu Dogs at the entrance, and the story behind them. I ended up having to but a set for them! Anything to get them learning about other cultures and the history of other parts of the world is good by me. So who knows, maybe now I need a Qin army…

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