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Jugtown Modeler

1778-79 Revolutionary War Artillery Cantonment Diorama

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Growing up in Central (New) Jersey, the echoes of the Revolutionary War surrounded us. Washington had his winter headquarters in my home town. While I have a more particular interest in the Industrial Revolution, especially NJ railroad history, I am fascinated by history of almost any era/location.

In late 1778, leaders chose the Watchung Mountains of Central Jersey to set camp for the winter. The main Continental Army in Middlebrook, ideally suited to keep the British in check in NY, and a new idea to create an artillery park in nearby Pluckemin. This park, known as a Cantonment, would not only hold the Continental Army artillery, but house the soldiers, artificers and officers, forges, labs and storage, but would also serve as an officers training facility, the first of its kind.

General Knox oversaw the establishment and it was located and built in a matter of weeks from December through February, 1778-79. This segment of the army had more skills and support, allowing for a more developed structures. It was this site that lead researchers to discover that many of these officers had better conditions than previously thought. Although most of the actual site is lost to history and development (large townhome development covers half the location) there have been archeological digs that have confirmed the Cantonment layout as depicted in a sketch by a young officer visiting the site in 1779.

The nearby Jacobus Vanderveer House is where Gen. Knox stayed during this period. The house is now a museum and it is through them that I was commissioned to build a model / diorama depicting the Cantonment as it was in February, 1779. While researching, I realized that my original concept of a roughly 3'X5' model in a war gamming scale of 10mm (close to N scale) could not do this project justice and I decided to move to 15mm scale, roughly 1/100. There is much more available in figures, wagons and more importantly, the artillery, in this scale. I could demonstrate more the life of the camp and depict a more visually engaging set of scenes within the model.

I spent the better part of a year engaged in research, design, planning and executing this almost single handedly. Using my modeling skills to create a sloping hillside landscape with almost 60 structures. I scratch built all buildings but each type could be molded and cast to duplicate so many. Rather than use signs on the model, I incorporated LED strip lights into the landscape, keeping it somewhat camouflaged with landscaping. A sign with cast antique buttons mounted in front, allows visitors to locate each part of the Cantonment and 2 segments include a short sound file along with the lights.

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Overview______________Artillery displayed_______Academy______________Artillery firing___________Gen. Washington visits___Troops drilling

Since this is not N scale or model railroad related but wanted to share with an appreciative audience, I posted here. Thanks for taking the time to look through.
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  1. schedule22's Avatar
    Very impressive
  2. astrotrain64's Avatar
    Nice work, JTM!
  3. Jugtown Modeler's Avatar
    Thank you!