THE WAYNE COUNTY MUSEUM WILLIAM CRENSHAW KENNEDY, JR. MEMORIAL MUSEUM

BATTLE OF MILL SPRINGS DIORAMA

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             What does a visit to the Gettysburg Battlefield Museum, the Antietam Battlefield Museum, and the Wayne County Museum have in common?  They all have dioramas of Civil War battles on display.

             These three-dimensional miniature scenes arranged in naturalistic settings allow the visitors to visualize the movements of battles in a way that make them much more realistic.

The Wayne County Museum is fortunate to have on display a diorama of the Battle of Mill Springs that has been assembled by Susan and Don Elmore.  The Elmores are avid students of the Civil War and especially the Battle of Mill Springs.  They, along with several friends, have constructed the diorama made of paper mache, sticks and stones from the battle site, and even a piece of the actual Zollie Tree.  They spent almost a year on the project.

Lisa Rowell describes the diorama in the “Southern Kentucky Home & Family Magazine”:

 “Robert Mayfield painstakingly hand painted 800 miniature soldiers, depicting the 8,000 soldiers in the battle. The detail is incredible, right down to one soldier with a homemade quilt.  It is difficult to find any two miniature soldiers that look alike.  Some are engaged in battle while others are laying wounded.  Flags wave in the air as they are carried on horseback.

“No stone was left unturned as the Elmores recreated the battlefield scene.  A miniature ax is stuck into a log, there is a clothesline with tiny clothing items hanging to dry, and a pot over an open fire.  ‘Smoke’ made from cotton billows from chimneys.

“‘We tried to include factual items from the era,’  the Elmores said, ‘using basic materials where we could.’”

“Rifles from the miniature soldiers appear to be firing with the help of a little cotton, red paint, and ingenuity.

“The worm fences along the diorama were constructed from broom straws, cut into one-inch pieces and placed to resemble split rails.  Each straw was glued on one at a time in the original locations as the fences from the era.

“Photographs were taken of the actual site to aide in making the diorama as real to life as possible.  The Burton cave looks strikingly similar to the real life cave.

“Crushed foam rubber, plaster and paint, even silicone to depict creek water, were used in the construction.

“The great grandson of a soldier who fought in the battle was able to place the replica of his long lost relative on the diorama.  Several other people have also glued specific items on the board that had special meaning to them.

“Each soldier has been placed in position based on the original battle maps.”

The diorama is viewed by visitors to the Museum with a special narration explaining the battle.  A laser pointer is used to help follow the movement of the battle.  Of course, one of the most interesting parts of the diorama is the depiction of the fated moment where General Felix K. Zollicoffer lost his life in the battle.

The Wayne County Museum is very fortunate to have a display of this caliber on exhibit.  It has been observed, “We anticipate hundreds of students from the schools to visit the Museum to view the diorama.”  The diorama has special significance to our area since the Mill Springs Battlefield Association is sponsoring a National Civil War Reenactment on September 29th and 30th.  The 2007 National Reenactment will mark the 145th anniversary of the battle.”

The Wayne County Museum Committee and the Wayne County Historical Society are deeply indebted to the Elmores for their kind and generous contribution to help accomplish the mission and purpose of the Museum.

You are invited to visit the Museum to view this special display and all the other exhibits.  The Museum is open Tuesdays through Saturday from 10:00 a.m. till 4:00 p.m.  Admission is free.