A great little “tum te tum” poem about old forgotten toy soldiers from Tony Kitchen’s ever interesting blog Tin Soldiering On.
If you’ve not visited, look up Tony’s website http://tonystoysoldiers.blogspot.com
The Broken Toy Soldier by Marguerite Tracy
We wear no medals on our breasts for gallant battles won;
No pension-bureau offers us reward for service done.
Yet no one of Napoleon’s, nor one of Caeser’s host,
Has made himself a record such as event I can boast.
Toy soldiers must work harder than real troops, you see;
A march of fifty thousand miles is nothing much to me.
I lost a leg at Marathon, an arm at Monterey,
Was left for dead at Gettysburg – all on the self same day.
And now that I’m forgotten and no longer fit to roam,
I wish some kindly boy would found a poor Toy Soldier’s Home.
Having read this poem on Tony’s website, I was curious to find out more about the poem and some of the references.
This poem was first published in December 1897 in St. Nicholas: An Illustrated Magazine for Young Folks Magazine Volume 25, No. 2, a fact mentioned in the footnotes or endnote section of the book Sing Not War: The Lives of Union and Confederate Veterans in Gilded Age America by James Alan Marten, 2011. This makes it sort of sad toy related Christmas poem. The original can be seen here: https://archive.org/stream/stnicholasserial251dodg/stnicholasserial251dodg#page/120/mode/1up
I like the HG Wells’ Little Wars style illustrations.
Monterey? Had to look this one up. This was a short battle or landing by US Navy and Marines to occupy this part of California in the Mexican American War in July 1846 https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Monterey
Along with Gettysburg being mentioned, it suggests the poet was American?
I found this short poem strangely quite moving, wistful and resonant: “Was left for dead at Gettysburg – all on the self same day.”
I often wonder what battles my bashed and broken figures (collected for repair from various people and online auction sites) have had in their old days. How did they lose that leg, arm, head or rifle?
There is an element of truth to the poem – before you could afford to buy or had available every figure / period ever, in the old days when your few figures stood in for everything, green were generally the good guys, grey and all else the enemy. (The power of Imagi-nations?) One figure could indeed fight Gettysburg, Marathon and Monterey all on the same day or at least the same weekend.
“And now that I’m forgotten and no longer fit to roam …”
At last a pointless vocation! All those broken Britain’s figures under repair – I’m turning into a poor Old Toy Soldier’s Home.
I hear the cry “Lead Medic! Lead Medic!” and come running. A call goes out for a Lead Vet to fix a missing horse leg. Farewell dear friend? No shooting if injured for these noble old animals in my Remount Department.
Hopefully Tony might catch the old Toy Soldier Home bug and start repairing bashed and broken vintage figures.
The Good Soldier Svjek 23 November 2018 at 08:40
Have noticed lots of broken figures on Ebay and having seen your good work on repairing them I’m tempted to have a go myself .
MIN ManofTin 23 November 2018 at 12:35
Huzzah! Go on and do so, Tony. Restore their battered dignity … and give them a new lease of gaming life. I’m not damaging my supply options – there are more than enough battered figures on EBay for everyone. If you do, I look forward to seeing them feature on your blog.
Here are a couple more of my current lead veterans from various makers in need of minimal repair help, just a broken rifle to mend for each one.
A small pin vice drill to drill the rifle holes to insert some stiff wire, thickened out with masking tape should do the trick. Stout enough for gaming again.
Some may need repainting, others have enough original paint that there is no need to disturb their bashed and playworn “veteran” patina.
All on the road to recovery, ready for for some 54mm skirmish games next year.
A few of my figure related blogposts ranging from early experiments with cocktail stick rifles and heavy Fimo bases (now debased and re-repaired or upgraded) to more delicate pin vice drilled wire, masking tape and super glue repairs:
and plenty more to find on the blog – I hope some I them are helpful.
Blog posted by Mark, Man of TIN (at Ye Olde poor Toy Soldier Home) November 2018.