Ridge lawyer and history buff boasts mini Civil War museum • Brooklyn Paper

Ridge lawyer and history buff boasts mini Civil War museum

History buff: Attorney and Civil War enthusiast Michael Connors poses with his Irish Brigade display inside his Fifth Avenue law firm.
Photo by Tom Hilton

He’s Brooklyn’s attorney general!

A Bay Ridge attorney and Civil War buff commands a collection of more than 10,000 miniature military figurines poised in the midst of famous battles — and even showcases about 4,000 of them at his Fifth Avenue law firm, Connors and Sullivan, between Bay Ridge Parkway and 74th Street. Michael Connors said his interest in collecting soldiers began when he was a child, and it revived when he had his own son.

“When I was a kid, I was always interested in toy soldiers,” said the attorney. “And then for my son’s third birthday, we gave him a set, and I said, ‘I didn’t know they still made these.’ So I got on the Internet and started collecting.”

The 22-year-old collection — which he estimates to be worth $300,000 — is distributed throughout his Ridge home and his firm’s four other offices on the distant isles of Manhattan and Staten Island and the faraway borough of Queens, said Connors, who’s also the president of an organization full of like-minded history buffs, the Civil War Roundtable of New York.

Many of the soldiers are arranged to depict specific battles, including the bloody 1862 Battle of Fredericksburg in Virginia, the 1863 Battle of Newton’s Station in Mississippi during the Union-led Grierson’s Raid, and the Battle of Chancellorsville in Virginia, which led to the death of Confederate commander Stonewall Jackson. He even has an 800-figure set depicting Pickett’s Charge, which won the seminal 1863 Battle of Gettysburg for the Union.

The history maven also has a few rare sets, including the war’s first African-American regiment organized by the Union, the 54th Regiment Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry. Plus, the born-and-bred Ridgite pays homage to his home borough with his collection depicting the 14th Regiment of Brooklyn, which consisted of mostly borough abolitionists who volunteered at the behest of President Lincoln when the four-year war kicked off in 1861.

Connors sources the metal, plastic, and resin miniatures — which run from $10 to $100 per figure — from China, Sri Lanka, and Vietnam, he said, adding that he sometimes has to send unpainted figurines to be touched up by Sri Lankan experts.

His collection of miniatures of the Union’s Irish Brigade mid-charge is on display in his law firm’s Fifth Avenue storefront window for all to see, and he’s shown his collection to a local Cub Scouts troop and the Bay Ridge Historical Society. But he added that he’s willing to open his doors to any interested readers and history buffs who want to see the miniatures up close.

“Anybody can come in and walk around and look at it,” he said.

He plans to continue collecting “until my wife starts throwing it away,” he said, and has even passed on his passion to his son, who maintains his own small collection of about 100 military miniatures.

Connors said he’s also interested in the 1836 Battle of the Alamo — along with many other moments in military history — but he has to draw the line somewhere.

“I like history, period,” he said. “But you can’t collect everything.”

Reach reporter Julianne McShane at (718) 260–2523 or by e-mail at jmcshane@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @juliannemcshane.

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