A Modern Battle Portrayed in Miniature

  • Author: Michael Foight
  • Published: January 29, 2018

Broadside, “A Modern Battle Portrayed in Miniature”, 1920.














One family side show, The Millers Mechanical Shows, founded by John E. Miller and son Clifford M. Miller, traveled the United States showing their miniature reenactments, including their first act “Industrial City“, and later, in 1917 as American troops entered combat in Europe, “Battlefield” – a reenactment of World War I. They also documented the other acts that they traveled and performed with and the places that they visited ranging from Jacksonville, Key West, Daytona, and St Augustine in 1917, to Virginia, North Carolina, Wyoming, Colorado, and even Regina, Saskatchewa, Canada. Newly digitized by the Digital Library at Villanova University this rich set of materials documents American circus life, travel and tourism, as well as the Great War!

Photograph, Miller’s Industrial City, [1917?]

A 1923, broadside describes the “Battlefield”, “500 miniature men, standing three and one-half inches high .. . The aeroplane is driven by its own motor, gaining its power from two collecting rings at top of roof. … The show consists of two Armies in combat on the slopes of two mountains which form a road way‘ through a French village; showing the frowning Forts of the Central Powers; the Allied armies are seen to the left. Both armies have their skirmish lines, first. Second and third line reserve trenches. The German soldiers have a gun that actually loads a shell every two minutes, a prison camp and inmates, gun repair shop, deserted coal mine … sentry on duty, Kaiser Bill and his staff, observation post, wireless aerial, remount station, field batteries, Machine gun nests and pillboxes, hospital. … It works in life movements, taking about forty-five minutes to view the three sides.”



Photograph, Miller’s Mechanical Battlefield











Photograph, John E. Miller holding dog













Ticket, Miller’s Mechanical Battlefield











Other acts included:

Photograph, “Part of R-R-R Russells – Roosterios – Rollickers,” Tullahoma, Tennessee, [1919].


Last Modified: January 29, 2018