Cleveland, Ohio-based wargamer and rules author Jim Kopchak explains the game mechanics of Civil War Commander to a group of Cold Wars 2009 convention attendees, including yours truly. I first met Jim in the late 1990s when I lived outside of Cleveland in the “Snow Belt,” and he drove out several times to play Johnny Reb 3 wargames with my pal Doug Rogers and our teenaged kids. I am pleased to call Jim a personal friend, and we renewed that friendship last year when we spent several hours on a great battlefield tour of Gettysburg.
Jim’s Cold Wars game was based upon a part of the Battle of Antietam, specifically the attack on the Sunken Road and the concurrent Confederate assault on George Greene’s XII Corps division at Dunker Church. As usual, his impressive Civil War terrain was a highlight of the Northern Ohio Wargaming Society (NOWS) convention game room.
Dead soldiers dot the Miller Cornfield at Antietam, victims of the early morning fighting. Note the model railroad scale corn stalks in Jim’s nice looking miniature depiction of the deadly Cornfield.
Part of French’s II Corps division futilely attempts to push back the Confederates from the sunken road, which again on this game was “Bloody Lane,” as the Union dead and wounded stacked up in front of the Rebel position. Weber’s Brigade, Kimball’s, Meagher’s, Caldwell’s –all were cut down without any significant penetration through the Rebels to the Union objective on the Piper Farm. CSA reinforcements sealed the victory.
Another view of the trampled and blood-soaked Miller Cornfield. That’s the Hagerstown Pike and the West Woods, both of which were controlled at the end of the game by my XII Corps units. I was able to push back the Rebel counterattacks at Dunker Church and regain that ground by the scenario’s time limit. However, I was also Weber’s Brigade in the ill-fated assault on Bloody Lane, and lost 2/3 of that brigade in short order. (Not enough players signed up for Jim’s game, so all of us ran multiple brigades).
That’s my last regiment of Max Weber’s II Corps brigade standing firm in front of the Sunken Road before I withdrew the survivors down the slope to the north. Other Union forces to my right flank, including the Irish Brigade, were able to push into the sunken road itself, but could not dislodge the main Rebel line as the game ended shortly after 11 PM.
I had a lot of fun, and got to spend some time late in the game visiting with my friend (and fellow Johnny Reb 3 gamer Curt Daniels of Virginia).