Thomas Smyth’s brigade of the Union II Corps prepares to move out to seize the Bliss Farm in this portion of a miniature wargaming layout by veteran gamemaster and rules author Jim Kopchak of Parma, Ohio. Jim is an old friend of mine, having played in several of my playtests of what became my Enduring Valor: Gettysburg in Miniature scenario books. While designed specifically for Johnny Reb 3, the popular scenarios can be readily combined, modified, or otherwise adapted for other rules systems, including Jim’s Civil War Commander rules.
At Fall-In 2009 in Gettysburg, Jim presented a game based upon a couple of scenarios from Enduring Valor, Volume 2 from the July 2, 1863 attack by James Longstreet’s Confederate forces upon the Union line on Cemetery Ridge from the Spangler farm northward to the outskirts of Gettysburg.
Jim’s miniature depiction of the William Bliss farm at Gettysburg, which was midway between Robert E. Lee’s main battle line on Seminary Ridge and Winfield Hancock’s II Corps awaiting on Cemetery Ridge. The battle for the Bliss farm is the focal point of an excellent book by Licensed Battlefield Guide Elwood Christ (“Woody”, a fellow hobbyist). It is also the subject of a new Brother Against Brother scenario I wrote for the upcoming Volume 2 of my scenario book series Brothers Divided: Skirmishes in the Gettysburg Campaign which Ivor Janci is producing.
In the true spirit of serving his players, Jim Kopchak arrived from the Cleveland area without a decent representative of the huge bank barns so common here in south-central Pennsylvania. He scoured the dealer hall at Fall-In, found a good-looking 15mm barn from Scenic Effects and painted it on Friday night in his hotel room! Now that’s dedication! The results are impressive!! Jim paints better in a hot rush overnight paint job than I do in a week-long effort to paint a miniature building.
Jim’s unique wargame had two distinct phases, meant to illustrate the versatility of the Civil War Commander rules in depicting both battalion-based gaming and regimental-level gaming. In the first phase, small units from the 1st Delaware Infantry tried to capture and seize the barn and house to prevent their usage by Confederate sharpshooters. Meanwhile, to the left and right, other elements of the regiment were defending fencelines or trying to push oncoming Rebels from the Long Lane area (the sunken access road to the Bliss farm).
The Yankees were able to hold the Rebels off and win the first phase, albeit a Rebel unit cracked the Union right and almost swept to the Emmitsburg Road.
The second phase, the regimental-level fight, would prove to be another matter altogether. My hot die-rolling and that of my fellow commander to my left, eroded and hordes of Rebels readily swept through the Bliss farm, overrun the the Emmitsburg Road, and routed much of Smyth’s brigade.
The Rebels have overrun the 1st Delaware and brushed it aside. In the Emmitsburg Road, a nervous Union regiment eyes the oncoming “Johnnies.” It won’t be long before the Southern secessionists are upon this position en masse. With my die-rolling and my opponent’s skillful and aggressive attack, I was toast. Ironically, my opponent turned out to have lived in the same neighborhood that I did when I lived for many years in Mentor, Ohio, yet I had never met him. It is indeed a small world!
Jim’s miniature depiction of the Nicolas Codori farm along Emmitsburg Road at Gettysburg. Notice the nicely made, hand-crafted fences lining the road. Jim spent hours constructing yards and yards of fencing, both post-and-rail and the characteristic Virginia worm fencing that was common in the Mid-Atlantic region during the 19th century.
Rebel hordes bear down on the Codori farm. It will be a long afternoon for the Union troops as both the III Corps and II Corps will be forced back and the Confederates will rather easily achieve their objectives.
Civil War Commander is a rather easy system to grasp, combining some of the flavor of Johnny Reb 3 with the “beer-and-pretzels” feel and ease of Fire & Fury. The rules system is available directly from the author for around $10.