Confederate Strategy Guide for Antietam

Sounds like the poor Rebs haven’t been doing so well lately on the field.  Here are some tips to raise a little hell with the Feds! 

First of all, let’s consider the mathematics.  IF you are under cover (Hills, Woods, etc) you have about a 2:1 advantage.  Meaning you should take 1 loss for every 2 you inflict on the poor enemy.  (Yes, I almost feel sorry for them now.)  So all else being equal, both armies should reach their breaking point about the same time.  Odds are, the game will be a draw.  All YOU have to do is something brilliant to tip the edge.  Easy. 

Note the key thing to making this work is: 



  1. You must setup carefully. There is plenty of good, covered terrain to go around.  That’s why Lee picked this location to fight.  Every front line piece should be under cover at the start. 
  2. Don’t launch some fool attack right from the get-go thinking you are Stonewall Jackson seizing the initiative. Jackson knew when to lay low.  Remember that you are starting off outnumbered 2:1.  You need to make the Federals pay dearly for everything they do.  The burden of attack is on them.  You are sitting on their home turf.  They have to force you back. 
  3. DO launch vicious counter attacks to keep that key, covered terrain along the front. Here’s your chance to be aggressive.  Consider this:  If you lose your initial position and have to fall back, what is your second line of defense?  Do you have good, covered terrain there?  No?  Then you better fight like your life depends on it, to get that initial position back!  Why?  Because it very likely does!

This is an interesting mechanic in Pub Battles.  Just because you lost a fight, doesn’t mean you lost it.  –What?!  Well, at least not yet.  Here’s an example: 

Let’s say Richardson (Fed Div) crosses over the Antietam on turn 1 and attacks DH Hill (Our Boys) in the Sunken Road. 

Wouldn’t you know it, the dice gods hate you and you get blown out. 

Considering that is the key terrain the anchors your whole center is this game over?  Well, it certainly isn’t good but no, not game over.  You can come back because technically, you haven’t lost the Sunken Road yet.  Richardson may have blown you out of there but he hasn’t taken it yet. 

Next turn is absolutely critical for you to move first, so that you can counter attack Richardson and get that road back. 

With your better HQs, you should be able to get the jump you need to do this:

-Don’t blow all your HQs by rolling to jump first.  Who knows?  You might get picked to move first naturally anyways.  That’s like a free roll, right there.  Wait until you need it:  Richardson’s Corps (or some other Fed Corps that can move into the Sunken Road) gets picked or jumps to move first.    

-Keep Lee in range of both Longstreet and Jackson.  That way when the time comes, if the Corps commander is asleep, Lee can give them the kick in the A they need.  (meaning roll again to jump them ahead in Pub Battle terms)

-Keep your Corps mixed, just like they did in the real battle.  Rebel HQs can command each other’s troops for attacks.  This ups your chances of going first even more!  Let’s say Longstreet fails his roll to jump ahead of Richardson.  Lee blows it too.  Okay so roll for Jackson!  If you keep a mixed reserve of Divisions from both Corps sitting around, you can move up some of Jackson’s boys to take the Sunken Road back.  Problem solved.

  1. I like to keep a few Elites in the backfield as a reserve. These are best to counter attack with into critical situations like this.  Even if you get the chance to move first, it’s still going to be a tough fight.  You are attacking them now.  That means the road won’t help you.  You’re going to need an Elite unit to pull this off. 
  2. Before you do this, pour all the artillery you’ve got into Richardson. If you can force him back, then you can easily saunter back into the Sunken Road without a shot.  Now the Feds have to start all over again. 
  3. Remember that most Federal Corps are only 2 Divisions. That means they go Ineffective very easily:  after only 1 loss.  Ineffective means, that Corps can’t Rally for the rest of the day.  That’s huge.  A good Federal player should become very timid and mousey after taking 1 hit on his lead unit while attacking with a 2 Division Corps in support.  If he has any sense, he should really fall back and regroup.  If he doesn’t have any sense, you might want to remind him how that is the prudent thing to do. 

If your Federal opponent is still being a mule about pressing his attack, it’s time for you to teach him a lesson the hard way.  You need to stick for another round to kill that lead Division.  After you do, you need to counter attack and kill the next one.  You’re gonna take down that whole Corps. 

But what if my lead Division is spent too?  Go all in.  The odds are in your favor because you are under cover right?  -And the Feds have a lot more to lose.  If you do down, you lose a piece.  As discussed before, you can likely get back up there and keep your good terrain.  If he loses his front piece, he has just effectively lost a whole Corps.  Do that another couple times and it’s game over for the Feds. 

If he is fool enough to press the attack, his supporting Division is likely spent also.  If not, a well placed artillery shot will do the trick.  He better keep it safely behind lines for the rest of the game now.  It’s worthless.  If not, this is the other place to launch vicious counter attacks!  Hood’s Elite Texans can mow down these sitting ducks, especially if they are Green.  Heck, even Stuart might be able to start picking off ‘unrallyable’ units like this with the right timing.

Against a Federal player like this, pretty soon half or more of his army will be Ineffective.  This is extremely dangerous for him.  A spent army that can’t rally is paper thin.  Stay calm.  Watch and wait for the right times and places.  Strike at this weakness.  Pretty soon you will start racking up devastating losses on them. 

I’ve seen games like this start to snowball into something that resembles Austerlitz!  50, 70, 80% loss for the Federals.  There was a reason for McClellan to be cautious at Antietam.  This is a real possibility.  Once you ‘teach’ them this, your Federal players will start becoming much more cautious too.     

9 thoughts on “Confederate Strategy Guide for Antietam”

  1. I may have the rules wrong, but shouldn’t the first combat against the Rebs just be one hit since the DRM is -2 (-1 for sunken road and -1 for attacking across the bridge)? Or does the DRM for attacking across the bridge only give the rebs a +1 on their roll and not -1 for the Feds attack roll also?

    Awesome strategy guide! Keep them coming!

    • These pictures aren’t meant to show any particular die rolls for specific combat rounds. Just piece locations.

      To clarify, how do you apply modifiers in this situation?

      -A Fed is attacking across the Antietam, into a Reb on a Hill (or in the Sunken Road)

      First Round
      Federals fire at -2
      Confederates fire at +1

      All Further Rounds
      Federals fire at -1
      Confederates fire normally

  2. Hi, was wondering if Artillery can fire overhead friendly units if on a hill?? they can fire over woods/building but unclear if Friends??

    • Interesting question!

      Our play test group debated this some. Our rules say: NO. Page 3, Line of Sight: “…friendly pieces block line of sight.”

      Here is a good explanation of why I found online:

      For howitzers and perhaps rockets, firing over troops is allowed, although with certain risks to friendly troops because of inaccurate shooting.

      I’m not familiar with what Adkin cites, but firing over friendly troops for other kinds of artillery in the muzzle-loading era was generally avoided for several reasons. One, the guns weren’t extremely accurate, as I mentioned above. Two, for firing solid shot, the gunners want the shot to be low to the ground near the target, so that it will ricochet, carry through the enemy ranks, and cause more damage than just to the front rank; firing over your own troops in this situation makes ricochet harder to achieve. Lastly, the cloth bags and wadding used in the artillery would be dispersed by the firing to the area in front of the guns. Any troops in that vicinity would be subject to a rain of such smoldering stuff, which at least would hurt morale, and at most cause fires and touch off an open cartridge box.

      Ed Wimble has mentioned that, at Monmouth, some American guns deployed on a hill were firing over/near Continental troops deployed below and in front of them. Some of the infantry were employed to extinguish the burning material.

      So, it’s not impossible that firing over friendly forces occurred, it just wasn’t typical practice.

      It may be fun to experiment with an optional house rule. Maybe allow this but roll 1 of the 3 dice at your friendly troops. Or maybe, every missed shot at the enemy causes a hit on your troops. Could be fun!

  3. On Guns in combat vs Supported Attacker, Guns fire first (they can kill as not bombardment) and resolve effects. If the lead attacker is killed/retreated it doesnt get to fire…So does that end Round1 and the Guns can choose to withdraw ((Step2)?. If it chooses to stay versus the Support Attacker does it get to FireFirst in the 2nd round??.

    • If the lead attacker is killed / retreated, it doesn’t get to fire. Correct, because the defending artillery fires first. Yes, this would end round 1.

      The defending artillery can retreat before round 2 but only if they have supporting infantry. If not, they have to stay and fight. Yes, the still Fire First in round 2.

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