General George B. McClellan, Commander, Army of the Potomac
1862, two armies, one Union and one Confederate, were drawn up facing each other across a small stream near the Maryland hamlet of Sharpsburg. At first light, the Union army swept forward to attack the Confederate left. However, despite a nearly two-to-one overall advantage in men, McClellan held most of the Army of the Potomac back and out of the battle. Only the soldiers of Hooker’s Ist Corps — positioned on the right wing of General George B. McClellan’s Federal army of over 70,000 Union soldiers — launched themselves across Antietam Creek in the first bloody assault of the morning. Arrayed against the Union host was a Confederate force, under General Robert E. Lee, that initially numbered only 35,000 men. Although Lee’s left was driven back, it did not break, and a combination of newly-arrived Southern reinforcements and enfilading artillery fire finally allowed the rebels to counterattack and restore their front. McClellan, not having made any attempt before or during the battle to personally reconnoiter the Southern lines, had, in the comparative comfort and safety of his headquarters, convinced himself that his army was actually outnumbered by that of Lee. Thus, the lethargic and timid McClellan insisted on throwing his vastly superior force against Lee’s beleaguered troops one corps at a time, instead of mounting a general assault that would most certainly have carried the Confederate positions and broken Lee’s army, perhaps permanently. By the end of the day, the Southern army, although roughly handled, still held its ground. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia had lost 13,700 killed, wounded, and missing; McClellan’s Army of the Potomac had lost approximately 12,350 men. On the following day, with victory still within his grasp, McClellan placidly threw it away and declined to attack; Lee was able to proceed, unmolested, with his preparations to retire from the field. Early on 19 September, Lee’s army began its retreat back towards Virginia; McClellan, remaining true to form, made no effort to pursue. As Federal victories went, it wasn’t much, but the fact that McClellan had not been driven from the battlefield was ultimately considered enough of a martial accomplishment to allow President Lincoln to issue an executive order that he had been keeping close to his chest for some time. That executive order was the “Emancipation Proclamation.”
LEE MOVES NORTH is a historical simulation, at the grand tactical level, of Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s two major attempts to invade Northern territory at the head of the Army of Northern Virginia. In the case of each of these invasions, Lee sought to shift the ravages of war from Southern to Northern territory; he also hoped to bring about a Confederate battlefield victory sufficient to compel the North to abandon its war to restore the Union. The game examines both the desperately-fought 1862 Antietam Campaign and Lee’s ill-fated march into Pennsylvania in 1863: a Southern invasion of the North that culminated in the bloody three days of Gettysburg.
Each game turn in LEE MOVES NORTH is divided into three parts: the reinforcement phase; the movement phase; and the combat phase. This familiar and mundane turn sequence, however, is made challenging through the addition of leader bonuses (which enhance the combat power of any unit or units stacked with a leader), limited intelligence (dummy counters), cavalry reconnaissance and screens, supply centers, fortifications, and rail movement. Players will quickly discover how bloody and inconclusive frontal attacks usually are for both sides, but, at the same time, how devastating a flank attack can be against an exposed defender. They will also soon find out just how difficult it is to meet the multiple threats raised by an unidentified hostile force that might be imaginary, or that might just be the main body of the enemy army. In both the 1862 and the 1863 games, the Army of Northern Virginia is faster-moving and better led than the more numerous Union forces opposing it, but the victory conditions ensure that each game will be hard-fought, and a challenge for both players.
LEE MOVES NORTH offers two basic game situations: the 1862, Antietam scenario; and the 1863, Gettysburg scenario. Both sets of games are twenty turns long. Each of these two campaign game situations is made more varied and interesting by the game designer’s inclusion of several optional (what if?) scenarios that are presented in addition to the regular historical scenarios. These additional hypothetical scenarios not only create more options for the players, but they also provide an excellent method for adjusting play-balance between unequal opponents.
A PERSONAL OBSERVATION
LEE MOVES NORTH is one of a number of games designed by John Young that spanned the period from the Napoleonic Wars, through the Franco-Prussian War and the American Civil War, up to World War II. I confess that I am a big fan of Young’s many games. His designs are (almost) always innovative, interesting, playable, and fun. Despite his tragic and untimely death many years ago, John Young leaves behind a library of some of the best game designs that, in my opinion, SPI ever published.
- Time Scale: 2 days per game turn
- Map Scale: 7.2 kilometers per hex
- Unit Size: brigade/division/corps
- Unit Types: leaders, infantry, cavalry, supply depots, and information counters
- Number of Players: two
- Complexity: average
- Solitaire Suitability: below average
- Average Playing Time: 2–3 hours
- One 23” x 29’’ hexagonal grid Map Sheet (with Game Charts and Combat Results Table incorporated)
- 200 ½” cardboard Counters
- One 6” x 11” map-fold style Set of Rules (with Scenario Instructions)
- One 7” x 11½” Turn Record/Reinforcement Track
- One 7” x 11¼” Terrain Effects Chart
- One 8½” x 11” Combined Errata Sheet (as of 30 June 1973)
- One 3¾” x 8¾” SPI Customer Complaint Card
- One small six-sided Die
- One 8½” x 11½” SPI Product Catalogue and Mail In Order Form
- One SPI 12” x 15” x 1” flat 24 compartment plastic Game Box (with clear compartment tray covers) and clear plastic game cover with Title Sheet
Recommended ReadingSee my blog post Book Review of this title which is strongly recommended for those readers interested in further historical background.
THE WEST POINT ATLAS OF AMERICAN WARS (Complete 2-Volume Set); edited by Brigadier General Vincent J. Esposito; Frederick A. Praeger, Inc. (1959); ASIN: B000MTBTEU .
Also see my blog post Book Review of this definitive three volume work on the officers of the Army of Northern Virginia by Douglas S. Freeman.
Also, for those interested in battlefield maps, the "museum book" collection of historical Civil War maps by William J. Miller, released in 2004, or the atlas compiled by Stephen Hyslop in 2009 of Civil war battlefields are worth collecting.
Recommended ArtworkThis Giclee print of a map of the Battle of Gettysburg is suitable for framing and makes a nice wall decoration for a game room with a Civil War theme.