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"The cornfield at Antietam" Topic

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American Civil War

5,304 hits since 29 Feb 2012
©1994-2019 Bill Armintrout
Comments or corrections?

Monk de Wally de Honk29 Feb 2012 3:07 a.m. PST

If a 4 base 6mm regiment is 4 inches long in line formation – then how big would I need to make a scale 'Millers Cornfield' for an Antietam scenario?

MajorB29 Feb 2012 3:24 a.m. PST

Judging by the map shown here:

the cornfield seems to be about 400 yds wide.

Based on the size of your regiment I'd guess that would make the cornfield about 10ins wide.

XV Brigada29 Feb 2012 3:26 a.m. PST

You need to know the ground scale and actual dimensions of the cornfield. Once you have those the maths is easy.

seamusbradley29 Feb 2012 4:29 a.m. PST

I read somewhere it was 30 acres in size. From the map it looks reasonably rectangular so I would calculate it on that basis. Margard's estimate would probably fit the bill.

firstvarty197929 Feb 2012 7:52 a.m. PST

Funny, that's the scenario we're running in a few weeks at Cold Wars! Different scale though 25/28mm…

S-234 Miller's Cornfield Antietam, 17
September 1862
Sat. 10:00 AM, 4 hrs, 12 players
GM: John McConnell with John Wilk and NOVAG
American Civil War 28mm, Rules: Brother Against Brother
Refight the contest over the bloodiest patch of ground on America's bloodiest day. Union and Confederate regiments marched into The Cornfield starting at first light, each side receiving reinforcements intended to sway the fighting their way, and to ultimately give them control of the field. Skirmish gaming on a large scale, but built for speed! Age 15 or older if not accompanied by an adult.

S-235 Miller's Cornfield Antietam, 17
September 1862
Sat. 4:00 PM, 4 hrs, 12 players
GM: John Wilk with John McConnell and NOVAG
American Civil War 28mm, Rules: Brother Against Brother
(same description)

Our cornfield will be 30x60 inches.

MajorB29 Feb 2012 8:54 a.m. PST

Our cornfield will be 30x60 inches.

Sure. But what's your ground scale?

SBminisguy29 Feb 2012 9:18 a.m. PST

*Yikes* The Cornfield! I once visited that battlefield during the same time of year as it was fought, once you're in the corn field that stuff is easily 8 feet high, you can't see a damn thing. I can only imagine how terrifying it must have been to march into that stuff and be blind, with Confederate cannon balls tearing through out of seemingly nowhere. And Antietam Creek is SMALL, it's also SHALLOW, the Union could have forded it everywhere at that time of year, it was hardly a barrier…what a waste created by incompetent leadership…

Monk de Wally de Honk29 Feb 2012 9:51 a.m. PST

Would the corn have reached that height in 1862 or have modern chemicals induced the crop to grow this high?

HistoryPhD29 Feb 2012 11:00 a.m. PST

The soil was much richer 150 years ago, so likely to have been about the same height. Now chemicals compensate

11th ACR29 Feb 2012 12:10 p.m. PST
darthfozzywig Supporting Member of TMP29 Feb 2012 12:34 p.m. PST

Those uniforms really blend in. I can hardly see the Confederate Cornstalk Commandos sneaking up behind those Yankees.

11th ACR29 Feb 2012 1:17 p.m. PST

You mean the Confederate Cornhole Commandos!


And the Union Cornhole Commandos!


HammerHead29 Feb 2012 2:04 p.m. PST

darthfozzywig ha ha rifles leveled front rank…..
& those coloured blanket rolls

firstvarty197929 Feb 2012 2:14 p.m. PST

Sure. But what's your ground scale?

We started with this link map of the Antietam battlefield, and we figured that roughly three or four smallish (200+/- man) battalions could fit into it side-by-side plus some room to maneuver, or around 450 yards long by about half that wide.

In Brother Against Brother, maximum rifled-musket range is 40 inches, which means that units can fire all the way across the cornfield's 30 inch (225 yard) width plus a little more, providing a fairly typical maximum range.

While BAB is a skirmish game, with each figure, according to the rules, depicting 1-2 men, in our games each figure represents around 5-10 men, allowing us to portray portions of larger battles.

This CWPT map shows why this is a great scenario to game:

KimRYoung Supporting Member of TMP01 Mar 2012 1:28 p.m. PST

And Antietam Creek is SMALL, it's also SHALLOW, the Union could have forded it everywhere at that time of year, it was hardly a barrier…what a waste created by incompetent leadership…

That's a very common misconception. To find out the true facts about Antietam Creek please read this article.


I have also been to the battlefield many times and walked extensivly along the creek along "Snavely's Ford Trail" and can tell you it is NOT easy to cross "everywhere".


John Michael Priest01 Mar 2012 4:21 p.m. PST

The Cornfield measures 500 yds by 250 yds. The cornfield was planted like a checkerboard with corn growing out of a mound where the lines on the checkerboard would intersect. Roughly 2 feet between each row in every direction. The farmers planted mellons, pumpkins, etc. between the rows. They were wide enough to get a narrow wagon between them.

The farmers could walk between the rows regardless of how high the corn was.

firstvarty197901 Mar 2012 6:23 p.m. PST

Do you know of any diagrams or pictures showing how the corn would have looked?

AICUSV01 Mar 2012 6:48 p.m. PST

I posted this before, but in the 1860's corn was not planted the same ways as it is now. For the 135th Antietam re-enactment the field was planted using the methods (and equipment) of the CW period. A horse and plow can actually get to areas of a field that a modern tractor can't. The rows were not as neat nor as straight as a modern field. The farmer turned the field and then dropped the seeds walking along. Some planted left and right of the ones in front or behind. Generally there was a pace between plants.

Agesilaus01 Mar 2012 7:57 p.m. PST

As AICUSV said. I was at 135th Antietam too (with the Second Wisconsin) and heard the same explanation. There were no rows to walk between. Between the corn, the dark, the fog, the dew etc, it was the most confusing scenario I was ever in. Awesome!

11th ACR02 Mar 2012 10:51 a.m. PST

Great map here.

firstvarty197902 Mar 2012 11:12 a.m. PST

I was there for the 135th also, but by the time I could actually SEE the cornfield, it was a flattened mass!

For ease of use and a game mechanic perspective, I'm just going to "plant" my corn in irregular rows. I'll make sure to post pictures on here of the game and what our cornfield and the game ends up looking like.

1815Guy03 Mar 2012 2:14 p.m. PST

Dont forget that in most rules ground scale and figure scale use two different ratios……

And basing is almost always a compromise. A firing line is shallower than a single figure depth in most rules I have played for htis period, for example – much less than 1 cm deep! :o)

DJCoaltrain04 Mar 2012 1:02 p.m. PST

While taking a graduate ACW history course at George Mason, I and about eight others had the pleasure of Professor Joseph L Harsh being our "tour guide" over the Antietam Battle Field. Over the years, I have been there about a dozen times, various times of the year. I would not hazard walking through the waters of Antietam Creek, which is much more than a creek.

Odd that Antietam Creek should be a creek, while Bull Run is a run. While living in Manassas for six years I got to walk that battlefield dozens of times during all seasons. Towards the end of Summer, August Dog Days, I found it easy to stone hop from one side of Bull Run to the other without getting wet. Not everywhere, but plenty of places.

My point being that while the name "Antietam Creek" may conjure up images of a small stream it is anything but. And, conversly while the name "Bull Run" conjures up images of rivers it is less so than Antietam Creek.

capncarp07 Mar 2012 8:20 a.m. PST

My impression of the 135th Antietam cornfield was trying to walk on rolling pins where the front ranks' actions had knocked loose the ears of corn. That and the "corn grenades" being lobbed back and forth between the front lines were a bit distracting.
If John Michael Priest is correct, the vines from the melons and pumpkins would have made the footing even less convenient.

firstvarty197911 Mar 2012 6:14 p.m. PST

Just a few pictures from Cold Wars: link

John Michael Priest12 Mar 2012 2:01 a.m. PST

Terrific work

darthfozzywig Supporting Member of TMP14 Mar 2012 12:55 p.m. PST


John Michael Priest15 Mar 2012 2:44 a.m. PST

First Arty, I've met ya'll a couple of times at HMGS cons. I have alway admired your detail and eye for accuracy. You fellas are genuine artists. Keep up the good work.

firstvarty197915 Mar 2012 6:30 a.m. PST

Thanks very much for your comments – very high praise from someone who really knows the battle. I've used your book as an inspiration for both our Burnside's Bridge and Miller's Cornfield games now.

Our goal has been to not only create game boards that represent in a realistic manner the actual ground, but at the same time make the terrain an active component of the game, while not making it an obstructive presence. This can often be a fine line, but I think we've succeeded well, at least so far!

Our plan right now is to run this scenario again a few times at Historicon since we put a fair amount of effort into getting it up and running, it seemed to play out fairly well, and the players enjoyed it.

John Mc.

5thZouave16 Mar 2012 5:58 p.m. PST

I am the second half of the team running The Burnside's Bridge and Miller's Cornfield. Thank you all for the nice comments.

We wanted to make the cornfield big enough to become truely part of the fight not just some minor terrian feature.

Back to the main topic, Monk I would second Margard's suggestion and make it 10 inches wide by 4 to 5 deep. It is very close to a prefect rectangle.

John Michael Priest16 Mar 2012 6:20 p.m. PST

For a real challenge try to replicate the terribly rolling terrain which divided the field into no less than 3 different planes of action.

firstvarty197916 Mar 2012 7:01 p.m. PST

Look closely at the photos – that field is far from flat!

ACW Gamer Supporting Member of TMP13 Sep 2014 10:28 a.m. PST


A friend just suggested that I run a scenario I looking at using BAB on a large scale. You have done it before! What mods do I need and how does your color system work?

(its been a long time since I played the game)

firstvarty197913 Sep 2014 3:02 p.m. PST

The main changes are 1) the use of bases (2" x 5") for each formation, 2) the addition of a command element of 6 figures (officer, NCO, 1 or 2 flags, drummer, and 1 or two other rifle armed men) for each 3-5 formation "battalion/regiment", and 3) the use of shared command cards.

The command element never checks morale, but rolls for movement like the others, the officer acting as the "squad leader" for movement of the others.

The cards are simple too. If you use a standard playing card deck, you assign one side a suite (e.g., hearts or spades, we usually assigned RED to Confederate and BLACK to Union). You use just the Ace, Two, Three, Four, and Five cards for each side, less if you have fewer units within the formations. Designate for EVERY regiment one sub-element as the ACE, one as TWO, one as THREE, etc. We usually paint a color on their bases, so that each figure on a base of 10 figures has RED (one), WHITE (two), BLUE (three), GREEN (four), or ORANGE (five)little paint marks on it. We usually use YELLOW for the Command element to differentiate them.

So during the game, you have maybe 10 cards in the deck at most. If the RED ACE card is drawn, that means the Confederate number ONE formation takes an action for EVERY element on the table. If all formations of 10 and the command are in a group with bases touching (Line or Column) they can go all together on any card, owning player's choice of when.

We've found that this speeds up play immensely, and keeps everyone involved in the game since a new turn for one of their formations can happen at almost any time.

ACW Gamer Supporting Member of TMP13 Sep 2014 3:08 p.m. PST

Thanks for getting back to me!

Does each 2 X 5 formation roll 10 dice as usual? Does the command element shoot? How do you handle these formation in melee?

EJNashIII14 Sep 2014 10:15 a.m. PST

video of 150th anniversary. YouTube link

ACW Gamer Supporting Member of TMP14 Sep 2014 5:06 p.m. PST


I just found your large rules in the BAB Yahoo Group. Time to have some fun!

Lion in the Stars15 Sep 2014 1:36 p.m. PST

Dont forget that in most rules ground scale and figure scale use two different ratios……
3mm doesn't have to! 1/600 groundscale is 6"=100 yards.

6mm is getting to be tougher for 1:1 figure:ground scale, at 12"=100 yards.

a 500x250yd field on a 3mm table would be 30"x15"…

Personal logo John the Greater Supporting Member of TMP16 Sep 2014 9:45 a.m. PST

Thanks for posting the YouTube video. I commanded a company in the Iron Brigade for the Cornfield scenario. It was one of the best times I have had in my many years of reenacting.

And I'll be sure to stop by the game to take a look.

1968billsfan Supporting Member of TMP26 Jun 2015 1:59 p.m. PST

There were and are thousand of different varieties of corn and it comes in many heights. They usually plowed weeds many times during the growing season with a plow pulled behind a horse or mule. The corn was the the row barrier of the modern method, which is usually no-till. See

"More than you ever want to read about ACW cornfields"

TMP link

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