From the 1st to the 3rd of July 1863, in and around the Pennsylvania town of Gettysburg, arguably the most important battle of the American Civil War raged. More men became casualties in those three days than in any other battle of the war, and saw the tide start to turn in the Union’s favour. Today, the battlefield is one of America’s most venerated historical sites, a memorial to the men from both sides who fought and died there, and has been carefully preserved and curated for posterity. This means that many of the buildings which played important roles in the battle are still present today, which is a fantastic reference for those of us wanting to wargame the battle itself. In association with our friends at Sarissa Precision, we have a number of these famous buildings available to turn any tabletop battlefield into a miniature Gettysburg – let’s take a look at them!

We’ll start with the Seminary building on the ridge of the same name. Originally established in 1826, as the Lutheran seminary grew in size, the building that would become famous was built in 1832, becoming known as the ‘Old Dorm’. Boasting a tall cupola, it saw use by Union General Buford as an observation post on the first day of the battle, overlooking the Union lines on ‘Seminary Ridge’. By 4pm, Union forces had been driven back to the ridge, where they built a hasty series of defensive works, putting up an incredibly fierce barrage before being driven back in disarray at the end of the day. During the main engagement of the second day, the Confederate line started around Seminary Ridge, before launching their attacks towards the town itself, while on the third day, Pickett’s rebel forces began their legendary charge having marched from their positions on the south of the ridgeline. Overlooking it all was the Seminary itself, which escaped the battle more or less untouched, remaining in use (under the name of ‘Schmucker Hall’) for its original purpose well into the late 20th Century. It remains preserved to this day, more or less as it was during the battle, and in Epic Battles scale is perfect for benchmarking your battleline! It could also serve as a ‘generic’ building, being very much of its era in style and construction.

The Evergreen Cemetery has become synonymous with Cemetery Hill, the crucial Union artillery position that the Confederate forces assaulted so fiercely on the 2nd of July. The gatehouse, designed as a residence for the cemetery caretaker, was built in late 1855, and served as Major-General Howard’s command post for the Union XI Corps on all three days of the battle, as well as a field hospital. As an elevated position, it was the ideal location to emplace artillery, and the focus of an intense Confederate attack on the second day of the battle, which became known as the ‘Battle of East Cemetery Hill’. In that engagement, the Union artillery and infantry fought off almost twice their number of Confederate attackers, putting up dogged resistance even as the Southern troops clawed their way to the gun positions on the lower slopes of the hill. The gatehouse itself was home to one Elizabeth Thorn, the cemetery caretaker. In addition to serving Generals Howard, Sickles, and Slocum a reportedly lovely dinner, she returned home after the battle to find it in a state of disrepair, with many items stolen, broken, or lost. Despite this, and the fact that she was heavily pregnant(!), she set to work burying the bodies that still littered the fields, and is reported to have buried around a hundred. She continued to live and work in the gatehouse until her death, and the building survives in good condition, albeit with the addition of a ‘lodge’ extension which somewhat spoils the silhouette of the gateway. Thankfully, our model depicts it without this later construction, and will make an ideal objective for your Union forces to defend, or your Confederates to assault.

The above two edifices can be found in the Gettysburg Scenery Pack, and, alongside Slyder’s Stable Barn (used as a Confederate field hospital during the battle and unfortunately rather roughly treated) and distinctive ‘snake’ fences found in the Epic Battles: American Civil War Gettysburg Battle-Set, give you the ideal foundation for a tabletop Gettysburg of your very own. For those of a truly Epic bent, why not consider the enormous trio of scenarios based on the battle? Arm yourselves with the necessary buildings, call all your mates, and empty out the garage for a properly big bash!

Gettysburg Battle-Set

This is the ultimate way to get started with Epic Battles, with two massive armies in colour-coded plastic (including the brand new zouaves, cavalry, dismounted cavalry & skirmishers) the aforementioned MDF scenery pieces and just about everything you need to get playing the American Civil War on the epic scale it deserves. The Gettysburg Battle-Set contains:

  • Union army (blue plastic) – 8 infantry regiments, 1 zouave regiment, 1 cavalry regiment, 1 dismounted cavalry regiment, 1 skirmishers regiment, 8 cannon & 8 mounted commanders
  • Confederate army (grey plastic) – 8 infantry regiments, 1 zouave regiment, 1 cavalry regiment, 1 dismounted cavalry regiment, 1 skirmishers regiment, 8 cannon & 8 mounted commanders
  • Green plastic bases for all figures
  • A5 Black Powder rulebook
  • 36-page American Civil War background, scenario and supplemental rule booklet
  • Flag sheets for both Union and Confederate forces
  • Laser-cut MDF farm building
  • Laser-cut MDF Snake fences
  • Six D6 dice
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