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Games by Historical PeriodAncients to 500 AD → Death Valley: Battles for the Shenandoah

Death Valley: Battles for the Shenandoah

Banner designs by Rachel Billingsley


Note: Unless otherwise noted, all samples below are from playtest graphics, not final game art. GMT Games claims no copyright on these images.

  • Kernstown and 1st Winchester Playtest Map
  • Cedar Creek Playtest Map
  • 3rd Winchester Playtest Map
  • Cross Keys Playtest Map
  • Port Repubic Playtest Map
  • Playtest Counters Sample 1
  • Playtest Counters Sample 2
  • Playtest Counters Sample 3
  • Playtest Counters Sample 4
  • Playtest Counters Sample 5
  • Playtest Counters Sample 6


  • Regular Price: $89.00
     P500 Price: $59.00 

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    Product Rating: (5.00)   # of Ratings: 2   (Only registered customers can rate)

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    Showing comments 1-2 of 2
    1. Richard on 10/18/2017, said:

    Having playtested at Consim, I can say this will be the best value and most multifaceted (in terms of different types of battles) game of the GBACW system. If you have an interest in the Civil War battles it is a must.
    Was this comment helpful? yes no   (2 people found this comment helpful, 0 did not)
    2. thomas on 9/21/2017, said:

    As a play tester of this game, I know the GBACW folks are going to love it
    Was this comment helpful? yes no   (7 people found this comment helpful, 1 did not)
    Showing comments 1-2 of 2

    Death Valley: Battles for the Shenandoah is the seventh installment of the Great Battles of the American Civil War (GBACW) series, published by GMT Games. Six full battles are included.

    Three Battles of the Shenandoah Valley Campaign of 1862

    In a campaign still studied in military academies, Confederate General Thomas J. (Stonewall) Jackson engaged and defeated the Union forces pursuing him. Greatly outnumbered and at times facing three Union armies, Jackson defeated them all within ten weeks, at one point completely freeing the Shenandoah Valley of Union forces. Three battles from Jackson’s 1862 Valley Campaign are featured.

    Kernstown, March 23, 1862

    In the spring of 1862 Union General Nathanial Banks moved his 38,000 man V Corps into the Shenandoah Valley in conjunction with McClellan’s advance on Richmond. There was no resistance from the 3000 Confederates under General Thomas (Stonewall) Jackson, a hero of Bull Run, then in his first independent command. Confident that all was secure in the Valley, but concerned for the safety of the capital, Washington began to transfer the V Corps troops to defend the city, leaving the 7000 men of General James Shields’ division to block the lower Valley. But Jackson was ordered to keep the Union troops in the Valley from joining forces with those threatening Richmond. After receiving reports that only a rear guard remained south of Winchester, he attacked. The battle was the first of Jackson’s Valley Campaign.

    Winchester, May 25, 1862

    After Kernstown General Banks led a newly reinforced and newly named army of the Department of the Shenandoah in pursuit of Jackson. After a series of Confederate maneuvers Banks lost contact with Jackson’s army. During that time Jackson defeated a Union force threatening his left flank at McDowell and joined forces with the two Confederate brigades defending the mountain passes there. Jackson then turned on Banks. Uniting with another Confederate division under General Richard Ewell, Jackson outflanked Banks at Front Royal and threatened to cut his supply line, starting a race for Winchester. Banks reached the town first and set up a defense south of the town. He had to buy time for the Union supply train to escape.

    Cross Keys and Port Republic, June 8-9, 1862

    Following Winchester, Washington sent two Union forces to trap the Confederates in the lower Valley. Two divisions from the Mountain Department under General John Fremont advanced from what is now West Virginia, and one division under General James Shields from the Department of the Rappahannock moved into the Valley from the east. A rain-swollen Shenandoah River separated the Union forces. Jackson engaged both on successive days to end the Valley Campaign.

    Three Battles of the Shenandoah Valley Campaign of 1864

    2nd Kernstown, July 24, 1864

    Grant dispatched elements of three Union Corps led by General Horatio Wright, to pursue Confederate General Jubal Early in his retreat from the raid on Washington. After a victory by the Union cavalry at Rutherford’s Farm and Early’s continued retreat up the Valley, General Wright was convinced that Early was withdrawing to join the defense of Richmond. Both the Union VI Corps and XIX Corps were withdrawn, leaving General George Crook’s 13,000 strong Army of West Virginia to defend the lower Valley. Tasked with tying up as many Union troops as possible, Early turned to attack upon learning that he faced only one Union corps.

    3rd Winchester, September 19, 1864

    Grant consolidated command over the Union forces in the Shenandoah Valley under General Phillip Sheridan. Even though Sheridan commanded a superior force, he remained on the defensive, behavior Early mistook for timidity. When Early undertook a raid against the B&O Railroad, stringing out his four divisions from Winchester to Martinsburg, Sheridan moved to cut off the entire Confederate army at Winchester, initiating the largest battle fought in the Shenandoah Valley.

    Cedar Creek, October 19, 1864

    After defeating Early at Winchester and Fisher’s Hill, Sheridan was convinced the Confederates were no longer capable of offensive operations and withdrew the Union army into camps along Cedar Creek. Early, reinforced with a division under General Joseph Kershaw, tentatively pursued. After studying the Union positions, a plan was devised for a surprise attack on the exposed Union left flank. Outnumbered by 3 to 1, the Confederates launched what initially looked to be one of the most successful attacks of the war.

    The Great Battles of the American Civil War Series:

    This series is one of the hobby’s longest-lived design concepts, springing from the legendary regimental level Gettysburg game – Terrible Swift Sword (SPI) – designed by Richard Berg in 1976. Under GMT, the rules system has remained stable, but has shown remarkable flexibility to allow each game to smoothly incorporate additional rules to reflect the historical battles. The series relies on interactive chit-pull mechanics to simulate the oftentimes-chaotic nature of the 19th Century battlefield at the regimental level.

    The Game:

    Death Valley: Battles for the Shenandoah contains six battle games with multiple scenarios. They range from division level contests on half sized maps to two map battles between armies. Experienced players will be able to play many of the scenarios in one sitting. The rules compare the development of the cavalry, and the changes in infantry and artillery organization and tactics in 1862 and 1864.


    • 1600 counters
    • Three 22" x 34" double-sided maps
    • One 17" x 22" map
    • One GBACW series rules booklet
    • Two Battle booklets
    • Twelve Activation and Turn Record charts
    • One set of Player Aid Cards (four cards)
    • One Terrain Effects Chart
    • One 2nd Disorder Chart
    • One 10-sided die

    TIME SCALE: Each Turn = 1 Hour

    MAP SCALE: 145 Yards Per Hex with 25-Foot Elevations

    UNIT SCALE: 50 Men or 1 Cannon per Strength Point

    SERIES DESIGNER: Richard H.  Berg

    GAME DESIGNER: Greg Laubach 


    GAME DEVELOPER: Bill Byrne