A project undertaken by the Smithsonian Institute, together with an alliance of archaeologists, digital mappers, software developers and historians has enhanced modern historians’ understanding of the Battle of Gettysburg, July 1 – 3, 1863. This significant study details the technological limits of communications, intelligence and surveillance available to commanders at the time of the Civil War. Generals often deployed their troops on the field based on what they could see.
Digital mapping teams surveyed the battle, collected data and coupled with historical maps actually employed during the battle, were able to reconstruct a digital version of the actual battlefield that integrated current digital data. The team of scientists and experts (from ESRI, International Mapping, Professors from Middlebury College and GIS software developers and cartographers) were able to generate interactive maps that showed timeline accurate troop movements over the 3-day course of battle. The result is a stunning insight into the mindset of decision-makers and impact of the relative advantages of troop positions was to the outcome of the battle.
As the team stated, “Altogether, our mapping reveals that Lee never had a clear view of enemy forces; the terrain itself hid portions of the Union Army throughout the battle. In addition, Lee did not grasp – or acknowledge – just how advantageous the Union’s position was. In a reversal of the Battle of Fredericksburg, where Lee’s forces held the high ground and won a great victory, Union General George Meade held the high ground at Gettysburg. Lee’s forces were spread over an arc of seven miles, while the Union’s compact position, anchored on several hills, facilitated communication and quick troop deployment. Meade also received much better information, more quickly, from his subordinates. Realizing the limits of what Lee could see makes his decisions appear even bolder, and more likely to fail, than we knew.”
Read more: http://goo.gl/xJFfi (A-Cutting-Edge-Second-Look-at-the-Battle-of-Gettysburg.html#ixzz2YWJp3KSV)
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This project produced an extraordinary map that let’s the viewer analyze the daily flow of battle and interact with history. It is a glowing tribute to what digital innovation can bring to history. Visit the site and see for yourself.