Gettysburg – 150 years later

Modern technology presents: A Cutting-Edge Second Look at the Battle of Gettysburg (overview here). The map upon which it is based was

[C]reated in the late 1860s and early 1870s by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers…

It measures 12 by 13 feet, with each foot on the map measuring 1,200 feet on the ground, with a contour interval indicating every four feet of elevation change. It shows the buildings, the topography, the land cover, where the hardwood trees were, where the pines were, where the orchards were, whether fences were made of wood or stone…

“It’s combining this historical terrain with the changing position of the troops and then digital technology — of course is the other crucial element here — that enables us to put ourselves on that recreated terrain and show, either in the panorama views or the viewsheds, what commanders could and could not see,” [Middlebury professor of geography Anne Kelly] Knowles told me. By exploring the map from Lee’s perspective, she was able to see how “blind” he was — how, when he decided on the battle’s third day to launch his doomed assault, he could not have known the full extent or formation of the Union troops. “That really changed my view of the battle. It makes it look all the more hopeless and bold — I guess, or foolish — for Lee.”

Worth a look.