Thursday, September 26, 2013

Petersburg Maps

The operations of both armies in the Richmond-Petersburg campaign from June 1864 through April 1865 are complex and far-ranging. If there was ever a clear link from the set battle pieces of early to mid 19th century warfare to the continent/world spanning wars of the 20th century, this campaign has to be that link.

Maps that show coordinated operations in the theater have to cover a lot of territory; to see the place names and unit movements/fighting means text legibility; both of these together require digital maps that are very large in size, both dimensionally and by the megabyte. These are maps that do not fit easily into books. How to give readers enough information at enough detail is one of the puzzles Ed and I have to solve by the middle of 2014 when we plan to publish.

Just to illustrate: the line along Cemetery Ridge at Gettysburg from Cemetery Hill to Round Top and across to Seminary Ridge, almost the entire engagement of that pivotal battle, fits into a map of operations on the South Side. The Gettysburg overlay is 2 miles wide by 4 miles tall and sits beside the engagements known as Poplar Spring Church -- Peebles Farm -- Pegram Farm which took place 30 September through 2 October 1864. Twenty thousand Union soldiers from four divisions in the V and IX Corps took three hours just to clear the lines on Friday morning; there was just one main road west and dense woods led to some caution as the columns approached them. A smaller number of Confederate soldiers under Heth, with support by cavalry detachments commanded by Hampton were able to give good battle in defense of the vital Boydton Plank Road and Southside Railroad over those three days.

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