Google Earth and Civil War Battlefields

by Brett Schulte on February 24, 2009 · 10 comments

Poster “historicus” over at the History Channel forums recently had an extremely good idea.  He used Google Maps to take a look at Civil War battlefields.  Poster “Scotsman” gave readers a few sites he found after the suggestion was made:

39 28’15.06″ N 77 44’15.34″ W (Bloody Lane, Antietam)

39 47’29.89″ N 77 14’32.59″ W (Devil’s Den, Gettysburg)

39 22’11.21″ N 77 23’26.21″ W (The Battle of Monocacy)

…and one of the most famous Civil War actions of my home state…

38 58’16.40″N 95 14’09.56″ W (the exact spot where Quantrill centered his raid on Lawrence, August 1863)

All you need to do to see these sites for yourself is to download Google Earth and then copy and paste the latitude and longitude coordinates above into your Google Earth “fly to” field.  Since I’m interested in both the Seven Days and the Petersburg Campaign, I thought I’d find a few sites around Richmond to add to the list.

Malvern Hill:  37°24’44.77″N  77°15’3.47″W

Watt House on Gaines Mill Battlefield:  37°34’25.07″N  77°17’27.14″W

The Crater, Petersburg:  37°13’2.05″N  77°22’43.61″W

Fort Harrison:  37°25’36.36″N  77°22’22.06″W

The Breakthrough, Petersburg:  37°11’50.78″N  77°26’59.46″W

Feel free to add a few sites of your own in the comments section below!

UPDATE: Jim Beeghley has two very detailed posts up at Teaching the Civil War with Technology from last December.  Go check them out!

UPDATE 2: David Woodbury at of Battlefields and Bibliophiles had a “Google Earth Battlefields Quiz” early last year which asked readers to identify battlefields using only Google Earth aerial images.  Once you have read the questions, check out the answers here.

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Jim Rosebrock February 24, 2009 at 8:32 am

Brett,
This is great. I live near Antietam and will hook in the Battle of South Mountain sites shortly. Great tool.

Thanks
Jim

Reply

Craig February 24, 2009 at 8:34 am

Brett,
Much of the feedback I get at Historical Marker Database references the similar use of the Google APIs to display the locations of historical markers. Our web developer/site owner has done a masterful job in the presentation (but of course I am a little biased!) .

There is a way to export the marker location definitions to Google earth. Importing the appropriate file into Google earth, all the selected marker entries show up on the map.

Or you can do it without downloading Google Earth, just by calling up the map views and toggling to hybrid mode. As we always include a photo of the marker, and most often add photos of the marker’s topic, you’ve got the “poor man’s” version of the Google Earth display, for those bandwidth challenged browsers.

Craig.

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Jim Beeghley February 24, 2009 at 12:21 pm
admin February 24, 2009 at 7:41 pm

Thanks for the comments guys. Craig, that is an incredible tool you have! Thanks for letting me know about it.

Jim,

I added links to both of your Google Earth posts from December. I was busy enjoying my new little guy and was pretty absent from the Civil War blogosphere during that time.

Reply

Craig February 24, 2009 at 7:56 pm

Thanks Brett.
I started “fronting” a lot of the battlefield “tours by markers” on my blog -
http://markerhunter.wordpress.com/battlefields-by-markers/

Probably the best set I’ve done to date covers Antietam:
http://markerhunter.wordpress.com/battlefields-by-markers/antietam-markers/

But I’m working hard to finish out Gettysburg before spring!

Craig.

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David Woodbury February 24, 2009 at 11:45 pm

A little over a year ago I used Google Earth photos of a Civil War battlefields for quiz on my blog. See http://tinyurl.com/34nwdx

Was planning to do another one, but it’s hard to come up with things that aren’t either too easy to identify, or too obscure to identify.

David

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admin February 25, 2009 at 8:26 pm

David,

Thanks for pointing this out. I’ve added a link to your quiz at the bottom of the post.

Brett

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admin February 25, 2009 at 9:23 pm

Note: I’ve added the link for the answers to the Google Earth Battlefield Quiz as well.

Brett

Reply

Fred Ray February 25, 2009 at 9:58 pm

Fort Stevens, outside of Washington, is at 38 57′ 66″N , 77 01′ 70″W

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mike d February 27, 2009 at 5:35 pm

Thats all I do on rainy days is pore over Google Earth on CW sites. Just last night I was checking out Wilson’s Creek and Chicwamogwai. Bull Run is cool too. you can see straight down into the Henry House and also the way the modern turnpike tracks roughly with the Warrenton TP back in the day. the stone bridge is cool too, off of the modern highway just a bit.

WC: 37/06/52/ N, 93/25/00 W
Stone Bridge: 38/49/27 N, 77/30/12 W
the coolest thing about the stone bridge is that you can see two people walking from the parking lot to the bridge. From SPACE! Why is that cool? I dunno, it just is.

Burnside’s bridge, Antietam: 39/27/02 N, 77/43/55 W. Interesting how the Stone Bridge and Burnside’s bridge are both West Longitude 77.

Shiloh however, suffers from a lack of resolution. the Panaramio pix are great (I have Pitts Landing as my desktop wallpaper) but the reso doesnt go down far enough.

Chickamauga visitor’s center: 34/56/24 N, 85/15/35 W

Also interesting is Chattanooga, where unfortunately there are now houses all over around and through the Cracker Line. For that matter theres houses all over Lookout Mtn.

Stone’s River NMBP is surrounded on all sides by industry and residentia lareas. Let’s hope there’s some preservation-minded folks back there: 35/52/49 N, 86/26/04 W.

Ft. Sumter, you can swee rats running around on the grounds its so clear: 32/45/08 N, 79/52/28 W.

Anywho, great, uber cool website.

Aloha till next time

md

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