Tag Archive for War of the Rebellion Atlas

(Digital Collections) “War of the Rebellion Atlas” Puts DPG on the Map in Tennessee

The Digitization Projects Group’s efforts to put the War of the Rebellion Atlas online have once again led to an exciting collaboration, this time with Zada Law, Director of the Fullerton Laboratory for Spatial Technology at Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU). Law will be utilizing high-resolution copies of several Atlas maps of the Nashville area to see if defensive earthworks built around the city by Federal forces might still be discoverable today, almost 150 years after the war ended.

Law, a PhD candidate at MTSU, plans to overlay the Atlas images with “modern high resolution orthographic aerial images,” she told me via email. Using records from the Tennessee Division of Archaeology and enhanced elevation (LiDAR) datasets, she hopes to locate “previously unrecorded extant earthwork sections or identify where archaeological traces of entrenchments may still remain.” (1)

Defenses of Nashville, Tenn. from the War of the Rebellion Atlas

Before she located the Atlas using a simple Google search, Law was relying on hard copies of the Atlas and other records to conduct her research. That all changed when she found our Digital Collections.

“Finding Baylor’s freely accessible high resolution image of an original copy of the War of the Rebellion Atlas plus searchable metadata was the tipping point for me to finally proceed beyond the dreaming phase,” Law said. “And, as GIS becomes an accepted part of scholarly research in the humanities, I’m certain the need for access to digital copies of original maps will increase.”

The metadata Law refers to is the cataloged information that accompanies each image in our digital Atlas, including information like city names, names of battle participants, descriptions of geographic formations and more. This is the fully-searchable information that makes finding specific locations or persons in our Atlas much faster than using traditional printed indices and page-by-page searching available elsewhere.

In addition to her work on the Federal defenses of Nashville, Law shared access to the Atlas collection to Dr. Wayne Moore of the Tennessee State Library and Archives. Moore is heading up a project called the Tennessee Civil War GIS Project, where he and his team are working to “inventory and describe the geospatial data points for approximately 700 Tennessee Civil War military engagements” throughout the state. “Having the Atlas’ maps available online and searchable and ‘zoomable’ through your website will improve our workflow and will be less tedious that looking at hard copies of the maps with a magnifying glass,” Law said.

Finally, Law hopes to use an image of the area around Murfreesboro – specifically a location called Fortress Rosecrans – to search for the location of a nearby contraband camp. “Contraband” during the Civil War referred to Confederate-owned slaves who sought protection in Federal camps or who lived in areas that fell under Federal control. The public history program at MTSU is documenting a “rural post-emancipation African American community that likely had former residents of that camp,” Law said, and the maps provided by Baylor could help them in their work.

Topographical Sketch of Fortress Rosecrans from the War of the Rebellion Atlas

We’ll keep you posted on how Law’s research goes, and we wish her and her colleagues all the best in their efforts. We’re happy to be collaborators in this important work, and we look forward to seeing where it leads as the Civil War Sesquicentennial continues through 2015.

(1) Excerpts from email from Zada Law, received 1/5/2012

Visit the Texas Collection online at http://www.baylor.edu/lib/texas for more priceless Texana.

(Digital Collections) Semper (Hi-) Fi: Marine Corps Command and Staff College Utilizes High-Resolution Images from Digitization Projects Group for Officer Training

In June of this year, Lt. Col. Shawn Callahan of the U.S. Marine Corps Command and Staff College contacted the Digitization Projects Group with an exciting request. As part of his planning for a major training course for officers from all branches of the United States military, Callahan was trying to find maps of the 1862 Peninsular Campaign, which had been led by U.S. Gen. George B. McClellan against the Army of Northern Virginia, led by Gen. Robert E. Lee. A Google search led him to our Digital Collections, which includes a fully searchable, freely accessible copy of the “War of the Rebellion Atlas,” the definitive source for maps related to the U.S. Civil War.

Callahan’s idea was to use primary resources derived from the campaign – particularly maps – to pose this problem to his students: based only on the information available to McClellan at the time, how would you have planned and conducted this campaign?

After finding what he needed in our “War of the Rebellion Atlas” collection, Callahan contacted the DPG to request high-resolution versions of the maps that he could then print out and provide as reference materials for his students. Of course, we were eager to help and readily provided Callahan with the maps he requested. Digital Collections Consultant Eric Ames also worked to identify other maps that embraced the time, place, and force outlays related to the campaign, ultimately providing 30 images to Callahan for use in the course.

The training was held in late September, with members of the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force and international officers from 28 nations participating. These photos show the officers consulting large-format printouts of the maps as they formulated their strategy for the Peninsular Campaign.

(1)

We received a letter of appreciation from Col. Royal P. Mortenson, Director of the College, expressing his thanks for providing access to the high-res files, as well as our efforts to support “an educational initiative which has sharpened our military leaders and will help maximize their contributions to our national defense.” He went on to say, “Your efforts to coordinate access to Baylor University’s digital archives for the Command and Staff College faculty were instrumental to the success of this exercise.” (2)

From everyone at the DPG – and on behalf of our colleagues at the Texas Collection, where the pristine original copy of the “Atlas” is preserved – we want to thank the fine men and women of the U.S. Marine Corps for allowing us to participate in this exercise, and we are proud of the opportunity to help support their efforts to keep our country safe.

Semper Fi, and Sic ‘Em, Bears!

You can view the entire “War of the Rebellion Atlas” in our Digital Collections, located at http://contentdm.baylor.edu.

(1) Photos courtesy Lt. Col. Shawn Callahan
(2) Letter from Col. Royal P. Mortenson to Eric S. Ames, 10/7/2011