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DKSmith

Civil War battles shown on animated maps

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DK

 

Thanks for posting this link: includes Bull Run, Fort Sumter, Vicksburg... as well as Battle of Shiloh.

 

Regards

 

Ozzy

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First let me say thanks DKSmith for posting that. I just watched the one for the Battle of Shiloh. This animation, though attractive, is inaccurate. At about one-sixth or one-fifth of the way through the "Mid-Morning April 6th -1862" segment it shows Raith's brigade's situation when it was backstopping the Shiloh Church ridge line. It shows the brigade in its initial position, at an angle behind Hildebrand's brigade, then shows it retiring to the Hamburg-Purdy Road at the same angle rather than showing it pivoting counterclockwise (Ozzy can explain this better than I can). In addition to not showing the counterclockwise pivot of Raith's brigade in its vain effort to connect its left with Marsh's brigade (since moved) it also shows, as far as I can tell from poring over the relevant after-action reports in the Official Records, the wrong Confederate brigades attacking it. Instead of S.A.M. Wood's brigade supported by Robert Shaver's brigade, in other words Hindman's provisional division doing all or almost all the fighting against Raith, it shows Russell's brigade and especially A.P. Stewart's brigade as being closest to Raith, inferring that they were the units forcing him back and shows Wood and Shaver farther away, totally out of contact with Raith. Other than that it's pretty neat and thanks again for posting it.

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Billy

The first time I encountered this map, about two years ago, I was most impressed; and I am still favorably disposed towards the Shiloh Animated Map:

  • reasonable length (about 18 minutes)
  • eight distinct segments, of about two minutes each
  • tight editing
  • appropriate intermingling of real-life action with animation
  • ability to stop/pause and scrutinize detail more closely
  • limited ability to extend research ("Explore" feature)

Having viewed it just a few minutes ago, I understand your concerns. Perceived negatives:

  • dated (although produced in 2012, computer graphics have come a long way since then)
  • obvious flaws (especially noticed after multiple viewings)
  • focus on Brigade-sized movements (and lack of identification of artillery batteries)

However, I feel the best thing that could be done to improve this animated map, is to leave it alone. The original effort was an attempt to present the Story of Shiloh, without obvious bias or hidden agenda. The errors are more "errors of omission" or "lack of care" (or possibly a different interpretation of the same facts, or inability to portray movements precisely due to technology available at the time.)

The best improvement: accept this animated map as the "Introductory Shiloh map" and produce an "Expert-level map" (linked to the first) that allows in-depth scrutiny of specific segments of the battle; reduces the focus to regiment-sized units; identifies all artillery batteries, and details their actions; provides greater detail of the role of Tyler and Lexington; the controversy surrounding Lew Wallace; the intelligence that persuaded Beauregard that Buell was not coming; include animation of steamers arriving at Pittsburg Landing full of Buell's reinforcements (and an animation of US Grant arriving aboard the Tigress.)

Until the Expert-level map is created, probably best to acknowledge the existing effort as "Entry-level" ...and be satisfied with the knowledge that we're able to pick out the mistakes.  :)

Ozzy

 

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The map isn't perfect, no, but it's a pretty decent representation. It certainly represents quite an effort, especially within the context of all the other such videos they made on that site. The Civil War Trust video on the battle, and of course the new (as of 2012) visitors center movie at the park, likely contain the best animated maps of the battle. Both are quite exceptional in my opinion.

Perry

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I obviously wasn't paying close enough attention before I posted my last note, as I thought the conversation was referring to a different animated map. See here -

http://historyanimated.com/verynewhistorywaranimated/animations/ShilohAnimation.html

Anyway, I don't think I can go along with the idea that the CWT maps was produced with a "lack of care" as to the details. There was a lot of time and effort that went into the overall production. The maps are part of a movie that's intended to be an overview of the battle, and in that I think they succeeded very well indeed. You're not going to get an animated map with a detailed breakdown at the regimental level in an overview. It was never intended that way.

They also do an excellent job of blending the overall story with individual personal stories, thereby putting a human face on this so very human event. 

Perry

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On average, it never rains 

Did you notice how neither animated map provides symbolic representation of the thousands of shirkers and stragglers clustered beneath the Bluff of Pittsburg Landing? I believe this is because, on average, the regiments those men deserted were still fighting on the field. But neither map focused on regiment-sized movements, either: the historyanimated.com production focuses on division-sized moves (Union) and corps-sized moves (Confederate), while the CWT Shiloh Animated Map of 2012 is based around brigade-sized movements. And neither animated map pays serious attention to artillery employment.

Both animated maps provide adequate entry-level representation of the Battle of Shiloh, and hopefully spark interest in their viewers to seek more information.

Ozzy

 

 

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Yes, it's an overview. That's what it was designed to be. It's very good for that purpose, and much better than the film that they showed from the 1950's to 2012. 

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Perry

That's my point: time has moved on. More information has come to light for creation of better films and more accurate maps. Technology for creating computer graphics would easily allow regiment-sized units (and artillery pieces) to be displayed in correct relation to each other; and provide for presenting an extremely accurate depiction of the Battle of Shiloh. And if allowance was made for "corrections" to slight inaccuracies, a most valuable resource could be created from existing information.

My two bob...

Ozzy

 

 

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Absent real time aerial video surveillance it will be difficult to achieve precision as to where regiments were located. Many were simply shattered and some were leaderless. Take, for example, the 52nd Illinois (The Lincoln Regiment) that had the highest number of killed and wounded of the six regiments in Wallace's Third Brigade, yet their camp was the farthest from the initial points of contact. Their Colonel (Sweeny) was made last minute Brigade Commander, their Lt Colonel (Wilcox) had been ordered to Chicago "on business" and their Major (Stark) was either sick, injured, or spooked very early in the day. No one made an official report. We know where the 8th Iowa and the 58th Illinois ended up on Sunday as most of the survivors were captured with Prentiss near Hell's Hollow. It seems many small groups and individuals were separated and then fought with whomever was closest. Sweeny "volunteered" to take a ravine for Sherman, leaving Wallace to wonder where he was. Apparently he was never in the ravine. At least some of the shirkers pulled themselves together and went back to the action.

But I agree with Ozzie, a more detailed animated map (or set of alternative maps depicting alternatives where uncertainly is high) is both informationally and technically possible. If such a map could also show topography and things like roads, camps, field hospitals, etc plus locations of at least General officers at various times, the Battle would be better understood by amateurs like me.

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I'm sure if they had the time and resources to put together a Hollywood-like production with high-tech CGI and numerous special effects, and squeeze in every relevant bit of information about the battle, and had the additional time and resources to create a newer version every time the technology allowed, they'd love to do so. Real-world limitations say otherwise.

We're arguing about the relevancy of a film that's still completely relevant, and accomplishes its task of being an overview of the battle. I can't stress that enough - it's an overview. I dislike the term "entry level" because it sounds condescending to me, but whatever you want to call it, it's not intended to be anything other than what it is. And for what it's meant to be, it works, and it works very well. We can quibble about details, especially on a board like this. But they have to reach, and hold, a broad target audience, and do so in a limited amount of time. 

Anyone who watches that movie or the park-produced movie will know more about Shiloh than 95% of the people they ever meet. If they want to learn more after that, then they can move from the overview down to more of the details. And the movies - the two best we have on Shiloh anywhere - will have accomplished their mission. 

Perry

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The small museum at Cowpens, SC, has a topographical 3d map with numerous embedded tiny LED's programmed to show movements of units as the narrative describes them. The low swale that Morgan used to form his regulars and to hide his cavalry and reform his militia that had feigned a panicky rout is a key feature when visualizing his defense-in-depth and subsequent double envelopment of Tarleton's entire force (86% casualties for the British, about 1% for the Patriots). The technology is primitive but thoughtfully used. Of course the Battle of Cowpens lasted less then an hour and the two forces were each less than 1500 men. The artillery is depicted (two small bore British "grasshoppers" whose artillerists were knocked out early by Patriot sharpshooters). Shiloh would be a mammoth video project that could not make money, but passionate enthusiasts will devote time and money that seems insane to everyone except the similarly afflicted.

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Ultimate General: Civil War (Shiloh)

Just to follow up on our recent discussion of animated maps... a company named "Game-Labs" introduced a computerized game in 2014 that represented the Battle of Gettysburg. Because that product proved popular, the company expanded its reach, and pre-released Ultimate General -- Civil War in November 2016, featuring six major battles (including Shiloh, Day One and Day Two). As of March 2017 there are thirteen battles and half-a-dozen skirmish scenarios available. From my initial scan of YouTube reviews, the graphics and ability to set up realistic action look pretty good.

Careful what you wish for...

Ozzy

References:  http://www.ultimategeneral.com/  Ultimate General by Game-Labs

http://store.steampowered.com/app/502520/   Ultimate General -- Civil War

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vj9sQKBu9U0   Shiloh Day One review by History Guy Gaming

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WhHADSKCEX0   Shiloh Day Two by History Guy Gaming

 

N.B.  The "gaming culture" is big, here in Australia. My daughter and her friends get together for "gaming sessions" at least once per week... the other day she told me, "Hey Dad, check this out!"  [I have no financial connection to Game-Labs or their products -- Ozzy.]

 

    

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When I posted the above information, I failed to notice I had neglected the Southern supporters among us. The attached link (a review by HForHavoc) shows Ultimate General: Battle of Shiloh fought from the Confederate perspective.

Ozzy

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZfZc7XIA10M    Ultimate General (Shiloh) review by HForHavoc

 

 

  

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One thing about electronic resources: existing references are subject to change without notice...

The "Shiloh Animated Map" by American Battlefield Trust was upgraded middle of 2019 (although it just gained my notice, by accident, today.) After two views of the 18-minute presentation, I am impressed with the improvements incorporated; and I feel that the 2019 edition more accurately depicts the Battle of Shiloh than previously.

Have a look, yourself; and feel free to comment:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tlhlk3bp-f4

 

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