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Humming Ashokan Farewell While Viewing Is Optional
October 9, 2013 7:57 AM   Subscribe

The Civil War Trust's animated maps provides viewers with a bird's eye view of American Civil War battles.
posted by Alvy Ampersand (10 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite

 
Huh. These are less "animated maps" and more "movies," but still very neat. Thanks for posting.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 8:57 AM on October 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


I will happily admit to loving maps and loving animated map. Even maps about wars I love though my opinions on war tend to be pretty stridently anti.


While I know this next part doesn't apply to everyone I'll just "go there" anyways. Despite the love I also think there is a kind of perniciousness about cool animated (or otherwise) maps of wars in that war is very little like how these maps make it seem. the clean lines of territory shifting. It's very sterile, and while I know w (American's in particular) need any help we can get to drill our history into our heads. Maps of wars are largely political outcomes, not directly personal outcomes. Not to make then invalid, but sort of the difference between say traditional textbook orientation of history (dates and wars and facts to memorize) vs. say a Howard Zinn style of focus.

We look at these Civil War maps and they present a very binary way of things. Winners and losers, and that's correct. But it is also correct that echos of that war are still playing out today, 150 years later. We still have people embracing the rebel flag, and there are still some who hold dear to the idea the South was right and "will rise again"(you can say the same thing about almost any war) . And that is kind of hard to show on maps, but is equally valid. So absolutely +1 for the post, but it is not the end of the story despite whatever color the map happens to be at the end.
posted by edgeways at 9:10 AM on October 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


edgeways: "We still have people embracing the rebel flag, and there are still some who hold dear to the idea the South was right and "will rise again"(you can say the same thing about almost any war) . And that is kind of hard to show on maps, but is equally valid."

So, you're saying the Lakota will rise again? Or the Ethiopians? Been about two millenia on them.

Sorry, but I really don't see many parallels between Southern US racists flying the Confederate flag, and descendents of the Franco-Prussian War. Civil wars, in the first place, are fundamentally different from international wars, because by necessity it involves people who actually know each other facing off across battlefields (or planning suicide strikes on their schools, and so on).

In the second place, Southern Pride really does have one foot in the covert wink-wink racist pond. The Secession, according to the Articles and Constitutions of the CSA member states, was about race repression for economic reasons, not ownership of manufacturing (communist revolutions, which are a sort of civil war), maintenance of a monarchy, etc.
posted by IAmBroom at 9:54 AM on October 9, 2013


I'm not too concerned about some people holding onto their "southern heritage". A civil war today is playing out in Congress, if you want to see where the lines are drawn follow back to the constituents of those districts. There is no battle over geographic territory because wealth these days doesn't come from farming land (not much anyway). It's an ideological and cultural battle over the tax resources of the state, the budget.
posted by stbalbach at 9:57 AM on October 9, 2013


I think you are both maybe missing edgeways' main point, which I read as "animated maps, while fascinating and informative, give a deceptively simple view of war and do not communicate important information like the lingering emotional and cultural consequences of human conflict."
posted by Wretch729 at 10:07 AM on October 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


The map portions of these were interesting due to the animations of the individual commands, with the bars becoming fleeing soldiers when a retreat occurred. I'm going to pretend that the animated "firing" was historically accurate, (for example, "Bragg's far left began engaging, and soon his men all along the line opened up, so the puffs would start on the left), and that artillery were shown with larger puffs of smoke, preceding the rifle fire, etc., which makes it an interesting way to "see" a battle.

But yeah, the movies were way distracting.
posted by Windopaene at 10:10 AM on October 9, 2013


yeah Wretch729 summed it up pretty well.
posted by edgeways at 10:59 AM on October 9, 2013


These seem pretty well done, and a more active, drop-in way to experience portions of the war without getting into everything else. Of course, "everything else" is in some ways the more important part. But I think a grounding in the factual, technical side of warfare is important as well, so we can value this for what it is... although, as others have mentioned, it is a bit odd switching between CG maps and reenactment footage.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 12:25 PM on October 9, 2013


Agreed, BLF. The Civil War Trust's main mission is to preserve battlefields. And if I am not mistaken, the company which produced these maps is also involved in creating presentations which are shown at battlefields. These may be the actual battlefield overviews that are shown at visitor centers (or edited versions of same.) That would explain the mixed media approach.

I viewed something very similar to this on my last visit to Valley Forge, circa 2005.
posted by CincyBlues at 1:09 PM on October 9, 2013


And, even though they may well be closed right now, everyone should go and check these places out. I've been to Murfreesboro and Pea Ridge battlefields within the last few years, and when you think about what happened there...It's pretty intense to be driving around a corner through the park, when the demonstration cannons fire across the field in front of you, and realize, dudes charged at those cannons.
posted by Windopaene at 8:48 PM on October 9, 2013


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