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Clint Schemmer writes about history, heritage preservation and the American Civil War.  On Facebook: Past is Prologue  On Twitter: @prologuepast  ContactEmail Clint or call 540/374-5424.

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Civil War Trust, VDOT unveil multimedia smartphone tour of Chancellorsville

Here’s today’s announcement from the Civil War Trust about its brand-new Chancellorsville battle app:

GPS-enabled Chancellorsville Battle App enables visitors to explore history like never before

CHANCELLORSVILLE–The Civil War Trust, the nation’s largest nonprofit battlefield preservation organization, today announced the newest entry in its popular Battle App series — a free, multimedia and GPS-enabled smartphone tour of the Chancellorsville Battlefield.

The project was underwritten with a grant from the Virginia Department of Transportation and created in partnership with NeoTreks, Inc., an industry leader in mobile GPS-based touring.

“The 21st century technology used in these Battle Apps enables us to bring 19th century history alive like never before,” said Civil War Trust president James Lighthizer.  “Our goal is to make the study of history dynamic and immersive, helping it appeal to a whole new generation of Americans.”

Like its predecessors, which explore the battles of Bull Run, Fredericksburg and Gettysburg, the new Chancellorsville Battle App includes video segments from top historians, period and modern imagery, and detailed topographical maps, all of which help bring the battlefield to life.

Featuring both primary source material and the commentary of respected historians, the Chancellorsville Battle App offers the convenience of a self-guided tour with the benefits of an expert-led presentation.

To date, more than 30,000 people have downloaded the Trust’s Battle Apps, offerings which have, on average earned 4-star reviews from users.

The continuing Battle App project is made possible through the cooperation and generous support of the Virginia Department of Transportation.  As the commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War continues, VDOT has committed to underwrite a total of ten further Battle Apps to encourage residents and visitors alike to explore the Commonwealth’s outstanding historic resources.

“Each year, many thousands of visitors come to the Old Dominion to explore her fascinating history,” said Secretary of Transportation Sean T. Connaughton.  “We at the Virginia Department of Transportation welcome the opportunity to enrich their experience by introducing them to new and innovative ways to explore the past.”

Tom Rumora, director of economic development for Spotsylvania County, home of the Chancellorsville Battlefield also greeted the app with enthusiasm.  “Home to some of the most hallowed ground in America, Spotsylvania County truly is the ‘Crossroads of the Civil War’ and the Chancellorsville Battle App provides us with an exciting platform to share more of this history with the public.”

Another key feature of the Battle Apps is their ability to include the entire battlefield, not just its most well-travelled paths.  While key areas inside Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park are explored in depth, the format also covers property owned by other private conservation groups, particularly the Trust’s First Day at Chancellorsville site.

“This product offers tremendous resources for first-time visitors and frequent battlefield ramblers alike,” said park Superintendent Russ Smith.  “By placing this rich audio and video content at your fingertips, the Chancellorsville Battle App offers the freedom to customize your visit to your schedule and personal interest, while still benefitting from the expertise of knowledgeable historians.”

The Chancellorsville Battle App features three individual GPS-guided tours — Two Armies Meet, Flank Attack and Confederate Triumph — each covering a separate segment of the battle.

At each stop, “virtual signs” contain a rich description of the historical significance of the site, along with photos, video commentary from battlefield experts and audio accounts from the soldiers and civilians who trod this ground during the Civil War.  “Pinch-zoom” technology and customizable troop displays allow one to follow in the footsteps of the two armies stood and to learn how their attacks and counterattacks unfolded.

In addition to providing a wealth of location-based historical accounts, the Chancellorsville Battle App also contains a resource material that will answer many questions that visitors to the battlefield have.  Complete orders of battle for the two armies, a chronology of the battle, basic facts, an interactive quiz, and a strategic overview are all a part of this rich offering.

Another particularly valuable feature in historic communities like Spotsylvania County is the app’s ability to help visitors identify other nearby historic sites of interest and, with a few clicks, provide information on location and visitor services.

The Battle App series can be easily downloaded from a mobile device via Apple’s App Store.  Once the basic app is installed, users can then chose to fully download the audio and video elements to their device or to have that media streamed to you as you visit the different historical sites.

To date, Battle Apps have been available for Apple products, but in the coming weeks, the Trust and its technology partner NeoTreks will begin making Android-compatible versions available.

Thanks in part to the support of the Virginia Department of Transportation, the Civil War Trust is working to develop even more Battle App offerings in the coming months and years.  Next in the development pipeline are Battle Apps for the Malvern Hill, Cedar Creek and Petersburg battlefields.  Further product improvements and expansions are constantly being pursued.

The May 1863 Battle of Chancellorsville is acknowledged by historians as one of the most critical engagements of the Civil War.  Outnumbered Confederate forces scored a stunning victory when Gen. Robert E. Lee divided his army in the face of a superior enemy, sending Stonewall Jackson on an audacious 12-mile flanking march around the Army of the Potomac.

With his movements disguised by cavalry operations and dense woodlands, Jackson was able to launch a full scale attack on the unsuspecting Union Eleventh Corps, which largely fled before the onslaught.  The assault and ensuing rout was one of the greatest tactical victories of the war, but its aftermath was devastating for the Confederacy, when Jackson was wounded by friendly fire, contracted pneumonia and died a week later.

For more information about the content, use and availability of GPS-enable Civil War Trust Battle Apps, please visit www.civilwar.org/battleapps.

The Civil War Trust is the largest nonprofit battlefield preservation organization in the United States.  Its mission is to preserve our nation’s endangered Civil War battlefields and to promote appreciation of these hallowed grounds.  To date, the Trust has preserved more than 30,000 acres of battlefield land in 20 states.  Learn more at www.civilwar.org, the home of the Civil War sesquicentennial.

Permalink: http://news.fredericksburg.com/pastisprologue/2011/11/21/civil-war-trust-vdot-unveil-multimedia-smartphone-tour-of-chancellorsville/

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