What is the importance of Civil War battlefield maps in American history education?


Quick Answer

Battlefield maps are used to show how key factors such as terrain, supply and logistics affected the outcome of various Civil War battles. They are also used to show how these factors impacted tactics and strategy that determined the outcomes of other battles both before and after the Civil War.

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Full Answer

The Civil War was the last large-scale conflict fought in which maneuver and massed fire (traits commonly associated with conflicts such as the Revolutionary War or the battles of Napoleon in Europe) were the primary determination of victory or defeat. One of the best ways battlefield maps can be used by a teacher is to show how terrain and roads impacted the tactics used and the outcome of a fight. Civil War armies marched along roads to maintain supply, took up defensive positions on high ground and preferred to attack across open terrain. A teacher can graphically illustrate these elements using a battlefield map from the era.

A Civil War battlefield map can also help a history teacher show the impact of evolving technology in that era. For instance, a teacher may use a map of the battle of Bull Run to demonstrate how Confederate General Joseph Johnston used trains to move his reinforcing troops into position, thus surprising the Union army and contributing to its defeat in that fight. An educator can demonstrate with maps how this practice would change warfare in other conflicts, such as the World Wars of the 20th century.

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