For Immediate Release: 05/04/12
Civil War Trust Launches Multimedia Smartphone Tour of Shenandoah Valley's Cedar Creek Battlefield
Latest in the series of GPS-enabled tours launches simultaneously for iPhone and Android platforms
(Middletown, Va.) – 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 Cedar Creek Battlefield, available for both iPhone and Android phones. 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.
“By using the very latest in 21st-century technology, these Battle Apps, like this newest one for Cedar Creek, are revolutionizing the way we can teach 19th-century history,” said Trust president James Lighthizer. “Never before have we been able to put a customizable, interactive experience in the palm of every visitor’s hand.”
Like its predecessors, which explore the battles of Bull Run, Chancellorsville, Fredericksburg, Gettysburg and Malvern Hill, the new Cedar Creek 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 — plus a wealth of resource materials to provide valuable background information. Featuring GPS navigation, primary source material and the commentary of respected historians, the Cedar Creek Battle App offers the convenience of a self-guided tour with the benefits of an expert-led presentation — and all at no cost. To date, more than 50,000 people have downloaded the Trust’s Battle Apps, offerings which have, on average earned 4-star reviews from users.
The Trust’s ongoing 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 underwriting these Battle Apps to encourage residents and visitors alike to explore the Commonwealth’s outstanding historic resources.
“From the Shenandoah Valley to the tidewater, visitors continue to flock to Virginia to explore her fascinating historic sites,” said Secretary of Transportation Sean T. Connaughton. “The Commonwealth is proud to sponsor to development of innovative means for travelers and residents alike to explore her rich history and culture.”
Another key element of the Battle Apps is their ability to include the entire battlefield, not just its most well-travelled paths — a particularly important feature in the case of Cedar Creek. The unique “partnership” structure of Cedar Creek and Belle Grove National Historical Park (NHP) means that preserved historic lands are owned and operated by several cooperating entities — including the Trust, the Cedar Creek Battlefield Foundation, the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation — not just the National Park Service. The virtual format of the Battle App, however, is able to create a unified interpretation format across the entire battlefield.
“This exciting development will allow more visitors to Cedar Creek the opportunity to explore the battlefield’s history in depth, no matter whether they begin their journey at a National Park Service property or at a site operated by one of our partners,” said Cedar Creek NHP chief of interpretation Eric Campbell, one of the historians whose video commentary appears in the App.
The Cedar Creek Battle App includes two distinct tours — one covering the surprise Confederate attack that nearly routed the Union army during the fighting’s morning phase, and one covering the dramatic Union rally and counterattack that ultimately carried the day. At each stop on the GPS-guided tour, “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, dual-layer troop displays demonstrate how the attacks and counterattacks unfolded across the landscape. Moreover, the flexible nature of the App’s digital interpretation allows it to make use of the latest scholarship and information about the battlefield. For example, the Cedar Creek Battle App includes details about the 8th Vermont Monument — a site whose preservation was only announced by the Trust in February.
In addition to providing a wealth of location-based historical accounts, the Cedar Creek Battle App includes 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 design feature helps visitors find other nearby sites of interest — a particularly valuable feature in the history-rich Shenandoah Valley. With just a few clicks, users can identify these destinations, learn about their visitor services and even get directions from their current location.
The Battle App series can be easily downloaded from a mobile device via Apple’s App Store or the Android Market. 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.
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 Petersburg and Second Manassas battlefields, with further product improvements and expansions are constantly in development.
Despite a string of costly setbacks in the Shenandoah Valley in the summer and early fall, on October 19, 1964, Confederate Lt. Gen. Jubal Early launched an audacious surprise assault at Cedar Creek that routed elements of the Union army and nearly reversed Southern fortunes in the theater. Maj. Gen. Philip Sheridan, galloping onto the field after a nearly 15-mile ride from his headquarters in Winchester, rallied his men and launched a crushing counter-attack from which Early’s army would never recover. Coupled with ongoing Union success in Georgia following the fall of Atlanta, the victory at Cedar Creek propelled President Abraham Lincoln to success in the 1864 election.
For more information about the content, use and availability of GPS-enable Civil War Trust Battle Apps, please visit www.civilwar.org/battleapps. Learn more about the Battle of Cedar Creek at www.civilwar.org/cedarcreek.
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 32,000 acres of battlefield land in 20 states, including 533 acres at Cedar Creek. Learn more at www.civilwar.org, the home of the Civil War sesquicentennial.