For Immediate Release: 10/22/12
Latest Smartphone Tour from the Civil War Trust Covers Petersburg Campaign in Unprecedented Depth
GPS-enabled Petersburg Battle App breaks new ground in digital interpretation by covering the entire 10-month siege operation, rather than individual battles
(Petersburg, Va.) – The Civil War Trust, the nation’s largest nonprofit battlefield preservation organization, has launched the most ambitious title yet in its popular Battle App series of free, multimedia, GPS-enabled historical tours. The Petersburg Battle App, with four individual tours featuring 40 “virtual signs” and 43 additional points of interest, covers the entire 10-month Petersburg Campaign, not just individual battles or areas owned by the National Park Service. 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. Like all eight other titles in the series, the Petersburg Battle App is available for free download to your iPhone or Android device.
“From the earliest entrenchments to the Union army’s culminating ‘Breakthrough’ assault, the Petersburg Battle App helps you explore the remarkable breadth of sites associated with this pivotal campaign,” said Trust president James Lighthizer. “This unique digital medium allows us to unify sites owned by the National Park Service, the Civil War Trust, Pamplin Historical Park and even buildings in Old Towne Petersburg into a cohesive interpretive experience.”
Like its predecessors, the Petersburg Battle App features a detailed, GPS-enabled, battlefield map that highlights a wealth of virtual signs and other points of interest. Within this extensive offering are videos from top historians, primary source audio recreations, detailed accounts of the battle, modern and historic photos, and a detailed set of reference materials. By including the entire 10-month siege operation, instead of focusing on individual engagements, the Petersburg Battle App is unprecedented in its scope; the full experience covers more than 60 miles of walking and driving.
“The Petersburg Battle App covers a lot of ground, literally and figuratively,” said Pamplin Historical Park executive director A. Wilson Greene, one of the historians prominently featured in the product. “By incorporating sites with significance to the full duration of the military actions in the area, we tell the complete story of the Petersburg Campaign and its significance to the overall narrative of the Civil War.”
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.
“By using the very latest in 21st-century technology, these Battle Apps, are revolutionizing the way that we can explore Virginia’s priceless heritage,” 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.”
The Petersburg Battle App includes four distinct tours — To the Crater (June 15–July 30, 1864), Cutting the Lines (June 1864–February 1865), City Under Siege (June 1864–April 1865) and Final Offensive (March 29–April 2, 1865, including action up to Five Forks). 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 detailed maps demonstrate how the attacks and counterattacks unfolded across the landscape. In addition to these location-based features, the App 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.
“As we mark the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, public interest in the pivotal events that shaped our nation’s future is on the rise,” said Petersburg National Battlefield superintendent Lewis Rogers. “Dynamic digital products like this help us to capture the imagination of a new generation, hopefully turning them on to a lifetime of enjoyment of and respect for history.”
Another unique design feature helps visitors find other nearby sites of interest — a particularly valuable feature in this history-rich South Side Virginia. With just a few clicks, App users can identify additional places they may wish to visit, learn about their visitor services and even get directions from their current location.
"The foundation of Petersburg's tourism is the city’s 400 years of history,” said City Manager William E. Johnson, III. “We are committed to protecting and showcasing these special places — both through traditional means, like our outstanding museums, and with the latest technology.”
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 Petersburg Battle App includes stops at Cemetery Hill and the South Side Depot — two sites that received significant state matching grants for preservation efforts in August. As additional preservation victories in the region are secured, updates to the App will help share those stories with the public.
To date, nearly 90,000 people have downloaded Trust Battle Apps, which cover the battles of: Antietam, Bull Run, Cedar Creek, Chancellorsville, Fredericksburg, Gettysburg: Devil’s Den & Little Round Top, Malvern Hill, Petersburg and Second Manassas. Individual Battle App series can be easily downloaded from a mobile device via Apple’s App Store or the Android’s Google Play marketplace. 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. For more information about the content, use and availability of GPS-enable Civil War Trust Battle Apps, please visit www.civilwar.org/battleapps.
During the 10-month siege operation known as the Petersburg Campaign, opposing armies under the command of Union Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant and Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee clashed in major combat 16 times — often over the same ground — resulting in more than 80,000 men killed, wounded, captured or missing. A major strategic goal of the campaign was control of the three vital rail lines between Petersburg and the Confederate capital at Richmond. When the final rail link fell into Union hands on April 1, 1865, the loss and evacuation of Richmond and Petersburg became inevitable. Learn more about the Battle of Petersburg at www.civilwar.org/petersburg.
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 34,000 acres of battlefield land in 20 states, including nearly 2,000 acres at sites associated with the Petersburg Campaign. Learn more at www.civilwar.org, the home of the Civil War sesquicentennial.