Our announcement today comes from Amy Rudersdorf of the Digital Information Management Program (part of the State Library of North Carolina):
North Carolina Civil War Soldiers: Mapping the Conflict
From Wilmington to Petersburg and Gettysburg, North Carolina soldiers served in many of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War. Homesickness, fear, patriotism, spirituality, hunger, all-night picket duty, and time in the brig are a few of the experiences and emotions that these soldiers write about in the State Archives and State Library’s Civil War Letters project. The letters, digitized and transcribed, enable readers to experience the war through the eyes of the men on the battlefronts, but also from their families’ perspectives on the North Carolina home front. From mothers and wives come poignant account of struggles against rising inflation, hunger, illness, the militia, and in some cases, allegiances.
Those letters let us in on another important aspect of military life, too: the paths that individual soldiers took throughout their enlistment. History books talk of battles and skirmishes, but through these personal accounts, we learn that soldiers camped for long periods of time, then ran from battle to battle, went home (through desertion or on furlough) and spent time in hospitals and brigs.
Using information found in Confederate soldier’s letters held by the State Archives, and supplemented by rosters and other publications held by the State Library, the “North Carolina Civil War Soldiers” combined timeline and map provides users with insight into the men’s lives on the battlefields throughout the southeastern campaigns and their loved ones on the home fronts in North Carolina. It also identifies the point-by-point movements and engagements of individual soldiers and their regiments and companies.
Seeing the movements of individual soldiers also hits home how far and wide these men traveled, often on foot and in all sorts of weather.
The transcribed letters and the timeline-map are accessible from the North Carolina Digital Collections (http://digital.ncdcr.gov). The tool is free for use by anyone, and of special interest to historians of the Civil War.
The letters and maps of nine North Carolina soldiers are currently available with more being added over the next four years.
This project is a partnership of the State Library and State Archives.
You can access the time-map from a variety of places, including the official North Carolina Civil War Sesquicentennial website and our Digital Civil War Collection page on this blog. You’ll notice the time-map is in Beta, so we could really use some feedback from people about the tool before it goes “prime-time” in April. Also of note is the “Traveling Civil War Photo Exhibit at the Government and Heritage Library,” which is currently ongoing.