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The Cogs of War!

04/16/2010

Yesterday we bid a fond farewell to Charles “Ross” Heyl, our wonderful intern from Virginia Commonwealth University. Ross spent 135 hours conducting research for The Soldier in Virginia Database—an interactive program that will appear in the Waging War portion of the exhibition.

Using an interactive touch table,The Soldier in Virginia Database allows visitors to see the point-of-origin for every regiment—Union and Confederate—that participated in each of thirty-seven Virginia battles.

The database also dramatically compares the casualties suffered by each state during the battle. If, for example, Massachusetts soldiers suffered 50 percent of the casualties at Manassas (Bull Run) and Virginia suffered 10 percent, the map would show Massachusetts as being five times as large as Virginia.

Easily searchable at the state and county level, the database also offers a unit history and casualties of every infantry and cavalry regiment and artillery battery that served in each battle.

Collecting the information hasn’t been easy because it’s scattered among a variety of sources including: The American Civil War Research DatabaseThe Civil War Soldier’s and Sailor’s System, the Official Records of the War of the Rebellion, the Adjutant General reports of the various states, and individual regimental histories.

To date, the Virginia Historical Society has dedicated nearly 1,000 hours to the task of collecting information about the 1,069 Federal regiments and nearly 500 Confederate regiments in the database.

Here are a couple of early concept images that show how the database might look:

Do you have an ancestor that served as a soldier in Virginia during the war? If so, give them a shout-out by posting a comment.

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