As commemorations of the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Fredericksburg take place, the Civil War Trust has launched a pair of multimedia phone apps available to the public at no cost.
These efforts are designed to deepen public understanding of the battle and its unique place in American history; with more than 200,000 participants, no Civil War battle featured a higher concentration of soldiers than Fredericksburg, which also marked the first incidence of intense urban combat during the conflict and the first major opposed river crossing in American military history.
“Although history lovers know that the past is anything but static, traditional media, like textbooks, offer limited means to demonstrate just how dynamic the events experienced by our ancestors really were,” said Trust president James Lighthizer. “But by using 21st century technology to integrate video, audio and other media, we can create an immersive and interactive experience, helping 19th century history appeal to a whole new generation.”
First released in May 2011, the Trust’s Fredericksburg Battle App has received a major upgrade and overhaul in time for the battle’s sesquicentennial anniversary. Like all the titles in the Battle App series, the unique smartphone tour features a detailed, GPS-enabled map that includes a wealth of virtual signs and other points of interest.
Within ther app 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. This major anniversary update also integrates a selection of new sites and supporting media, as well as the Trust's “Field Glasses AR” viewer, which allows you to use augmented reality to locate key battlefield landmarks. Visitors to Fredericksburg will be able to participate in an interactive Battlefield Challenge, urging them to explore the field and share their discoveries.
Trust Battle Apps are undertaken with the support of the National Park Service staff and the assistance of History Associates, Inc., and developed in partnership with NeoTreks, Inc., an industry leader in mobile GPS-based touring apps. The project was made possible through the generous support of the Virginia Department of Transportation, through its transportation enhancement matching grant program.
To date, nearly 100,000 people have downloaded one of the 10 titles in the Battle App series. Detailed information on the format and specific capabilities of the Fredericksburg Battle App, and the other nine titles in the series, is available at this website.
The Fredericksburg Battle App can also be downloaded directly from the Apple iTunes App Store or Google Play App Store. Those who have already downloaded the Fredericksburg Battle App can access the new content as an update without needing to reinstall the entire product.
For those who can’t make it to central Virginia in person for the anniversary, the Trust’s Fredericksburg360 offering — with stirring panoramic images to help viewers appreciate the beautiful and significant scenery of the battlefield — is the next best thing. A wealth of clickable points of interest on each panorama lead to historian videos and other resources that bring the Fredericksburg landscape to life.
All of the detailed panoramic images are linked together, so it’s possible to travel, virtually, across the Rappahannock, through the streets of town, up the bloody slopes of Marye’s Heights, along Prospect Hill and to the Slaughter Pen Farm. Never has it been easier to see and appreciate the true nature of the battlefield — except in person. Check out the Trust’s Fredericksburg360 at www.civilwar.org/fredericksburg360.