Park Launches New Map Project
For nearly 40 years Richmond National Battlefield Park has relied upon a series of battlefield maps prepared by legendary Park Service historian Ed Bearss. These troop movement maps show, in as much detail as possible, the positions of each unit at the battlefields of Beaver Dam Creek, Gaines' Mill, Savage's Station, Glendale (Frayser's Farm), Malvern Hill, Cold Harbor, Fort Harrison, and Darbytown Road.
Work commenced this winter to revise and improve those maps. Beaver Dam Creek will be the first in the series to be produced. Park historians have the advantage of using research tools that are far more complete and numerous than what was available in 1960. The first step is to pursue every primary account of the battle they can find. Using those sources, the historians hope to piece together the correct alignment of each regiment, Union and Confederate, that fought in that battle.
The base map for this project is being prepared by a cartographer in Fredericksburg. It will be multi-colored, showing the ground as it was in 1862, with terrain lines, streams, houses, and roads all clearly marked. The final product will be a series of six maps that document the evolution of the battle near Mechanicsville on June 26, 1862.
These new maps will be important tools in the park's research arsenal for many reasons. They will benefit battlefield visitors (many of them descended from Civil War soldiers) by providing accurate and accessible information on where specific units fought. The maps and their accompanying documentation also will prove, with more thoroughness, where action occurred. This will increase awareness of these historic sites, and can only help in the preservation of hallowed ground.
The set of Beaver Dam Creek troop movement maps should be available for purchase some time in the latter part of 2001.