I got thinking about this idea after talking with my parents, they wanted me to go with them to Gettysburg national park during spring break this year. Our family took a trip to Gettysburg many years ago and one thing I remember was getting a case of CD-ROMs that could be put into a computer to show different parts of the battle. I don’t think we ever actually got it to work but the basic idea came back to me recently. I think it would be very interesting to move through this space and see the events as they happened.
Trying to picture this in my head I am thinking of something like Google Earth or the Google Maps street view function. I want to give people the ability to zoom in and out and move from one area of the battle to another. By zooming out, viewers could see the movement of large units from a birds eye view. Then by zooming in closer using the street view perspective, one could clearly see the different terrain features in front of the different armies. Since these armies contained regiments from a variety of states, users could search for one particular regiment or other unit and see its progress and other statistics and historical data from the program.
Obviously the basic concept of this idea has already been conceived by the good folks working for the park service but its possible that they could use an update. Also, although I am thinking in terms of the major battlefield sites like Gettysburg, it could be interesting to try and make the tools to build one of these battlefield maps open source. It would allow people who live on or near the sites of different battles to create their own interactive map and submit it to a larger website for visitors to explore.