A couple of days ago I posted about a news item that Eric Wittenberg mentioned on his blog. To recap, the folks at Gettysburg National Military Park are thinking about reviving the Electric Map in the form of a film presentation.
Critics of the map said that it was too big and too antiquated, and I agree. But I can also sympathize with those who miss seeing the battle play out in three dimensions, and I think that basic approach remains the best way to demonstrate the troop movements for visitors. Given that fact, and all the uproar, I wondered in my post (as I’ve wondered before) why the NPS didn’t utilize fiber optic technology to create a smaller, modernized, smoother version of the Electric Map for the twenty-first century, such as the one at Cowpens National Battlefield.
I should’ve thought of this before I published that post, but I decided to see if I could find an online video of the Cowpens map, so those of you who haven’t been there could see what I was talking about. To my surprise, I found one.
The ex-museum guy in me gets all giddy over this sort of thing. This baby is remarkably compact, located inside a tiny auditorium with a few benches. There’s a separate map above it that depicts the overall strategic situation in the Revolutionary South, although in this clip it’s replaced with illustrations.
Now imagine one of these in the new visitor center at Gettysburg, along with a fiber optic wall map to show the invasion of Pennsylvania and Lee’s retreat back into Virginia. I think it’d be pretty sweet, and visitors could still get that three-dimensional orientation that the Electric Map provided—without the bulk and noise.