|Here is a quick legend defining the different military symbols and terrain features shown on the maps, as well as the concepts behind the size and placement of units, and measuring time on a Civil War battlefield.
1. Map Legend
A basic understanding of the use of the symbols on the map pages of this website is necessary for a good interpretation of the battle. First, the regiment icons do not represent the real size and frontage of the unit in combat. After taking into account casualties, stragglers, coffee coolers, and those detached under orders it would be almost impossible to determine the actual size of a unit at any one time during the battle. However, some care was taken to insure that all the units are accurately sized in relation to one another. What this means is, a 400 man regiment is going to have an icon that is twice as large as the icon of a 200 man regiment. Even then, some variations were made in order to “fit” all the units necessary on the map. For example, it is very difficult to make the icons of the two Union divisions fit in their deployment area south of Leverett's Mill. Making every icon an accurate size, fitting them on the map, and making them legible would be almost impossible. So, some compromises were made. Overall, though, the look and basic positions of the units are accurate.
On the brigade level maps, no attempt was made to represent actual brigade frontages or sizes. The intent on the larger maps is to show an overview of the battle, instead of worrying about unit sizes.
If you find the position of a unit to be inaccurate, please use the Contact Us page and let me know. I’d love to see more research and am more than willing to change any errors.
Let's talk a little bit about the maps and the times listed on them. First, keeping track of time was very subjective during the Civil War. Few soldiers, or even officers, had watches. Those officers that did have watches were generally higher level field officers; colonels and generals. The watches were unreliable, not because of any poor construction, but because there was no standard time synchronization. An officer might set his watch to a local town clock, or another officer, which in turn could be different from an officer in another unit. Add to this the fact that the watch could run down and need rewinding before it slows down the hands and you can see the problems in everyone keeping track of the same time. Now add to this the enemy and his attempts to keep track of time and report it, and you can see the problems with making a timeline for a battle and the units moving around on the field.
The times listed on the maps are approximates, based on the reports and writings of the two combatants in the opposing armies. What is important is the chronology- the sequence in which events happened. One regiment moving on the 5:45 PM map may have actually started moving at 5:33 PM and finished moving at 5:48 PM. The important thing to consider is that when it moved, it moved after the events shown on the 5:30 PM map but before those on the 6:00 PM map.
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