Dead Confederates, A Civil War Era Blog

1865 Galveston in Google Earth

Posted in Technology by Andy Hall on July 3, 2011

Google Earth is a pretty amazing tool, whose functionality is often limited only by the imagination of the user. One feature that I enjoy and use frequently, is to add an “image overlay,” which essentially allows the user to take maps and diagrams from other sources from other sources and lay them out on the modern, aerial views stored in Google. It takes practice, particularly in scaling the original image to match plot in Google Earth, but usually worth the effort. In doing the research on my post on the Henry Wirz execution photos, for example, I overlaid a diagram of the Old Capitol Prison to see how it fits on the site. While it’s usually state that the current Supreme Court building occupies that site, in fact most of the Old Capitol Prison stood in what is now the plaza in front of the Supreme Court, and the gallows were located about halfway between the front steps and of the present-day court and the curb:

Is this information useful to anyone? Probably not, unless you happen to be a history-cartography-techo-dweeb, in which case it’s priceless.

Anyway, for those interested, here are the Google Earth files for Galveston in 1865, from Plate XXXVIII of the Atlas for the Official Records (2MB), and for the Old Capitol Prison (215K). Google Earth is required.

Are there any other good Civil War-related Google Earth applications I should know about?


3 Responses

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  1. Nora Carrington said, on July 4, 2011 at 5:57 pm

    That you, Andy, are a “history-cartography-techo-dweeb” is exactly why we love you so 🙂

  2. Dudley Bokoski said, on July 17, 2011 at 3:54 pm

    That’s a great screen shot. I’ve used Google Earth on my blog to illustrate points related to the geography of the Civil War, because it is so easy to copy the code into the layout. But I’ve never done anything this sophisticated. It really adds value.

    • Andy Hall said, on July 17, 2011 at 4:01 pm

      Thanks. The upper shot is actually a blend of modern and historic maps in Photoshop, but it gives the idea.

      I would think Google Earth, with its 3D terrain, would be especially useful in understanding troop movements and positions, because it shows features that are perhaps less obvious on traditional, flat maps. Nothing beats walking the actual ground, but it could be a very useful adjunct.

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