Animated Map Lets You Watch the Unfolding of Every Day of the U.S. Civil War (1861-1865)

The border-obsessed map animator known as Emperor Tigerstar views war from a distance. The Emperor leaves such details as journal entries, letters home, and tales of valor and cowardice for other history buffs.

His niche is meticulously clocking the defeat and triumph in terms of shifting territories, by year, by fortnight, and, in the case of World War I and World War II, by day.

His five minute take on the American Civil War, above, leaves out most of the hair-raising small scale skirmishes familiar from the pages of The Red Badge of Courage.

Trans-Mississippi Theater aside, it also makes plain how little ground the Confederates gained after 1861.

The Blue and the Gray are here represented by blue and red, with the mustard-colored disputed border states picking sides before the first minute is out. (The Union’s Naval Blockade is in formation within seconds.)


Maroon = Confederate States of America and territories

Red = Areas occupied by Confederate forces

Pink = Gains for that Day

Dark Blue = United States of America and territories

Blue = Areas occupied by Union forces.

Light blue = Gains for that day

Yellow = Border states / disputed areas.

The magnitude is moving, especially when paired with ground-level observations, be they fictional, historical or eyewitness.

Even the place-names on the map, which now were merely quaint, would take on the sound of crackling flame and distant thunder, the Biblical, Indian and Anglo-Saxon names of hamlets and creeks and crossroads, for the most part unimportant in themselves until the day when the armies came together, as often by accident as on purpose, to give the scattered names a permanence and settle what manner of life future generations were to lead.  

Historian Shelby Foote, The Civil War: A Narrative

Related Content:

Watch World War I Unfold in a 6 Minute Time-Lapse Film: Every Day From 1914 to 1918

Watch World War II Rage Across Europe in a 7 Minute Time-Lapse Film: Every Day From 1939 to 1945

“The Civil War and Reconstruction,” a New MOOC by Pulitzer-Prize Winning Historian Eric Foner

Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine. Her play, Fawnbook, opens in New York City later this fall. Follow her @AyunHalliday

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