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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