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iPhone is tour guide for city, battlefield
There's an app for that: Virginia, Civil War Trust launch 'battle app' for Fredericksburg's Civil War

 The Civil War Trust's Rob Shenk (left, director of Internet strategy and development) and President Jim Lighthizer look over a new 'battle app' that the group introduced.
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Date published: 5/5/2011


Fredericksburg's Civil War history just went digital in a big way.

People around the globe can now learn--via vivid and interactive multimedia--all about the Battle of Fredericksburg.

And that information is as handy, smart and intuitive as only an iPhone app can be.

Virginia Secretary of Transportation Sean T. Connaughton announced the software's debut yesterday during a press conference at the Courtyard Marriott in downtown Fredericksburg.

The project was made possible, in part, with VDOT's support and comes just as states and communities have begun observing the 150th anniversary of the nation's bloodiest conflict.

The department has committed to help underwrite 10 battle apps to encourage residents and visitors to explore the commonwealth's Civil War sites.

"Virginia is home to more significant Civil War sites than any other state, making it a top destination for heritage tourists exploring the events that took place 150 years ago," Connaughton said.

Next up are apps for Manassas-Bull Run, Gaines' Mill and Chancellorsville; the first of those should be available in time for the sesquicentennial of the Battle of First Manassas, on July 21.

House Speaker Bill Howell, holding up his own iPhone, called the Fredericksburg app "fantastic."

Russ Smith, superintendent of Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park, welcomed the innovation.

"Being able to tour a battlefield with the leading expert on that battle in your pocket is a wonderful thing," he said. "This app expands our reach tremendously and can greatly enhance the park visit through maps and illustrations. We are anxious to help develop apps for the park's other three battlefields."

Karen Hedelt, director of Fredericksburg's Department of Economic Development and Tourism, said the app's four tours transcend the national park's boundaries and include the street fighting that was a unique--but relatively little-known--feature of the battle.

iPhone in hand, people can wander out of a coffeehouse downtown, walk a couple of blocks to the Rappahannock River and get a dramatic idea of the sniper fire and hand-to-hand combat that Union soldiers experienced entering the town, as Confederate defenders tried to hold back the advancing Yankees.

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From the Civil War Trust's Fredericksburg battle app:

1. Maj. Gen. Ambrose Burnside was appointed to the command of the Army of the Potomac prior to the Battle of Fredericksburg. Who did he replace?

2. What was the name of the Confederate army that Robert E. Lee commanded at Fredericksburg?

3. What river did the Union army need to cross to attack the Confederates at Fredericksburg?

4. Confederate Brig. Gen. William Barksdale's Brigade tenaciously defended the town of Fredericksburg on Dec. 11, 1862. From what state did most of his soldiers come from?

5. This Confederate action did much to annoy and slow the start of the main Union attack on Dec. 13, 1862

6. This hero of Gettysburg nearly broke Stonewall Jackson's line by leading his troops through a swampy, undefended portion of the line.

7. The Washington Artillery did much to thwart the Union attacks towards Marye's Heights. From what southern city did this famous unit herald from?

8. Brig. Gen. Thomas Meagher of the Irish Brigade issued this item to be worn in his soldiers' hats prior to their assault on Marye's Heights.

ANSWERS: 1. Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan. 2. The Army of Northern Virginia. 3. The Rappahannock River. 4. Mississippi. Barksdale's Brigade was comprised of the 13th, 17th, 18th and 21st Mississippi regiments. 5. Maj. John Pelham moved two horse artillery pieces secretly onto the left flank of the Union army and opened fire. This surprise attack unnerved the Union command and led to the redeployment of Doubleday's division as reinforcement for the flank--thereby removing it from the upcoming attack. 6. Maj. Gen. George Meade. Meade, who would later command the Army of the Potomac at Gettysburg, surprised the Confederates on Prospect Hill when his forces emerged from a swampy section of the battlefield that the Confederates felt was impenetrable. 7. New Orleans 8. Sprigs of boxwood. The greenery was intended to emphasize this unit's Irish heritage. Unfortunately for the Irish Brigade, almost 50 percent of their ranks would fall before Marye's Heights.