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19 May, 2008

 Products The Guns of Gettysburg Design Diary Road Show

The Guns of Gettysburg Design Diary: Road Show

To me, the visual signature of maps of the Gettysburg battlefield is the network of roads converging on Gettysburg from all points of the compass. This convergence of roads is in fact why a battle occured at Gettysburg in the first place; with both armies moving around in a relatively small area in southern Pennsylvania, Gettysburg was a hard place for them to avoid.

In addition to the web of roads connecting Gettysburg with more distant towns, there were two other types of road on the battlefield: first, the grid of streets in the town of Gettysburg itself, and second, a variety of local roads whose main function was to service various farms in the countryside.

From a research point of view, the road network was not generally difficult, but it did have a few odd wrinkes. First, my main source of information about the battlefield, the 1868 1:12,000 War Dept. map, so clear about the main roads and town streets (and many, many other tiny details as well), was remarkably shy about showing the locations of the local roads. Generally, their presence could only be inferred by the presence of parallel fence-lines and odd cuts through the various woods dotting the battlefield, some examples of which are shown below:

Is this a road?
How about this?

In many cases, this ambiguity sent me scurrying to other sources for confirmation as to where local roads actually existed, but inconsistencies the various sources still remain. Some of these may be due to scale, others due to differences between when the various maps were made, and others undoubtably due to editorial differences among the mapmakers as to whether this or that country path was of sufficient dignity to merit inclusion as a road on their map. Some samples of these variations are shown below (the last map, by the way, is a 1998 reconstruction of the battlefield as it was in 1863 put out by the Friends of the National Parks at Gettysburg organization):

1904 Park Commission, 1:18,000
1908 Army Map Service, 1:50,000
1946 Army Map Service, 1:25,000
1998 Friends of Gettysburg Reconstruction, 1:15,000

In general, after having made multiple passes over the map, I’m pretty satisfied that everything I show as a road actually matches something that actually existed on the battlefield. That there could be some path that I have omitted but which should have been included is more than a little likely and I may do more revisions of the local road network between now and publication.

Another issue is that it isn’t always clear which roads should be regarded as lowly local roads and which should bear the lofty designation of main road. There are roads that clearly merited being classed as main roads, as they connected Gettysburg to more distant towns. There are also roads which cleary merited the designation of local roads, roads that dead-ended at a farm. There are, however, in-between roads; such as alternate routes for long-distance travel that would branch off of one main road and then connect to another one several miles away. Of course, I could have designated a third class of road, but I dislike resolving problems by introducing ever-growing distinctions into the rules. (A third class of road, for example, would still leave roads that are intermediate between the newly created class and the one above and below it.) And so, I determined to try to just do the best I could with the existing categories.

Graphically, I broke with my prior work in rendering roads in a couple of ways. First, rather than use color to differentiate between main and local roads, I used double line vs. broken line instead. I think the double-line is a nice effect, and I considered using it before, but double-lines are frankly a nuisance to render. However, I decided to go ahead and bite the bullet this time. I think they look good and am glad I went to the trouble to draw them up.

Main roads.
Main Roads
Local roads.
Local Roads

There is one other graphical element worth noting: the Gettysburg & Hanover railroad, which was actually only partly completed at the time of the battle. The section of the railroad running northeast from Gettysburg was complete and functioning, but the section of the railroad to northwest was not. Graphically the completed section was represented by a conventional rails-and-ties image, but for the incomplete section I decided to go with just the ties. I have no reason to think that this was the actual state of the railroad, but it is, I think, a nice way to visually identify for the players what it is they’re looking at:

Unfinished Railroad.
Unfinished Railroad
Finished Railroad.
Finished Railroad

And to close, here is the gameboard with the road network added. As usual, click to view to zoom in:

The Guns of Gettysburg Road Map

Gettysburg Roads

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