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22 May, 2008

 Products The Guns of Gettysburg Design Diary Two Watches

The Guns of Gettysburg Design Diary: Two Watches

“A man with one watch always knows what time it is. A man with two is never sure.”

–– Segal’s Law

If I had only the 1868 War Dept. map of Gettysburg or if I had only the 1858 Adams County map of Gettysburg, I could die a happy man knowing that I had a detailed reliable source map of the town of Gettysburg. Sadly, however, I have both and they often don’t agree. It isn’t that they disagree on anything substantial (in fact there is nothing at the scale of The Guns of Gettysburg that could be affected in the smallest degree by the differences between them), it is that they disagree much at all that I find disturbing. The differences can be seen below:

Adams County 1858 Map
Town 1858
War Dept. 1868 Map.
Town 1868

I originally copied my art for the town from the 1868 map, and was chagrined when I later obtained a copy of the 1858 map to discover so many differences. Up to that point, I had prided myself that every single building on the map (well, almost all – see below) was based on a source that actually put a building there, and that every single building on that part of 1868 map was present on the game board. For obsessive personalities such as myself, this sort of thing is pleasing even when it is of no real use whatsoever. But the 1858 map threw me into doubt: is the 1858 map better? Should I re-do the artwork based on it?

In its favor the 1858 map included an actual directory as to what the individual buildings were – a strong claim to accuracy. On the other hand, the angles of the streets were clearly not always quite right (it does not appear to have been professionally surveyed), and the general accuracy of the 1858 map for the county as a whole (as opposed to the Gettysburg town map which is an inset) is quite modest. For its part, the 1868 map was professionally surveyed and was part of a larger map that had demonstrated its accuracy time and time again, and while it did not claim to identify what the individual buildings were, for at least the buildings in the countryside, it did claim to identify what they were all made of (little “w”s marked wood buildings and little “b”s marked brick buildings). So which was the better map?

This is the sort of thing that can drive me nuts. Once I finish a task, I dislike revisiting it except when it is clearly necessary, and there was no clear necessity for the town map to be accurate to the last building and fence. However, every time I looked at the town on the game board, I had this nagging fear that I had wasted hours painstakingly drawing an elaborate fiction. I wasn’t particularly worried about criticism. When I first did Marengo, I decided after it was printed that I had probably made a mistake regarding the locations of some of the French units at the start of the battle. (There are a lot of controversies regarding the battle, owing in part to the fact that the French kept offering new versions of what happened and the Austrians had little to say about it.) This worried me a lot and I braced myself for attacks from customers annoyed with the poor quality of my research … and got none. Not one person ever complained about it. What I got complaints about was the road rules. This taught me a valuable lesson: gamers like history, but they expect their historical games to be good games first and good history second. They don’t expect the designers of their games to be professional cartographers/historians, but they do expect them to be professional game designers. Lesson learned.

Anyway, where was I? Oh yes. Town-of-Gettysburg-accuracy-driving-me-nuts. The reason it drove me nuts is that I couldn’t avoid seeing it. Working on the game means that I look at the map all the time, and the town is right in the center with all of these roads leading to it that point like arrows saying “Look at me!”.

As it happens, the matter still isn’t entirely settled, but I did get another map (I actually wasn’t looking for it as yet another source for the town) published in 1998 by the Friends of the National Parks at Gettysburg organization, which the authors (happily for me) say includes a painstakingly researched reconstruction of the town at the time of the battle. While the Friends map has some issues of its own apart from the town (there is a road on it that I don’t think wasn’t there at the time of the battle, and it has some distortion issues towards the edges that become visible when the map is overlaid onto both other maps and aerial imagery), it does tend to largely confirm the 1868 map with regard to the town. I think at this point that the 1858 map may have been deliberately left incomplete and was focused mainly on showing the businesses listed in the guide rather than every building in town. In any case, while errors on my part are still possible (indeed, to some extent, inevitable), at this point I think my efforts are largely in line with preponderance of the evidence and are generally reasonable. With that, I can be happy.

War Dept. 1868 Map.
Town 1868
Friends of Gettysburg 1998 Reconstruction
Town 1858
Game Board.
Town Game

There is one other research problem connected with buildings: the recurring problem of the southern edge of the board. The 1868 War. Dept. map and the Friends of Gettysburg map both indicate where farm buildings were, but neither covers this strip. (The two maps in fact have almost identical coverage, which isn’t surprising when you consider that the 1868 map was the main source for the Friends map.) For the southern strip, my best sources for buildings are the 1:18,000 1904 Gettysburg National Park Comission map, which shows most of the strip and I also have the 1:50,000 1908 U. S. Army Map Service map. The 1908 map, it should be noted, shows the locations of farms but does not actually show individual buildings. Using these two sources, I have put together my best-guess map for the southern strip area. You can see the sources and the game board below:

1904 1:18,000 Map

1908 1:50,000 Map

Gameboard Map

Graphically I keep my building art pretty simple. It is really just a single rectangular shape repeated over and over stretched in one or more dimensions and rotated one direction or another. While I did not add fences for the battlefield as a whole, I did add fences around the farm buildings, as it tends to pull them together graphically and create a nicer effect. In general, farm buildings were copied directly from the 1868 map as shown below:

War. Dept. 1868 Map
Buildings 1858
Game Art.
Buildings Game Map

And now, here is the game board with all the buildings drawn in. As usual, click to zoom in:

The Guns of Gettysburg Buildings Map

Gettysburg Buildings

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