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26 May, 2008

 Products The Guns of Gettysburg Design Diary In Whose Name?

The Guns of Gettysburg Design Diary: In Whose Name?

Adding names to the map is an exercise that is at once trivial, vexing, and rewarding. It is trivial because it is hard to really feel like you’re doing anything in the least bit creative while you’re doing it: you read the name on your source, you add it to your map, and repeat, repeat, repeat. It can be vexing because different sources don’t necessarily agree on spelling, and it is hard to feel productive when you’re spending time trying to figure out whether the name of a feature is “Herr Ridge” or “Herr’s Ridge". It can be rewarding because oddly enough, when you’re done, it rather magically converts your work from a picture to a map. Such is the power of words and the such is hold of language on our consciousness.

Broadly speaking, four categories of names have gone onto the map. First, there are names of local importance that had nothing to do with the battle, such as the name of the town and the major roads. Second, there are the names that became famous because of the blood shed over them during the battle, such as The Peach Orchard, Culp’s Hill, and so on. Third, there are the names of the local property owners and their tenants; these are of no military importance but adding them gives the map a human dimension and allows us to establish an emotional connection with it. Fourth, there are names that are needed to keep the naming reasonably uniform, to avoid names clustering where the fighting historically took place while leaving the rest of the map oddly empty-looking.

Names in the first two categories are trivially easy to research. Every map of the area has them and the spelling is reasonably uniform, apart from the inability of history to decide whether the possessive form is apprpriate for the ridges and hills named for local landowners. (“McPherson Ridge” or ”McPherson’s Ridge”? “Benner Hill” or “Benner’s Hill”?)

Names in the third category are enough to make you go mad if you don’t maintain a relaxed attitude about them. I have four primary map sources for property owner names: the 1858 Adams County Wall Map, the 1863 Cope Horseback Survey map, the 1868 War Dept. wap, and the 1904 Gettysburg National Park Commission map. There is one genuine ambiguity here that is inconsistently resolved among the maps: is the name given to a property the name of the owner or, if the property is being let, the name of the tenant? That alone, however, cannot even begin to account for the amazing variations between the various maps, which even when they are in general agreement as to the name they use to mark the property, are frequently in disagreement as to how to spell it. Also, of the four maps, two of them – the 1858 and 1863 map – are also not professionally surveyed and are not by means precisely accurate as to where exactly a particular property would be, and one of them was made 40 years after the battle and seems to show an inconsistent mix of old and new property owners. Here are some samples from each of the four old sources. (Note – these do not all show exactly the same area of coverage; coverage adjustments have been made for differences in type size and name placement.)

Adams County Wall Map, 1858
Names 1858
Cope Horseback Survey Map, 1863
Names 1863
War Dept. Map, 1868
Names 1868
Park Comission Map, 1904
Names 1904

As can be seen in the above, the maps kind of agree, but differences abound. Some look like differences of omission (some show the toll gate, others don’t). Others look like just spelling, copying, or transcription errors: "J. Leeper" (1863) vs. "J. Leafer" (1868) vs. "I. Leeper" (1904)? Others are flat-out contradictions: does the property north of the railroad belong to "H. Mirmich" (?) (1858) or "N. Grist" (?) (1868)? Originally my names were transcribed from the 1868 map, and later on I got the other maps shown. Finally, I got a modern attempt to reconcile all of this, the 1998 Friends of of the National Parks at Gettysburg map, a section of which is shown below along with the corresponding section of the game map as it currently stands:

Friends of Gettysburg Map, 1998
Names 1998
Game Map
Names Game

I follow the Friends map more than any of the others at this point, but not everything on the game map is as shown on the Friends map. There are some buildings that are identified on other maps but not on the Friends map, and so other maps were used for those names. Also, the Friends map does not cover the southern edge of the game board at all, so the southern map edge names are largely reconstructed from the 1858, 1863, 1904, and 1908 maps (the last does not show names, but it does show farm locations). For the southern edge, the most important source on farm locations is the 1904 map, and the most important source for names is the 1863 map, although there is some guesswork as to which 1904 map properties are associated with which 1863 map names, since the 1863 map is a sketch map that is not very accurate regarding locations.

Overall, the effort to put together the names in the third category has been generally successful, I think (even if additional revisions are certain to occur), but the fourth category of names remains troublesome. Generally, I have names for hills, ridges, and runs only if they were significant in the battle. For all the others, I have very few names, with the result that the names for those types of features are very unevenly distributed on the board. Oddly enough, I have seen that some other Gettysburg games have names for features that I do not. This puzzles me as my map sources are really pretty darn good. Evidently, however, others have tapped into sources that have so far escaped my notice. The good news is that evidently there are more sources to be found so I should be able to do better than I’ve done to date, but the bad news is that it means still more map research. Oh, well…

Those who’ve played my other games will know that a new map means new typefaces. The main typeface used here is Albertina, which is used throughout the map: sometimes in regular, sometimes in medium, sometimes in bold, and sometimes in italics. It is always, however used in its small-caps style. Albertina was chosen because it had a sturdy, nineteenth-century America look. The small-caps style was chosen because it has very few curves, with the letters consisting almost entirely of straight lines, which is generally in keeping with the map (the man-made portions of it anyway). This straight-edge style generally follows the 1868 map, which was my main source map. That map uses curves for natural features, but almost never for man-made ones, and I thought this contrast appropriate for a society leaving the agrarian era and entering the industrial one. I thought it appropriate that the social tension arising from that transition, should be reflected in artistic tension in the map design.

Anyway, here is the map with the names added. (At least the names added as of this date – minor name changes may be process that continues up to the very minute that the map is sent to the printers.) As usual, click to zoom in:

The Guns of Gettysburg Names Map

Gettysburg Names

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