Visualizing Partisan Rangers During the American Civil War

Project Lead:

Barton Myers, Associate Professor of History

Team:

Jeff Barry, Associate University Librarian
Hannah Austin ’17
John Crum ’17
Zachary Howard ’17
Alex Kirven ’17

Project URL: Forthcoming

Project Description:

In April 1862, the Confederate Congress, desperate to deal with mounting manpower shortages and the problem of controlling remote, unprotected areas of its 750,000+ square miles of territory, adopted an official military policy to promote and control the use of guerrilla warfare and petite guerre. Their experimental military policy, part of a national strategy to win independence, created an authorized service of partisan rangers, men tasked with intelligence gathering, resource procurement, raiding warfare, and harassing the enemy behind-the-lines of regular armies. Like the Continental Congress during the American Revolution, Confederates were facing the most powerful military force in the world, and their experimentation on the edges of military convention led to many different technologies and schemes.

Indeed, the Confederate experience with experimenting in guerrilla warfare is a pivotal moment in American military history. The U.S. government’s reaction to Confederate guerrilla warfare spawned the Union Army’s own General Orders No. 100 in 1863, also known as Francis Lieber’s Code, which recognized sanctioned partisans as legitimate but struggled to define the many types of wartime irregular forces. The code would eventually become one of the seminal documents at the base of the international system of laws of war to the present day. Yet, for all of the writing on the American Civil War, the study of Civil War guerrillas remains in its infancy.

Among the most well-known of these sanctioned irregulars was John Singleton Mosby, who organized and led the 43rd Battalion of Virginia Cavalry also known as Mosby’s Partisan Rangers. This hardened combat unit so dominated Fairfax, Fauquier, Loudon, and Prince William counties in northern Virginia from 1863 through 1865 that it became known as “Mosby’s Confederacy.” This ongoing digital humanities project on the partisan rangers and the military policy that sanctioned their activities includes the development of a comprehensive list of sanctioned Confederate Partisan Ranger units, digital mapping related to the recruitment of these units, and the creation of the first comprehensive social, political, and military history of Confederate Partisan Rangers. Through the use of digitized Civil War source materials, including compiled military service records and official records from the war, the study demonstrates the geographic extent of the Confederacy’s use of authorized petite guerre during the conflict.

If the Pulitzer-prize winning southern author Robert Penn Warren is correct, and the American Civil War is the seminal event of our history, then the military failure of the Confederacy and the many experiments that came with it remain some of the most important military defeats for Americans to study and understand. In the end, this digital humanities project will illuminate another dark corner of America’s bloodiest conflict.

Recognition:
Mellon Summer Research Grant, Summer 2016 (Digital Humanities, History in the Public Sphere)

Methodology: CartoDB, mapping, and public history

Literary Networks

Project Lead:

Jeff Barry, Associate University Librarian

Team:

Mackenzie Brooks, Assistant Professor and Digital Humanities Librarian
Brandon Walsh, Assistant Professor and Mellon Digital Humanities Fellow
Jeff Knudson, Senior Technology Architect, ITS

Project URL: http://literarynetworks.org/

Project Description:

Ezra Pound exerted a monumental influence on the development of modernism through small literary journals, “little magazines”, that existed to promote appreciation of literature and the arts. Pound was the consummate networker, a skill he used to advance the careers of others more than his own. Scholarship on Pound as a literary impresario focuses on his involvement with early 20th century publications such as The English Review, The Little Review, Poetry and others. Likewise, Pound’s influence on the careers of James Joyce, T.S. Eliot, and William Butler Yeats are well documented. The incredible extent of Pound’s literary network has never been fully mapped. Likewise, all fiction and poetry produced today is sustained through a connection of writers, editors, and publishing outlets.

A framework for this initiative is the evolving nature of literary journals, especially the type known as “little magazines” that function as the places where most poetry and short stories are first published. Our starting point in this project is Shenandoah, a literary journal published since 1950 by Washington and Lee University (W&L).

Methodology: archives, data visualization, and linked data

German 403: Independent Study

In this Fall 2013 Independent Study course, Katie Jarrell and John Bruch began The Leipziger Illustrite Zeitung Project, under the guidance of Professor Paul Youngman.  This project focuses on photography and imagery in an illustrated newspaper, published in Leipzig, Germany from 1843-1944. The basis of our project was to create an online, public database of the photographs, since the LIZ is rich with interesting photos. To do this, we scanned each photograph and made an online archive using Omeka. In this digital archive, photos are tagged based on theme, location, and symbolic meaning. After completing the photo database, we also added the photos to Neatline, a digital mapping device. By choosing to color-code each photo thematically, we were able to use Neatline to view trends in the photos as they correlate to certain cities or countries. What we found was both expected and surprising. The current project focuses on the first two volumes of November 1935, although we hope to expand both the Omeka archive and the Neatline map to include many more of the available volumes.

Stonewall Jackson Cemetery website

Project Lead:

Carol Hansen Karsch, Data & Statistical Support Specialist, University Library

Team:

Emily Crawford ’14

Project URL: http://library2.wlu.edu/SJCemetery/

Project Description:

The W&L University Library has created a searchable website for the local Stonewall Jackson Cemetery. The census of the tombstones was spearheaded by Rockbridge County resident, Tom Kastner, who also provided photos of the graves. Recognizing the value of the project, the University Library offered to design, develop and host a searchable website so the information and photos would be available to anyone interested in learning more about the people who are buried there. The site includes information on: dates of birth, death, the war in which a veteran served, spouse, children, occupation and location within the cemetery. Carol Hansen Karsch, the library’s Data & Statistical Support Specialist, created the website, and supervised Emily Crawford, a W&L classics major, who undertook the massive job of resizing the photos for the web. It is anticipated that the census, approximately 60 percent complete, will be up to date within two years.

Methodology: archives and mapping