ATLANTA – This week marks the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Atlanta, one of the key conflicts of the Civil War, and researchers at Emory University's Center for Digital Scholarship have released a mobile app for the tour.
"We developed the Battle of Atlanta mobile application in order to provide a 21st century version of the historical markers that mark sites of the Battle of Atlanta and other Civil War landmarks around the city," said Dr. Daniel Pollock, a physician, Civil War scholar and co-developer of the program.
After more than two years in development, the Web-based and GPS-enabled application contains copious information about the major campaigns fought throughout the city. The fight began ramping up on July 22, 1864, as Union Gen. William T. Sherman's troops advanced on Confederate Gen. John B. Hood's forces.
After years of growth, virtually all of the sites have been developed and paved over. Much of what remains are scores of random historical markers scattered far and wide. The app's intent is simplicity and historical accuracy.
"So the Battle of Atlanta was really important in the Civil War because it was the moment in which Sherman's forces set the Confederacy back far enough that it enabled Abraham Lincoln to be re-elected as president," said Emory digital scholar Brian Croxall. "His campaign for the re-election in 1864 was anything but a sure bet until the Atlanta campaign was concluded."
The developers narrowed their focus to what they believe are the 12 major historical sites. One of those sites is the August Hurt House where Sherman set up his field headquarters. It's the present-day location of The Carter Center, the library of former President Jimmy Carter.
Janice Reed, an operating room nurse, recently took part of the tour with her daughter and granddaughter.
"It was just so fascinating that someone had finally did this where you could go online, you could get in your car and go to where the battlefield was and get a concept of how the Battle of Atlanta was fought."
In order to make the application as easy to use as possible, open source code was used.
"We wanted to use a web app, a web-based application instead of something for the Apple iTunes app store or Google Plays store because we wanted to hit as many people as possible," Croxall states. "We wanted to make it easy so you don't have to install something; you can just simply go to the website and it will work on any Internet device regardless of which operating system it uses."