New, computer-generated map of Gettysburg suggests Lee had a poor view of the battlefield

Why did Gen. Robert E. Lee order the ill-fated attack on Little Round Top during the Battle of Gettysburg?

Historians have long wrestled with that question, and now a geographer has come up with an answer, using sophisticated mapping software to re-create the battlefield exactly as Lee saw it.

The explanation: Lee simply couldn't see many of the Union soldiers amid the hills and valleys. As a result, the Confederate general underestimated his enemy's troop strength.

That's the conclusion of Middlebury College professor Anne Knowles, who oversaw the development of the map for the Smithsonian Institution to mark Gettysburg's 150th anniversary next week.

The panoramic map went live on the Smithsonian website Friday.