For this weeks practicum I created a map using Google Map Engine showing the campaigns of the 1st Michigan Cavalry Regiment. The main take away, for me, was the sheer level of drudgery involved in a project like this. Using as my base data the service record of the regiment provided on the National Parks Service site, I input every service entry for the regiment from January 1864 through their mustering out in 1866. Despite the user friendly interface of Google Map Engine, this was a lot of work for two reasons. First, without an importable csv. there was the pure data entry of putting in each of the events. In addition, the data was not “clean” and I had to spend a substantial amount of time trying to find locations for each of these events, as not all came up in a simple google maps search. I had some success finding stuff using google and wikipedia (wikipedia was especially useful as the entries for several, but not all, of the battles had lat/long data that could be easily posted into the map engien), but even my end result is still only a partial solution, as finding the exact location of each of these events would require weeks of research.
For my map, I created layers for each year that can be displayed together or independently. Generally speaking, I marked each battle with a flag icon, each non-battle military event (“expedition,” “reconnaissance,” “demonstration,” etc.) with a horse icon, and occupations or encampments with a house symbol. The Grand Review got its own icon of two men walking in step (intended as hikers, but it worked ok for my purpose). For this classification, I used the assumption that anything not labeled otherwise was a battle. Movements with specified start and end points are shown as lines (such as the “Movement to Fort Leavenworth”), and I included two polygons for the Sheridan’s Shenandoah Campaign and the Expedition into Loudon and Faquier Counties to show the rough area of operations. Each icon is named using the title used by the NPS, and the description containing the date of the operation. This allows viewers to toggle back and forth between which is displayed using the label dropdown menu.