Civil War Trust Debuts Multimedia Smartphone Tour of Richmond's Malvern Hill Battlefield
GPS-enabled tour launched simultaneously for iPhone and Android platforms
(Richmond, Va.)– The Civil War Trust, the nation’s largest nonprofit battlefield preservation organization, today announced the newest entry in its popular Battle App series — a free, multimedia and GPS-enabled smartphone tours of the Malvern Hill Battlefield, a unit of Richmond National Battlefield Park, available for both iPhone and Android phones. The project was underwritten with a grant from the Virginia Department of Transportation and created in partnership with NeoTreks, Inc., an industry leader in mobile GPS-based touring.
“Our primary goal for these Battle Apps is to make history come alive in whole new ways for visitors to these hallowed grounds,” said Trust president James Lighthizer. “By using the latest in 21st-century technology, we’re able to make exploring the past an immersive, interactive experience that appeals to a whole new generation.”
Like its predecessors, which explore the battles of Bull Run, Chancellorsville, Fredericksburg and Gettysburg, the new Malvern Hill Battle App includes video segments from top historians, period and modern imagery, and detailed topographical maps, all of which help bring the battlefield to life — plus a wealth of resource materials to provide valuable background information. Featuring GPS navigation, primary source material and the commentary of respected historians, the Malvern Hill Battle App offers the convenience of a self-guided tour with the benefits of an expert-led presentation — and all at no cost.
This launch marks the first time that the Trust has made versions of a Battle App available for both iPhone and Android simultaneously. The Bull Run Battle App for Android was launched in December 2011 and additional titles for this platform will be added in the coming months. To date, more than 35,000 people have downloaded the Trust’s Battle Apps, offerings which have, on average earned 4-star reviews from users.
The Trust’s ongoing Battle App project is made possible through the cooperation and generous support of the Virginia Department of Transportation. As the commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War continues, VDOT has committed to underwrite a total of nine further Battle Apps to encourage residents and visitors alike to explore the Commonwealth’s outstanding historic resources.
“As we enter the second year of the Civil War sesquicentennial, visitors are flocking to Virginia to explore our fascinating history,” said Secretary of Transportation Sean T. Connaughton. “The Commonwealth welcomes the opportunity to provide an innovative means to explore our historic sites.”
Another key feature of the Battle Apps is their ability to include the entire battlefield, not just its most well-travelled paths. While some of the “virtual signs” on the App’s 15-stop tour coincide with signage erected by the National Park Service, many other stops and points of interest are off the beaten path and outside what most visitors discover independently. The app is also designed to help visitors move beyond the battlefield and find other nearby historic sites of interest — a particularly valuable feature in the history-rich area around Richmond. With just a few clicks, users can identify these destinations, learn about their visitor services and even get directions from their current location.
“The Malvern Hill app will be great for both our first-time visitors and seasoned Civil War enthusiasts,” said park superintendent David Ruth. “We know they’ll appreciate the ability to hear the stories in the places where they happened, see videos of NPS Rangers giving talks, and to explore the battlefield at their own pace.”
At each stop on the GPS-guided tour, “virtual signs” contain a rich description of the historical significance of the site, along with photos, video commentary from battlefield experts and audio accounts from the soldiers and civilians who trod this ground during the Civil War. “Pinch-zoom”technology and customizable troop displays allow one to follow in the footsteps of the two armies stood and to learn how their attacks and counterattacks unfolded. In addition to providing a wealth of location-based historical accounts, the Malvern Hill Battle App includes resource material that will answer many questions that visitors to the battlefield have. Complete orders of battle for the two armies, a chronology of the battle, basic facts, an interactive quiz, and a strategic overview are all a part of this rich offering.
The Battle App series can be easily downloaded from a mobile device via Apple’s App Store or the AndroidMarket. Once the basic app is installed, users can then chose to fully download the audio and video elements to their device or to have that media streamed to you as you visit the different historical sites.
Thanks in part to the support of the Virginia Department of Transportation, the Civil War Trust is working to develop even more Battle App offerings in the coming months and years. Next in the development pipeline are Battle Apps for the Cedar Creek and Petersburg battlefields, with further product improvements and expansions are constantly in development.
The July 1, 1862 Battle of Malvern Hill was the final and climactic engagement of the Seven Days Battles. Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, new to command of the Army of Northern Virginia, had successfully ended the Union threat to capital at Richmond and doggedly pursued the retreating Federals as they made their way toward the safety of the James River and the Union gunboats. After missing an opportunity to strike a decisive blow at Glendale on June 30, Lee knew he had once last chance to destroy his opponent before he reached the river. The Union had taken up a strong defensive position atop Malvern Hill and the Confederate attackers launched a series of disjointed assaults, only to be repulsed by the strength of Union artillery. When darkness put an end to fighting, Lee had suffered more than 5,600 casualties, compared to only 2,100 men removed from Union ranks. The victory gave Union commanders the chance to complete their withdrawal relatively unmolested.
The Malvern Hill Battlefield is one of 13 units of Richmond National Battlefield Park. Last week, the National Park Service unveiled an extensive renovation, including new educational exhibits, at its Glendale Visitor Center, which covers the latter portion of the Seven Days Battles, including the actions at both Glendale and Malvern Hill.
For more information about the content, use and availability of GPS-enable Civil War Trust Battle Apps, please visit www.civilwar.org/battleapps.
The Civil War Trust is the largest nonprofit battlefield preservation organization in the United States. Its mission is to preserve our nation’s endangered Civil War battlefields and to promote appreciation of these hallowed grounds. To date, the Trust has preserved more than 32,000 acres of battlefield land in 20 states, including 949 acres at Malvern Hill. Learn more at www.civilwar.org, the home of the Civil War sesquicentennial.