GSA Connects 2021 in Portland, Oregon

Paper No. 189-4
Presentation Time: 2:30 PM-6:30 PM


ANDREWS Jr., William, Kentucky Geological Survey, Univ of Ky, 228 Mining and Mineral Resources Bldg, Lexington, KY 40506-0107

Civil War tactics and weapons combined to make Civil War battlefields some of the bloodiest engagements in American military history for the numbers engaged and duration of battles. Every casualty in this conflict represented a human life damaged and a family disrupted, so it can be important to understand the factors that affected the high casualty rates. Terrain was a key factor for Civil War battlefield tactics and outcomes. The terrain of different battlefields is directly related to the underlying geology. Use of LiDAR terrain models for visibility analysis demonstrates the lethality of selected battlefield positions. This analysis uses high resolution LiDAR terrain models and detailed interpretation of individual artillery and infantry locations.

The first phase of this analysis focuses on visibility and available firepower from relatively static unfortified defensive positions that dealt heavy casualties to attacking forces. Examples include Pickett’s Charge at Gettysburg Pennsylvania (July 3, 1863) and Donelson’s Confederate attack at Perryville Kentucky (October 8 1862). The analysis incorporates landscape visibility from the perspective of a standing soldier, the range of available weapons, and the quantity and location of available weapons. Atmospheric visibility (ie. fog or battlefield smoke) is not incorporated in this analysis, nor are the human factors of accuracy or diminishing intensity of fire as casualties accumulate. A major limitation of this analysis is that the accuracy of the terrain model exceeds the precise knowledge of specific historic troop or gun locations. However, this analysis can be used iteratively to infer the optimum placement of cannon or infantry units, on the (not always justified) assumption that experienced commanders should have intuitively placed their forces on the terrain to achieve maximum impact on attackers.