, Newburyport, MA

July 4, 2013

Gettysburg, 150 years later, and in palm of your hand


---- — SALEM — The Battle of Gettysburg, a turning point in the Civil War, was fought 150 years ago today in and around a small Pennsylvania town.

Thanks to a Salem State University history professor, one of the greatest battles in American history now can be waged in your living room or, if you prefer, your bathtub.

Emerson “Tad” Baker is co-author of the Gettysburg Concordance, an app sold at the Apple Store that presents the three-day battle moment by moment in the palm of your hand.

There are other Gettysburg software applications on the market for the 150th anniversary, but it’s unlikely few present the battle and entire campaign in such detail.

The Gettysburg Concordance has biographies of 1,400 officers and soldiers, information on every military unit that participated, more than 700 photos, drawings and paintings, 1,000 battle-related events in chronological order, aerial photos of the battlefield today with flags marking the spots where important events took place in 1863, letters and diary entries, links to other sites and a bibliography with nearly 200 primary and secondary sources.

And it’s all part of a tiny app that can be accessed on an iPhone or iPad — and in time, Baker hopes, on other computer devices.

“The way I describe it,” said Baker, “is it’s history the way you want it. You are your own personal guide to an historical event.”

Done in conjunction with two friends, James Kences and Ethan Whitaker, the Gettysburg Concordance is portable history that can be experienced in the classroom, the family living room or while walking the battlefield. Walk up to a monument or statue, Baker pointed out, tap your smartphone a few times and the photos, biographies and maps are staring you in the face.

“You can completely tour the battlefield,” he said. “And it’s not just the battlefield, it’s the whole campaign area.”

The app covers the major moments, like Pickett’s Charge and Little Round Top, but also the lesser known events of the campaign, like the Battle of Brandy Station, the largest cavalry engagement on U.S. soil.

Although other Civil War battles have been well-chronicled, Gettysburg lends itself to this kind of in-depth treatment, Baker said. It was the largest battle, with 160,000 soldiers and more than 40,000 casualties, and was arguably the pivotal moment of the war.

“It really is high drama,” he said. “The fate of the nation hangs in the balance.”