Path to Freedom

http://bit.ly/1w0gpkm

For the Final Project, I chose to look into the 19 slaves Linn encountered on February 2, 1862. In his diary, Linn said that nothing happened except for a small boat with 19 slaves escaped from above Roanoke Island. This pique my interest since slavery abolition is the primary objective of the Union but Linn seems to be unfazed by the sight of 19 escaped slaves. This brought me to my question “how did the Civil War battles affect slavery?” I thought understanding the slaves’ origin, destination, and escape path would help us understand better about their lives hence giving us a better idea of the life of a slave during the Civil War. Depending on the path the slaves took, different difficulties arises.  To map their escape, there is no better tool than GIS. With GIS, I can illustrate multiple layers of informations associated with the escape.


When I started this project, I did not have much information about the 19 slaves. Linn only mention them once in the diary. All I know was that there were 19 slaves including 5 women and a baby and they came from above Roanoke Island. Without actual information regarding the slaves, I was unable to present this in a story format with GIS. This was the biggest struggle I had during this project. Without any information regarding the time and date, I cannot present this in a timely manner. To figure out their path, I have to find their origin and their destination first.

Screen Shot 2014-12-17 at 2.20.46 PM

Norfolk

Screen Shot 2014-12-17 at 2.21.10 PM

Slave Density

For the origin, I used a layer of the concentration of slaves and the battles fought before February 2, 1862. To come to the Cossack on a small boat, the slaves have to came from a place relatively close to Roanoke Island. There were 19 slaves so they must have all escaped together from a place of high concentration of slaves. Their escape itself is a clue that their origin must have been affected by the war for them to have to opportunity to escape. Using GIS, I can see that Norfolk has a high concentration of slaves and has 2 battles fought near it. After doing some reserching, I learned that during the Civil War, the Confederates used slaves to build their forts. With that, I concluded that the slaves must have came from Norfolk. While working on the forts, the slaves saw the opportunity to escape.

Screen Shot 2014-12-17 at 1.18.42 PM

Map of Underground Railroad and the Directions to Freedom

Professor Jakacki introduced me to the Underground Railroad leading me to find the slaves’ destination. Even before the Civil War, the Underground Railroad has helped freeing slaves in America. Using the Underground Railroad map layer, I could see the directions that the slaves were going in order to attain their freedom. Then, I created a map note for the possible directions that slaves could escape to during the Civil War. To understand the difficulties of each directions, I created a map note for the distance between Roanoke Island and the closest point for each direction. With this, I was able to see the difficulty of each direction in term of distance in kilometer and in days it would take to walk that distance. The slaves had limited resources. They most likely did not have any mode of transportation to travel far so they were trying to get to the North, the direction with the shortest distance. Using the Underground Railroad map layer, I found Wilmington to be the closest Underground Railroad site to where they encounter Linn and his regimen. With this, I can conclude that the slaves were going to Wilmington in order to go to the North.

Screen Shot 2014-12-17 at 3.34.23 PM

Two possible escape paths

With both the destination and the origin, I mapped out the different possible paths the slaves took in order to get to Linn’s location. After their escape, to get to Linn’s location, the slaves must have found a small boat first. If the shore is where they got the boat, they must choose the safest path possible. With 5 women and a baby, they cannot run so they must avoid being seen. They must also avoid conventional roads. They must go through the woods or swamps to avoid getting caught. Using the Terrain map, I can see the swamps between Norfolk and the Shore. Then I created a map note for the those swamps. There are 2 swamps that connect Norfolk and the shore so that must be a possible safe path for the slaves. The second path I found after adding the canals layer to the map. There is a canal that goes from Norfolk to the ocean. This canal goes through a swamp so it might have been safe enough for the slaves to use provided that the canal is big enough for the slaves to use. They must have stole a small boat from Norfolk and travelled down the canal to the Ocean and eventually to the Cossack.

With the help of GIS, I was able to deduce and map the escape path for the slaves with very little information and some research. The 19 slaves have encountered many difficulties in order to attain their freedom. Using GIS, I was able to see and understand the struggles that many slaves faced in their escape. I can see how the Civil War itself affect slavery. War is a double edge sword. Although slavery is the subject of the Civil War, the war itself caused the slaves to be under heavy surveillance. However, we can see that because of the battles, many slaves have to work on the forts providing them an opportunity to escape and gain freedom. This project has helped me to understand the state of slavery due to the Civil War.

Work Cited:

Linn, James Merrill. Diary. [February 2] 1862. MS. Bucknell University Archives and Special Collections, Lewisburg, PA.

“Underground Railroad.” History Net Where History Comes Alive World US History Online RSS. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Dec. 2014.

Rasmussen, William M. S., and Lora M. Robins. “How Did Slaves Escape?” Virginia Historical Societys Blog. Virginia Historical Society, 20 Oct. 2010. Web. 16 Dec. 2014.

“Underground Railroad Sites.” PBS. PBS, n.d. Web. 16 Dec. 2014.

United States. National Park Service. “List of Sites for the Underground Railroad Travel Itinerary.” National Parks Service. U.S. Department of the Interior, n.d. Web. 16 Dec. 2014.

Did Linn Have A Major Impact In The Battle of Roanoke Island?

My research question for this project was whether or not James Merrill Linn had a major impact on the Battle of Roanoke Island, or if he just seemed important because of his concise account. To discover the answer to this question, I wanted to compare the movements of Linn to the overall movements of the Union and Confederacy. If Linn happened to be in an important position during a turning point of the battle, he would be considered to have a major impact. I first read all of Linn’s diary entries from February 7th to the 12th, 1862. These entries gave me a picture of the Union’s as well as Linn’s positioning during these dates.

This is a picture of Linn's diary from the 7th.

This is a picture of Linn’s diary from the 7th.

Luckily, these entries had already been transcribed, so it was easy for me to decipher what Linn was saying. Without prior transcription, this process would have been very tedious and time consuming.

Next, I then used ArcGIS to map out the positioning of Linn and the Union, as well as the Confederates. This process was much more difficult because the maps from 1862 are not exact replications of what the land actually looked like. Men who had walked the island drew these maps from hand; therefore, there was slight error when looking at exact positioning of troops.

Screen Shot 2014-12-16 at 7.53.16 PM

This the map “Roanoke1862” with nothing on it. You can see the locations of the gunboats, forts, cannons, etc. very clearly.

 

To illustrate the different movements of Linn, the Union and the Confederacy, I gave each subject a color. Linn was represented by purple, the Union by blue and the Confederacy by red. This helped show just from a glance at the map that was moving where.

Linn's movements are represented by the purple dotted line. The Union's movements are represented by the blue dotted line.

Linn’s movements are represented by the purple dotted line. The Union’s movements are represented by the blue dotted line.

On the positive note however, these maps did provide a unique look into what the soldiers were seeing in 1862. This is very evident in the layer “Roanoke1862” because the locations of the ships, forts and guns were drawn onto the map. This especially helped the mapping process because it gave me the locations of different Union soldiers that Linn left out in his diary. For example, in the map below, you can see exactly where the Rebels surrendered. In Linn’s diary, he fails to mention the location of where the Rebels actually surrendered, just the location of himself when he heard the news.

Looking at the blue stickpoint, you can see where the Union takes over the battle. Looking at the blue rectangle, you can see where Linn's regiment was located.

Looking at the blue stickpoint, you can see where the Union takes over the battle. Looking at the blue rectangle, you can see where Linn’s regiment was located.

Upon completion of the map, I was able to see where Linn’s regiment was located during the actual land battle. This gave me good insight on his regiment’s importance to the battle, and whether or not they achieved any heroic actions. The 51st Pennsylvania (Linn’s Regiment) was located right along side the Rhode Islanders, in the bottom right corner of the Union’s positioning. This was very far away from the Confederate’s battery (as you can see in the map below). Looking closely, one can see that the Pennsylvania and Rhode Island regiments are in fact very close to each other.

The Rhode Islanders are located directly to the right of the 51st Pennsylvania (blue rectangle)

The Rhode Islanders are located directly to the right of the 51st Pennsylvania (blue rectangle)

This is vital because Linn points out that much of the Pennsylvania regiment ends up getting intertwined with the Rhode Islanders. Though not intentionally, this is somewhat comical because while the battle rages on up ahead of them, Linn is worrying about which of his men became tangled up with the Rhode Islanders. This in turn supports my hypothesis of Linn not being very vital to the overall battle, he just happened to have a very detailed account.

 It was through the completion of this map that I discovered that all fighting had stopped on February 8th. This was surprising at first because Linn’s diary account of Roanoke Island lasts until the 12th. Upon further inspection, I was able to conclude that after the battle, Linn in fact traveled all over Roanoke Island. Whether he was completing menial tasks for the military, or just relaxing on the shore, Linn paints a picture of what he accomplished after the battle. Due to the fact that he was simply completing menial tasks, I at first did not find his travel on the island important. After looking intently into his positioning however, I realized that Linn was able to see the island in an entirely different way from the Confederates. Being the victor, allows one to really see the beauty of the land he is fighting on. While the Confederates were being shipped to prisoner of war camps, Linn was able to take in just how beautiful Roanoke Island is. He realizes this when sitting on the shore with Jim, George and Gibson, watching prisoners being transported to the ships.

In conclusion, ArcGIS is a fantastic tool to map out the Battle of Roanoke Island, while at the same time, look at the significance of Linn in the battle. I was able to see that while the battle was raging at the Confederate battery, Linn was in fact far behind, trying to assemble lost troops. Also, Linn was not in fact present when the remainder of the Confederate troops surrendered. He was notified by General Foster, who on horseback, ran into Linn and his regiment on their way back from the battery towards headquarters. Both of these examples solidify my hypothesis of Linn not having a major impact on the overall battle. We are assuming he had one because of his very in depth diary.

In order to see my web application click here: http://bit.ly/1wKZsy0

 

Citations

Linn, James Merrill. Diary. [February 7-12] 1862. MS. Bucknell University Archives and Special Collections, Lewisburg, PA.

 “Map of the Battlefield of Roanoke Id. Feb. 8th 1862 / | Library of Congress.” Map of the Battlefield of Roanoke Id. Feb. 8th 1862 / | Library of Congress. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Dec. 2014. <http://www.loc.gov/item/99447476/>.

 “Map of Roanoke Island. [February 8, 1862]. | Library of Congress.” Map of Roanoke Island. [February 8, 1862]. | Library of Congress. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Dec. 2014. <http://www.loc.gov/item/99447479/>.

 

 

 

Linn vs. Third Party Sources: The Battle of South Mills

Was James Merrill Linn accurate in his descriptions of his experience in the Battle of South Mills?

The Battle of South Mills

My research question was to find out if James Merrill Linn’s diary transcriptions were a legitimate primary source of information on the Battle of South Mills. To give background information to my audience, I started with my own diary entry date of April 17-18,

Layers from my previous map

Layers from my previous map

1862. I added these map notes to my new map of the Battle of South Mills. During this time, Linn left New Berne, stopped at Hatteras on Roanoke Island, and left for Elizabeth City. This is where I used transcriptions from Julia and Riz, who transcribed the actual battle. Using arcGIS, I mapped out exactly what Linn was writing to the best of my abilities. I used the color green to document anything Linn wrote in his diary to keep it separate for the next step in my research project. During this segment, I did not look at outside sources, besides a couple maps, in order to keep myself zoned in on Linn’s account of what was happening.

Working on web map

Working on Web Map

After mapping out Linn’s version of the Battle of South Mills, I searched for third-party sources that could give me more of an idea of what happened. Using objective sources allowed me to focus on the big picture of this battle and not just what Linn wrote in his diary. When utilizing these sources, I focused on the Pennsylvania 51st Regiment. This was Linn’s regiment, so I assume Linn was with these other soldiers. Gaining more knowledge about the Linn regiment’s whereabouts during this battle made allowed me to gain more insight to what Linn could have been talking about. Also, I wanted to contrast what Linn claimed in his diary to what these other sources claimed. I also mapped out the third-party’s account of the Battle of South Mills and the Pennsylvania 51st Regiment. When mapping this out on arcGIS, I used a new layer and used the color yellow to make all of the pushpins, lines, arrows, etc. This allowed me to see clearly both accounts of the Battle of South Mills.

Finished Map (Showing Green and Yellow)

Finished Map (Showing Green and Yellow)

When the Battle of South Mills was mapped out according to both perspectives, I created a web mapping application. Here, I chose the story template. At first I had a few slides to show the background information on the battle. Once I got to the actual battle, I switched between Linn’s claims and the third-party source’s claims. I utilized the zoom tool and tried to make this part of the project the most user-and-reader friendly. I added pictures of some of the maps that I found on my outside sources that really helped me visualize this battle. Because it happened over 150 years ago, there are not many official accounts of this battle. Technology was not exactly up to par. However, studying many hand-drawn maps of the Battle of South Mills allowed me to get a pretty good idea of how this battle played out.

Working on Web Mapping Application

Working on Web Mapping Application

I decided to narrow down my focus to just actions Linn and his regiment took. I did not want to complicate this research question by adding in emotions, causalities, etc. I took a very objective view while mapping out the Battle of South Mills. This made everything much cleaner and efficient when using the web map and later the web map app. Another “blessing” to me was a website Riz found on the internet called “Battle of South Mills.” It had an abundance of hand-drawn maps of the battle. Also, it was interesting to see some of the artifacts of the battle. Another person’s perspective I payed close attention to while mapping the third party sources’ version of the battle, was that of Lieutenant Colonel Bell. He referenced Linn’s Regiment, Pennsylvania 51st, many times. Whenever I saw something that mentioned Linn’s regiment I was payed extreme attention to it.

Finished Web Mapping Application

Finished Web Mapping Application

Ultimately, arcGIS was a great tool to use to map out the Battle of South Mills. I think it is very user-friendly and anyone would be able to use the web mapping application. I was able to take James Merrill Linn’s diary entries and compare them to third party sources to see his accuracy. At the end of this project, I was not able to completely decide if Linn is an accurate historical storyteller, because I only researched one battle. In my case, I think Linn was a somewhat reliable source. Besides for some minor contrasts in documentation of the battle, it is hard to tell which source was correct. I was only able to find one website that had other sources and account of the Battle of South Mills. I am not even sure how factual that website is. My research question could not sufficiently be answered with this one project.

Citations

“Battle Summary.” Battle of South Mills. Ed. Bruce Long. 10 Apr. 2010. Web. 14 Dec. 2014.
Civil War Cannon. Digital image. Mediad.publicbroadcasting. Web. 16 Dec. 2014. Linn. Digital image. Diane Jakacki. DianeJakacki.net. Web. 16 Dec. 2014.
Civil War Fence. Digital image. Big Stock. Web. 16 Dec. 2014.
Currituck Beach Lighthouse. Digital image. Currituck Beach Light. Web. 16 Dec. 2014.
Currituck Courthouse. Digital image. Appox. Web. 16 Dec. 2014.
Cypress Swamp Along Pasquotank River. Digital image. Champiii. 5 May 2014. Web. 16 Dec. 2014.
“Eastern Coast.” Eastern Portion of the Military Department of North Carolina. S.l. 1862. Print.
Hatteras Island. Digital image. Ocean Front Hotels. Web. 16 Dec. 2014.
Historic Old Jail in Currituck. Digital image. Albemarle Commission. Web. 16 Dec. 2014.
Mouth of Pasquotank River. Digital image. Api.ning. Web. 16 Dec. 2014.
Museum of the Albemarle. Digital image. Battle of South Mills. Bruce Long. Web. 16 Dec. 2014. Operations in North Carolina. Digital image. Battle of South Mills. Bruce Long. Web. 16 Dec. 2014.
Shenandoah 3. Digital image. Tom McMahon. Web. 16 Dec. 2014.
Sneden, Robert K. “Plan of Battle of South Mills.” 1862. ArcGIS. Web. 16 Dec.
2014.
“South Mills Battle.” ArcGIS. Web. 16 Dec. 2014.
The Battle of Camden. Digital image. Battle of South Mills. Bruce Long. Web. 16 Dec. 2014.
The Battle of Camden: Plan of the Battlefield. Digital image. Battle of South Mills. Bruce Long. Web. 16 Dec. 2014.

Walk in Linn’s shoes with GIS

Screen Shot 2014-11-19 at 10.22.01 PM

Map of Roanoke Island with GIS

GIS, Geographic Information System, helped us visualize the life of James Merrill Linn and the Civil War by showing us the travel path he took. Throughout the class, we have been introduced to different techniques which people have used to decode a text and learned to derive information through various means: TEI, TimeMapper, Voyant Tools, Transcribing. This tool is the most effective so far. It allows us to see many layers of information letting us to obtain a lot more informations. We are able to see it in geographic form and displaying informations including time and context.

Bodenhamer says “We recognize our representations of space as value-laden guides to the world as we perceive it” (14). We often associate ourselves with where we are from and where we have been. Locations has always been an important of our lives. Being able to see Linn’s experience in terms of location and path, we are able to integrate more information than we could with  other kind of representations. With the help of GIS, we can display the location, time, and context of these events.

In my experience with GIS, using a layer for the concentration of slaves in the United States in the 1860s and the battle won by the North, I was able to estimate the location for the 19 contrabands’ origin. In the diary, Linn says  “a small boat came in, said to have had on board 19 contrabands, who escaped from above Roanoke — 5 women & a baby”. From seeing the concentration of battles won by the North close to Roanoke, we are able to see its correlation with the escape of the slave.

Screen Shot 2014-11-19 at 10.23.38 PM“Evidence about the world depends on the perspective of the observer” (19). In the diary, Linn mentioned that the gun boats went between Tyrrell Shore and Roanoke Island. As we can clearly see, Tyrrell is the slave concentration area which is far from Roanoke Island. Without the help of GIS, we would not have question Linn’s directional sense. This ,however, can also means that the maps they had back then was not accurate. The answer to this is not important but what important is the question itself. Without GIS, we would never have come up with this hypothesis and therefore another piece of information.

Bodenhamer says “visualize a spatially accurate physical and manmade environment that proved the attraction” (21). We were able to walk in Linn’s shoes. He noticed sightsee, he observed the shore and the lighthouse, He had a smoke at night. Seeing how close he was to the battle, we can have a close reading on his personal life.

Link to Map: http://bit.ly/1t6CIEDScreen Shot 2014-11-19 at 11.12.44 PM

 

 

Linn’s Connection to Roanoke Island: Using GIS

Humans often think in terms of space: where things are, how far apart, in what direction.  When examining a story, whether it be real or fictional, mapping out a spatial representation of the events can be a powerful tool in understanding deeper meanings and reasons.  As Bodenhammer explains it, “space offers a way to understand fundamentally how we order our world” (14).

Many of the decisions we make every day are greatly dependent on how we examine the space around us.  This was no different for people living 100 or 1000 years ago.  When we look at historical recordings, the reasoning behind many actions can be lost or go unseen, simply because we can’t see what they saw.  However, using GIS mapping, historical maps,  and other visual tools, we can recreate, to some extent, the world that these historical figures lived in.  By examining these maps and other visuals, we gain a better understanding of the circumstances and influences that led people to decide on the actions they took.  Bodenhammer mentions the example of the discovery of the New World (14-15).  It’s hard for us to imagine the allure of this land to the European countries 500 years ago because we know this place as our home.  However, historical maps and paths of the journeys of explorers let us see the vast open expanse that existed here.  Combine that with maps of population growth and religious turmoil in Spain, France, and England, and we can start to see the circumstances that led to the era of colonization.

Working in this way with Linn’s diary led to many interesting revelations.  The GIS mapping I did of his arrival to and departure from Roanoke island revealed a number of things about his experiences.  For instance, in his diary entry on February 7th, he mentions having to walk through a swamp to reach the rest of the regiment after making shore on the island.  With Linn’s short description, it was impossible to determine just how long he spent traversing these wetlands.  However, by drawing the path between the landing point and the regiment using GIS, I was able to see that most of that 2 mile journey was through swamp.  Once arriving at camp, Linn seems in a rather negative mood.  The difficulty that this march must have presented would explain his feelings at the time.

Bodenhammer describes a potential use of GIS technology as creating a myriad of different layers on a map, where each one “would contain the unique view over time – the dynamic memory – of an individual or a social unit” (27-28).  I think it would be very interesting to see what we could make of journal entries of different people with connections to Linn.  The personal stories of Beaver or General Reno could provide us with more insight into the things Linn didn’t write down, how these people were connected, and where their paths crossed and diverged.

 

Linn Diary  Arrival and Departure at Roanoke Island