Darien Native releases Bull Run battlefield atlas and guide
After eight years of digging through photos and walking every inch of a former battlefield, one Darien native has published a book with a topic that has never been done before.
Blaikie Hines is an avid Civil War history fan, but after visiting Bull Run, the site of one of the first battles in the war, he noticed a problem: It was extremely difficult, if not impossible, to find important locations from the battle.
"This was actually the second book I've written about the Civil War. The first book I did was written from the perspective of what it would have been like for you as a soldier from Connecticut. It covers each town in Connecticut," he said.
After Hines visited Bull Run, an area that sees 800,000 visitors a year, he realized some sort of guide was needed so people could truly appreciate what happened when the North and South met in 1861.
"There wasn't a guidebook available for the area and I was surprised by that," Hines said. "It's a gigantic area and it's difficult to figure out where things are."
Hines then spent the next eight years compiling maps and photos for his newest book, "The Battle of First Bull Run -- An Illustrated Atlas and Battlefield Guide."
As he worked to map the battlefield, Hines made use of technology that no one had before him -- he used satellite imagery to create a guide that would update to reflect how the battle would have progressed over the course of the day.
"The maps are made using satellite imagery and you can go there and figure out where you are. I included 82 maps and 500 photos and the maps change every 15 minutes so you can follow the battle from when it began at 10:30 a.m. to about 5 p.m.," he said.
For people who are unable to visit Bull Run, the photos show views from 1861 alongside modern views of the same area as a comparison.
"People love to see photos of what things used to look like compared to what they look like now," Hines said. "It's visually exciting."
Besides mapping the battlefield, Hines said he also wanted people to have an idea of what the uniforms looked like and how officers in 1861 very much resembled officers in today's military.
"One of the things I was most interested in was how old the principle officers were and it's really no different than today," he said. "I was also interested in where the soldiers came from because you had people from the south fighting for the north and people from the north fighting for the south."
Hines was able to track down photos from 1862; he said one of the interesting aspects of the photos was they were only the size of the camera lens, but, when transferred onto a computer, they could be blown up to more than four feet long and four feet wide.
"The quality of the photos was superb. You can blow them up extensively and capture images within the image," he said.
In order to find photos and other information for Bull Run, Hines had to scour historical societies across the country as well as walk over every inch of the battlefield.
"I worked on the book fairly continually for eight years. The hardest part was figuring out a way to design it so it was easy for people to follow. I had to walk over every inch of that area and I'm 62 years old; it's a huge area," Hines said.
Since completing the book, Hines said it has been well received and Civil War historians have verified the information to make sure his maps are accurate.
Even after spending so much time compiling information for the atlas and guide, Hines acknowledged it would have been impossible without the technology available today -- mainly the use of satellite imagery.
"I couldn't do this without modern technology because the technology needed to happen for this to happen," he said. "One of the reviewers said the use of satellite imagery was unprecedented."
Hot on the heels of publishing his book, Hines is already planning his next endeavor which will focus on battlefields that people are able to visit.
"Right now I'm working on the Battle of New Market and I want to have it done by 2014, which I will, because that will be the 150 year anniversary," Hines said.
Signed first edition copies of "The Battle of First Bull Run -- An Illustrated Atlas and Battlefield Guide" are available at Accent Picture Framing and Geary Gallery.