Saturday, April 28, 2018

The Best Maps for Wargamers Ever!


The Battle of Spotsylvania, by David Greenspan
DOUBLE CLICK ON ALL MAPS

I
'm sure that most of my readers will be familiar with the wonderfully animated and detailed maps that were created by David Greenspan and published in the American Heritage Pictorial History of the Civil War, by Bruce Catton.

These were more than maps to me when I was an eight-year old boy who was just starting to get interested in the Civil War (sorry my friends, but there are civil wars but there is only one Civil War and that was the one fought from 1861 to 1865 in the United States).

Each map was a veritable diorama of a particular battle, showing the little men as they moved back and forth across the battlefield. Since I was already playing with toy soldiers, the little figures and the colorful buidings and terrain captivated me like nothing else. Anytime I was reading about a Civil War battlefield I would pull my copy of Catton's book off of the bookshelf and pour over the battlemap to give me a better understanding of what happened. Truth be told though, it wasn't the understanding that compelled me to look, it was another opportunity to look at all of those little soldiers again.

I never got tired of looking carefully at the map and finding some vignette for the first time, be it some soldiers being held prisoner, an artillery battery unlimbering or a column of troops marching toward the sound of the guns. It occurs to me that one could use the Greenspan illustrations as the basis for replication of the terrain for one of our wargames.  For example, I could use the Spotsylvania or Gettysburg terrain shown on the map but use it for a battle in the AWI or SYW eras.

I only recently found a copy of a map that Greenspan illustrated for the Battle of Freeman's Farm from the American Revolution. I know that I had seen this map a long time ago, but I had forgotten that the artist had done some maps for the AWI battles.

The Battle of Freeman's Farm, by David Greenspan

There is not much known about the artist, David Greenspan, but I would like to take this opportunity to thank him for his work and to let him know how inspirational they were to me then, as well as now.

I am sure that everyone reading this will be nodding their heads in agreement as this article stirs up some wonderful memories from a long time ago.

20 comments:

  1. Also check out very similar and equally inspirational work by the artist Richard Schlecht. He worked on a pair of (excellent) books published by National Geographic in the late 1960s.
    The Civil War by Robert Paul Jordan has picture maps of Shiloh, Malvern hill, Sharpsburg, Gettysburg and Chickamauga. The Revolutionary War by Bart McDowell has Bunker Hill, Trenton, Saratoga and Cowpens. I got both books for a song from US charity bookshops via Abe Books.

    ReplyDelete
  2. American Heritage Battle Maps of the Civil War published by Smithmark in 1992. Text by Richard O'Shea. It has all those maps plus plenty of others, old and new. With some explanatory text . ISBN 9 780831 713720

    https://www.amazon.com/Battle-Maps-Civil-American-Heritage/dp/0933031718/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1524942913&sr=8-1&keywords=battle+maps+of+the+civil+war

    ReplyDelete
  3. I definitely remember these fascinating, inspiring maps but is it just me that upon seeing this is suddenly reminded of photos of the Gilder diorama/wargame of Gettysburg?

    ReplyDelete
  4. I haven't thought of these in years, Jim, but you are absolutely right. I used to study these very maps for hours and try to emulate them with my blue plastic, vaguely Union cavalry and infantry that were part of a cowboys and indians fort set-up that Santa Claus brought the Christmas after I turned seven way back in the Stone Age. Otherwise known as 1973. Great fun!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Nice find, they do look interesting.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Yes Jim, big nods from me too. My friend's Dad used to make work trips to the States in the 1960s and so he had access to some wonderful books, including this one on The Civil War. Used to get out our hundreds of 54mm plastic ACW troops and use them for inspiration even before Don's "Wargames" came into our lives. I've got the AWI one myself. Now you know where some of my artistic inspiration comes from! Chris
    http://cheltenham-art.com/chrisgregg2.htm

    ReplyDelete
  7. Yes I first saw those as a kid and those lovely maps hooked me into the ACW so I totally agree.

    Christopher

    ReplyDelete
  8. Like others I spent hours looking at those maps and setting up my Aifix figures for battles. Thanks for bringing back those memories.

    ReplyDelete
  9. One of the first books I ever bought was the Pictorial History of the Civil War, just for these maps. I even made a small paper mâché "field" with a hill to use with my Airfix ACW figures. We had to throw it out when it became infested with little bugs. A couple of years ago I found in an American Heritage book about George Washington another of David Greenspan's map of the battles of Trenton and Princeton. Great stuff!

    ReplyDelete
  10. The elementary school I attended in grade six had a copy of this book. I'm certain I signed it out more that year more than it was it was ever signed out in all the years previously - or since... And it was all for those maps! I'd hold onto it as long as I could, return it, and then sign it out the next day. I tried drawing my own battlefield scenes based on those marvellous illustrations. I've often though to that book over the years and wished I knew the name of the book or author so I could keep my eye out for a copy. And now I know. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good luck in your hunt Tim. I've seen copies of the book on the market from time to time so hopefully you can find your copy.

      Delete
  11. It was the July 1963 National Geographic with the three days of Gettysburg graphically displayed that started my obsession with that battle. I would love to find a mint copy of the magazine and have the pictures framed...mind you I would need two mint copies to have them properly framed.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You might look for the maps on Pinterest, where I found the ones published here. I don't know how large you can make them though. They might be what you see is what you get.

      Delete
  12. I bought the National Geographic AWI book for those illustrations alone. It's well worth it and the ACW illustrations look to be just as inspiriational.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. How many AWI maps were there? I've only seen Trenton-Princeton recently.

      Delete
    2. I'd need to look but I think three in the book.

      Delete
  13. As a youngster I was given a copy of The American Heritage Pictorial Atlas of the USA. This included some of the ACW maps as well as 3 AWI ones – Trenton, Bemis Heights and Cowpens

    Its possible that they may have been one of the reasons why I started buying plastic Airfix ACW figures.

    Mark

    ReplyDelete
  14. Jim you need to check this out.
    https://www.amazon.com/Pennsylvanias-Forbes-Trail-Philadelphia-Pittsburgh/dp/1589793889

    ReplyDelete
  15. This web site has a little bit of info about Greenspan obtained from a nephew.

    https://thehistoriansmanifesto.wordpress.com/2013/03/25/the-civil-war-maps-of-david-greenspan/

    Seems he died at age 39 so that may be why not much is known about him.

    Thanks for bringing these maps back to the surface. I have several of the American Heritage books, two different ones on the American Revolution and one on the American Civil War.

    Jim

    ReplyDelete