Finding the Civil War on the Internet

Well, somebody had to do it sooner or later. There's a whole new world out there for people interested in learning more about the American Civil War. "Cyberspace" -- they call it "The web," too. It's the INTERNET, and you're gonna lose sleep over it. I want to try and help you use this tool to find places you can visit on the "Infor- mation Superhighway," but I've had more than a few flat tires gettin' there myself.

What is the INTERNET? It is a communication network based on remote (anywhere) satellite (you get your Internet service from local providers -- like Compuserve) entry. Basically, anybody with a VT-100 terminal emulator or better can theoretically access the Internet, but most travelers today are using PC's (personal computers) at work or home. The more modern and up to date your equipment, the faster you can communicate within the "net," but I can't cover all that here and now. If you want to try to access some of these sites (Internet addresses are called sites, not to be confused with sights!) and don't have a computer, try your local branch of the library. Many libraries today have computer equipment you can use to surf the net.

Our starting point for purposes of discussion today will be that you have a computer turned on and are on the homepage of your Internet server.

I have found some great addresses ( also called URL's -- Uniform Resource Location) for shooters and collectors alike, so I'll cover them first.

Research

One of the great features of the Internet is the ability to locate information based on a key word search. Using a key word or words, the researcher applies a search engine and the software locates sites based on that key word appearing in the information resident at that site. However, there are lots of search engines, and they don't all work the same. For instance, I searched on the key word "artil- lery" on five separate search engines, and I came up with 5 distinct results as shown in Chart A.

Search Engines

A search engine is software that allows you to seek the information you want to find on the Internet. My service provides the five shown in the chart -- all pretty popular at this time. You may have access to other search engines. I just wanted to show that blind searches can make you go blind! All search engines search differently. Learn to use a couple diverse search engines, and learn how to craft your searches for the most accurate results. In the examples shown, every search resulted in exposure to useful information. I found a nice artillery bibliogra- phy at this location:

(http://sunsite.unc.edu/pub/academic/history/marshal/military/mil_hist_inst/a/arty3.asc)

using the Infoseek search engine.

If you're an artillery aficionado like me, you would probably like to use one of the two screen savers I found while searching. Check out these free downloadable screensavers at:

(www.tayjeesoft.com/artillery.html), or

(www.gi.net/msdos_a/pm-1996-041/96-04/96-04-23/0010.html)

Finding Groups

Many reenactment groups have a site on the Internet, so if you're looking for one you can find them by searching on key words like "history" or "reenactor" (let's not even think about reviewing Boulian Logic). Individuals and groups who use the Internet to contact people have an initial contact area known as a "home page." Some residents of the information superhighway also have pictures and data associated with their homepage, while others may have just a home page. Surf around and check out some reenacting home pages.

Government Agencies

Civil War interests can lead us to many governmental agencies, all of which can also be found on the Internet. The Library of Congress, at www.loc.gov, is the most heavily visited of the top 100 government sites, ranking 13th overall. If you access

rs6.loc.gov/cwphome.html

directly, you will enter the Library's American Memories section, where I found some great photographs of the 2d New York Artillery, one with a 30-pound Parrott and one at Ft. C. F. Smith in Arlington, VA, on this site. This site was also the location of a great photograph of an 8-inch Parrott in Casements on the Potomac, just South of were today you can find the Woodrow Wilson Bridge on I-95.

If you would like to do research at the National Archives and Record Administration, look up

www.nara.gov

This is a wonderful resource for looking up those record groups on soldiers and sailors of the Civil War, and the instructions are easy to follow.

Another great agency site on the "net" is the National Park Service at

www.nps.gov

From the home page, you can access every Park, including Gettysburg (www.nps.gett), Manassas (www.nps.mana) or Monocacy (www.nps.mono). Most park home pages include daily weather and schedules of upcoming events. Now, when I want to drive up to Benner's Hill, I can surf over and see what the weather is first!

Locating Antique Weapons

I am really happy about finding a couple of antique gun dealers on the net. Just reading over the available items makes my wallet hurt. Check out these dealers, and never forget, "caveat emptor":

www.antiqueguns.com and http://collectorsnet.com

There were more than a few Civil War weapons listed at these sites when I stopped by, so enjoy.

I hope you have enjoyed our 21st Century look at researching Civil War ordnance and weapons. Now that I have E-mail, you can drop me a line at ltkelley@mail.ameritel.net. Don't be shy, and include a voice telephone number if possible in your message.

Take a Sunday Drive in the slow lane of the information superhighway soon, and stop to look at the interesting sites along the way.

By the time you read this, The Snowball and Early Bird Skirmishes will be completed and the 1997 Skirmish season will be well under way. Hope you have a great season and accomplish all your goals. Until the next time, shoot safe and have fun.

(C) 1997 Tom Kelley

return to homepage

go to Tony Beck index

go to Tom Kelley index