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Posted on Sep 7, 2005 in ACW, Books and Movies

Software Review: BattleVision – Battle of Shiloh – Book Review

By Rich Hamilton

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Introduction

The Battle of Shiloh by Battlevision is a product aimed at history buffs and those wanting to get to know the details about this particular battle. It is not a game, but the images and interface are similar to what is seen in some wargames. It has an overview (timeline) portion which gives you a step by step walk-through of the conflict at half-hour increments, but the meat of the program is the detailed chapters which go through the battle as it occurred in various portions of the field.

Content – The 3-disk package is comprehensive, covering most everything you would want to know about the struggle. There are six good Order of Battle (OOB) documents in PDF format. They are broken down to the regimental level listing leaders, unit strengths and killed, wounded & missing status after the battle. They also have separate OOB’s for the artillery wings of the Armies showing where they were assigned, their leaders, and the weapon types that made up the individual batteries.

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(Click on images to enlarge).

There are 79 Biographies for various leaders both North & South, giving highlights of the leader’s pre-war, war, and post-war activities. Each is a single page with picture. Also included are 67 actual battle reports submitted by the various leaders from Army level down to Brigade. These were taken from the “Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies” and range from 1 to 8 pages.

The real meat of the product however, is the animated recreations of the battle. As noted above there is a choice here, based on the amount of time you want to spend. The “Timeline” selection will take you at a high level through the two days of the battle, covering the high points, and lasts about 30 minutes. Then you have the in-depth chapters digging into the topic more. There are seven (four Union & three Confederate) covering the “Road to Shiloh” for each. There is also a total of twenty chapters covering the two days of the historical battle ranging anywhere from 5 minutes to 25 minutes in length, with most being close to 20 minutes, giving you over 8 hours of animated movies.

When watching the chapters you are given a verbal description of the events that are transpiring, short audio segments are included with specific figure’s commentary on a part of the action; for example a commander commenting on how a certain element of the fight had gone. And the markers on the map move, fire and retreat according to the action being represented. This aspect of the program is very detailed, and to me personally, could have moved along a bit quicker at times. With that said though, the objective of covering the different aspects of the battle in detail is certainly met. As a wargamer I found myself wishing it was easier to tell the scale of the particular screens, but overall that’s not really necessary.

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