Brooklyn in the Civil War
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Interactive Map

Travels of James W. Vanderhoef

interactive map Interactive Map

James W. Vanderhoef, Union Army soldier and officer, wrote letters to his sister in Brooklyn describing his experience in the Civil War. As we accompany James on his travels by following the red dotted line, his letters give us a glimpse into the world of the soldier; the sadness of leaving home, the excitement and uncertainty of a new experience, the fear of battle, the loneliness of months without a letter from home, the companionship of fellow soldiers, the anger at harsh judgment by the outside world, and the happiness at the prospect of coming home. This movie shows the travels of James W. Vanderhoef during the Civil War, along with pictures, text from his letters and other documents, and map elements. To learn more about James Vanderhoef, see Documents 22, 23, 29, 39, 48, 50, 62, 72, 75, 76, 77, 78, 83, 89, and 90.

Helpful tips:

There are three ways to go through the movie.

  1. After the movie loads, it will play by itself. The large button in the center under the words "Interactive Map" changes from Play (triangle) to Pause (double lines) depending on whether the movie is on or off. Click on this Play/Pause to stop or start the movie at any time. When you click, the movie may run for a moment until it reaches the next stopping point, so you might see something change even when the movie is stopped.
  2. You can also go through the movie by clicking the forward button (two triangles pointing right) or the backward button (two triangles pointing left), which are on either side of the Play/Pause button. When you stop clicking either of these buttons, the movie will start playing.
  3. You can also click on the diamond in the timeline at the very bottom of the map to move to a point in time. When you put the diamond on a new date and let go of the mouse button, the movie will play.

While the movie plays, a red dotted line appears, showing James' travels, the map zooms in and out to show different parts of the United States, and the white diamond on the timeline at the bottom moves from left to right showing the years passing from 1861 to 1866.

Illustrations also appear on the left side of the map. You can click on any of these pictures to see a larger version, which will open in a separate window. If you close this window, you will go right back to the map and the movie will keep playing. But if you click on "View Details," you will leave the map and go to the document page for that picture. You can go back to the map from any page, then use either the forward button or the timeline at the bottom of the map to jump back to where you left.

If there is more text than will fit in the box right below the map, a scroll bar willl appear on the right side. Click and drag the scroll bar down and up to see all of the text.

When you start the movie, the buttons "Capitals" and "Battles" are on (dark blue with gray letters). There is a black star on the map for each state capital, and a special star for the capitals of the Union and the Confederacy. As the movie plays, orange splashes appear on the map showing the major battles of the war. Put the cursor over each battle site to see the date, the name of the battle and who won. If the movie seems too slow or if the map looks too crowded, you can turn off the "Capitals" and "Battles" by clicking on the buttons (lighter blue with white letters). The stars and splashes will disappear from the map.

Click here or click on the map to start the movie.

Note: The movie requires the Flash Player 6.0. If the movie doesn't work, you can download the free Flash Player from


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