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Atlas Index, USMA Map Library

Department of History, United States Military Academy at West Point

Reviewed by:
Wayne Hanley
West Chester University
January 2004

This website offers a stellar digital collection of maps, focusing on important military campaigns in history. The site’s database contains more than 450 maps arranged in 18 broad categories. These are organized chronologically, and include “Ancient Warfare,” “The Napoleonic Wars,” “The American Civil War,” “World War Two—European Theater“ (and “Pacific/Asian Theater“), and “Wars and Conflicts Since 1958.” Each of these major headings are divided into smaller subgroupings and a listing of the individual maps. Such an arrangement allows for quick and easy access to the collection.

Ancient Warfare“ offers 21 maps organized under the headings “The Greek Hoplite In Classical Warfare,” “Alexander The Great and the Macedonian Art Of War,” “Challenges of the Roman Republic,” and “Caesar and the Roman Empire.” Maps include particular battles (such as Marathon, Issus, Pharsalus, and Adrianople), but also offer campaign overviews, political maps, and several helpful illustrations. The sketches of the organization of the Macedonian army, “Hammer and Anvil” tactics, and the evolution of the Roman legion could be quite valuable for helping students gain an appreciation for the complexities of ancient warfare and for the evolution of tactical organizations. Let’s face it—boxes and arrows depicting battles on a blackboard only go so far toward illustrating key battles.

The general political maps of the various periods before and after major wars make this a valuable resource for teachers. Some maps can also be enlarged to full-screen (and higher-resolution) images, making them well suited for showing in the classroom. The real value of this site, however, is for the teacher (or student) seeking a greater understanding of military history or wanting illustrations to supplement lessons involving military history. Maps of virtually all key land battles in history can be found in this collection (only a few naval operations are depicted). Some battles, such Poitiers, Waterloo, Gettysburg and the D-Day landings, have multiple maps demonstrating their hourly or daily evolutions. Such resources can be wonderful supplements for visual learners.

Atlas Sources“ offers information on original sources and publishers for those interested in obtaining hard copies of the maps. Most of the maps appear in printed form in volumes published by the Avery Publishing Group and Praeger Publishers.

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