GIS Civil War History Layers

The public was highly receptive to the recent introduction of a new Civil War history layer that has been added to the GIS database of Hamilton County, TN. The new preservation and education tool debuted through a series of public meetings held throughout Chattanooga in August. It’s live and ready for you to try it out for yourself!

Above: Screen capture from the Hamilton County GIS, showing the foot of Moccasin Bend where Union gunners operated during November of 1863. Active map layers include Wauhatuchie and Brown’s Ferry (Historic Battlefields), Battlefield Density Analysis (Historic Battlefield Imagery), and Parcels (Property).

Friends of the Park partnered with the Chattanooga office of the Trust for Public Land, Cornerstones, Inc., and Missionary Ridge Neighborhood Association to obtain a grant from the American Battlefield Protection Program to create the history layer. Alexander Archeological Consulting was hired to do the work of converting Civil War-era Campaign for Chattanooga maps into digital files that allow GIS users to see 1863 gun emplacements, marching routes, encampments, engagements, signal stations and headquarters of Confederate and Union tropps engaged in the Campaign. These images can be viewed as an overlay to current day maps that show current-day streets, neighborhoods, and property parcels.

To use the new history layer:

1. Go to

2. IMPORTANT! If you have software that blocks pop-ups, be sure to turn it off. The GIS site uses pop-up windows to enable access to its content.

3. Click on ENTER ONLINE MAPPING SITE button near the bottom of theGIS home page.

4. Under MAP LAYERS in the menu at the right side of the screen, click on the folders labeled HISTORIC BATTLEFIELDS and HISTORIC BATTLEFIELD IMAGERY, and check any or all the boxes from the list that drops down.

5. If you want to include a view of property lines in your work, be sure to also open the PROPERTY folder in the same menu at the right of the screen and check the box marked PARCELS. Using this layer, you can look at specific property parcels to see if Civil War action occurred there.

6. Using the zoom tool in the menu bar at the top of the screen, select a portion of Hamilton County to view. OR click on the LOCATE ADDRESS button in the menu bar.

7. To access information from the Civil War maps associated with the map images, click on the information icon next to the name of the map you are viewing. Then click the information icon beneath the tool bar at the top of the screen. With crosshairs you get from this, click on the portion of the Civil War image on your screen that you want to know about. A pop-up screen will give you whatever information the map provided (commander, date, time, action, etc.)

The GIS database is fairly intuitive, say the project partners. With these instructions and a little experimentation, system viewers can easily access the full base of information that has been added to Hamilton County’s database.