History prof's battle maps bring Civil War to life
Instead, the Lone Star College professor painstakingly devised an innovative strategy to give his students a true idea of what Civil War battles were like.
“I made a small series of very hard-to-make and very detailed battle maps,” Livingston said. “What it lets me do, for example, is take the battle of Wilson’s Creek, August 1861, and move markers representing Union and Confederate regiments across the field, like an interactive map.”
For many students, most of the exposure they might have already had to Civil War history comes from textbooks, a medium that makes it difficult to truly understand the scale of what was going on.
“It’s going to show students Civil War battles in a way they could never get from a map, or from a lecture or even from watching it in the movies,” Livingston said. “It just shows the entire movement of 5,000 Union and 12,000 Confederate soldiers in about a six-hour period.”
Livingston attended classes at the University of Houston, where he learned to craft the interactive maps, which he made using the FinalCut Pro software. To keep them entertaining for students, he tried to add cinematic flair.
“Basically, the video of the Battle of Wilson’s Creek will last about 10 minutes,” Livingston said. “And I’ll have some narration. I’ll have General Sterling Price, General Benjamin McCullough, General Nathaniel Lyon, who was killed in the action. It’ll be kind of a miniature documentary.”
Livingston spearheaded the effort to bring a Civil War series to LSC, and he says it has been a great success so far. In addition to the extra classes that students now have access to, he and his colleagues have supplemented the coursework with extra events such as re-enactments, guest lectures and presentations of historical speeches.
Livingston, who hails from Los Angeles, originally came to the Montgomery campus of Lone Star College when it first opened its doors in 1995, and he has never looked back.
“I was one of the original founding faculty members of Montgomery College,” Livingston said. “I think I will be here for the rest of my life.”
About Craig Livingston
Occupation: History professor
Community Connection: Lives in The Woodlands
Fast Fact: Was a member of ROTC at BYU
Chris Marshall is a freelance writer. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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