Fishing for hunting sites
Anyone familiar with the Internet knows full well that you will need to use a search engine. The use of keywords will result in the success or failure in each search. The same is true for the many historical databases that have now begun to show up on the internet for your location or state. Learning how to find information on a historical location can be a slow business. Slow that is unless you use the right key words to call your data.
Certain phrases were used in the Civil War and can be used to locate site information. By learning to “fish” using the right bait you may just catch that great old Civil War camp or battle location near you. Using combinations of words to search with may be a bit complicated if you do not enclose small words used in phrases in quotes the result of your search may be only a long list of the word “THE” for instance.
You must look for the kind of words that stand out as not used in normal everyday conversation and relate more to the time of the Civil War. You may also find information since the length of the war was fairly short by searching simply for each year of the war. Examples: 1861, 1862, 1863, 1864, 1865.
You can look for words that relate to the guns by name or words like: “musket” “pounders” “mortar” “cannon” and others. I found a wealth of good information on battles under the word “musket”.
Look for words that relate to a possible battle site: “fortification”, “redoubt”, “earthworks”, or “skirmish”
Look for keywords to locate a campsite: “camp”, “post”, “encampment”, or “garrison”
There are key words that relate to singular objects that can be used in combination to paint the picture of what you are looking for. There are also words that will be found in nearly every paragraph on the Civil War like the words “Confederate” and “Union”. The key is to be more selective to pull information that will give you only a short list of information in which to read for interesting locations.
Look for words to describe the kind of location that the Civil War military would look for to find a defendable position like: “hill” “mound” “mount” “ridge”.
Other good combinations might include the forever favorite “bridge” and “railroad” which were often included in most campsites.
Try also words like: “river” “creek” and “spring” or “springs” since they always camped near water and do not forget the one thing that any army will need and most hunters forget, “salt” and you can use old maps and lookup any proper name with the keyword salt in it and you will find that it was used in the Civil war to extract salt for the troops. Salt was just as necessary as gunpowder to troops who marched in the hot sun and sweated out their salt. Apart from the flavoring aspect salt is an electrolyte, and very necessary for an army to march and fight.
Look up combinations of words like: “troops” and “railroad” to learn where troops may have camped along a railroad. Using this method I was able to find information on a Civil War camp of some size.
Try words like: “artillery”, “battery”, “skirmish”, and “sharpshooter”
Where a fortification was abandoned for instance, you will nearly always find the key phrase “spiked their guns” which was a common practice for the Civil War. You need to put search phrases in quotes and use words like: spiked spike “their guns” “the guns” “the cannons”. By using a selection of words like this I pulled out key information on abandoned fortified sites in my state that may aid me in finding a great spot to hunt. Not many people who sit down for the first time to a historical database search engine will think of those phrases. Much information is now available on CDrom and these words may be valuable for data searches in vast libraries of historic data.