Get daily Civil War updates on your iPad for the next four years

The Civil War Today provides daily updates on your iPad that matches in real time what happened 150 years ago starting in April 1861.
Written by Matthew Miller, Contributing Writer on

It has now been a month since I have had my iPad 2 and developers keep releasing fantastic apps that validate my $900+ purchase and leave me with absolutely no regrets. While I am thoroughly enjoying individual pitch stats in MLB At Bat 2011, replays of perfect goals by the Sounders FC in MLS 2001 Match Day, and followed all the NCAA March Madness action via 3G in Alaska the $7.99 application I just bought yesterday may be one of the best apps I have seen in a long time that will increase my knowledge of our history for the next four years.

History's The Civil War Today (iTunes link) application is absolutely stunning and apps like this make other tablets almost seem like a joke. Check out several screenshots of this new application in my image gallery along with some thoughts on the functions and capability of it below.

Image Gallery: Check out screenshots from The Civil War Today on my iPad 2.
Image Gallery: The Civil War Today
Image Gallery: Another article

Information provided in the app

The Civil War began 150 years ago on 12 April and to remember this event in our history A&E Television Networks Mobile and History released an application that will provide you with daily updates in "real-time" over the course of the next four years. Newspapers could learn some lessons from this application and see how it should be done with information, media, social network integration, and more. According to the iTunes App Store description you will find documents, photos, maps, diary entries, quotes, and newspaper broadsheets that include the following:

  • Daily Civil War update from 12 April 2011 through 26 April 2015 that mirrors the war events from 150 years ago
  • Actual newspapers from back in the days of the war
  • North and South casualty counts
  • Letters and diary entries from 15 individuals
  • Photos and photo galleries
  • Quote of the day
  • Articles and video on featured topics
  • Maps of key battlefields
  • Twitter integration to send telegrams via morse code
  • GameCenter integration to earn Civil War era achievements

As I grow older I am learning to appreciate and read a LOT more history than when I was young and this is a FANTASTIC way to learn and understand what our ancestors did to help form the nation we live in today. I lived in Washington, D.C. for over four years and also increased my desire for learning more about the Civil War as I walked on the grounds where it happened.


Along the top you will find three icons on each side of the application name to control and access different parts of the application. The left most icon access a table of contents for the day you have pulled up and after you read a piece of the content a check mark will appear by it so you can jump to new and unread content quickly and easily. You can also take advantage of the pinch to zoom and user interface elements of the iPad to navigate around as well.

The second icon (heart in a circle) launches your Favorites page. As you read content you can mark (tap on the heart icon) as a favorite and then view all of them later in one place.

The next icon (outlines of three people) gives you an index of the biographies in the application. You can tap on a name or even search for them in the search box to jump to a biography of them.

The A-Z icon over on the right side of the application name gives you access to the glossary with a search box to help you jump to things too.

The information icon (lower case i) gives you access to things such as the About page, History.com website shortcut, legal and privacy policy, copyright, and more.

The settings icon (gear) is the last one on the top row and gives you access to toggle on or off Twitter and Facebook (for sharing pieces of information), background scene selector, and memory selector. You can choose from 0 to 10 GB of data to keep stored in cache on the device to give you faster access to it and since I have a 64GB iPad 2 I have mine set to the default of 5 GB.

When you are within an article, photo, or other area of information you can tap the heart icon to add it as a favorite or the arrow to share the content via Twitter, Facebook, or email. Tapping one of these fills out a telegram saying you liked the app and gives a link to the app. You can add more text or enter an original "Telegram" by tapping out the message using the Morse Code legend and button on the display (shown in my image gallery). It doesn't appear to give a link to the specific day though so it doesn't seem to have that much value at this time.

At the bottom of the display you will find the date timeline with the month, year and day available. Simply tap on a day to jump to the content and note that when you launch the application you are taken to the date that matches our current date.

Thoughts on using the application

I am finding the layout and navigation of the app to be great and the information is very interesting. Quotes and Day in the Life are directly attributed to certain people, but I cannot find who wrote the articles or where the information came from. It is the History Channel and I am willing to bet that they have reliable and trustworthy sources for the information, but it would be nice to see this stated somewhere so readers have a sense of trust regarding the stories.

I like the different types of information, photos and maps, North South daily quiz, and embedded video content that really brings history to life for me. At a cost of just $7.99 it is a bargain to get this type and quality of information on a daily basis for over four years.

I know what I will be reading on my commute every day now for quite some time and highly recommend this application.

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