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2010 News Releases

PBS warfare episode to have Longwood connection

May 18, 2010

Battlefield Cannon

Updated [6.1.10]: Watch the full episode of "Command and Control" online (the clip outlined below begins at 00:31:16)
Update [5.25.10]:
An article about the PBS series and Dr. Charles Ross is featured in the Richmond Times-Dispatch

An episode of a new PBS series on warfare will feature a Longwood University connection.

Dr. Charles Ross, dean of the Cook-Cole College of Arts and Sciences and professor of physics, and Chris Calkins, 1981 Longwood graduate who is a Civil War historian and the first manager of Sailor's Creek Battlefield Historical State Park, will appear in "Command and Control," which will air Wednesday, May 26, from 10 to 11 p.m. on WCVE in Richmond. "Command and Control" is one of four episodes in The Ground War, which explores the technological innovations that have transformed warfare through history.

The episode details the innovative tunnel dug by Union miners in Petersburg that led to the Battle of the Crater in 1864. In the first half of the segment, Calkins explains the battle while Ross describes the science behind the tunnel. In the second half of the segment, Ross and Stacy Wood, a 2009 Longwood graduate who was a senior at the time of filming, demonstrate a small-scale model that shows the physics involved in the innovative ventilation system. The model of the tunnel's ventilation system was devised by Dr. Keith Rider, associate professor of chemistry, and Ray Heinrich, director of laboratory services for both of Longwood's science departments, in which Wood worked.

The Petersburg battlefield scene was filmed one morning in December 2008, and the other scene was filmed that afternoon in the chemistry lab on the third floor of the Chichester Science Center. Both scenes were filmed by Granada Media, a British-based television production company that also filmed Ross' appearance in an episode of "The Battlefield Detectives" on The History Channel, which first aired in 2007. Ross' appearance in that episode was filmed at the Gettysburg battlefield.

Ross is an expert on science and technology in the Civil War and is often quoted in news articles about sound-related anomalies known as "acoustic shadows," which played a crucial role in command decisions in several Civil War battles. He is the author of two books, Civil War Acoustic Shadows and Trial by Fire: Science, Technology and the Civil War, and is a co-author of a third book, Never for Want of Powder: The Confederate Powder Works. He has been a consultant with the FBI and the Los Angeles Police Department.

Calkins worked for the National Park Service (NPS) for 34 years, the last 28 years as chief of interpretation at Petersburg National Battlefield. From May 2008 until retiring from the NPS in July 2009, when he then became a full-time manager at Sailor's Creek, he worked part-time at both battlefields. He is the author of 12 books, was a consultant for the Time-Life Books series on the war, and wrote and designed the 26-stop audio driving tour for the "Lee's Retreat" route. An authority on the last year of the war, he also has worked at Appomattox Court House National Historical Park and Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Military Park.