History of Mapping the Civil War

  • Prewar Mapping

    War, like necessity, has been called the mother of invention. The same might be said of cartography, for with every war there is a great rush to produce maps to aid in understanding the nature of the land over which armies will move and fight, to plan engagements and the deployment of troops, and to record victories for posterity to study and admire. The ...

  • Union Mapping

    Federal military authorities were keenly aware that they were unprepared to fight a war on American soil. Any significant campaign into the seceding states could be successfully carried out only after good maps, based on reliable data from the field, had been prepared. Existing Federal mapping units, such as the Army's Corps of Topographical Engineers and Corps of Engineers, the Treasury Department's Coast Survey, ...

  • Confederate Mapping

    The Confederate Army had difficulty throughout the war in supplying its field officers with adequate maps. The situation in the South was acute from the beginning of hostilities because of the lack of established government mapping agencies capable of preparing large-scale maps, and the inadequacy of reprinting facilities for producing them. The situation was further complicated by the almost total absence of surveying and ...

  • Field Mapping

    Although all successful field commanders realized the necessity of clearly understanding the lay of the land over which they were moving or fighting, some placed a higher value on mapping activities than others. Two eminent commanders that fall in this category are Generals William T. Sherman and Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson.

  • Official Battlefield Maps

    When time permitted topographical engineers in both armies were called upon to prepare accurate, detailed maps of the fields of battle. Cultural and topographical features were carefully shown and the position of troops and batteries was depicted in detail. Many of these maps were used to illustrate official reports of the field commanders or were sent back to headquarters in Washington and Richmond for ...

  • Commercial Mapping

    Throughout the American Civil War, commercial publishers in the North and to a lesser extent in the South produced countless maps for an eagerly awaiting public in need of up-to-date geographical information. Few families were without someone in the armed forces serving in a little-known place in the American South. Maps, therefore, were not only important sources of information, but also satisfied the patriotic ...

  • Postwar Mapping

    At the conclusion of the Civil War, the U.S. War Department published numerous detailed battlefield maps and atlases to document significant military engagements such as those at Antietam, Manassas, Gettysburg, and Atlanta, to name a few. The premier cartographic work of the postwar years, however, is the U.S. War Department's Atlas to Accompany the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies (LC Civil ...