The Library of Congress has begun a cooperative project with two Virginia libraries to make a major digital collection of Civil War cartographic materials available on the Library's Web site.
When it is completed, the collective presentation will consist of 2,240 maps and charts and 76 atlases from the Library's Geography and Map Division collection; 200 maps from the Library of Virginia; and 400 items from the Virginia Historical Society.
More than half of the two Virginia institutions' contributions are now available at http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/collections/civil_war_maps/, and the remainder of their materials are expected to be mounted by April. All the maps listed in the bibliography "Civil War Maps: An Annotated List of Maps and Atlases in the Library of Congress," compiled by Richard W. Stephenson in 1989, are already accessible online.
By combining their resources online, the three institutions have increased the value of their individual holdings by allowing enthusiasts, students and scholars easy access to a rich collection of Civil War cartographic items that can be studied and compared by exploring a single Web site.
Library of Congress Holdings
Materials from the Geography and Map Division of the Library of Congress include some 2,240 Civil War maps and charts, as well as 76 atlases and sketchbooks that are cited in Stephenson's bibliography. They depict battles and engagements, troop positions and movements, and fortifications.
Also included on the site are reconnaissance maps, sketch maps, coastal charts and theater-of-war maps. The vast majority of the maps were prepared by federal forces or commercial firms in the North, but there are also a substantial number by Confederate military authorities and a few by Southern publishers.
Virginia Historical Society Holdings
The Virginia Historical Society's 400 items to be mounted on the new Civil War site will include detailed maps that officers of the Confederate Army's Engineer Corps created of counties and regions within Virginia (the so-called "Jeremy Gilmer" maps, named for the commanding officer of that unit). These manuscript maps are distinctive in that they detail not only roads, bridges, waterways and major buildings, but they also identify farms and plantations by owners' surnames.
Another set of images from the society is drawn from the multivolume diary and scrapbook of Robert K. Sneden, a private who served as a mapmaker with the Army of the Potomac. Recently acquired by the society after having been locked in a bank vault for decades, the Sneden images provide a unique window on the war in Virginia from a Union perspective. They consist primarily of battle plans and details of fortifications both in Virginia and elsewhere.
The few remaining images in the society's digital collection come from the letters of individual soldiers, which are part of the society's manuscript holdings. More information about the Virginia Historical Society can be found at www.vahistorical.org/.
The Library of Virginia
The Library of Virginia's map collection includes about 200 maps relating to the Civil War, which will become part of this new online site. Among these are maps that accompanied reports to the governor of Virginia, Confederate imprints, a variety of printed and manuscript maps of areas in Virginia and a small group of field maps of southwestern Virginia, which were found in books that belonged to Confederate Gen.William W. Loring. For more information on the Library of Virginia, go to its Web site at www.lva.lib.va.us/.