Library of Congress > Collections > Civil War Maps > About this Collection

About this Collection

Brings together materials from three premier collections: the Library of Congress Geography and Map Division, the Virginia Historical Society, and the Library of Virginia. Among the reconnaissance, sketch, and theater-of-war maps are the detailed battle maps made by Major Jedediah Hotchkiss for Generals Lee and Jackson, General Sherman's Southern military campaigns, and maps taken from diaries, scrapbooks, and manuscripts all available for the first time in one place.

Most of the items presented here are documented in Civil War Maps: An Annotated List of Maps and Atlases in the Library of Congress, compiled by Richard W. Stephenson in 1989. New selections from 2,240 maps and 76 atlases held by the Library will be added monthly.

Civil War Maps contains items from the Library of Congress Geography and Map Division, the Library of Virginia, and the Virginia Historical Society.

This presentation contains approximately 2,240 Civil War maps and charts and 76 atlases and sketchbooks that are held within the Geography and Map Division, 200 maps from the Library of Virginia, and 400 maps from the Virginia Historical Society.

The maps, charts, and atlases depict battles, troop positions and movements, engagements, and fortifications. Also included are reconnaissance maps, sketch maps, coastal charts, and theater of war maps. An introductory essay traces the development of mapping during the Civil War, with special reference to maps and atlases in the Geography and Map Division. The Geography and Map Division materials are based on Civil War Maps: An Annotated List of Maps and Atlases in the Library of Congress, compile by Richard W. Stephenson in 1989. This bibliography not only includes descriptions of printed, photoreproduced, annotated, and hand-drawn maps made between 1861 and 1865, but also maps made later to illustrate or explain specific events, movements, and battles of the war. The vast majority of the maps were prepared by Federal forces or by commercial firms in the North, but there are also a substantial number by Confederate military authorities and a few by Southern publishers.

The largest group among the Confederate works are the 341 manuscript maps and sketch books that make up the Hotchkiss Map Collection. Assembled by Major Jedediah Hotchkiss, who served as topographic engineer with the Army of Northern Virginia, this remarkable collection was acquired by the Library of Congress in 1948 from Hotchkiss's granddaughter, Mrs. R. E. Christian of Deerfield, Virginia. The entries for the collection, described in a separate section, were prepared in 1951 by Clara Egli LeGear and were originally published by the Library of Congress under the title The Hotchkiss Map Collection: A List of Manuscript Maps, Many of the Civil War Period, Prepared by Major Jedediah Hotchkiss, and Other Manuscript and Annotated Maps in His Possession.

Included here are maps of the whole United States, maps of major regions such as the Eastern or Southern States, maps showing all or parts of more than two states, and maps of the Mississippi River. State maps are also included, with maps of specific battles, cities and towns, and natural features listed alphabetically under each state.

In addition to the Hotchkiss Map Collection, the Sherman Map Collection is also presented. Consisting of 210 maps and 3 atlases belonging to Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman, it was formed by the Library of Congress from three separate accessions. The first, received in 1912, numbered some 58 maps that were included among the papers presented to the Library of Congress by Sherman's son, Philemon Tecumseh Sherman. A second segment was obtained in 1942 from the general's granddaughter, Miss Eleanor Sherman Fitch. The final group of maps was obtained in 1955 from the William L. Clements Library, Ann Arbor, Michigan, in exchange for a copy of Joseph F. W. Des Barres's The Atlantic Neptune (London, 1774-1781). The collection includes a significant number of maps and atlases owned by Sherman either before or after the war.

The Library of Virginia's map collection includes about 200 maps relating to the Civil War. Of the maps included in this project, there are maps accompanying a report to the Governor of Virginia, Confederate imprints, a variety of printed and manuscript maps, mostly of Virginia areas, and a small group of field maps of Southwestern Virginia found in books belonging to Major General William W. Loring, C.S.A.

The Virginia Historical Society items include images created by officers of the Confederate Army's Engineer Corps of counties and regions within Virginia (including the so-called Jeremy Gilmer maps). These manuscript maps are distinctive in that they include not only roads, bridges, waterways, and major buildings, but also identify farms and plantations by owners' surnames. Another set of images comes from the multi-volume diary and scrapbook of Union Private Robert K. Sneden, who served with the Army of the Potomac. These consist primarily of battle plans and details of fortifications both in Virginia and elsewhere. Some of Sneden's work has been reproduced in two recent publications, Eye of the Storm and Images from the Storm. The few remaining images in the collection are drawn more generally from the Society's manuscript holdings, including those contained in the letters of individual soldiers.

Most of the entries include a brief paragraph describing the contents of the map, but no attempt has been made to analyze the maps completely or to evaluate them critically.

All three libraries actively seek to enrich their cartographic collection and would welcome information that may lead to the acquisitions of maps and atlases of the American Civil War not already included in their holdings. Any new, original items received by the Library of Congress will be included in updates to this online collection. New selections from the Stephenson bibliography will be added monthly.