The Library of Congress' new online set of Civil War Maps brings together materials from three major collections. The online set 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 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.
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.
Many of 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 largest group among the Confederate works is the Hotchkiss Map Collection, made up of 341 manuscript maps and sketch books. 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.
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.
I took a look at the online collection and found it super easy to use. I found that I could browse the map collection by:
The web site uses the popular MrSID Publisher to display maps, the same format as used on many genealogy sites.
The first map that I happened to look at was 506 by 438 pixels although different maps may be slightly different sizes. I was then able to adjust the display to several other sizes. Most of them were smaller than the first display, but the one exception was 640 by 480 pixels. I selected that.
Initially, a full image of the map displayed in side-by-side windows, labeled Zoom View and Navigator View. The Zoom View has 5 buttons that zoom in for increasing magnification, while the Navigator View shows how the zoomed area fits in the larger map and offers point-and-click selection of a different area to examine in the Zoom display.
Next, I started using the zoom in and zoom out tools. I found that I could center the display with a single mouseclick. Then I could move up, down, left, or right within a zoom level by clicking near the edge of the image in the Zoom View, or select a different area in the Navigator View. It is actually easier and more intuitive in action than my description sounds. I had no problems zooming in and could see individual dirt roads, embankments, and locations of troops as recorded by the mapmakers.
The displayed image has no built-in capability to print. However, I found it easy to print the maps through a two-step process: right-click on any map, and then select "Save picture As…". Save it as a GIF file someplace on your hard drive. Then launch any graphics program, open the file you just saved, and use that program's commands to edit and/or print the file.
This is an excellent example of another great online resource for genealogists, historians, and Civil War buffs. You can view the Library of Congress' new Civil War Maps collection at: http://lcweb2.loc.gov/ammem/collections/civil_war_maps