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Copy of an Unfinished Map of a Portion of the Military Department of North Eastern Virginia and Fort Monroe compiled in the Bureau of Topographical Engineers War Department from the best and latest authorities
Washington: Bureau of Topographical Engineers, August 1861. Sun printed (i.e. photozincographed) map after the original manuscript, routes of railroads and canals hand-coloured, 44 x 51 1/2 inches, dissected into 24 sections and linen-backed as issued. Manuscript annotations in pencil [by J. J. Young?]. Modern blue morocco-backed box. Provenance: Descendants of Amiel Weeks Whipple. Incredible Civil War map of Virginia, produced by the Corps of Topographical Engineers for use by Union officers in the field. A highly important military map of Northern Virginia made for the use of the Union Army in the early days of the Civil War, by an important military cartographer. The present map depicts Virginia as far north as Fredericksburg, as far south as the North Carolina border, and as far west as Charlottesville, with detail including towns, roads, waterways, and railroads. A statement on the map cites the U.S. Coast surveys and the Boye map of Virginia as sources, in addition to surveys conducted by the Corps of Topographical Engineers. The map was completed within a month of the first major battle of the war, the Battle of Bull Run, fought on July 21, 1861. The failure of the Union forces there made it clear that the war was not going to be resolved easily and quickly. Although not named as the cartographer, the present map can be attributed to Amiel Weeks Whipple. During the 1850s, Whipple became one of the most accomplished surveyors in the Corps of Topographical Engineers, leading explorations for the transcontinental railroad. Upon the outbreak of the Civil War, "Captain Whipple was immediately ordered to report to the Chief of Topographical Engineers in Washington. There was then a dearth of maps giving any but the most meagre of information concerning the State of Virginia, and to him as Chief of Topographical Engineers of the defenses of Washington, South of the Potomac, was entrusted the very challenging duty of making armed reconnaissances to collect the topographical details required. It was hazardous work, in a country thickly wooded in places, where small bodies of men could be concealed with absolute impunity; and the first skirmishes of the war, such as that at Fairfax Court House, were fought during its continuance. The work, however, was successfully and very quickly done, and reliable maps were soon in possession of the Union commanders" (Stoddard). Attribution of this map to Whipple can also be determined by a very similar map, though focussed on Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William Counties, which identifies Whipple as the source for the manuscript drawn by Civil Engineer J. J. Young (see Stephenson 536.6). That map is in essence the companion to the present map, i.e. showing the northern regions of Virginia not shown on this map. The handwriting of the manuscript used for that map and the present map are identical, suggesting both to have been drawn by Young. Interestingly, the present map includes pencil annotations, again in the same hand (see for example the naming of the branches of the Elizabeth River near Norfolk). That this map was done specifically for use in the field is suggested by the hurried process of its production. Rather than taking the time to have the map lithographed or engraved, a sun print process was used to duplicate the original manuscript. Sun prints, also called photozincography, were developed in Great Britain in the mid-19th century to reproduce maps created during the Ordnance Survey. In this photographic process, a negative is made of the original using a wet plate collodion method, which is then exposed onto a thin sheet coated with a saturated potassium bichromate solution and transferred to a zinc plate, coated in ink and put through a press. The present copy descended in the family of Whipple and includes a manuscript presentation below the cartouche, "To accompany letter to / dated Bureau of Topogl. Eng.s Augt 1861." The name of the recipient is not filled in, suggesting that Whipple kept this copy for himself. The map is very rare, with OCLC citing but three known examples. Stephenson, Civil War Maps, 451.6; Francis R. Stoddard, "Amiel Weeks Whipple" in Chronicles of Oklahoma, vol. 28 (Autumn 1950).
      [Bookseller: Donald Heald Rare Books]
Last Found On: 2013-07-19           Check availability:      Biblio    

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