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Library of Congress Geography & Maps: An Illustrated Guide

Military Map Collections

[Powder horn with hand-drawn map of the Hudson River (above Albany), Mohawk River, Niagara region, and Lake Ontario in New York Province]. 1770. Geography and Map Division.
[Powder horn with hand-drawn map of the Hudson River (above Albany), Mohawk River, Niagara region, and Lake Ontario in New York Province]. 1770. Library of Congress Geography and Map Division.

Division holdings are particularly rich sources for the study of the French and Indian War and the American Revolution. Numbering more than two thousand titles, including six hundred original manuscript drawings, they represent the work of the leading British, French, and American eighteenth-century cartographers and publishers. Particularly valuable for the study of military mapping during the war are the following collections: Peter Force, William Faden, Rochambeau, Richard Howe, and Pierre Ozanne.

A unique form of cartographic artifact during the colonial era was the powder horn map. Embellishing powder horns with maps was a popular activity with soldiers serving in British Colonial America, especially during the French and Indian War and the American Revolutionary War. The division's collection includes five horns of British origin dating from the French and Indian War era, three American ones engraved during the Revolutionary War, and one believed to have been made or carried by a Pennsylvania frontiersman some time between 1790 and 1810. Several of the horns include the names of their owners.

Manuscript maps relating to Andrew Jackson's military campaigns during the War of 1812 and postwar activities with the Muscogee (Creek) Nation are found in the Blair Collection. These maps were originally presented to the Library in 1903 by the descendants of Francis P. Blair, Jackson's adopted son, along with his papers which are housed in the Manuscript Division. From a donation by Dr. Warren Coleman of New York City in 1936, the division acquired a manuscript map of the Battle of Horseshoe Bend which took place March 27, 1814, on the Tallapoosa River in eastern Alabama where Gen. Andrew Jackson defeated a large force of Muscogee (Creek). This map was compiled by Dr. Coleman's ancestor, a regimental quartermaster, who drew it "upon his hat the morning after the battle."

The American Civil War remains one of the most active topics of research in the Geography and Map Division. With over 2,300 maps and atlases, along with 162 maps from collections in the Manuscript Division, the Library of Congress has the finest collection of Civil War printed maps. Included are topographic sketch maps showing the approximate terrain or routes of potential conflict, maps depicting the theater of military operations, order-of-battle maps showing the location of command units, strategic maps used in the planning and execution of campaigns, and commercial and newspaper maps designed to persuade and inform the public. The American Civil War also witnessed the introduction of reproduction techniques such as sunprints, photography, and lithography to keep up with the great demand for maps.

Acquired in 1948 from Mrs. R. E. Christian, granddaughter of Maj. Jedediah Hotchkiss, chief topographer of the Army of Northern Virginia, the Jedediah Hotchkiss Collection of Confederate field maps consists of manuscript field sketches, reconnaissance maps, county maps, regional maps, and battle maps. The centerpiece of the collection is a large, table-size detailed drawing of the Shenandoah Valley surveyed and compiled at the request of Gen. Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson for his spring campaign of 1862. Other Confederate maps include photostatic copies of seventy-five unique manuscript maps, prepared for Gen. Jeremy F. Gilmer, chief of the Confederate engineers, from the Military Academy at West Point, the Virginia Historical Society, and the College of William and Mary.

Other collections that pertain to the Civil War include William Tecumseh Sherman, Orlando M. Poe, Nathaniel Prentiss Banks, Samuel P. Heintzelman, and George B. McClellan. Additionally, the maps belonging to Gen. Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, donated by his granddaughter Eleanor Wyllys Allen, are related to Gettysburg, Petersburg, and Five Forks. A group of thirty-one maps illustrate the operations of the Armies of the Potomac and James from May 4, 1864, to April 9, 1865.

One of the prized additions to the division is the Hauslab-Liechtenstein Map Collection which includes some eight thousand manuscript and printed maps primarily related to Europe with special emphasis on the Austro-Hungarian Empire and its separate provinces. Assembled by Franz Ritter von Hauslab, a member of the Austrian nobility and a distinguished military engineer who fought with Russian forces against Napoleon Bonaparte's armies, the collection reflects his life-long interests in military affairs, the application of lithography to map printing, the portrayal of terrain on maps, and thematic mapping. The major categories include maps of European cities; military fortification plans; battle maps depicting most of the major European conflicts of the seventeenth through the nineteenth centuries; medium- and large-scale topographic map series; maps and views of volcanoes; panoramic and perspective maps; geologic and geognostic maps; language and ethnographic maps; and facsimiles and tracings which illustrate the history of cartography.

Charles Pelot Summerall. Map to illustrate the offensive of the St. Mihiel salient. 1918. Geography and Map Division.
Charles Pelot Summerall. Map to illustrate the offensive of the St. Mihiel salient. 1918. Library of Congress Geography and Map Division.

The nineteenth century was a time for testing new printing technologies, all of which are represented. These include examples of wood-block printing, copperplate engraving, lithography, chromolithography, photolithography, zincography, heliogravure, sun prints, and transfers. In addition, the collection includes a number of manuscript maps and views of Italy prepared by Carl Ritter, a leading nineteenth-century German geographer, whose library was purchased by Hauslab in 1861.

While the majority of the division's maps relating to World War I and World War II are found among the division's general collections, several special collections contain pertinent material, such as that of World War I Gen. Charles Pelot Summerall, commander of the 4th, 5th, and 9th Army Corps in France; the Nazi geographer Karl Haushofer; and Albert Speer, Hitler's armaments minister and personal architect.