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Native American Spaces: Cartographic Resources at the Library of Congress

Indian Wars

Cartography has long been a valuable resource for illustrating and studying military events within their topographic and environmental context. Although there is no large collection of Indian battle maps in the Geography and Map Division, the existing examples are useful tools for depicting the hostilities between Indians and non-Indians. Many of the Indian-related military maps in the Geography and Map Division were issued by the federal government to illustrate the results of specific battles, but there are also examples of maps depicting military campaigns, maps of the "seat of war," and reconnaissance maps, There are also numerous maps that simple give the locations of battle sites. No examples were located of maps portraying conflicts exclusively between rival Indian groups.

Many of the Indian war maps are filed in the Uncataloged / Title collection under the subject heading "United States — Wars, Indian." Within this file of miscellaneous battle maps, the largest group relates to the French and Indian War. The maps of this conflict, as well as those of the Revolutionary War, contain very little data about the involvement or impact of Indian participants. This file also contains a good collection of maps of the Seminole Wars in Florida, with particular emphasis on maps of the Second Seminole War from 1835 to 1842. The single engagement between Native Americans and White forces most often represented on maps is the Battle of Little Big Horn (Battle of Greasy Grass), Montana.

Digitized Maps

The maps in this section have been digitized by the Library and are available for viewing and download online. Select the link on the map or in the caption to view a copy of the map that can be enlarge to view the detail.

 

Manuscript Copy of the First Map Printed in America, 1677

William Hubbard. A map of New-England, being the first that ever was here cut, and done by the best pattern that could be had, which being in some places defective, it made the other less exact: Yet doth it sufficiently show the situation of the country & conveniently well the distances of places. 1677. Library of Congress Geography and Map Division.

This is a manuscript copy of the first map engraved in New England and the first printed in America. It was drawn by minister William Hubbard to accompany his A narrative of the troubles with the Indians in New-England, which documented the conflict known as King Philip's War, 1676-76. Brought about by the expansion of the Massachusetts Bay Colony into lands owned by the Wampanog and Narragansett Indians, the war witnessed atrocities committed on both sides. Map records the Indian attacks on English settlements, numbered in correspondence with notes in his narrative. English settlements are illustrated as houses or churches, while Native villages are rendered as trees, an allusion to their natural, or "primitive," origins. Also included are English and Native American place names, the northern and southern boundaries of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, and pictorial representation of vegetation and relief.

An original woodcut edition of the map External is available via the Website of the Massachusetts Historical Society.


A Prospective View of the Battle Fought Near Lake George, 1756

Thomas Jefferys. A Prospective view of the Battle fought near Lake George, on the 8th of Sepr. 1755, between 2000 English, with 250 Mohawks under the command of of Genl. Johnson: & 2500 French & Indians under the command of Genl. Dieskau . . . 1756 [1768]. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress. An original un-digitized copy is in the Geography and Map Division under call number G1105 .J4 1768 Vault, plate no. 37.

This plate from Thomas Jefferys' atlas titled A General Topography of the North America and the West Indies . . . 1768 depicts the Hudson River and includes views of the two engagements between New Englanders and their Mohawk allies, and French forces and their Iroquois allies.

Learn more about this map on the Featured Maps page.


Manuscript Map of 1779 Expedition Against the Indians in New York, 1779

Author unknown. em>Map of Gen. Sullivan's march from Easton to the Senaca & Cayuga countries. 1779. Library of Congress Geography and Map Division.

This manuscript map depicts the route of Gen. Sullivan's 1779 expedition against the Indians of the Finger Lakes region of New York. Map indicates Indian villages, as well as locations and dates of encampments.


Comanche Pictograph Map of the Battle of Sierra Blanca, 1787

Author unknown. [Comanche pictograph map of the Battle of Sierra Blanca, 1787]. 1787. Library of Congress Geography and Map Division.

This pictograph map was drawn by a Comanche artist to document the Battle of Sierra Blanca, July 30, 1787, in the Spanish frontier province of New Mexico between the Comanche and their traditional enemy, the Mescalero Apache. The captions on the map document a fiercely fought victory by the Comanche, led by Chief Hisampampi. The map was drawn on paper in the tradition of what became known as ledger art, or in the form of traders' ledger books. In the convention of plains warriors, hoof prints depict horses, arrows are pointed at the wounded men and horses, and shields with lances denote the fallen warriors.


Map of the Battle of Tohopeka or Horseshoe Bend, 1814

Author unknown. Battle of Tehoo[pca]. [1814]. Library of Congress Geography and Map Division.

The map illustrates the decisive 1814 battle at Tohopeka or Horseshoe Bend on the Tallapoosa River, Alabama, between U.S. regular army troops led by Andrew Jackson and Creek forces led by Red Eagle (William Weatherford). It indicates troop positions and movements, Indian villages, defensive positions, terrain, and the Creek encampment at Emuckfau.


Map of the Seat of War in Florida, 1839

United States. Army. Corps of Engineers. Map of the Seat of War in Florida, compiled by order of Bvt. Brigr. Genl. Z. Taylor, principally from the surveys and reconnaissances of the Officers of the U.S. Army, by Capt. John Mackay and Lieut. J. E. Blake, U.S. Topographical Engineers. 1839. Library of Congress Geography and Map Division.

This map was prepared on behalf of Brigadier General Zachary Taylor, commander of U.S. Army forces in Florida during the Second Seminole War, 1835-42, in which the Seminole resisted forced removal to Indian Territory. Taylor is remembered for having led U.S. troops during the Battle of Lake Okeechobee, December 25, 1837, and later using bloodhounds to track Seminole warriors in the swamps. Map depicts U.S. Army forts and posts, sites of battles, roads, rivers and streams, and vegetation.


Maps of the Battle of Birch Coulee, Minnesota, 1862

Robert K. Boyd. [Historical Maps Depicting the Battle of Birch Coulee, Minnesota, September 2-3, 1862]. [19--?]. Library of Congress Geography and Map Division.

Three manuscript maps on two sheets depicting at various levels of detail the Battle of Birch Coulee, Minnesota, on September 2-3, 1862, between U.S. troops and the eastern Sioux during the Dakota War (Little Crow's War) in response to a Sioux attack on Fort Ridgely. The maps may have been prepared by Robert K. Boyd, a U.S. soldier who participated in the engagement. The first map is a large-scale depiction of the battle site itself, and indicates the locations of circled wagons, officer and enlisted men's tents, tethered horses, and lines of fire, and include descriptions of the surrounding terrain and events during the battle. An inset shows the distance from Fort Ridgely to the battle ground. The second map (verso of the first) covers the State of Minnesota and part of Wisconsin, and shows Indian lands, the battle site, forts, White settlements, a Native village, and streams and rivers, and includes historical notes. The third map covers the environs of the battle site, encompassing Birch Coulee Creek, Beaver Creek, and the Minnesota River. It depicts the course of the U.S. rescue party, camps, burial location of U.S. troops and retrieved wounded, and the battle site, and also includes notes on the operation.

Featured Collection

The Gustavus Sohon Collection of Graphic Materials

Manuscript materials, various sizes, scales, and dates.

A collection of manuscript illustrations, manuscript maps, and manuscript notes produced by Gustavus Sohon in his capacity as soldier, artist, engineer, explorer, and interpreter during the eleven years he worked for the federal government. His materials document his exploration and mapping of the northern Rockies and the Pacific Northwest, and include several illustrations of engagements between U.S. Army troops and Native Americans. These illustrations are:

  1. An image of the May 17, 1858, engagement of Col. Edward Steptoe on the In-gos-so-man Creek with members of the Coeur d'Alene, Palouse, Spokane, and other tribes at Rosalia, Washington (item I-A-15)
  2. An image of an August 4, 1858, council with the Nez Perce held by Col. George Wright near Fort Walla-Walla, Washington Territory, to discuss his campaign over the Columbia River Plateau (item I-A-19);
  3. An image of the September 5, 1858, Battle of Spokane Plain between Native Americans and troops under Col. George Wright (Item I-A-18)
  4. An undated, incomplete drawing of American soldiers aiming rifles at approaching Indians (Item I-A-9).

Collection is filed in the G&M Vault under Sohon Collection.

His numerous field sketches of individual American Indians, which are held by other repositories, are listed and described in Gustavus Sohon's Cartographic and Artistic Works: an annotated bibliography, compiled by Ronald E. Grimm and Paul D. McDermott, in Philip Lee Phillips Society Occasional Paper Series, no. 4 (Washington, D.C.: Library of Congress, 2002).

Additional Maps in the Library's Collections

  • Plan du Fort des Sauvages Natchez blocqué par les François le 20 Janvier 1731 et detruit le 25 du dit mois. Author unknown, 1731. Photostat of original manuscript, 24 x 38 cm. Scale 1 inch = 240 feet. Original cited to the Bibliotheque National, Paris. Filed at Louisiana — Sicily Island — 1731 — 1 inch = 240 feet — no author.
    This French manuscript map illustrates the fortified Natchez village on Sicily Island, Louisiana, in January 1731 at the time of its attack by French forces under the command of Louisiana colonial governor Perier during the second major campaign of the Natchez War, 1729-31. About 450 Natchez surrendered, only to be sold into slavery, but some chiefs and braves slipped away, to be subdued by the French later that year, while their remnants sought refuge among the Chickasaw. The war was ignited by the Natchez capture of Fort Rosalie (Natchez), which was prompted by the unreasonable demand that they surrender their village of White Apple and all of their cultivated fields to the commander of the French fort. The map depicts the village, houses, French batteries, trenches, advance positions, roads, and vegetation pictorially.
    The original map External is in the Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris.
  • [Plan of Battleground of Tippecanoe fought on November 7, 1811]. William Henry Harrison, 1840. (s.l., s.n.). Map, photostat of manuscript, 26 x 19 cm. Scale not given. Filed at U.S. — War — Indian Wars — Indiana, Tippecanoe Battlefield — 1811 — no scale — Wm. H. Harrison / J.B. Russell.
    Photostat of an original manuscript map of Tippecanoe Battlefield ascribed to General William Henry Harrison, who drafted it in 1840. American forces, led by Governor Harrison of the Indiana Territory, defeated a confederacy of various tribes under the joint leadership of the Shawnee leader, Tecumseh, and his brother Tenkswatawa (The Prophet), in November 1811. Plan depicts battlefield, and locations of Indian and American forces.
    Original manuscript map is cited as being in the Lyman C. Draper Manuscript Collection External in the Wisconsin Historical Society.
  • [Battle of Okeechobee, Florida, 1837.] Author unknown, 1837. Manuscript, pen-and-ink, 32 x 40 cm. Scale ca. 1:17,000. Call number G3931 .S1 1837 .B Vault
    Map covers Tampa Bay to Lake Okeechobee region during the Second Seminole War. Shows forts, routes of march, and battle sites during campaign. Includes a table of remarks on major events for the period November 26-December 31, and a table noting routes and distances of marches. Map also includes an inset of the troop positions at the Lake Okeechobee battle site.
  • Map of the Seat of War in East Florida. Compiled from various data in the U.S Topl. Bureau under the direction of Col. John J. Abert, U.S. Top. Engr., by Wash: Hood. Washington, D.C., 1837. Colored map, 118 x 69 cm. Scale ca. 1:350,000. Filed at U.S — Wars, Indian — Florida — 1837.
    Map shows roads, Indian trails, fortifications, and battle sites for the 1835-37 campaign.
  • Map of the Route pursued in 1849 by the U.S. Troops, under the command of Bvt. Lieut. Col. Jno. M. Washington, Governor of New Mexico, in an expedition against the Navajos Indians. By James H. Simpson, 1st. Lieut. T. Engrs., Assisted by Mr. Edw. M. Kern. James H. Simpson and Edwin M. Kern, 1849. (Philadelphia: P.S. Duval's Steam Lith. Press, 1849). Map, 52 x 70 cm. Scale 1:630,000. Filed at New Mexico — Indians — 1849 — 1:630,000 — James H. Simpson.
    Map depicts the route followed by the troops under the command of Colonel John Washington, Governor of New Mexico, in his 1849 expedition against the Navajo, which resulted in the death of Chief Narbona at Canyon de Chelly. Also identifies camps occupied by U.S. troops and Najavo pueblos, and includes a table of distances between camps, as well as from camps to Santa Fe, and remarks on water locations.
  • Sketch of the Blue Water Creek embracing the field of action of the force under the command of Bvt. Grig. Genl. W. S. Harney in the attack of the 3rd Sept. 1855, on the "Brule" Band of the Indian Chief Little Thunder. Made by Lieut. G. K. Warren, Topl. Engr. of the Expedition. Sen. Ex. Doc. 76, 1st Sess., 34th Cong. [Washington, D.C., 1856). Colored map, 22 x 14 cm. Scale ca. 1;85,000. Filed at U.S.-- Wars, Indian — Nebraska — 1855.
    This sketch illustrates an attack by federal forces on the Brule Sioux band at Blue Water Creek, Nebraska, which was one of the numerous engagements between the Sioux and the U.S. military over nearly fifty years. The attack was preceded by earlier conflicts, including the Sioux destruction of a detachment of U.S. infantrymen in 1854. In retaliation a force of 600 troops from Fort Kearny conducted a surprise attack on a Brule village at Blue Water Creek in 1855, killing or capturing half of its 250 inhabitants.
    A digital version Externalof an original of this map is available via the website of the University of Wyoming's archival repository, Digital UW.
  • Custer's Battle-Field (June 25th, 1876). Surveyed and drawn under the personal supervision of Lieut. Edward Maguire, Corps of Engineers, U.S.A., by Sergeant Charles Becker. From Report of the Secretary of War . . . vol. II, part, III. Washington, D.C., [1876?]. Colored map, 39 x 45 cm. Scale ca. 1:21,000. Filed at U.S. — Wars, Indian — Montana — 1876.
    Topographic plan of the battlefield shows the locations of officers' graves.
  • Map of the Nez Perce Indian Campaign. Brig. Gen. O. O. Howard, U.S.A., Commanding. Compiled & prepared by Robt. H. Fletcher, 1st Lieut. Washington, D.C., [ca. 1877]. Map, 55 x 117 cm. Scale ca. 1:2,000,000. Filed at U.S. — Wars, Indian — no scale — 1877.
    Coverage on the map extends from the Pacific Coast to the Dakota Territory. It show's Chief Joseph's route through Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana from June through October, 1877, as he led the Nez Perce in their flight from U.S. troops who were attempting to place them on a reservation in western Idaho Territory. Depicts locations and dates of engagements, forts, streams and rivers, and relief. Map also includes inset views of each of the major engagements.
  • Map of the Seat of the Ute Indian War in Colorado, and of Mining Locations. From The Chicago Tribune, Weds, October 8, 1879, page 9. (Chicago: Chicago Tribune, 1879). Newsprint map, 53 x 41 cm. Scale 1:770,000. Filed at Colorado — Indians — Ute Reservation — 1:770,000 — Chicago Tribune / Rand McNally
    This newspaper map appeared in the October 8, 1879 edition of The Chicago Tribune to illustrate the seat of the ongoing series of conflicts between the Ute people and the U.S. government in the second half of the nineteenth century. Depicts the Confederated Ute Indian Reservation, settlements, streams and rivers, names and locations of mines in the vicinity of the reservation, and relief. The map includes no information regarding battles, engagements, or movements.
  • Sketch of Scene of Action with Hostile Apache Indians on Big Dry Fork, A.T. July 17th, 1882. Drawn by Thomas Cruse, 2nd. Lieut., 6th Cav. Blueprint map, 45 x 33 cm. Scale ca. 1:7,200. Filed at Arizona — Indians — 1882.
    Shows positions of U.S. and Apache forces, rifle pits, and route of the Apache retreat.
  • Outline Map of the Field of Operations against Hostile Chiricahua Indians showing operations from April 12th 1886 to the date fo their Surrender September 4th 1886. Compiled and Drawn by direction of Brigadier General Nelson A. Miles, commanding the Department of Arizona, in the Office of First Lieut. E. J. Spencer, Corps of Engineers. [1886?]. Blueprint map, 95 x 110 cm. Scale ca. 1:633,000. Filed at U.S. — Wars, Indian — Arizona - 1886.
    Map covers portions of southern Arizona and New Mexico and northern Mexico, illustrating scene of final organized Chiricahua Apache resistance (led by Geronimo) against the United States.
  • Map of Custer Battlefield. Birdseye view of the Little Big Horn country and a portion of Davis creek - a tributary of the Rosebud - showing where Custer and his men traversed - June 25, 1876. Compiled and drawn by Russell White Bear. [Crow Agency, Montana], 1925. Colored map, 28 x 31 xm. Scale not given. Filed at U.S. — Wars, Indian — Montana — 1876.
    Drawn in 1925 by Russell White Bear of the Crow Agency, Montana, this view depicts the annihilation of a force of some three hundred calvary troops under the command of General George A. Custer by a combined force of Sioux, Cheyenne, and Arapahoe. The battle itself arose out of the effort by the United States to gain control of the Black Hills and further subdue the Plains tribes. It indicates the positions of Indian and U.S. federal troops, tepees, trails, vegetation, and relief. The map also includes an inset with a "Birdseye view of Custer's last stand hill."
  • Battle of Bear's Paw Between General Miles and Chief Joseph, Sept. 30 to Oct. 5, 1877. Surveyed by C. R. Noyes. [1935?]. Colored map, 51 x 37 cm. Scale ca. 1:2,400. Filed at U.S. — Wars, Indians — Montana — 1877.
    Detailed survey of the battlefield at the Bear Paw, Montana, portraying the final engagement of the Nez Perce campaign.
  • Civil War in Indian Territory, 1861-1865. Prepared by the Oklahoma Department of Transportation, Planning Division. [Oklahoma City, ca. 1979]. Colored map, 44 x 62 cm. Scale ca. 1:1,375,000. Call number G4021 .S5 1979 .O4.
    Map shows the location of twenty-seven battle sites in Oklahoma.
  • Atlas of the Sioux Wars. 2d ed. Charles d. Collins, Jr. Fort Leavenworth, Kan: Combat Studies Institute Press, 2006. Call number G1201 .S55C6 2006.
    Atlas of thirty-seven maps illustrates the Sioux Wars for the period 1854-90. Among the topics addressed are the early Sioux campaigns; the Sioux War of 1866-68; the Great Sioux War of 1876-77, which involved the Battle of Rosebud and the Battle of the Little Bighorn; and the Battle of Wounded Knee, 1890.
  • The Cheyenne Wars Atlas. Charles D. Collins. Fort Leavenworth, Kan.: Combat Studies Institute, 2010. Call number G1201.S55 .C6 2010.
    This atlas of fifty-one maps focuses on the wars of the Cheyenne Indians for the period 1866-95. Among the topics addressed are the early campaigns, Hancock's War, Sheridan's Summer War, the Fight at Washita, the Fight at Soldier Spring, and the Republican River Expedition.