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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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).