Occasionally the strangest things will surface in the county records. While processing Amelia County records (Barcode 1147160), archivist Callie Freed found a map depicting the U.S. Army’s 20-day siege of the Mexican city of Veracruz during the Mexican-American War.
Titled “Siege of Vera Cruz by the U.S. Troops under Major General Scott in March 1847, from surveys made by Major Turnbull, Captains Hughes, McClellan, & Johnston, Lieutanants Derby & Hardcastle, Top. Engineers,” the map depicts General Winfield Scott’s troops and siege engines spread out across the land surrounding the city of Veracruz and its fortifications, as well as other key features of the landscape and the reefs just off of the city in the Gulf of Mexico. Statistics are given about the regiments of the divisions belonging to William J. Worth, David E. Twiggs, and Robert Patterson as well as the numbers of troops killed and wounded in the operation. The map was drawn by Captain George McClellan and published in 1847 by the U.S. Army Corps of Topographical Engineers.
The siege of Veracruz took place in March 1847 and was the scene of the first successful large-scale amphibious assault by a United States military force. General Scott landed his U.S. Expeditionary Force near the city and lay siege to it for twenty days until it was surrendered, opening up the east coast of Mexico … read more »
Editors Note: This post originally appeared in the former ”Virginiana” section of Virginia Memory.
The beautiful maps in the Voorhees collection and those that reside in Special Collections are well known to Library of Virginia researchers. Yet thousands of rough but informative maps exist in the Library’s local government records collection. Often classified as “plats,” these detailed property maps were created and filed as part of county land records, chancery records, or other legal proceedings.
Some of the most interesting local plats are found within criminal papers. Murder trials occasionally required jurors to consider a particular crime scene, and the resulting sketches created for this purpose offer fascinating glimpses into landscapes and violent episodes. One is featured on the Library’s 1997 web exhibit The Common Wealth: Treasures from the Collections of the Library of Virginia. This drawing shows a portion of Manchester, Virginia, in 1869, at the time of a barroom-related shooting, complete with building facades and streets. And in her 2003 book A Murder in Virginia, based on three Commonwealth Causes against Pokey Barnes, Solomon Marable, and Mary Abernathy, historian Suzanne Lebsock drew upon a court-directed plat from Prince Edward County to illustrate the scene of an infamous 1895 crime involving four black defendants.
While processing Henry County’s criminal causes, I came across a number of particularly gruesome plats. The most … read more »