Tag Archives: Maps

- The Art of Mapping War

Atlas to Accompany the Official Records Union and Confederate Armies, compiled by Calvin D. Cowels, 1861-1869.

New ideas are sometimes birthed out of tragedies. In 1864, President Abraham Lincoln signed a bill passed by both houses of Congress authorizing an ambitious task, the creation of an official account of the Civil War using records that commanders wrote while in the field. The records considered “official” included correspondence, telegrams, and general orders. From the start, major issues surfaced with the project. The Adjutant General’s Office created the first set of records in the form of forty-seven volumes; however, they lacked clarity and organization, making useful research nearly impossible. The added failure of Congress to provide additional funding to correct and complete the project brought the entire effort to a standstill.

It was not until 1874 that Congress approved funding to begin the project once again, this time moving it from the Adjutant’s Office to the War Department.  It was at the War Department that Lt. Col. Robert N. Scott took the lead on the project, and with dedication, thoroughness, and detail, he began assembling the records. He implemented an organizational structure by compiling the records into series and then arranging them chronologically. The series included battle reports, reports on prisoners of war, reports on political prisoners, and general correspondence between state and federal officials.

In March 1889, serious work began on developing atlases to compliment the completed official record. Over a thousand … read more »

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- The Island Formerly Known as 314

Richard Young, A Plan of the City of Richmond, Detail, 1809.

This summer’s announcement that Mayo’s Island is again for sale prompted a look back at the history of of the most well-known of the James River islands.

Mayo’s Island is located at degrees 37˚31’45.47”N, 77˚25’59.14”W and can easily be viewed through Google Earth. The U.S. Board on Geographic Names officially registered “Mayo’s Island” as a feature name in 1979. The name also appears on earlier maps and atlases of Richmond, including the Beers (1877) and Baist (1889) atlases. Going back even further, the land mass was unnamed on the Young (1809) and Baist (1835) maps of Richmond, identified only as number “314.” An untitled manuscript map of the city drawn circa 1838 merely labels the island as “Toll Gate,” and an 1873 office map of Richmond identifies present-day Mayo’s Island as two islands: Long Island and Confluence Island.

Plats and certificates from the late 18th and early 19th centuries are extant and they reveal that the islands were commonly known as Long and Confluence Islands; parcels of land were granted by the Virginia Land Office to John Mayo (Long Island) in 1792 and to Thomas Burfoot and Milton Clarke (Confluence Island) in 1830. Mayo had petitioned the General Assembly in November 1784 to build a bridge at his own expense and desired to levy a toll to recoup his costs. While John Mayo never saw his … read more »

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- The 2014 Alan M. and Nathalie Voorhees Lecture on the History of Cartography

The 2014 Alan M. and Nathalie Voorhees Lecture on the History of Cartography will be held at the Library of Virginia on Saturday, 12 April.   This year’s lecture features two guest speakers:   Dr. Maury Klein, “Railroad Maps as Promises of the Future,” and William C. Wooldridge, “Tracks on Maps:  Showcasing Virginia’s 19th Century Railroads.”  This event includes a special one-day exhibition of maps relating to the talks from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM.  Out of the Box presents a sneak preview of two of the maps from the Library’s collection that will be on display.

Map and Profile of the Virginia and Tennessee Railroad, 1856, call number 755 R15 1856, Map Collection, Library of Virginia.

Railroad construction boomed in 1850s Virginia. Railroad companies drafted and published maps to raise support for and to alert the public about ongoing railroad track construction. One example is the Map and Profile of the Virginia and Tennessee Railroad.  This shows the railroad track from Lynchburg to Bristol, Virginia, and highlights the technical surveys of the project in tables printed below the map. Coalfields and coal pits are shown.

A Map of the rail roads of Virginia, by Lewis von Buchholtz, 1858, Board of Public Works (BPW 672), Map Collection, Library of Virginia.

In 1858, A Map of the Rail Roads of Virginia by Ludwig von Buchholtz was lithographed by Ritchie and Dunnavant, a Richmond publishing firm. The map clearly shows the railroad lines completed in the commonwealth, those in progress, and those proposed. When compared to the 1848 Internal Improvements Map of Virginia drawn by Claudius Crozet it clearly shows … read more »