Looking From The Sky, Drawing A Map

Imagine being able to see and draw the topography and enemy troop positions from a bird’s eye view…

That would offer advantages and an easier experience than the traditional mapmaking methods used during the American Civil War. Sketching from a high peak might be helpful, but what if the mapmaker could drift above the trees and hills?

New technology employed by the Union during the conflict offered the chance for the historic moment of creating a map while actually airborne! Today, we’ll talk about the Union Balloon Corps and the man who made the first known map sketched high above the ground. Continue reading

One Huge Map, One Historic Campaign

“I want you to make me a map of the valley, from Harpers Ferry to Lexington, showing all the points of offense and defense in those places.” Simple, but now legendary words which started the partnership of Jed Hotchkiss and Thomas J. Jackson, leading to the 1862 Confederate military triumph in the Shenandoah Valley.

Today, we’ll talk about the history of this extraordinary mapmaker and how his HUGE map became part of Civil War legends and a major campaign success… Continue reading

10 Things To Know About Civil War Maps

I’ve always been the type of researcher that wants a good map. Give me the battle details and a good map and I can follow along, but without a map – if I don’t already know the terrain and maneuver facts – I’ll be lost. Learning how to read the terrain of a battlefield is vastly different that just reading a map, but there are similarities.

Last year I had several interesting experiences: studying the creation of rather famous battle map through archived documents, learning how to read a battlefield accurately, and getting to work with a modern mapmaker to create essential maps for my new book. All of this got me thinking about mapping during the 1860’s.

To start off Gazette665’s January theme for Friday blog posts, here are ten important overview facts to know about Civil War maps and mapmaking. Continue reading