Civil War maps
More than 300 maps, painted in watercolor by Union Private Robert K. Sneden, are now available on the Library of Congress's American Memory web site. These maps provide extraordinary and detailed perspectives on battlefields in Virginia, Tennessee, Georgia, Maryland, and other states. View them here
Robert K. Sneden
Private Robert Knox Sneden was a mapmaker in the Union Army in Virginia until his capture in 1863. He was in Confederate prison camps for 13 months. After the war he wrote a lengthy memoir based on his wartime diaries. Sneden also painted hundreds of watercolors based on wartime sketches and paintings. Some of his artwork was published in two volumes: Eye of the Storm (2000) and Images from the Storm (2001). The books are available for purchase online from the VHS museum shop.
Illustrations from Sneden's diary (Mss5:1 Sn237:1) can be browsed using the online finding aid.
Sneden's life and work can be explored further in The Sneden Civil War Collection, an online exhibition developed by the VHS.
In 2005 we announced several new additions to American Memory's online Civil War map database. Among them is a collection of maps produced by the Engineer Bureau of the Confederate States War Department.
West Point graduate and engineer in the prewar United States Army, Jeremy Francis Gilmer was Chief of the Engineer Bureau of the Confederate War Department in September 1862 and held the position through the end of the Civil War, rising to the rank of Major General.
In addition to the supervision of wartime construction projects, including bridge construction and harbor fortification, Gilmer oversaw the production of maps for use by the Confederate military.
Gilmer saved a number of the maps produced under his supervision from the flames that destroyed a large portion of Richmond in 1865. The bulk of the VHS's collection of sixty-seven of these so-called "Gilmer Maps" are among those salvaged by the general himself. His daughter, Louisa Porter (Gilmer) Minis donated sixty-three to the society in 1911, the other four came into the collection by other means.
Black and white reproductions of these maps are also available for purchase from the VHS.
About the Project
In 2001, the Virginia Historical Society partnered with the Library of Congress and the Library of Virginia to provide
online access to Civil War maps. This collection is open to researchers through the Library of Congress's American Memory web site. Featuring introductory text and detailed descriptions of each map, the site allows
researchers from across the globe to study maps from the period of that great American conflict. Researchers can also purchase reproductions.
With generous support of former trustee Alan Voorhees, the VHS has provided images of 400 maps to the project.
Search either the American Memory web site for Civil War maps from the VHS collections, or access records from the VHS Online Catalog.
• Civil War in Virginia - resources
• Civil War manuscripts at the VHS
• An American Turning Point: The Civil War in Virginia
• Robert Knox Sneden Diary finding aid