“One of the best illustrations of ante-bellum Texas and New Mexico” (Reese)

Bureau of Topographical Engineers / Lith. of Ritchie & Dunnovant / Printed by H. F. Walling, Map of TEXAS AND PART OF NEW MEXICO compiled in the Bureau of Topographl. Engrs. chiefly for military purposes, 1857. New York: [U.S. War Department,] 1857.
Lithograph on banknote paper, 33 ¾”h x 37 ½”w plus at neat line plus margins, uncolored.
On Hold

The first edition of a remarkable, separately-issued military map of Texas and the eastern part of New Mexico.

This is one of several regional maps of the Western United States prepared by the Bureau of Topographical Engineers prior to the Civil War. They were not published per se but rather printed in very small numbers for use only by senior officers, undoubtedly to reduce the chance they might be obtained by hostile powers. Due to this limited distribution, all are now exceedingly scarce.

The map includes very detailed treatments of existing and proposed rail and road systems in the region, along with the rivers, lakes, springs, creeks, crossings, water holes, Indian trails, pioneer routes, towns, camps, forts, ranches and other features of potential military significance. A table at lower right provides the exact longitude and latitude for 30 major military stations in the region, along with the surveyors by whom the coordinates were established.

The map was compiled from the best and latest available information, as demonstrated by the “List of Authorities” at lower left. The list includes maps by Johnston, Michler, Emory, Kearny, Abert, Simpson, Marcy, Whipple, Wool, Graham, Macomb and others, some dated as late as 1857, the very year the present map was printed. Most had not previously been published, and some, such as that by Macomb, would not be issued until after the Civil War. Interestingly, De Cordova’s Map of Texas is also cited as a source for the depiction of the eastern part of the state. The wealth and quality of the sources, and the apparent care with which they are compiled, justify Reese’s view that it is “a most important map, one of the best illustrations of ante-bellum Texas and New Mexico,” (Catalog 126, #346) along with Michael Heaston’s assessment that “This is one map which Union officers would not have wanted the Confederacy to use.” (Catalog 27, #195)

The map is sufficiently rare that Martin & Martin list only a reduced edition published as plate LIV in the Atlas to Accompany the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies (1891-5). Though unaware that the map had been published, Martin & Martin nonetheless appear to refer to its use during the Civil War:

“Shortly after assuming command of the Gulf in 1862 and while planning his offensives in New Orleans, [Nathaniel] Banks dispatched a report to Washington containing a map of the Texas region. The map had been prepared from various sources shortly before the war, and it was an excellent example of a military planning document…. The focus of the map was clearly on military considerations…. Though drawn originally in 1857 and utilized by Banks in 1862, the map was not published until the 1880s [sic], when it appeared in the Atlas to Accompany the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies.”

In all, a rare and important Texas map.

Day, Maps of Texas, 1527-1900, #1422, 1677. Martin & Martin, Maps of Texas and the Southwest, 1513-1900, #45 (referencing only the later issue in Atlas to Accompany the Official Records). Phillips, Maps of America, p. 845. Rumsey #5141. Not in Wheat, Trans-Mississippi West.