At the outset of the Civil War, it quickly became apparent to the senior Union military leaders that they lacked detailed, reliable maps of the Confederate states. The Coast Survey was the most sophisticated mapping agency in the Federal government, and many of its staff—including the brothers Adolph and Henry Lindenkohl–were tasked with filling the gap. By the standards of their time, the resulting maps were superbly detailed, providing commanders with essential data about the natural and human geography of the regions in which they were operating.
This map of southern Virginia, North Carolina and northeastern South Carolina is no exception, as it appears to be a careful compilation of the best available geographical and topographical information available at the time, both published and unpublished. Particular emphasis is placed on the road, rail and river networks essential to troop mobility, with red used to highlight the region’s rail network. An inset at lower right extends the coverage further south along the Georgia coast.
Lindenkohl does not list his sources, but his notes on his maps of adjacent regions (such as this map of Southern Georgia and South Carolina) suggest that he incorporated for example maps and charts by the Coast Survey, Mills’ Atlas of the State of South Carolina, Walker & Johnston’s map of South Carolina (so rare I cannot locate an image on line), and perhaps a “Map of Charleston & Savannah Rail Road.”
This and other special-purpose Coast Survey maps produced for the Union war effort were printed in limited numbers for use by senior civilian leaders, war planners and field officers. Copies would have been rushed to officers both at headquarters and in the field during William Tecumseh Sherman’s Carolinas campaign in Winter-Spring 1865. Following his “March to the Sea” and capture of Savannah in December 1864, he pivoted north and chased the remnants of Joseph E. Johnston’s Army of the Tennessee through South and North Carolina. Johnston eventually surrendered on April 26, 1865—weeks after Lee’s surrender at Appomattox—effectively ending the War.
A rare and significant map from the final months of the Civil War.