A colossal six-sheet map of Cuba, more than 15 feet wide if joined, issued in 1906 for use by the so-called Army of Cuban Pacification in the re-occupation of the island ordered by President Roosevelt. Extremely rare, with only four institutional examples located, and no record of having appeared on the antiquarian market.
The map depicts cities, towns and villages; river and stream systems; and railroads, highways, roads and trails (Roads taken from existing maps are shown in red, while those mapped during the occupation of 1898-1902 are shown in black.) Tiny blue symbols indicate swamps and wetlands in low-lying coastal areas, though no other topographical detail is given. The many offshore islands are depicted in considerable detail, with surrounding shoals delineated by stippling. A variety of symbols differentiate cities of different sizes and importance; farms, sugar mills (both active and “ruined”) and “stone ruins”; and public and private railroads, highways wagon roads and horse trails.
The map is based on the 1898 Military Map of the Island of Cuba, prepared by the Military Information Division (MID) of the U.S. Army, no doubt in anticipation of invasion in the event of war with Spain. The Military Map was revised in 1900-1903, during the American occupation, under the supervision of Major W. M. Black, Chief Engineer Department of Cuba and his successor H. F. Hodges. These revisions seem to have included material from a wide range of Spanish and American sources, such as Pichardo’s Carta geo-topografica de la isla de Cuba (1875), the “latest available U.S. Hydrographical Charts”, and unnamed “railroad surveys”. In any event, I find no evidence that this 1900-03 revision was ever published.
Offered here is an edition “corrected and issued” in October 1906 by the Second Division of the U.S. Army General Staff, the successor to the MID. This was almost certainly a rush job, to make the map available for use by the Army of Cuban Pacification sent in by President Roosevelt after the collapse of the government of President Estrada Palma. This posited time crush would go a long way toward explaining the absence of topographical information, which had been present in abundance on the 1897 Military Map. In any event, the limitations of this October 1906 edition were such that in 1906-90 a great deal of effort was expended on fieldwork and drafting to create yet another version of the map, which was finally published in 1913 on 70 sheets at a scale of 1:62,500. (Schley, pp. 1ff)
This second American occupation of Cuba endured until 1909, when the last troops were withdrawn following the election of President Jose Miguel Gomez. The map offered here, printed on durable coated linen and intended for use in rough conditions, may well have seen service on the island during those years.
In all, a most imposing map and extremely rare map of Cuba from the years of American occupation.
Rarity and references
OCLC 497549102 (UCLA and British Library only). I also find reference to examples held by the Army’s Combined Arms Research Library and an unidentified institution in Cuba. Background from First Lieutenant Julian L. Schley, Corps of Engineers, “The Reconnaissance Map of Cuba 1906-7” (Washington: Press of the Engineer School, 1908).1 o