A scarce Confederate plan of First Bull Run, by an intriguing Jewish emigre engraver

Engraved by J. Baumgarten, SEAT OF WAR MANASSAS AN ITS VICINITY. Richmond, VA: Office of the Richmond Enquirer, [August 1861].
Broadside featuring a wood-engraved map (8”h x 9 ½”w) surmounting four columns of text on a 16”h x 13’w sheet. Minor-moderate toning, soiling and staining, minor losses at two fold intersections and wear at edges, tiny indentations on verso as if flattened and pressed at some point against a rough surface. Verso with a few notations in pencil and ink, including “Co B [illegible] Lieut Melley[?]” and “James A. Watts”.

A Confederate-imprint broadside and map published in the aftermath of the First Battle of Bull Run, the first major land battle of the Civil War and an infamous disaster for the Union. This is one of earliest maps published in the Confederacy and must have been received with the greatest interest, particularly in Virginia.

Under tremendous political pressure to produce a victory, Union General McDowell advanced into Virginia in July 1861 with an army of 35,000, for the time a huge force. His plan was to flank General Beauregard’s Confederate army camped along Bull Run Creek near Manassas Junction, then march on Richmond and bring the war to a quick end. After failing to turn Beauregard’s right flank at Blackburn’s Ford on the 18th, on the 21st McDowell attempted a much larger attack on the Confederate left. Though the Union forces held the advantage for a time, they were eventually turned by reinforcements from Joseph Johnston’s Army of the Shenandoah—including Brigadier Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson’s First Brigade. The Union retreat turned into a rout, as men shed their weapons and units disintegrated in a disorderly flight back toward Washington. They were accompanied by panicked members of the Capital’s elite who had turned out with carriages and picnic lunches to watch an anticipated Union victory.

On August 30, 1861, a few weeks after the battle, the Richmond Enquirer ran a large map of Bull Run and surroundings on page 3 of its “Semi-Weekly Edition”. Soon thereafter this broadside was run off, probably by disassembling the newspaper page to leave the map and text, and then adding a Richmond Enquirer imprint at the base. The newspaper proprietors, William Foushee Ritchie and William W. Ritchie, announced:

“The Map of the Seat of War, which we publish to-day, was engraved by Mr. J. Baumgarten, of this city. Hitherto we have been accustomed to obtain all such things at the North. Thanks to Lincoln and his blockade, they have developed the fact that we have the skill at home for these and a thousand other demands. We commend Mr. Baumgarten to all in need of similar services.” (page 2).

They subsequently advertised the map as a separate, thus,

“Map of the Theatre of Battle. We have for sale at the “Enquirer” Counting-Room, copies of the Map of the Seat of War, which lately appeared in this paper. These copies are printed on fine letter paper, so that new names and places may be entered with the pen, so as to keep up with the progress and developments of the War. Places heretofore of no consequence may become famous, and on this Map so printed, may be readily centered. It is the purpose of the Editors of the “Enquirer” to describe the situation of such places that its readers can locate them without difficulty. Price of the Map, five cents.” (September 6, 1861, with repeats).

The map shows a roughly eight-by-nine-mile area centered on Bull Run, bounded on the East and North by the Potomac, on the South by the Occoquan and Cedar Run, and extending west to Snickersville and Warrenton. It indicates villages, towns and cities (including Washington, D.C. with a tiny vignette of the Capitol); roads and railroads; waterways and mountains, the latter with very crude hachuring; and the approximate locations of the events of the 18th and 21st. Four columns of text describe the geography of the area, with reference to the events of the battle.

Julius Baumgarten
The map bears the credit “Engraved by J. Baumgarten”. A Jewish native of Hanover, Germany, Julius Baumgarten (ca. 1835?-1915) is best remembered as an engraver with a particular expertise in the cutting of seals. He emigrated to the United States while still a young man, although his own accounts of his early years vary, even to his date of birth. At one time he said he came with his family to America aged nine but on his naturalization papers he claimed to have arrived at Baltimore in 1851, while immigration records have him arriving at Baltimore out of Bremen, on February 1, 1853, aged eighteen, at that time as recorded as an engraver from Selzheim. He is first found advertising as an engraver in general in Norfolk, Virginia and was working in Washington from February 1858 to 1861, advertising as

“engraver and designer in general. Manufacturer and inventor of the new improved seal presses, watch case engraver, wood-engraver, music puncher, stencil cutter, copper plate engraver, lithographer and stencil cutter, is prepared to execute engraving on any metal — on gold, silver, brass, copper, steel, &c., in as good a workmanship as by any other establishment in the United States” ([Washington] Evening Star, March 2, 1858).

Though highly regarded as an engraver, his integrity seems to have been entirely questionable. In Washington, The Washington Evening Star recorded,

“Julius Baumgarten, who was committed a few days ago for a further hearing in a case of obtaining goods and money under false pretences, by exhibiting false tokens and promissory notes which he subsequently admitted to be forged, was brought out for a final hearing … the Justice committed Baumgarten to jail for trial” (September 30, 1858).

Evidently, he decided to leave Washington, so in 1861 he offered his services to the Confederate Government, writing to the Confederate Congress on February 15, 1861. He was persuaded to move to Richmond, the Confederate capital, in 1861 and remained there until about 1864, as “Confederate States Engraver”, and in that office he cut any number of banknotes, official seals, letterheads, medals and the like for the Confederacy including, it has been claimed, the Great Seal of the Confederacy. Baumgarten is also identified as the engraver of maps of the Battles of Bethel, Virginia (June 10, 1861); Oak Hill, Missouri (Aug. 10, 1861); Greenbrier River, Virginia (Oct. 3, 1861); and Leesburg, Virginia (Oct. 21, 1861), all produced in 1861.

After his departure for the Confederacy, the [Washington] National Republican commented

“From a Richmond paper we learn that J. Baumgarten … has been selected by the rebel authorities to engrave the banknote plates … [he] formerly enjoyed an extensive reputation in this city for swindling, and if he succeeds as well in robbing the Jeff. Davis government and the citizens of Richmond as he did the Buchanan oligarchy and the people of Washington, he will certainly deserve great credit … it will be remembered, [he] applied for admission into the “Republican Association,” but was rejected on account of his bad character and swindling propensities” (July 28, 1861).

After the war, Baumgarten recovered his reputation. He was active in the affairs of the Jewish community, a founder of the Hebrew Free Loan Association of Washington, and its first president, and secretary of the Adas Israel Hebrew Congregation for thirty five years. He was buried at the Adas Israel Cemetery, Washington, a few months after his wife.

His map of First Bull Run was the subject of a rather curious story published in the rival newspaper, the Richmond Despatch:

“Yesterday a map seller — a man with a decided Hebrew cast of countenance — came into camp with maps of the battle of Manassas. At first glance one could hardly tell what the engraving represented: but the publishers have kindly added the title to one corner, that there need but no mistake. The whole is inaccurate and false, and is withal badly executed. Any one who was in the battle, and who witnessed the different positions, can easily point out its errors. To whom the blame of this untrue map is attached, I can not say; the little gentleman with the Hebrew cast of feature places it on the engraver, and says he made the drawing correct; but not only the sketch, but the text had been altered from the original. This map may do, however, to get some idea of the field to those who know of it only through the published accounts, and will probably meet with ready sale <signed:> BOHEMIAN.” (Richmond Dispatch, September 25, 1862, page 2).

“Bohemian” seems to have been a serving member of the Army of the Confederate States, who could be relied upon to criticize the maps made by the ‘Richmond Enquirer’, but the “Hebrew” may be Baumgarten himself.

In all, an interesting broadside depiction of the first great land battle of the Civil War, executed by an important but little-known engraver worthy of further biographical study.

Provenance and references
The Dr. Jerry C. Cashion Library of North Carolina History, purchased by a private collector at Leland Little, Sept. 16, 2015 (lot 33), then consigned to this firm.

Parrish and Willingham, Confederate Imprints, #6200, p. 533 (illus.)  Stephenson, Civil War Maps, #568.  Not in Phillips, Maps of America or Wooldridge, Mapping Virginia.  As of August 2022 OCLC #18513606 et al. list perhaps 13 institutional holdings, but it is very hard to separate the original printings from electronic editions. Background on Baumgarten from R. A. Brock, ed., “Seals, Stamps and Currency for the Confederate States Made by Julius B. Baumgarten”, Southern Historical Society Papers, vol. XXXIII (1905), pp. 188-190; and The [Richmond] News Leader, no. 5,714 (May 31, 1915), p. 1.