Rare Civil War-era Coast Survey map of coastal South Carolina and Georgia

[Adolph and Henry Lindenkohl], SKETCH OF PORTIONS OF SEA COAST OF SOUTH CAROLINA AND GEORGIA. [Washington, D.C.]: United States Coast Survey, 1863.
Lithograph[?], 15 7/8”h x 37 ½”w at neat line plus margins, uncolored. Reinforcement along vertical centerfold and some mends and reinforcements in margins, all expertly done. Very good.

Very rare map of the coasts of South Carolina and Georgia issued by the U.S. Coast Survey in 1863, no doubt for use in the Union blockade of the Confederate coast.

As war with the Confederacy loomed in early 1861, Union leadership under General Winfield Scott drew up what came to be known as the Anaconda Plan. This was designed to strangle the South by blockading its Atlantic and Gulf Coast ports and gaining control of the Mississippi River. The former would block the Confederacy’s cotton trade with Europe and access to its armaments; the latter would split Louisiana, Arkansas and Texas from the rest of the Confederacy.

When hostilities erupted in April 1861, President Lincoln implemented the plan, declaring a blockade of the Confederate coast and created the Atlantic Blockading Squadron, which was soon split into the North and South Atlantic Blockading Squadrons. The South Atlantic Squadron’s first great success was the capture in November 1861 of Port Royal Sound for use as its base of operations. The Squadron followed this up in 1861 and 1862 with further successes, notably the capture of Tybee Island and Fort Pulaski on the Savannah River, thus all-but closing the port of Savannah. Though the Union Navy took years to build up a fleet sufficient to blockade thousands of miles of coast, it was ultimately hugely successful. By 1865 cotton exports, the economic lifeblood of the Confederacy, had dropped by 95% from their Antebellum level.

The map
This map depicts the southeastern coast from Bull’s Bay, South Carolina to Ossabaw Sound, Georgia, thus including the two Confederate metropoli of Charleston and Savannah. The complex coastline is shown in great detail, with swamps and marshes indicated by shading; roads and railroads delineated; and light houses, forts and batteries noted. Befitting a military map of the time, railroads are highlighted with bold lines, notably the strategic Charleston & Savannah Railroad. A table of “References” at lower left lists batteries, forts and towns captured by Union forces between November 7, 1861 and April 11, 1862.

In this era most of the Coast Survey took the form of very fine, precise copperplate engravings or reproductions thereof. This map, on the other hand, has the look of a lithograph as well as a somewhat rushed, unfinished appearance. There’s even a typo, something generally unheard-of on Coast Survey charts: Fort Pulaski, mentioned in the final line of the “References” is mis-spelled as “Fort Palaski”. All this strongly suggests that—in a spirit of “Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good enough”—the map was hurried into print for use by Union forces in the South. Indeed, the Library of Congress holds an earlier edition of the map, dated 1862, which implies it was drafted within months of the final event listed on the table of references, the capture of Fort Pulaski on April 11, 1862. That earlier edition bears the imprints of Adolph and Henry Lindenkohl, neither of which are present on this edition of 1863.

The U.S. Coast Survey in the Civil War
At the outset of the war, it became apparent to the Union leadership that there were few reliable maps available of the theatres of war. The Coast Survey was the most sophisticated mapping agency in the Federal government and headed by a staunch Unionist, Superintendent Alexander Dallas Bache. The Coast Survey was quickly recruited into the war effort, tasked with compiling the best available information, and creating up to date maps of the southern states. By the standards of their time, the resulting maps were superbly detailed, providing both field commanders and war planners in Washington with essential data about the natural and human geography of the Confederacy.

The Coast Survey also served the war effort by producing a few maps whose content was polemical rather than topographical. Among them were the “Historical Sketch of the Rebellion” series, and two 1861 maps showing the distribution of the southern slave population, including a “slavery density” map of Virginia and another of the United States.

Henry Lindenkohl and his brother Adolph were important contributors to the Coast Survey’s war effort. Born in Germany, the two emigrated to the United States and became naturalized citizens, Adolph joining the Coast Survey before the war and Henry in 1861. Their names appear on many of the Coast Survey’s wartime theatre maps, most reflecting careful synthesis of Coast Survey maps with the best-available terrestrial mapping. The two men worked for the Coast Survey for a half century or more, Adolph dying in 1904 and Henry in 1920.

Phillips, Maps of America, p. 298 records the 1862 edition. Not in OCLC.