Rare Confederate-imprint map by Evans and Cogswell

[United States Coast Survey] / Evans & Cogswell, Map OF EASTERN VIRGINIA and NORTH CAROLINA from the United States Coast Survey. Columbia, South Carolina: Evans & Cogswell, [1864.]
Lithograph printed in black, blue and red on very thin stock, 22 ¾”h x 18”w at neat line plus margins. Removed from original card stock wraps, but wraps present. Original folds flattened, some minor soiling and wear along old folds; moderate soiling and wear in left and right margins. Wraps soiled, chipped and faded, with some moisture damage.

A rare Confederate-imprint map of Virginia and North Carolina, probably issued in the second half of 1864, while Ulysses S. Grant and his massive Army of the Potomac were stymied by Lee at the siege of Petersburg. Printed and published by Evans and Cogswell, recently displaced from Charleston to Columbia, South Carolina by the advance of Sherman’s Army.

This unusual map depicts eastern Virginia, northeastern North Carolina and part of Maryland. Particular emphasis is placed on rivers, roads and in particular railroads, the latter of which are overprinted in red. Concentric circles, also in red, indicate distances from Richmond in ten-mile increments (with the effect, presumably unintended, of making that city appear as the bull’s eye at the center of a target). In the north and west, the Blue Ridge and other ranges flanking the Shenandoah Valley are delineated with rather crude hachuring, reminiscent of the 18th-century “molehill” style of rendering relief.

The map’s title includes the puzzling phrase “From the United States Coast Survey.” Indeed, early in the Civil War it had apparent to the Union leadership that there were few reliable maps of the Southeast available for the use of military leaders. To help close this gap, the Coast Survey was recruited into the war effort and tasked with creating up-to-date maps of the projected theatres of war. 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. No doubt some of these were captured by Confederate forces, and it is plausible that Evans and Cogswell would have acquired one or more and issued copies. However, while the present map resembles stylistically some of the war-date Coast Survey maps—though the rendering of relief is notably crude—the geographic content differs substantially from every Coast Survey map I have examined.

Evans and Cogswell
In 1821 one James C. Walker established a printing and stationary firm in Charleston, South Carolina. In 1852 he took on Benjamin F. Evans as a partner, and in 1855 they brought in Harvey Cogswell. After Walker’s death in 1860 the firm continued as Evans & Cogswell and soon became one of the leading printers of the Confederacy. Their most famous project was the South Carolina Ordinance of Succession, but they also printed Confederate currency and bonds, The Soldier’s Prayer Book, and books on tactics and other topics. They also issued a very few maps, including the map of Virginia and Carolina offered here, and, much earlier in the war, maps of the Mid-Atlantic and Chesapeake Bay region and of South Carolina and Georgia.

By good fortune a search of Newspapers.com has yielded the following advertisement for the Map of Eastern Virginia and North Carolina:

“We have been favored by Messrs. Evans & Cogswell, of Columbia, the Lithographers and Publishers, with a copy of their map of Eastern Virginia and North Carolina, from the United States Coast Survey.


“This map has been recently prepared, and will be found in a high degree indispensable to those, desirous of tracing out, and following the movements of military operations in the States named. It is marked with concentric circles. Richmond being the common centre, exhibiting the respective distances from the present capitol of the Confederacy. This map is neatly and artistically gotten up, with a highly enameled cover. We take pleasure in commending it to our readers.” (Yorkville [South Carolina] Enquirer, Nov. 9, 1864, p. 2)

Some time in late 1864 Evans and Cogswell had decamped from Charleston to Columbia, as Sherman’s March to the Sea posed a growing threat to the Carolina coast. Alas for them, in early 1865 Sherman turned north through the South Carolina interior and captured Columbia in February, in the course of which their plant was gutted by fire. After passing through bankruptcy, the firm took on C. Irving Walker as a partner and reorganized in 1866 as Walker, Evans and Cogswell. They soon moved back to Charleston, where it operated until the late 20th century.

A substantial cartographic rarity of the Confederacy, remarkable for having been printed so late in the war, at a time of great dislocation and economic hardship.

Parrish & Willingham, Confederate Imprints, #6162. OCLC gives holdings at the Boston Athenaeum, Huntington Library, Library of Virginia, University of Georgia and University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill (Sept. 2018). Not in Stephenson, Civil War Maps.