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.
To demonstrate the success of the Anaconda Plan, in 1863-64 the U.S. Coast Survey issued seven successive versions of this map of the United States, each showing the extent of Confederate territory captured by the Union. Offered here is one of the series, probably issued on or just after July 20, 1863, just two weeks after the Battle of Gettysburg and Grant’s capture of Vicksburg. The map uses color-coded lines to delineate Union-controlled territory, with blue lines indicating the “limits of loyal states” as of July 1861 and red lines territory “occupied by Union Forces” as of July 20, 1863 (NB: In the legend below the title “20th” was printed in red but is here almost illegible. It can be seen clearly on this example at the Library of Congress.) Tiny blue ships indicate Southern ports blockaded by the U.S. Navy.
The overall impression of the map is that Scott’s strategy had been a resounding success: Every major Southern port is shown either in Union hands or under blockade, and with the capture of Vicksburg the Mississippi Valley appears firmly in Union control. For us moderns—particularly in the North–who tend to think of the Civil War as having taken place entirely in Gettysburg, Virginia and Atlanta, the map’s emphasis on the campaign in the West is a helpful corrective.
Henry Lindenkohl and the U.S. Coast Survey
At the outset of the Civil 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 it was recruited into the war effort, tasked with compiling the best available information and creating up to date maps of the southeastern United States. 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.
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 two of the primary 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. In addition to Henry’s responsibility for the “Historical Sketch of the Rebellion”, 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.
In all, a scarce and important Civil War map.