Terrific Civil War-era strip map of the Mississippi River by J. T. Lloyd

Bart and William Bowen, LLOYD’S MAP of the LOWER MISSISSIPPI RIVER FROM ST. LOUIS TO THE GULF OF MEXICO. COMPILED FROM GOVERNMENT SURVEYS IN THE TOPOGRAPHICAL BUREAU, WASHINGTON, D. C. Revised and corrected to the present time, by CAPTAINS BART. and WILLIAM BOWEN, Pilots of Twenty Years’ experience on that River. New York: J. T. Lloyd, 1863.
Lithograph on five sheets joined, 37 ¼”h x 51”w at neat line plus margins, original wash and outline color, laid on linen. Originally tipped into brown cloth covers with printed label, here removed but with covers retained. Map lightly toned, slight losses along some folds, linen reinforced with rice paper along a few folds, unobtrusive blind-stamp of Sondley Library (Asheville, NC), overall an attractive, near excellent example. Covers split at spine, front cover and pastedown with Library ownership stamp, shelf number and de-accession marks.

J. T. Lloyd’s scarce and richly informative strip map of the lower Mississippi River from St. Louis to its outlet in the Gulf of Mexico. The desirable second edition containing important updates concerning the Civil War. A visually very pleasing example with period hand color, a warm patina, and only minor restoration.

In both its content and distinctive visual style, the map is a graphic expression of just how much of the economic life of the South at the time was clustered directly on the Mississippi River. In particular, it provides a valuable record of the plantation economy, supplying both the plot lines and owners’ names of both sugar and cotton plantations along the river. The work also bears an intimate connection to Samuel Clemens, i.e. Mark Twain. According to the Bancroft project, the definitive scholarly edition of Twain’s complete works, Lloyd’s map was one of his sources for The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Twain had been a steamboat pilot on the Mississippi from 1857 to 1861, and William Bowen, who is credited in the title as helping to revise the Lloyd map, was a childhood friend of Twain, who recommended him for the pilot job, and later served as one of the models for Tom Sawyer.

The Lloyd map is a rich artifact of the Age of the Steamboat, as it reflects in its navigational and other details the intimacy with which the Mississippi River was known during this period and arguably, not since. Twain’s Life on the Mississippi noted the vast store of accumulated knowledge a steamboat pilot was expected to master to qualify for the job, and much of this empirically-derived knowledge can be found in this map. It delineates the steamboat channel along the entire length of the river shown, along with sand bars, obstructions and cut offs. It also tracks each mile of the river northward from New Orleans. Nearly every bend in the river has its own, locally derived, descriptive name, such as “The Devil’s Race Course” and “Spanish Moss Bend.” The map shows the numerous islands in the river with, in most cases, their names. Historic episodes such as the loss the of particular ships and collisions on the river are also noted. The names of hundreds of smaller property owners are given throughout. Other details found on the map include county and parish lines, roads and railroads, mines, forts, and towns of various sizes.

This second edition of the map, published a year after the first edition of 1862, has been updated with several notations regarding events of the Civil War. These include: “Destroyed by Gun Boats June 1862” (Warrenton); “Shelled by Gun Boats May 18, 1862” (Grand Gulf); Confederate batteries at Walnut Hill and Vicksburg; and “Johnsons [sic.] killed 1862” (near Warrenton). Perhaps most notable is the addition of “Grants Vicksburg Cut-Off,” referring to General Grant’s failed attempt to widen the Williams Canal across the De Soto Peninsula in an effort to circumvent the Walnut Hills and Vicksburg batteries guarding the river. Although the project was abandoned in March of 1863, the river would accomplish the task on its own by 1876.

There were several changes also made in this edition to the text below the title, such as the elimination of a warranty statement (“Warranted correct, or the money refunded”), the addition of a legend for the map, and a cautionary statement regarding another publisher of “spurious ‘Lloyd’s maps’” that are “engraved coarsely” and “very erroneous.”

The map was available in three formats: a pocket edition (the present example), a sheet map, and a wall map on rollers. There was also an 1875 edition of the map in a long, single strip.

Map publisher J. T. Lloyd was active from roughly 1852-1865, based in New York but with offices in Philadelphia and London. In 1856 and 1862 Lloyd compiled directories of steamboats in the U. S.–Lloyd’s Steamboat Directory, and Disasters on the Western Waters; Containing the History of the First Application of Steam as a Motive Power, the Lives of J. Fitch and R. Fulton…). Found in the register of pilots in the 1856 directory is the aforementioned William Bowen, who is credited on the present map as a co-creator, along with his brother Bartholomew Bowen. But Lloyd is best known for a number of maps issued during the Civil War years, including for example Lloyd’s American Rail Road Map (1861), Lloyd’s Map of the Southern States (1861), Lloyd’s Official Map of the State of Virginia (1861), and Lloyd’s Topographical Map of Georgia (1864). They are immediately recognizable for their large size, vibrant pastel palette and, above all, a combination of bombastic self-promotion and attacks on his competitor, fellow New Yorker, H. H. Lloyd.

In all, a most informative, appealing and scarce map of the Mississippi River, by one of the more colorful map publishers of the Civil War era.

Holland, The Mississippi River, pp. 172-75; Modelski, Railroad Maps of U. S., #139 (listing the 1862 edition and mentioning this second edition); Phillips, America, p. 441 (1862 ed.); Rumsey #4472 (1862 ed.); Stephenson, Civil War, #41; Lemmon et al, Charting Louisiana, p. 217.