A striking and unusual depiction of the seat of Civil War in the Middle Atlantic States. Published in 1861 for a large public, both here and abroad, that may not have been conversant with map reading but sought a geographic context with which to follow news of the early battles of the Civil War.
The map’s coverage extends from the southern reaches of New Jersey and Pennsylvania to North Carolina and west to the Appalachians. It depicts towns, forts, roads, railroads, topographical features and waterways, all of course critical to the developing conflict. No doubt keeping in mind the cartographic literacy (or lack thereof) of the audience, the topography has been rendered with strong shading that leaves little to the imagination, in contrast with the hachuring prevalent on maps issued for official purposes. The many ships in the Chesapeake and Delaware Bays may be intended to suggest that a Union blockade was stifling Southern commerce, though in fact this effort was far more aspirational than effective at the time the view was published. At lower left a map of the eastern United States provides broader geographic context, particularly useful for viewers abroad.
It is worth noting that, despite the presence of the phrase “Birds Eye View” in the title, the image is in fact a map. One tip-off is the presence of distance scales, which would not be applicable to a bird’s-eye view, which by definition achieves its effect through the distortion of relative distances in order to imitate perspective.
Schaus was a New York-based publisher of maps, views and possibly instructional books on painting. In 1861 he also published Seat of War [:] Birds Eye View of the Mississippi Valley from Cairo to the Gulf of Mexico. Though quite similar in look and feel, that view is credited not to J. Schedler but to one M. K. Couzens, Civil Engineer.
Schedler was an artist and lithographer active in New York from at least 1850 through 1880. He first appears as the lithographer of H. Tiedemann and Dr. E. L. Autenrieth’s Plan of the City of Panama (1850). During this decade he is credited as the lithographer on a variety of maps by various makers and publishers, including for example Eddy’s Official Map of California and a reprint of Bernard Ratzer’s Plan of the City of New York, both published by Colton in 1853. During the Civil War Schedler worked from at least two locations on Pearl Street in New York and, in addition to the map offered here, lithographed a number of maps for the Corps of Topographical Engineers, such as Part of the Map of the MILITARY DEPARTMENT of S.E. VIRGINIA & FORT MONROE (1862), though he also found time to produce the very large Topographical map of Prince Edward Island (1863). He branched out after the war, producing 4” and 12” versions of J. Schedler’s Terrestrial Globe in 1868 followed by raised-relief maps of Boston (1874), New York (1874), the White Mountains of New Hampshire (1879) and the United States (1885). The final production associated with him may be the 12” J. Schedler’s Terrestrial Globe issued in 1887.
In all, a striking image that must have been avidly consumed by the reading public in the early months of the Civil War.
Stephenson, Civil War Maps,#17.35. OCLC 13351020 et al.