On Military Preparedness and Cartography during the American Civil War

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1860 Map

County Map Of Virginia, and North Carolina. 23. Entered ... 1860, by S. Augustus Mitchell, Jr. ... Pennsylvania, Source:David Rumsey Map Collection http://www.davidrumsey.com

From class reading several weeks ago, I thought I would share a fascinating quote from T. Harry Williams and his 1952 work Lincoln and His Generals discussing the military preparedness of both sides to wage the war between the states.

“All of them were unready for war in 1861, and in that year and even later were not able to furnish field commanders with the technical information or advice or supplies which they were suddenly called on to provide. One of the most ironic examples of American military unreadiness was the spectacle of Northern – and  Southern – generals fighting in their own country and not knowing where they were going or how to get there. Before the war the government had collected no topographical information about neighboring countries or even the United States, except for the West. No accurate maps existed. General Henry W. Halleck was running a campaign in the western theater in 1862 with maps he got from a book store.”

By the way, I highly recommend the David Rumsey Map Collection site available here. Outstanding collection of maps and the user interface is superb!

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