Civil War Newspaper Maps: A Cartobibliography of the Northern Daily Press

By David Bosse | Go to book overview

Preface

Between April 1, 1861 and April 30,1865, the daily Northern press furnished its readers with over two thousand maps depicting the Civil War's battles, campaigns, and scenes of operations. Newspaper map production during the Civil War dwarfed all previous cartographic efforts by the American press, so that the public enjoyed unprecedented access to military intelligence in the form of maps. Newspaper maps regularly provided the first published cartographic coverage of military operations. Maps based on official military sources often appeared in the pages of the daily press long before their publication in Washington. Several newspaper editors could also boast of having published the only printed maps of some of the war's less-heralded engagements.

Correspondents attached to armies in the field supplied their papers with eye-witness sketches to be engraved on wood, stereotyped, and printed. The transformation from rough drawing to printed map was rapid. Battle maps normally appeared within a week of the events they depicted, and on occasion little more than a day had elapsed before newspaper readers consulted a map of a major engagement. The design of these maps can perhaps best be described as bold. American journalistic cartography was in its infancy at this time, and few correspondents or editors possessed even the most rudimentary knowledge of mapmaking. Severe time constraints attending daily newspaper map production and the difficulties inherent in obtaining reliable information during battle placed additional burdens on newspaper mapmakers. Despite the unfavorable circumstances surrounding their creation, most newspaper battle maps display a remarkable degree of accuracy.

The majority of maps printed in daily newspapers simply located

-vii-

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