Hand Drawn Field Map of the Theater of War in Virginia Signed By One of America's Most Important Government Surveyors For The Explorations of the West
The second known example of Governor Kemble Warren's magnificent large-scale manuscript map of the Theater of War in Virginia, showing an area flanking the Rappahannock River from Chancellorsville in the northwest to upper Essex County in the southeast, which was drawn in January or February of 1863, shortly after Warren's promotion to Brigadier General.
After the devastating defeat at Fredericksburg in December 1862, President Lincoln replaced General Ambrose Burnside as commander of the Army of the Potomac with Joseph Hooker. The opposing armies then went into winter quarters facing each other across the Rappahannock, from Fredericksburg downriver to Port Royal, with the Confederates on the south bank and the Union army on the north. The fact that the map extends west to include Chancellorsville suggests that Hooker may have been contemplating crossing the Rappahannock in the following spring near that point as early as February 1863.
The map is a remarkably detailed and brilliant snapshot of covering all, or a large part of eight Virginia counties as of the winter of 1863. Its detail is immense, particularly on the north side of river, which was obviously better known to the Army of the Potomac than the south. The system of roads, railroads and creeks is as carefully rendered as was humanly possible. The seats of hundreds of planters and farmers are identified, largely by family name. But many great plantations facing the river are identified by their own name, such as Mansfield, Smithfield, Travelers Rest, Belvidere, Hayfield, Farleyvale (sic Farleyville), Top Castle, Cleve (sic Clive), Belle Grove, Camden and Portobago (sic Port Tobacco).
Robert E. Lee established his general headquarters in the Massaponax Hills, just below Fredericksburg. The area to the southeast at least as far as Port Royal was under the command of Stonewall Jackson, who had his headquarters at "Moss Neck" (unnamed) a short distance upriver from the great oxbow of "Skinker's Neck". Across the base of the "Neck" was a great elevation, the highest point on the Rappahannock between the Chesapeake and the Blue Ridge. From its heights, the Confederates had a vantage of the country for miles in every direction.
The River Road on the north side, which was the main supply route for the Union army, is picked out by a double line. On the south side, at the eastern base of Skinkers Neck, a bluff is shown, with the words "Rebel Earth Works".
By the end of winter quarters, the strength of the Union Army had grown to 160,000, and Hooker confidently moved upriver, crossed the Rappahannock and then the Rapidan, to Chancellorsville, where his army suffered a stunning defeat in May 1863 at the hands of an outnumbered Southern force. It was the Southern victories at Fredericksburg, and then Chancellorsville, that led Lee to conceive of the audacious Pennsylvania campaign that ended in July 1863 with the Battle of Gettysburg. Chancellorsville is best remembered today for the accidental death of Stonewall Jackson at the hands of some of his own troops.
Gouverneur Kemble Warren
Gouverneur Kemble Warren is most famous for his role in the mapping of the Transmississippi United States, and perhaps most notably, a series of maps first published in 1857, considered to be the "most important map[ping] of the American West prior to the Civil War." Warren was promoted to Brigadier General in September 1862. His brigade fought in the Battle of Fredericksburg. After Hooker reorganized the Army of the Potomac in February 1863, he named Warren his chief topographical engineer and then chief engineer.
This map stands as the most outstanding cartographic result of their collaboration. A handful of copies must have been prepared for distribution to the highest ranking Union officers. Only one other example of this map is known to survive, in the collection of the Library of Congress.
A remarkable artifact of the Civil War, drawn at a time when the South was in its military ascendancy.