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The Best General Map of the Region on the Eve of The Great Sioux Wars of 1876-77

Revised and updated edition of this Important early map of the region between the Yellowstone and Missouri Rivers, based upon the explorations of Captain W.F. Raynolds and Lieutenant H.F. Maynadier in 1889 and 1860, as revised and updated by Major. G. L. Gillespie.

The map provides in remarkable detail, the region which would become embroiled in the Great Sioux Wars of 1876-77. As noted below, it is a remarkable compilation of contemporary sources, likely intended solely for military use in the field.

This map extends one degree further south than the original map, and for some reason the western sheet does not have the mountains drawn in, although the water courses are clearly shown.

W.F. Raynold's Expedition

Raynolds' expedition explored the mountain ranges and upper tributaries of the Yellowstone River and the Gallatin and Madison forks of the Missouri, including the area which in 1872 was designated Yellowstone National Park, the world's first such national park. Raynolds travelled from St. Louis up the Missouri to Fort Pierre (South Dakota), then on to the Yellowstone River. Turning south from the Yellowstone, the expedition traversed the eastern edge of the Big Horn Mountains to Deer Creek near the North Platte River, where they remained for the winter. In the spring, Raynolds' party continued its explorations in the region, including a failed attempt to explore the Wind River Mountains, led by the legendary trapper Jim Bridger.

The map shows Raynolds' routes along the Yellowstone and Missouri Rivers and their tributaries, with dates and numbers along the routes likely indicating camp locations. The map places particular emphasis on topography and hydrology, but also shows roads, landmarks, settlements, and military posts. Among these are Forts Reno, Phil Kearny and Smith, significant in the Sioux War. It also includes post-1860 developments such as Ft. Casper and Camp Marshall on the upper North Platte, as well as several new forts and emigrant roads. Note the lack of detail in the area of present-day Yellowstone Park, which as mentioned above, Raynolds never visited due to his inability to traverse the Wind River range.

In describing the map, Wheat (who likely never saw this edition) states that, "It is an extremely well drawn map, and except for the fact that it contains certain information gathered between the time of its making and that of its actual printing, which was not until 1868, it is probably the best map of its area that had been produced."

Contrary to Wheat's description, the original map was actually prepared by 1867, as both Yale and the Montana State Library hold dissected and mounted examples bearing manuscript inscriptions from that year. Wheat knew only a slightly later state of the map with an altered imprint, issued in the Topographical Engineers' 1868 Report on the Exploration of the Yellowstone River, by Bvt. Brig. Gen. W.F. Raynolds.

Raynolds' original map reappeared in a number of formats. For example, William E. Merrill of the Topographical Engineers distributed copies of this map in 1867, 1868 and 1869, as a template for allowing various military commanders and expedition leaders to supply manuscript additions from the field. A richly-colored later variant edition appeared in Haydens' 1869 Geological Report of the Exploration of the Yellowstone and Missouri Rivers.

Gillespie Revision

Completed in 1876, the Gillespie Revision of the map is extensively revised and updated. For this update, Gillespie relied on a number of "Authorities," King, Barlow, Heap, Ludlow, Twining, Joes, Stanton, the U.S. General Land Office and Walker & Miles Atlas of Canada.

The map was apparently issued separately and was likely only circulated to Military Officers in the region, resulting in its current rarity.

There seem to be at least 3 states of the map (of which this is the second state):

Wheat seems only to have been aware of a single example of the map, which he describes as:

. . . a large affair, covering the country from the 96th to the 114th meridian, and from the 49th to below the 41st parallel, embracing all of Wyoming, most of Montana, Dakota , and Nebraska and parts of Colorado, Utah, and Idaho. Except as the map reflects [William Ludlow's Map of Carroll the Yellowstone National Park of 1875], little topography is shown. But stream courses are everywhere shown in great detail, as are the roads, trails, the Union Pacific, military establishments, towns, Indian Reservations and agencies, and much else, including the itineraries of inumberable military columns (more than is possible to mention in this narrative, including Lt. Col. Dodge to the Black Hills of Dakota in 1875, Capt. Mills in northern Nebraska, 1873 and a good many others; the map is a very good general index to the military activity through the first half of the decade). Not yet shown are the dramatic events of 1876.


The map is very rare on the market. We find no other examples of this map offered for sale at auction or in dealer catalogs.

Provenance: Warren Heckrotte Collection; from UC Berkeley Sale, May 7, 1993.

Condition Description
2-sheet map, unjoined and likely separately issued.
Wheat 1268. See also Cohen, Mapping the West, p.186 (discussing the Hayden edition of 1871 and mistakenly attributing the cartography to the findings of Hayden’s 1871 expedition). Phillips, America, p. 1130. Rumsey #6722 (later variant). Wheat, Transmississippi West, #1012.