Boston Rare Maps Offers Civil War Maps and Ephemera

Boston Rare Maps, one of the country’s premier specialists in rare and unusual antique maps, presents a unique selection of original maps and ephemera from the American Civil War. Included is an iconic 1864 Currier & Ives political cartoon, a schematic map detailing the battle of Gettysburg and a handwritten report by a South Carolina general assessing the tactical situation in Charleston Harbor before the bombardment of Fort Sumter. Boston Rare Maps is offering these important historical documents in honor of the 150th anniversary of the start of the war, and appointments are encouraged for private viewings. For additional information or to preview online please visit www.BostonRareMaps.com or call (413) 527-4020.

Highlighting this impressive selection is a scarce map by Theodore Ditterline that condenses the major events of the three-day Battle of Gettysburg into a single image. Published in 1863, it captures both the enormous scale of the encounter and the fundamental tactical elements. The map details the preliminary encounter on July 1 in the hills northwest of town, the overnight consolidation of the Union Army in a vast arc along Cemetery Ridge and Culps Hill, the Confederate assault on the Union flanks on July 2 and the climactic “Pickett’s Charge” against the Union center on July 3. This is one of the earliest printed plans of the battle, and was originally issued as bound into Ditterline’s “Sketch of the Battles of Gettysburg,” a 24-page pamphlet published just months after the events described.

Also included is an iconic political cartoon, “The True Issue,” published in 1864 by Currier & Ives. The cartoon was produced during the 1864 presidential campaign, which pitted incumbent President Abraham Lincoln against his former general George McClellan. Lincoln had by this time adopted a strong abolitionist position, while McClellan supported continuation of the war to preserve the Union but rejected forced abolition. In this image, Lincoln and Jefferson Davis engage in a tug-of-war over a map of the United States, expressing uncompromising and incompatible positions. McClellan is given a sympathetic portrayal, shown trying to hold the two men, and indeed the country, together, exclaiming “The Union must be preserved at all hazards!” Notably, “The True Issue” is also the lead image for “Torn in Two”, an exhibition of Civil War maps and prints presented at the Boston Public Library through the end of 2011. The exhibition also commemorates the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War.

A six-page manuscript report from South Carolina Brigadier General James Simons dated January 1, 1861 is also featured. The report outlines the tactical situation in Charleston Harbor prior to the bombardment of Fort Sumter, the opening battle of the War. Addressed to South Carolina Governor Francis Pickens, it alerted state authorities to the implications of the Federal occupation of the Fort. Much to the frustration of Governor Pickens, the letter conveys Simon’s frank and pessimistic summary of the situation, containing details on troop morale, the risks of open war and the general anxiety provoked by the Federal presence. The report includes a full-page, hand-drawn plan of Fort Moultrie annotated to show how in tandem with Fort Sumter it provided complete control of access to Charleston.

Image: Currier & Ives, The True Issue or ?That?s What?s the Matter?. Published in New York, 1864. 13.5 x 17.75 inches, lithograph

The selection features a number of additional Civil War maps and historical documents, available for view at www.BostonRareMaps.com

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