Comparing Roads then to now Using the "Official Military Atlas of the CW" Around Pleasant Hill La. Battle Area

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Dec 27, 2018
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#1
I got "The Official Military Atlas of the Civil War" for Christmas. I'm 10 miles away from the Battle of Pleasant hill and the Mansfield La Battle grounds am about 30 miles away.

What I've been doing is comparing the Civil war map for roads and land-marks that existed in the Civil War according to the maps in this book to modern road maps. I'm just looking at the road surrounding the battle grounds in my local area because I'm very familiar them. Some things I've observed comparing these are as follows:

1-Most of the main roads of today are comparable to the Civil War(CW) maps in a vague way. I'm sure that the modern road maps are probably a lot more accurate than the CW maps because of our improved technology. A lot of the twist and turns on the modern map are not shown on the CW maps. More of a general straight or gradual curved lines from point to point.

2-I see a lot of cross roads between main roads on the CW maps that there is no designation of them on the modern maps. I assume these roads were abandoned for more modern routes.

3-A lot of towns or villages that I'm pretty sure existed during the CW are not noted on the CW maps. For example my home town of Zwolle, neighboring Noble and on down the road Converse are not listed. I'm not sure why?

4-In my comparison it appears that main roads have evolved to some degree, a lot of roads between main roads no longer exist and a lot of new through roads have been added.

One thing I should say it the original town of Pleasant Hill where the battle happened was latter moved several miles down the road when the railroad came in. So where Pleasant hill of today is not where the battle happened at. Now all that exist at the battle grounds it the Memorial Park, informational markers and plaques at the cross roads. All the original town is gone. I don't know if anybody else has done comparison of old maps with new but I would appreciate any information on the subject about trying to do such a comparison of maps.

One thing that has spurred my interest is maybe trying to locate some of those old roads that was apparently abandoned to see if any identifiable remains are left of those old roads. Thanks, Bob
 
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#2
Like yourself, maps play a large part of my interest in the Trans-Mississippi. Maps from the "Official Military Atlas" are used plus maps which can be found on the internet. I also have copies of several Captured Confederate Maps from Northwestern State University of Louisiana, Cammie G. Henry Research Center. If you like, check out the link below to see a most interesting CW era map which has been collected.
https://civilwartalk.com/threads/1864-in-the-atchafalaya-basin-of-louisiana.143693/#post-1935048
 
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#3
Thanks! I gave it a good check out. I found a old map from a link on this forum that was the Battle of Pleasant Hill North and South positions and landmarks that existed at the time but everytime I tried to copy or print it the resolution was so poor, couldn't make out the details.
 
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#4
Hi, Bob, and welcome from up here in Missouri. I share your interest in old maps and often compare them to newer maps. When I get real lucky and find plat maps, I even get to trace the ownership of some of the parcels. I usually get involved in an hour or two of this when I am searching for the owner of a particularly good looking stretch of fishing creek (I always get permission first. It sure saves a lot of hassle.) I also used an 1800s Atlas to find the true location of an infamous Bloody Bill Anderson ambush site in the neighboring county. And, like you, I trace current improved roads versus their earlier paths. I love this stuff. I am too far away from you to help you with any specifics in your own searches, but I just wanted to check in with a welcome and some encouragement to you!
 
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#5
I tried to copy or print it the resolution was so poor, couldn't make out the details.
Old maps off the internet often have a low resolution which makes them hard to read and even worse if you try to magnify them. Attached are three maps of the Pleasant Hill Battlefield. The NPS map is handy because it shows the battlefield in relation to today's roads and the current location of the town. Hope these help you.

Pleasant_Hill_Battlefield_Louisiana.jpg


Pleasant_Hill_Battlefield_Louisiana 1.jpg


Pleasant_Hill_Map.jpg
 

Drew

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#6
Bob, welcome to Civil War Talk.

I'm a descendant of that area and know a little bit about it. First, you have to know that the banks of the Red River moved over time. Seriously, water came out of the banks and changed everyone's plans, year after year. You can't rely on modern maps and even professional historians are flabbergasted by how much everything has "moved" since the 1860s. It's just not the same place today.

Second, the area is home to a lot of small, unincorporated towns that were named for the families of the original settlers. Some of those towns have disappeared, some of them survive and some of them were swept into larger, legally incorporated towns.

It's really a crapshoot but if I can help in any way, let me know? Cheers.
 
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#7
Thanks Patrick, J. D. and Drew! I really appreciate the maps you attached J. D. I copied them to my Battle of P.H. folder. Funny thing about the Pleasant Hill site. I have several maps of that battle site now and it's really hard to match them up. They are all a little different.
It's about 6 roads shown on the old maps connecting to the PH site and they are all located slightly different on each map or not shown at all. I'll finally figure it out if I study it long enough.

I drive through the old PH battle site pretty regular to catch I-49 to Shreveport. Nothing there but a Honkey Tonk at the crossroads now other than the Memorial Site. Also a home located close by. I'll have to make a field trip and take my maps and try to marry up what I'm seeing on the maps with existing as much as possible.

On the Red River by Natchitoches, I think the Cane River that the main part of town adjoins to, if I'm not mistaken use to the the Red River before it changed course. I think that's right but I may be wrong?
 
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#8
I got to searching to see if there were any photographs of the Battle of Pleasant Hill because I know photography even though primitive at the time was pretty wide spread during the CW. Maybe more prominent in the North? It appears there are no photos what so ever of the old town, the battle or the aftermath. Anybody have any insight on this? Thanks, Bob
 

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