Tripod signal erected by Capts. Dorr and Donn of U.S. Coast Survey at Pulpit Rock on Lookout Mountain.
I’ve just finished reading an article on the subject of maps or rather, the lack of maps during the war. Lots of reasons are offered for the shortage of maps for the confederacy, things like the lack of established government mapping agencies and a lack of reprinting facilities are to blame, there was also apparently a lack of trained military engineers and hardly anyone was trained to use the surveying and drafting equipment. Is this true and what kind of impact if any did this have on the outcome of the war?
At the beginning of the war, the Union already had the infrastructure in place to provide its army with maps, it was recognised very early on that any campaign in the seceding states could only be successful with detailed maps and a clear understanding of the topography. The Chief Engineer reported that in 1864, 20,938 map sheets were furnished to the armies in the field, and in the final year of the war this figure grew to 24,591.
Let. General Richard Taylor once claimed that ‘The Confederate commanders,"knew no more about the topography of the country than they did about Central Africa.
Gen. George B. McClellan, commander of the Army of the Potomac, lamented that "Correct local maps were not to be found, and the country, though known in its general features, we found to be inaccurately described, in essential particulars, in the only maps and geographical memoirs or papers to which access could be had; erroneous courses to streams and roads were frequently given, and no dependence could be placed on the information thus derived.
I’m sure most will agree that waging war without a clear understanding of the ground that will be fought over is problematic and possibly foolhardy, was this really the case for the confederate army, did they overcome this by applying local knowledge, did the confederacy ever manage to resolve their lack of maps?