1867 Appomattox Court House from Surveys

Appomattox Court House From Surveys under the Direction of Bvt. Brig. Gen. N. Michler, Maj. of Engineers. By Command of Bvt. Maj. Gen. A.A. Humphreys, Brig. Gen. & Chief of Engineers, 1867. Surveyed and drawn by Maj. J. E. Weyss, assisted by F. Theilkuhl, J. Strasser & O. Thompson. Published by NY Lithographing, Engraving & Printing Co. Lithographed by Julius Bien. 

This is a scarce large format plan of the battlefield and region around the famed Appomattox Court House, published by the U.S. War Department in 1867. This extensively surveyed and informative map extends south to Evergreen Station and north to the Bent Creek Bridge area. Noteworthy for a map of this time is the inclusion of dozens of landowners on the map, including Wilmer McLean. The map also identifies roads, bridges, railroads, drainage and woodlands, giving viewers a comprehensive impression of the battlefield. The map is drawn on a scale of 3 inches to 1 mile.  

In April 1865, General Robert E. Lee and his army found themselves in Virginia, harassed mercilessly by Federal troops and continually cut off from turning south to reach Gen. Johnston's army in North Carolina. After a defeat at Five Forks, Lee’s only defensive move was to escape with his troops west along the Appomattox River, eventually arriving in Appomattox County on April 8th. His objective was the South Side Railroad at Appomattox Station where food supplies awaited. Union cavalry under Brig. Gen. George A. Custer reached them first, capturing and subsequently burning three supply trains. Lee hoped for more supplies further west at Lynchburg, so he refused written requests by Grant to surrender his army.

On the morning of April 9th, Confederate Maj. Gen. John B. Gordon’s corps attacked the Union cavalry blocking the road toward the railroad. Initially, Gordon had success in clearing cavalry from the road, but Union infantry moved in and he was unable to make further progress. Gordon sent word to Lee around 8:30 a.m. that he needed Lt. Gen. James Longstreet’s support to make additional headway. Upon receiving this request—and having watched the battle through field glasses—Lee then said, "Then there is nothing left for me to do but go and see General Grant, and I would rather die a thousand deaths." Messages were soon exchanged and Lee and Grant agreed to meet at the Wilmer McLean home at Appomattox Courthouse that afternoon. There, the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia was signed. Three days later, a formal ceremony marked the disbanding of Lee's army and the parole of his men, ending the war in Virginia. The events here triggered similar surrenders across the south, ending the fighting of the Civil War.

Mounted in the frame along with the map is a print of Matthew Brady’s famed glass-plate photograph “Mclean House, Appomattox Court House, Va., where the capitulation was signed by Lee and Grant.” The original photograph was taken circa 1865 by the photographer Mathew Brady and his associates. Brady (1823–1896) was one of the earliest practitioners of daguerreotype in the United States and soon became a prolific portrait photographer. After the outbreak of the Civil War, Brady endeavored to record the progress of the war with his camera. He employed many other well-known photographers, notably Alexander Gardner, George Barnard, and Timothy O'Sullivan. Brady and his associates traveled throughout the eastern part of the country and photographed many of the battlefields, towns, and people touched by the war.

Condition: This map is in very good condition. The paper is healthy, with no rips or stains, and has later hand coloring. Mounted at bottom is a print of the glass plate negative of the McLean House. The map has been artfully presented to the highest archival standards, with an acid-free grey top mat and custom-built black and silver frame. Framed dimensions: 43 1/2" H x 33" W x 1 1/2" D.

 




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