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Places in Civil War History: The First Battle of Bull Run

This is part of a series of guest posts from Ed Redmond, Cartographic Specialist in the Library of Congress, Geography and Map Division, documenting the cartographic history of maps related to the American Civil War, 1861-1865. The posts will appear on a regular basis.

On July 21, 1861, Federal forces and Confederate troops converged near Manassas Junction, the junction of the Manassas Gap Railroad and the Orange and Alexandria Railroads. Federal troops hoped to seize the junction and thereby deny Confederate forces the advantages of using the railroads to transport troops or resupply.

The battle developed slowly but eventually involved over 35,000 Federal troops and 32,000 Confederate forces. Federal forces under General Irwin McDowell attempted to flank Confederate positions by crossing Bull Run but were turned back. The end result of the battle was a Confederate victory and Federal forces retreated to the defenses of Washington, DC. One week later, General George McClellan was appointed head of the Army of the Potomac.

National Tribune - Bull Run

“The first battle of Bull Run. July 21, 1861. Washington, Dec 26, 1895.” National Tribune, 1895. Geography and Map Division, Library of Congress.

The three maps shown here all use the name “Bull Run” to identify the battle. A convention developed during the war whereby Federal maps named battles after local water features (Bull Run, Antietam, etc.) while Confederate maps named battles after local towns (Manassas, Sharpsburg, etc.).

Plan of the battlefield at Bull Run

“Plan of the battlefield at Bull Run, July 21st 1861.” Amiel Weeks Whipple, 1861. Geography and Map Division, Library of Congress.

Places in Civil War History: The Battle of Rich Mountain

This is part of a series of guest posts from Ed Redmond, Cartographic Specialist in the Library of Congress, Geography and Map Division, documenting the cartographic history of maps related to the American Civil War, 1861-1865. The posts will appear on a regular basis. At the conclusion of the Civil War, the U.S. War Department […]

The Advance of 6th Armored Division in World War II: Maps Donated by Veteran Robert S. Bond

The following guest post is by Ryan Moore, a cartographic specialist in the Geography and Map Division. Robert S. Bond was a forward artillery observer for the 6th Armored Division in World War II. He landed with the division in Normandy, France, and advanced into Germany. Along the way, he participated in the fighting in […]

Grafton Tyler Brown, Trailblazing Cartographer of the American West

Historically, “cartographer” has commonly been a profession wearing many hats: artist, craftsman, communicator, documentarian, entrepreneur, and pioneer (among many others). To celebrate cartographers who embraced these multitudes of roles to achieve success, it is worth remembering their stories. Today, we recognize Grafton Tyler Brown, a trailblazing African American cartographer of the Pacific Northwest. Brown was […]

Places in Civil War History: Tensions in Northern Virginia and Defending Washington

This is part of a series of guest posts from Ed Redmond, Cartographic Specialist in the Library of Congress, Geography and Map Division, documenting the cartographic history of maps related to the American Civil War, 1861-1865. The posts will appear on a regular basis. As the nation moved towards an increasingly inevitable “war between the […]

Phillips Map Society Event Explores World War I Mapmaking

The following guest post is by Ryan Moore, a cartographic specialist in the Geography and Map Division. In World War I, the detail and accuracy of maps improved rapidly over the course of a few years and greatly enhanced the power of military forces. Maps, however, were only as good as those interpreting them, and […]

Modest Monuments: The District of Columbia Boundary Stones

The oldest set of federally placed monuments in the United States are strewn along busy streets, hidden in dense forests, lying unassumingly in residential front yards and church parking lots. Many are fortified by small iron fences, and one resides in the sea wall of a Potomac River lighthouse. Lining the current and former boundaries […]

Places in Civil War History: Tennessee Secession and Fortress Monroe

This is the fourth in a series of guest posts from Ed Redmond, Cartographic Specialist in the Library of Congress, Geography and Map Division, documenting the cartographic history of maps related to the American Civil War, 1861-1865. The posts will appear on a regular basis. In May 1861, several more states formally seceded from the […]