Mapping the Battle of Gettysburg

Fought July 1st, 2nd, and 3rd, 1863, the Battle of Gettysburg remains one of the most well known battles in American history. In honor of the 155th anniversary of the battle, we are featuring various maps related to the Battle of Gettysburg.  All of the maps featured in this post are from Record Group (RG) 77, Civil Works Map File series, although the Cartographic Branch also holds maps showing Gettysburg in other record groups and series.

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RG 77, Civil Works Map File, E 73 (1). “Elliots Map of the Battlefield of Gettysburg.” Part 1.
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RG 77, Civil Works Map File, E 73 (2). “Elliots Map of the Battlefield of Gettysburg.”

The Civil Works Map File contains a copy of Elliot’s Map of the Battlefield of Gettysburg, which has been annotated. The maps is split into two parts; the first half, E 73 (1), covers the northern half of the battlefield and the second half, E 73 (2) covers the southern half of the battlefield. The map contains a legend near the bottom for the various symbols found on the map, which denote Union and Rebel (Confederate) Graves, dead horses, and various types of defenses. One interesting thing to note on the northern half of the map is the location of Camp Letterman, labeled as General Hospital. Following the battle, Camp Letterman was established as a central hospital to care for the thousands of wounded soldiers left behind by both armies. There is also a large concentration of both Union and Confederate burials near this location, as many soldiers eventually died from their wounds in the weeks and months following the battle. The southern half of the map features many of the more prominent areas of fighting on July 2nd and 3rd, including Culps Hill, Little Round Top, the Peach Orchard, and the fields of Pickett’s Charge. It also shows the locations of many of the temporary field hospitals established at homes and farms following the battle, along with the graves associated with the soldiers who died at these field hospitals.

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RG 77, Civil Works Map File, E 72 (1). “Battlefield of Gettysburg, Pa.”

The large oval map titled “Battlefield of Gettysburg, Pa.” similarly shows the areas of major action during the battle, and also shows the locations of roads and local farms around the town of Gettysburg. Note the unique orientation of this map, as the top of the map is oriented west rather than north. This orientation is also used on other maps of the Gettysburg battlefield.

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RG 77, Civil Works Map File, E 105-4. Final Proof of “Battle Field of Gettysburg” Map with Warren notation in bottom right corner.

One of the more noted maps of the Gettysburg battlefield was created under the direction of Gouverneur K. Warren, a noted engineer who had been present at the Battle of Gettysburg, in 1868-1869, and revised in 1873. The National Archives holds the original map as RG 77, Civil Works Map File, E 81. The map is very large, as it has a scale of 200 feet to 1 inch. Due to its large size, it is in multiple sheets. Reduced scale versions of this map were also made, and the National Archives also holds numerous copies of these smaller maps. The map above, E 105-4, represents one of these reduced versions of the Battle Field of Gettysburg map. This particular copy is annotated as a “Final Proof” by Warren himself. Additionally, an annotation in pencil, also by Warren, appears next to the Final Proof marking, written to ensure that his signature was not included on the final printing of the map.

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RG 77, Civil Works Map File, E 105a-1. Bachelder map of Gettysburg with Warren annotation.

Warren also made annotations on other maps related to the Battle of Gettysburg. These were likely used in the creation of maps such as his “Battle Field of Gettysburg” map.  The above map, E 105a-1, is a published map created by John Bachelder. Bachelder was a civilian who arrived at the Gettysburg battlefield only days after the battle had ended. He spent the rest of his life mapping, studying, and writing about the battle of Gettysburg. He was also instrumental in the early preservation and memorialization of the Gettysburg battlefield. Bachelder’s map shows the locations of regiments and other army organizations during the battle. Warren’s annotations about his thoughts of the map and its usefulness appear in the upper right corner of the map. He is critical of the perspective of the map, as it does not represent the topography very well.

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RG 77 Civil Works Map File E 105a-2. E.B. Cope Gettysburg Map with Warren annotations.

Map E 105a-2 is a similar map showing the battlefield at Gettysburg. However, this map shows the topography of the battlefield, along with the locations of the Union and Confederate lines and defenses. It appears to be very similar to map E 72 (1), seen above. Warren notes that this map was originally created under his direction by E.B. Cope. He states in an annotation , “It is valuable as showing how a good topographer can represent a field after a personal reconnaissance. It was mostly made from horse back sketches, based upon the map o Adams County, Pa.” See the upper right hand corner of the map for the complete annotation by Warren.

These five maps represent only a  small sampling of the maps relating to the Battle of Gettysburg that are held by the Cartographic Branch. For more information on additional maps showing Gettysburg, or other battles of the Civil War, see A Guide to Civil War Maps in the National Archives. We also invite you to visit the Cartographic Research Room in College Park, Maryland to view additional Civil War maps.

For more information on the battle of Gettysburg:

Gettysburg National Military Park, https://www.nps.gov/gett/index.htm. 

 

 

 

4 thoughts on “Mapping the Battle of Gettysburg

  1. It should be noted that all these maps were created long after the battle, as historical records. But what maps did commanders actually use before or during the battle? Historian William A. Frassanito answers this question in several of his published works. Although a few pre-1863 maps of Gettysburg had been printed, it is not clear how many of these were available to commanders during the battle. Most of the maps they used were probably crude sketches, showing only roads and a few topographical features. With a lack of maps, confusion was part of every Civil War engagement.

    1. John, it is possible to request scans of the maps, or to visit our College Park, MD location in person to request paper copies. I will reach out to you by email to provide additional details.

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