Maps of Virginia and the Chesapeake Bay from the Army Corps of Engineers Now Digitized

Maps of Virginia and the Chesapeake Bay from the Army Corps of Engineers have been digitized and are available to view and download from the National Archives Catalog. The records are part of the Civil Works Map File series from Record Group 77, Records of the Office of the Chief of Engineers. The records make up the G file unit.

The records in the Civil Works Map File comprised the main map collection for the Corps of Engineers during the nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries. They include manuscript maps forwarded to headquarters by Corps of Topographic Engineers and Army Engineer surveyors and cartographers in the field, and published editions of selected maps. The maps pertain to numerous subjects, including surveys of the Mississippi River, Great Lakes, and other bodies of water; construction or improvement of harbors, canals, roads, railroads and other internal improvements; exploration of the West and surveying of western terrain; location of posts and fortifications, Indian tribes, and settlements in western territories; military roads and routes between Army posts; campaigns and battlefields of the Revolutionary War, the Seminole War in Florida, Indian Wars in the West, the Mexican War, and the Civil War (including both Union Army maps and Confederate Army maps acquired by Union forces); surveys of boundaries between States and Territories; and numerous foreign areas. Architectural and engineering drawings in this series relate to canals, bridges, dams, piers, and jetties as built along the coasts and inland waterways. Also included are plans of dredge boats used in improving rivers and harbors.

The G file unit consists of manuscript, published, and annotated maps relating to areas in and around Virginia and the Chesapeake Bay. The majority of the maps were created in the mid-nineteenth century, either during the Civil War, or in the years just before and after the war. A good majority of the maps are of the State of Virginia, including state, county, regional, and local maps. There are a few maps that cover Maryland, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Washington, DC, and West Virginia as well.

The records in the file unit span various subjects including, but not limited to, cities, counties, battlefields, railroads, fortifications, and waterways. Highlighted below are some of the records found in the file unit.

Below is a map of Richmond, Virginia, showing churches, schools, and government buildings:

Record Group 77: Records of the Office of the Chief of Engineers, 1789-1999. NAID: 221160128. Map of City of Richmond, Virginia.

Below is a map of northeast Virginia showing forts and roads during the Civil War:

Record Group 77: Records of the Office of the Chief of Engineers, 1789-1999. NAID: 225809205. Extract of Military Map of Northeast Virginia, Showing Forts and Roads.

Below is a chart of Delaware and Chesapeake Bays from Cape Henlopen to Cape Charles showing coastal soundings:

Record Group 77: Records of the Office of the Chief of Engineers, 1789-1999. NAID: 225809034. Preliminary Chart of Delaware and Chesapeake Bays and the Sea Coast from Cape Henlopen to Cape Charles.

Below is a map of Virginia showing the distribution of it slave population, by county, from the Census of 1860:

Record Group 77: Records of the Office of the Chief of Engineers, 1789-1999. NAID: 221160124. Map of Virginia Showing the distribution of its Slave Population from the Census of 1860.

It is important to note that the G file unit is one of over thirty file units that comprise the Civil Works Map File series. The G file unit is a compilation of maps from several different states. The file unit only touches on a very small amount of maps the series contains for each state. For example, the state of North Carolina has its own file unit, North Carolina (H), which includes nearly 450 maps of North Carolina. Another example, the state of Louisiana has its own file unit as well, Louisiana and the Mississippi River (M), which includes nearly 1,600 maps of Louisiana.

The US file unit, United States, has been digitized and images are available to view and download from the National Archives Catalog. The file unit digitization was the focus of a past blog post.

The Z file unit, Civil War, has been digitized and images are available to view and download from the National Archives Catalog. The file unit digitization was the focus of a past blog post.

Please reach out to us at carto@nara.gov if you are interested in a map that has not been digitized or if you are looking for a map of a particular state, area, battlefield, etc. from the mid-nineteenth century that you do not see listed in our catalog. When our research room reopens, we also encourage people to visit us to view the finding aid and records in-person. Visiting information and operating status may be found here.

2 thoughts on “Maps of Virginia and the Chesapeake Bay from the Army Corps of Engineers Now Digitized

  1. Such cool maps and charts (kudos to you for properly naming the depiction of the Chesapeake Bay…). Thank you.

  2. Amazing how detailed the lines are drawn and the small fonts. Without computers it is really impressive.

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