This remarkable view, published by John Bachmann in the midst of the Civil War, constitutes a sweeping panorama of a key theater of the war, where the northern Confederacy and southernmost part of the Union collide. It is centered on Chesapeake Bay, with Richmond and Fredericksburg at center.
The mapmaker breathes life into this depiction of a nation divided, using a dramatic perspective to illustrate key places and developments. It was published in New York and met by an audience eager for up-to-date information. The perspective used by the mapmaker allows both a wide geographical window and a remarkable amount of detail. At bottom left, ships block the entrance to the Chesapeake Bay, a reference to the Union Blockade, then in its first year.
Important towns, forts, road systems, and events are all depicted. Cities are represented in excellent detail, in a semi-pictorial fashion, including: Baltimore, Annapolis, Washington, Norfolk, Portsmouth, Petersburg, Richmond, Fredericksburg, and others.
Crossed swords mark the area of the first major battle of the Civil War, known as the First Battle of Bull Run (Union name), or the First Battle of Manassas (Confederate name). The battle was fought on July 21, 1861 — the same year our view was published — in Prince William County, Virginia, just north of the city of Manassas and about 25 miles west-southwest of Washington, D.C. The Union’s forces were slow in positioning themselves, allowing Confederate reinforcements time to arrive by rail. Each side had about 18,000 poorly trained and poorly led troops in their first battle. It was a Confederate victory, followed by a disorganized retreat of the Union forces.
This is the first state of the map. In the second state, a depiction of rising smoke was added around Manassas/Bull Run. For the third state, which is dated on the map to 1864, the smoke was removed again.
For its beauty, design, and importance as a contemporary document of the Civil War, this view represents an exceptional collectors’ item.