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1855 U. S. Coast Survey Map or Chart of the James River, Virginia


(C No. 4) Preliminary Chart of James River Virginia from Richmond to City Point Including the Appomattox River from Petersburg to the Junction.
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Title:    (C No. 4) Preliminary Chart of James River Virginia from Richmond to City Point Including the Appomattox River from Petersburg to the Junction.

Description:    This is an attractive 1855 U.S. Coast Survey nautical chart or map of the James River, Virginia. It covers the James River from Richmond to City Point, including part of the Appomattox River from Petersburg to the junction. The map offers excellent detail noting countless depth soundings and navigational notes, but little inland detail. However, it does identify the city of Petersburg located on the Appomattox River.

Shortly after this map was produced, this region would witness the Appomattox Campaign, a series of battles fought in Virginia during the American Civil War, leading to the defeat of General Robert E. Lee and the end of the war in Virginia.

The triangulation for this chart was accomplished by J. Farley and W. B. Trowbridg. The Topography is the work of J. Seib and S. A. Wainwright. The Hydrography was completed by R. Wainwright. This map was compiled under the direction of A. D. Bache, Superintendent of the Survey of the Coast of the United States and one of the most influential American cartographers of the 19th century.


Date:    1855 (dated)

Source:    Bache, A. D., A Report of the Superintendent of the Coast Survey, 1852.    

Cartographer:    The Office of the Coast Survey, founded in 1807 by President Thomas Jefferson and Secretary of Commerce Albert Gallatin, is the oldest scientific organization in the U.S. Federal Government. Jefferson created the "Survey of the Coast," as it was then called, in response to a need for accurate navigational charts of the new nation's coasts and harbors. The spirit of the Coast Survey was defined by its first two superintendents. The first superintendent of the Coast Survey was Swiss immigrant and West Point mathematics professor Ferdinand Hassler. Under the direction of Hassler, from 1816 to 1843, the ideological and scientific foundations for the Coast Survey were established. These included using the most advanced techniques and most sophisticated equipment as well as an unstinting attention to detail. Hassler's devised a labor intensive triangulation system whereby the entire coast was divided into a series of enormous triangles. These were intern subdivided into smaller triangulation units that were then individually surveyed. Employing this exacting technique on such a massive scale had never before been attempted. Consequently Hassler and the Coast Survey under him developed a reputation for uncompromising dedication to the principles of accuracy and excellence. Unfortunately, despite being a masterful surveyor, Hassler was abrasive and politically unpopular, twice loosing congressional funding for the Coast Survey. Nonethelss, Hassler lead the Coast Survey until his death in 1843, at which time Alexander Dallas Bache, a great-grandson of Benjamin Franklin, took the helm. Bache was fully dedicated to the principles established by Hassler, but proved more politically astute and successfully lobbied Congress liberally fund the endeavor. Under the leadership of A. D. Bache, the Coast Survey completed its most important work. Moreover, during his long tenure with the Coast Survey, from 1843 to 1865, Bache was a steadfast advocate of American science and navigation and in fact founded the American Academy of Sciences. Bache was succeeded by Benjamin Pierce who ran the Survey from 1867 to 1874. Pierce was in turn succeeded by Carlile Pollock Patterson who was Superintendent from 1874 to 1881. In 1878, under Patterson's superintendence, the U.S. Coast Survey was reorganized as the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey (C & GS or USGS) to accommodate topographic as well as nautical surveys. Today the Coast Survey is part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration or NOAA. Click here for a list of rare maps from the U. S. Coast Survey.

Size:   Printed area measures 31 x 27 inches (78.74 x 68.58 centimeters)

Scale:    1 : 40000

Condition:    Very good. Minor wear and toning over original fold lines. Backed with archival tissue. Left margin extended.

Code:   JamesRiver-uscs-1855 (to order by phone call: 646-320-8650)

Tags:    U.S. Government Map , American Civil War , Appomattox Campaign

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