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1863 U.S. Coast Survey Map of the Entrance of the Chesapeake Bay

Coast Chart No. 36 Chesapeake Bay Sheet No. 6 From the Mouth of the York River to the Entrance to Bay. - Main View

1863 U.S. Coast Survey Map of the Entrance of the Chesapeake Bay


Important Civil War survey of the southern Chesapeake Bay


Coast Chart No. 36 Chesapeake Bay Sheet No. 6 From the Mouth of the York River to the Entrance to Bay.
  1863 (dated)     25.5 x 36 in (64.77 x 91.44 cm)


A scarce example of the 1863 U.S. Coast Survey nautical chart or maritime map of the entrance to the Chesapeake Bay. This Civil War era map covers from the York River east to Cape Charles and south as Far as Cape Henry, Norfolk, and Portsmouth. Includes the Hampton Roads, Fortress Monroe, and the town of Hampton. Offers innumerable depth sounding throughout. Text to the left and right of the map proper includes sailing instructions, notations on light houses, magnetic variations, tide and currents. Title of chart in the lower center.

This map was made at the height of the American Civil War. At the time, the Union, from its stronghold at Fort Monroe, was determined to control naval access to the Chesapeake Bay and its adjacent river systems. This chart provided crucial information to the Union Naval officers who enacted a blockade of the Chesapeake. Military action based from Fort Monroe eventually drove President Jefferson Davis from the Confederate capital of Richmond, Virginia, effectively ending the War.

The triangulation and topography for this map was accomplished by e. Blunt and J. Farley. The Topography is the work of J. J. S. Hassler, G. D. Wise, J. Seib, and J. Mechan. The Hydrography was completed by a party under the command of J. J. Almy. The whole was compiled under the supervision of A.D. Bache, director of the U.S. Coast Survey. engraved by J. Knight, A. Sengteller, H.S. Barnard, and J. C. Kondrup for the 1863 edition of the U.S. Coast Survey Superintendent's Report


The Office of the Coast Survey (1807 - present) 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 devised a labor intensive triangulation system whereby the entire coast was divided into a series of enormous triangles. These were in turn 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 losing congressional funding for the Coast Survey. Nonetheless, Hassler led 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 to 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) to accommodate topographic as well as nautical surveys. Today the Coast Survey is part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration or NOAA as the National Geodetic Survey. More by this mapmaker...


Bache, A. D., Report of the Superintendent of the United States Coast Survey, Washington, 1863.    


Good. Map exhibits typical wear, verso reinforcement, repair, and toning along original fold lines. Blank on verso. Margin extension left side.