Civil War Topographical Engineering in the Shenandoah

Brooks C. Pearson


This study advances knowledge concerning military topographical engineering in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia during 1861 and 1862 operations. It examines representative historical maps, Union and Confederate official reports, the wartime journals of James W. Abert, Jedediah Hotchkiss, and David Hunter Strother, and a detailed postwar reminiscence by Thomas H. Williamson to illuminate the typical experience of the topographical engineer in early war operations in the Shenandoah. Evidence indicates that Civil War topographers mostly performed the tasks one would expect of them: mapmaking, reconnaissance, and orienteering. They were occasionally required to perform other duties tailored to their individual talents. There is evidence that the role of Confederate topographical engineers was more specific than that of Union officers.


topographical engineering; American Civil War; Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson; Jedediah Hotchkiss; James W. Abert; David Hunter Strother; Thomas H. Williamson; Franz Kappner; historical cartography; military cartography; Corps of Engineers–history

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