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Knowing the geography of the Uniteds States at the time of the Civil War is important in understanding the conflict. Therefore this series of maps around and during the Civil War period may be helpful for that purpose. We recommended taking a look at another of our maps first. The 1857 map of the U.S.A. which shows the total geographical area of the Union before the war began. {1857 USA Map}

1862-63 Map.

This map map shows where the population concentrated was at that time. West of the Mississippi River was still frontier land still to be developed. For example, Kansas as this map shows, is only partially orgranized in its eastern half and that was due to sharing a portion of the Mississippi River which like the other major rivers were important to commerce.

Control of these majors river passages and railways was a key to the Union's successful. Most of the major early battles centered around Tennessee because of these supply routes.
(See Cairo Map below.)

1864 Map.

By this time the Union troops had gained control of much of the confederate states and won the battle over the Tennessee area and in doing separated the rebel concentrations to the west and east of Tennessee.

The Union not only controlled the land routes cutting off supplies to the rebel armies, their ships successfully barrigade coastline harbors along the Atlantic and in the Gulf of Mexico. Rebels were hard pressed to get the supplies they need to sustain their armies.

1862 Great Lakes Map.

The Great Lakes States of Michigan, Ohio, Indian, Illinois and Wisconsin made major contributions to the Union side during the war.

Michigan's troops were among the first to participate in major battles and gained recognition as fighting wolverines. The most notorious soldier from Michigan was General George Custer who advanced rapidly through the ranks because his style of daring attacks were without any constraint from fear of losing his life.

Many counties in Michigan offered a bounty to anyone who would volunteer to enlist from thier county which helped them fill their quota and avoid the draft. This wasn't appreciated by the counties who either didn't have a bounty or was considerable less than the larger counties. Soldiers from this area were main mustered in at E. Saginaw.

1873 - Bay County Area Map.

Althought this map is nearly a decade after the war ended, it is pretty close to what the area looked like at the time of the Civil War. As noted on the map, Bay County had a very extensive portion of the Saginaw Bay shoreline. In 1883, the county of Arenac was organized and the area of Standish and north departed reducing Bay County's size.

When the war broke out in 1861 Bay County had only five townships. Williams and Hampton were a part of the original organization of the county in 1857. The other three townships of Bangor, Portsmouth and Arenac were added in 1959. What the geographical area of each of the townships was at the time has not been identified. The state archives of Michigan supposedly has Bay County's records for this time period. Until that reseach is done its hard to say with any certainty what each of the townships represented geographically during the Civil War.

Cairo Area Map 1861.

This maps the Cario area where the several major river systems merge. Union forces aggressively went after control of this point early in the war to cut off supplies to the confederate armies. The Union Navy controlled the seaways and were successful in baracading confederate ports cutting off supply ships from other countries.

Control the railways in this area became critical for the confederate cause. Many hard battles were found over and over to hold temporary control the rail system in Tennessee and sourrounding states.

Civil War Resources.

There hundreds of excellent resouces on the internet that are devoted to the Civil War and worth the time to check out. We offer only a few here that we think are outstanding.

Library of Congress.
The best that we've found for maps is the Library of Congress which has a huge collection of historical maps. There are not only battle field maps of the Civil War, but of other wars as well. In addition the library has many other map collections of historical significance. Maps are view using a Mr. Sid Viewer which allows sections of the map to be seen in great detail. Addition materials on the Civil War or any other subject can be done using their Search feature.

  • Library of Congress: [Civil War Maps]

    Public Broadcasting System.
    Thanks to the PBS organization we have a well documentment film presentation of the Civil War done by Ken Burns, which as been shown on public television. The PBS.org website features images, the story behind the film and remarks from Ken Burns about it.

  • [The Civil War produced by Ken Burns for PBS.org]

    The American Civil War.
    This is the National Park Service website which houses a considerable amount of information pertaining to the Civil War, including the searchable "Soldiers & Sailors System" to find regimental information for individuals.

  • [The American Civil War by NPS.gov]

    Michigan in the Civil War.
    This website created by Don Harvey specializes in helping researchers locate soldiers from Michigan in the Civil War. He has very complete files on Rosters and a data base Regiments that give you the history of the battles they parcipated in.

  • [Michigan in the Civil War]
  • BAY-JOURNAL -- Putting Local History Online.