May 26, 2022

Civil War Maps from the Army Corps of Engineers Now Digitized

From the National Archives and Records Administration:

Civil War era and related maps from the Army Corps of Engineers have been digitized and are available to view and download from the National Archives Catalog. The records are part of the Civil Works Map File series from Record Group 77, Records of the Office of the Chief of Engineers. The records make up the Z file unit.

The records in the Civil Works Map File comprised the main map collection for the Corps of Engineers during the nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries. They include manuscript maps forwarded to headquarters by Corps of Topographic Engineers and Army Engineer surveyors and cartographers in the field, and published editions of selected maps. The maps pertain to numerous subjects, including surveys of the Mississippi River, Great Lakes, and other bodies of water; construction or improvement of harbors, canals, roads, railroads and other internal improvements; exploration of the West and surveying of western terrain; location of posts and fortifications, Indian tribes, and settlements in western territories; military roads and routes between Army posts; campaigns and battlefields of the Revolutionary War, the Seminole War in Florida, Indian Wars in the West, the Mexican War, and the Civil War (including both Union Army maps and Confederate Army maps acquired by Union forces); surveys of boundaries between States and Territories; and numerous foreign areas. Architectural and engineering drawings in this series relate to canals, bridges, dams, piers, and jetties as built along the coasts and inland waterways. Also included are plans of dredge boats used in improving rivers and harbors.

The Z file unit consists of manuscript, published, and annotated maps relating to areas in the southern states during the Civil War, including a large number of Confederate maps. The maps mostly cover areas in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia. There are a few maps in the file unit that also cover Indian Territory, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Washington, DC. The majority of the maps were created in the mid-nineteenth century, either during the Civil War, or in the years just before and after the war.

The records in the file unit span various subjects including, but not limited to, cities, counties, battlefields, railroads, and fortifications. Highlighted below are some of the records found in the file unit.


It is important to note that the Z file unit is one of over thirty file units that comprise the Civil Works Map File series. The Z file unit is a compilation of maps from several different states. The file unit only touches on a very small amount of maps the series contains for each state. For example, the state of Virginia has its own file unit, Virginia and the Chesapeake Bay (G), which includes nearly 1,500 maps of Virginia alone. Another example, the state of Louisiana has its own file unit as well, Louisiana and the Mississippi River (M), which includes nearly 1,600 maps of Louisiana.

The US file unit, United States, has been digitized and images are available to view and download from the National Archives Catalog. The file unit digitization was the focus of a past blog post.

Read the Complete Blog Post, View Selections From the Map File

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.