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Creating a More Perfect Union: 1861-1865

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Photo, Alexander Dallas Bache peering through a sextant, NOAA

During the Civil War, the Survey of the Coast found a new purpose—preparing secret reports on the waters along the Atlantic seaboard to improve Union blockades. This website collects and shares materials from the United States Coast Survey, 1861 through 1865.

You can, for example, read any of nine Notes on the Coast of the United States, prepared by the Blockade Strategy Board. These detail sailing conditions and geography for use by Union captains and generals. Summaries, located under the "Documents" heading, cover the process of creating these lengthy reports.

Additional features include a brief biography of Alexander Dallas Bache, U.S. Coast Survey supervisor; an 1861 map showing slave population density; short overviews of some of the other members of the survey team during the Civil War; and a 33-page PDF concerning the history of the Coast Survey between 1843 and 1867. The PDF contains several maps and photographs.

Using the search box on the main page will retrieve Civil War-era maps of cities, camps, works, battlefields, and more.