General Joseph E. Johnston’s

Personal Map of Georgia

On which he planned his famous Georgia Campaign during the War Between the States


Description and Photograph




    This map of Georgia was printed in 1857 and was General Joe Johnston’s personal battlefield map, from which he planned one of the most important campaigns of the War Between the States.  It and numerous other items were recently purchased from the descendants of Colonel Benjamin Stoddard Ewell.  General Johnston strained, stressed and probably shed tears over this very map as he daily studied it until the wee hours of the morning as he planned the Georgia Campaign.  The map is approximately six feet by four feet when unfolded and encompasses all of Georgia in large format, giving the fine detail that the master strategist needed.  General Johnston’s name and rank are written inside by his Chief of Staff, Benj. S. Ewell, and it was carried daily by Chief of Staff Ewell or the General himself so that he could have it instantly when he called for it.  Regardless who carried it, it was on this map the Georgia Campaign was planned.

     Such important pieces of history usually reside in museums; seldom does the private collector have the opportunity to acquire such a prestigious and important piece of history.

     Benj. Ewell was born in Washington City, June 10, 1810, son of Dr. Thomas Ewell and Elizabeth (Stoddert) Ewell.  The young Ewell attended the United States Military Academy at West Point, from which he graduated third in the class of 1832.  He was instructor in the academy until 1836, when he left the army, and became assistant engineer on the Central railroad, until 1839, when he was made professor of natural philosophy at Hampden-Sidney College.  In 1847 he became the first professor of mathematics and military science at Washington College.  In 1848 he was elected president and professor of mathematics at William and Mary College, Williamsburg.  In 1854, Professor Ewell was made president.  In May, 1861, the college suspended classes when President Ewell and nearly all the professors and students entered the Confederate army.  Ewell was made Colonel of the Thirty-Second Virginia Regiment, and later became assistant adjutant-general to Gen. Joseph E. Johnston, who, in May, 1862, asked that Col. Ewell be made his chief-of-staff, with the rank of brigadier-general--a request not granted, because there was no law permitting a staff officer to hold such rank.  Ewell, however, continued to act as chief-of-staff to Gen. Johnston to the end of the war, being finally commissioned brigadier-general.  After the war he went to the assistance of William and Mary College, which had been burned by Federal troops, and opposed the removal of the institution to Richmond, and, in 1869 the faculty was again organized, with him as president.  The cost of repairs and operating expenses made a heavy drain on the endowment fund and in 1881 the college again suspended classes.  In 1888, General Ewell’s active connection with the college ceased due to his advanced age, and was elected president emeritus for life.  His loyalty to the college in its darkest hours, won for him the admiration and love of everybody.  He received the degree of LLD from Hobart College, and was a fellow of the Royal Historical Society.  He died June 19, 1894, aged eighty-four years.  His remains were deposited in the college burying ground back of the main building.  His descendants continue to live in the Williamsburg area to this day.  This map and numerous letters and a few images were recently purchased from his direct decedents.

     The close Ewell/Johnston friendship is evidenced by several postal covers in the collection, the original letters are probably at the College of W&M.  They were West Point Graduates, Johnston in 1829, and Ewell in 1832.  Ewell’s grandfather was the first U.S. secretary of the Navy. 

     Johnston would correspond with both Benjamin Ewell and his daughter Lizzie during and after the War.  Although I was unable to purchase all of the documents relating to Benjamin Ewell, I was able to buy enough to establish a solid provenance.  Included with the map is an eight by ten albumen of General Johnston, a cover addressed to General Benjamin Stoddard Ewell, along the edge of which B.S. Ewell wrote “gen McLaws Rob’t & A. 1891 Relating to Gen’l Johnston’s death” I’ll not quote the entire letter, but in it he talks of his feelings towards the General and tells him that General Johnston “died as befits both God and man and was in death, as in life, a noble example” and “in all my life I never knew a man better intellectually and morally he was a perfect soldier and gentleman.”

     There  is also a wonderful piece of folk art, though I cannot see how it relates to General Johnston, nor do I think it does, but on the back of it is pasted a newspaper account “A Portrait of General Ewell” that is most flattering to that General.  The folk art has a poem below the exaggerated picture that reads:

A’ possum may love ‘simmons

A’ Coon he may love crabs

But Cupid’s got my gizzard

And my own heart strings grabs

The gal her name am Julia

Oh! how my heart does beat

When to Chufch we goes on Sundays

And we sits on the same seat

Som day I hope to git her

And to-gather climb life’s hill

She then will be my Julia

And I’ll be her own dear


     I have never known of another personal artifact used by General Johnston during the War to be in the collector’s market.   Johnston, like Lee was of such importance that his artifacts were donated to the Museum of the Confederacy.  Only this one remained in private hands because he gave it to his Chief of Staff.  This is a difficult item to price because there is no record of General Johnston’s items selling at any price.  The closest comparables that I could find were Jedediah Hotchkiss’ map of Chancellorsville which sold for around $100,000.00 and the Jeb Stuart map of the Overland Campaign that sold for many times that amount.  The historic map on which Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston planned his Georgia Campaign is a once in a lifetime opportunity for $ 35,000.00.   




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