The thin volume held by this Union enlisted man may have helped him pinpoint the movements of his regiment during its Southern tour. The pocket-sized book, G. Woolworth Colton’s New Guide Map of the United States & Canada With Railroads, Counties & c., contained color-tinted maps that folded out to about 30-by-35 inches. It is one of a series of popular guides published by geographer George Woolworth Colton (1827-1901). His father, Joseph Hutchins Colton (1800-1893) started the business in the early 1830s. The Colton guide maps were recognized for excellence and quality.
The unnamed soldier, dressed in a four-button sack coat and cap with rainproof cover, sits in front of a backdrop painted with a camp scene. He wants us to see the book cover—perhaps a suggestion of the journey to come. Though his fate is currently unknown, a note inside the badly damaged case indicates he made it to Hilton Head Island, S.C. Union forces captured it in late 1861 and established a major base of operations against Charleston and Savannah, Ga. The island also became a refuge for former slaves.
The fate of this soldier and the usefulness of Colton’s Guide to him are not known.
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