Description

    Civil War notebook of noted architect Henry C. Koch

    Civil War: Henry C. Koch Seven Small Leather Notebooks dated between November 1863 and October 1866 containing narratives and numerous hand-drawn maps (mostly in Virginia) and penciled drawings of houses, churches, railcars, cityscapes, and architectural details, with geometrical calculations. Most of the material is Civil War-dated. Each notebook measures near 5.25" x 7.75". Three of the notebooks are numbered on the front pastedown (e.g. "Book No. 2," "Book No. 3," and "No. 6 book") and all have Koch's name on the front pastedown reading, "Henry C. Koch / Asst. Eng / Head Quarters / Middle Military Division," or some variation. One reads in part, "Topographical Engineer / Cavalry Corps / Army of Potomac."

    Henry C. Koch (1841-1910) was an important late-nineteenth century American architect. Soon after his birth in Germany, his family migrated to Wisconsin where Koch became an architect, most noted later in life for designing the ambitious Milwaukee City Hall, then the third tallest structure in the U.S. At the age of twenty-two in September 1862, he enlisted into the Wisconsin 24th Infantry, Company "B" where his skills as a map maker were quickly recognized, and he was assigned for the next three years to General Philip Sheridan's staff as a topographic engineer. During much of that time, Sheridan was commander of Union forces in the Middle Military Division, which was created in 1864 in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley to protect Washington, D.C., from Confederate attack.

    During his time as an engineer on Sheridan's staff, Koch kept these seven leather-bound notebooks with him to take notes and sketch maps of his surroundings, which were often used by General Sheridan as tools for strategic planning. Koch's numerous hand-drawn maps are found in each notebook and identify towns, rivers, creeks, bodies of water, railroads, homes, hospitals, fields, forests, and more. Various positions of Sheridan's army, including locations of General Sheridan's headquarters (on "May 30 & 31 [1864]" and "Sept. 23d [1864]") are also identified. Among the maps are those showing the location of the Battle of Five Forks (April 1, 1865); Charles Town (in present-day West Virginia) with map references to John Brown (Harper's Ferry Arsenal is only eleven miles northeastward); and Appomattox Courthouse with a sketch of the McLean House (the actual location of General Lee's surrender to General Grant on April 9, 1865). Some maps cover full pages, others cover full spreads. Koch drew the maps during the war as he marched through the different areas, dating many of them. He utilized information from the locals and often did his own surveying.

    Included in one notebook are four pages narrating a march beginning on February 27, 1865, "with a Div.[?] of Cavalry all under command of Maj. Gen. Sheridan." Koch's account includes skirmishes with Rebels (revealing the numbers of Rebels killed); information on constructing pontoon bridges to cross the Shenandoah River; and road, bridge, and railroad conditions. The account ends on March 17. In the same notebook, Koch has drawn numerous maps of the places encountered along that march. The final pages of the last notebook contain his architectural sketches made shortly after he returned from the war to Milwaukee. Doodles, annotations, and mathematical calculations exist throughout the notebooks, which were originally sold blank by "Wm. Minifie & Co. Booksellers" of Baltimore. Koch was discharged from the 24th Wisconsin on June 1, 1865. The notebooks are well worn and the covers are slightly soiled from their travels. Spines are weakened or missing and some notebook sections and covers are unbound. All are worthy of further research.


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    Auction Dates
    June, 2011
    25th Saturday
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