CDV-William H. Paine, cartographer, Army of the Potomac SOLD

Staff Engineer Officer on the staffs of generals McDowell, Burnside, Hooker, and Meade, Warren, and others.


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William H. Paine, began working as a land surveyor in Wisconsin, then removed to the California gold fields in 1852, and later was hired as an assistant survey proposed routes for a railroad from Sacramento to Utah.  It was during this work he developed steel tape measure, which replaced the heavy, awkward surveying chains that were commonly used. (later known as Paine’s American Tape).

Just prior to the Civil War, Paine returned to Wisconsin, working as a surveyor, and when the war started, he went to Washington, D.C. to seek a commission as an engineer.  Working for the military initially as a civilian, he was tasked with the duty of making maps in Virginia, make note of any significant details that would be beneficial to the army in the field.  After the reconnaissance was made, and his value was apparent, he was given his commission as a captain and A.D.C. and attached to Gen. McDowell’s staff as his engineer officer. This valuable service continued during the war on many staffs, providing the vital surveying and tracing of Confederate fortifications and secret routes that were not shown on maps of the period did on show.

Maj. Gen. Gouverneur K. Warren wrote of Paine’s service: “To his previous great knowledge of the country he added by constant laborious and oftentimes daring reconnaissances, and applied it in unfailing efforts to correct our imperfect maps and in guiding our columns on the marches night and day along the secret paths he had discovered.”   (more information on Paine can be found at

After the war, his career grows tremendously, working on some of the most important projects in New York City, such as Brooklyn Bridge, the Hudson River Tunnel and many other railroad projects in the New York City area. He also held 14 patents relating to cable railways.  He was a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers.

This carte de visite shows Colonel Paine wearing a 5 button sack coat with Russian knots. The image was taken by Brady Studios, New York, and has a period identification in ink on the reverse.

Condition is fine.

USPS Priority  $3.50






Additional information

Weight .50 lbs