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Philip Schopp Sketchbook

Identifier: SC MS 0157

Scope and Contents

The notebook titled ”Scizzen” (misspelled German word Skizzen meaning “sketches”) is the only item in this manuscript collection On the lower right corner of the title page bearing the word “Scizzen” is penciled Ph. Schopp but the samples of handwriting throughout the notebook are not consistent which is the reason for attributing the notebook to Philip Schopp (1828-1893), Captain and later Colonel of Company D of the 75th Pennsylvania Volunteers Regiment in the American Civil War (1861-1865). In the context of the word “sketches” the little notebook displays two themes: beautifully detailed and precise drawings of 19th Century structures primarily located along the Schuylkill Navigation System in Berks County, Pennsylvania region and military maneuver notes.

Structures such as bridges, canal locks, railroad trestles, tunnel arches, details of machinery such as turntable screws and iron expansion straps are superbly illustrated with precise measurements noted. These drawings are mostly captioned in English and made in pencil. The reference notes regarding military regimental formations possibly are from Philip Schopp’s brief career (1861-1862) in the Union Army. The military notes are illustrated with intricate sketches and minute symbols of troop training movements and drills made in ink. The military notes are written in German.

The manuscript is 5 3/4 x 3 3/4 (14.5cm x 9.5cm) bound in black-dyed leather with three red leather loops holding an “original” sketch pencil, identified as “No. 3 American LD. Pencil Co N.Y. The board covers are faced in Prussian blue paper.


  • 1851-1886


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Collection housed remotely. Users need to contact 24 hours in advance.

Biographical / Historical

Although there are no dates included in this manuscript, the contents can be attributed to the mid Nineteenth Century especially the American Civil War era approximately from 1851 to 1886. In the United States the early and mid Nineteenth Century was an age of canal transportation which the railroads later supplanted (Philadelphia and Reading Railroad eventually leases the Schuylkill Navigation system as floods destroy many of the canals) as the main form of transporting coal from the anthracite region to markets in Philadelphia and New York. This manuscript displays aspects of several early Pennsylvania canal systems as well as railroad structures and military training instruction for the Civil War years.

Philip Schopp, the assumed creator of this remarkable notebook, was born in Bavaria, Germany in 1828, following involvement with the German Revolution of 1848-1849, immigrated to the United States in 1850. He was employed as a draftsman and civil engineer in Reading, Berks County, Pennsylvania for a number of years. Under the direction of James F. Smith, Chief Engineer, Schopp, as an assistant engineer, made maps of the lands and works of the Schuylkill Navigation Co. located in Schuylkill and Berks Counties from Port Carbon to Philadelphia. Asa Packer, founder of Lehigh University, was a prominent promoter of the Schuylkill Navigation Co. for transporting coal from the anthracite regions of Schuylkill and Carbon Counties to Philadelphia markets. Most of the excellent drawings in the notebook are of structures located in the Schuylkill Navigation Co. system including the Girard Canal (the longest canal in the system at 22 miles) and its connection with the Union Canal. The Union Canal began in Middletown, PA connected the Susquehanna River by way of the Schuylkill Navigation system and its many smaller canals to Philadelphia, PA and the Delaware River. Pennsylvania’s main rivers flow north to south so the canal system primarily was east to west to connect the major rivers of the state.

With the event of the War Between the States, Philip Schopp very early in August 1861 recruited a company of German speaking soldiers primarily from Philadelphia who had seen previous military service in the armies of the European states. This group eventually became Company D of the Seventy-fifth Pennsylvania Volunteers Regiment under Colonel Henry Bohlen, also German speaking, from Philadelphia. Schopp was made a captain of Company D August 27, 1861. This regiment was especially well disciplined and proficient in drills under the direction of Colonel Bohlen. In September 1861 the regiment moved from Philadelphia to Washington and participated in skirmishes in western Virginia crossing the Shenendoah River in skirmishes. In April 1862 Bohlen was promoted to General but was killed August 22, 1862 at Freeman’s Ford, VA. Schopp, his assistant adjutant-general, was promoted to Colonel September 14, 1862. He was made Assistant Adjutant-General of the Volunteers November 7, 1862 leading them during Pope’s campaign of Northern Virginia.

Following the war Schopp returned to his profession as draftsman and civil engineer at the Schuylkill Navigation Co. but by July 1867 had moved west employed by Major General Godfrey Weitzel of the Corps of Engineers. Weitzel, a Cincinnati German of brutal honesty, employed Schopp, as a chief draftsman to survey the Falls of the Ohio project, an ongoing project of the Corps of Engineers, to expand the Louisville and Portland Canal system. In the Schopp notebook is illustrated an iron draw bridge across a Louisville Portland Canal Lock and locks on the Monongahela River.

In June 1874, the U.S. government took over the Louisville and Portland C anal. When General Weitzel was ordered to move to Michigan to work on the St. Mary’s Falls Canal, he appointed his assistant, Col. Philip Schopp, as superintendent of the Louisville and Portland Canal. In 1879 Schopp was assigned full responsibility of the Louisville and Portland Canal. A political imbroglio involving workers’ complaints against Schopp because he complained about their laziness caused Schopp to be dismissed from the superintendent position. The Chief of Engineers ordered Col. William E. Merrill of the Corps of Engineers Cincinnati District to investigate the charges and Schopp was exonerated. By early 1886, Merrill employed Schopp in the Cincinnati Engineer Office. Schopp was a member of the U.S. Surveying Corps.

Colonel Schopp married Hildegard Koebelin of Greenville, Ohio on April 15, 1891. In 1893 he died and was buried in Greenville, Ohio with full military honors.

He is variously listed as Philip J., Philip Jacob, Philip T. Schopp or Schoop. Philip Jacob Schopp is listed in the 1860 census living in Reading, Pa. His military records list his name as Philip T. or Philip I. also as Schoop. Schopp is listed in the official catalog of the 1876 Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia for submitting a pneumatic screw ventilator and gave an address in Louisville, Kentucky. The 1880 census records indicate Schopp in Louisville as a civil engineer.


1 volume; 14.5 x 9.5 cm.

Language of Materials



A manuscript notebook and sketchbook attributed to Philip (Phillip) Schopp (1828-1893), a German immigrant who was a member of the 75th Pennsylvania Volunteers Regiment in the American Civil War serving first as a Captain and later promoted to Colonel before being discharged in 1862. The notebook contains many superb illustrations mostly from the Schuylkill Navigation System, the Union Canal, and a few from the Louisville-Portland Canal. The drawings and notations reflect a career as a draftsman and civil engineer from possibly 1851 to 1886. The 19th Century sketches are finely detailed. The structures are aqueducts, road bridges, canal locks, railroad bridges, tunnels along with precise dimensions noted of each structural member. There are also notes in German about military formations which can be attributed to Schopp’s service in the Union Army 1861 to 1862.


The events entered in the notebook in chronological order.

Immediate Source of Acquisition



No additions anticipated.

Related Materials

Hillegass, Harry Hurd. “A discussion of the Schuylkill system of dams and slackwater navigation. Lehigh University Thesis (C.E.). 1884.

Physical Description

1 volume; 14.5 x 9.5 cm.

Finding Aid of the Philip Schopp Sketchbook
Arielle Willett and William Ying
February 20, 2013
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
English, German

Repository Details

Part of the Lehigh University Special Collections Repository

Lehigh University
Linderman Library
30 Library Drive
Bethlehem PA 18045 USA
610-758-6091 (Fax)