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William Faden:  The Course of Delaware River from Philadelphia to Chester, Exhibiting the several Works erected by the Rebels to defend its Passage, with the Attacks made upon them by is Majesty's Land & Sea Forces . . . 1778





Title: The Course of Delaware River from Philadelphia to Chester, Exhibiting the several Works erected by the Rebels to defend its Passage, with the Attacks made upon them by is Majesty's Land & Sea Forces . . . 1778

Map Maker: William Faden

Place / Date: London / 1785

Coloring: Uncolored

Size: 26.5 x 17.5 inches

Condition: VG

Price: SOLD

Inventory ID: 23500


Description:

Rare third state of Faden's battle map of the Delaware River, between Philadelphia and Chester, showing the most complete and comprehensive depiction of the engagement between the British and American Forces between September 1777 and November 1777.  State 3 is of the utmost rarity

Faden's map depicts the Theater of War on the Delaware River,  just below Philadelphia, during November, 1777, when a combined British naval and army forces battled the Americans for control of the River. The plan shows the British troop lines and ships, and those of the American forces.  In this third and final edition, the plan has been updated to show the actual conflict between the enemy combatants, whereas the earlier editions simply show the two sides approaching one another from opposite ends of the River.

In September, 1777 the British retook Philadelphia, then serving as the Capital of the breakaway American colonies. However, the City was cut off by sea by an American naval blockade. The Americans could cover the entire width of the Delaware River with artillery, as they controlled Fort Mercer at Red Bank on the New Jersey shore, and the adjacent Fort Mifflin, on Mud Island in the middle of the River.

The Americans also constructed stockadoes across strategic points in the river, to slow British ships, making them more vulnerable to attack. Their construction is depicted in diagrams on the lower-right of the map. The British mounted their assault from the south.  Lord Cornwallis captured Billingsport, before moving on foot to besiege Fort Mercer. The map depicts the American's unsuccessful defense of their positions. After taking Fort Mercer, Lord Cornwallis' force continued on to Gloucester, New Jersey, where the Americans had burned the remainder of their fleet to prevent it from falling into British hands. 

While the British were able to hold and secure Philadelphia, the American forces under George Washington spent the following winter at Valley Forge.  The subsequent battles forced the British to abandon their defense of Philadelphia, in order to deploy troops to the north. 

Each of the three editions of the map depict different points in the blockade and battle. The first edition depicts an inset map entitled A Sketch of Fort Island.  In the main map, there are 4 British ships shown south of the Lower Stackadoes and 6 British ships immediately north of the Lower Stackadoes.  A second set of Upper Stackadoes is showns below Hog Island. The Rebel Galleys and Floating Battery are shown in orderly rows near Fort Mercer, with the Armed Rebel Ships lurking behind Red Bank Island. 

In the 1779 edition of the map, the inset map is replaced by a plan of the bombardment of Fort Mifflin on Mud Island.  The 6 Britsh ships are still shown just above the Lower Stackadoes, but the Upper Stackadoes are now gone and the topographical details and shapes of each of the islands up river has been signficantly reworked, including Carpenters Island, Province Island, Hog Island, Mud Island (which was Fort Island on the first edition), Little Mud Island (Mud Island on the first edition), Red Bank Island and the Jersey Shoreline have been reworked.  The Armed Rebel ships are now depicted south of Red Bank Island and the Rebel Galleys and Floating Battery have broken formation.  The depiction of the area and fortifications around Fort Mercer have been completely reworked.  The second edition is also the first to include the LIst of the American Fleet between the scale of miles and profile model and the burning of the Rebel Fleet outside Philadelphia.  More details is also shown on the route from Fort Mercer to Philadelphia, but Cornwallis's route from Billingport is not yet depicted.

In the final edition of 1785, the 6 British Ships are now joined in the battle below Mud Island.  The ships of both sides are fully engaged, with bombardments depicted from newly illustrated batteries on the Jersey Shore and those added in the prior edition on Mud Island.  The Route of Lord Cornwallis from Billingport to Philadelphia is shown for the first time, as are encampments of November 1777 at both ends of the route.  A number of other additions are depicted for the first time in this edition of the map.

This final edition is the most advanced of the three battle plans, and is almost certainly the only edition which was based upon a complete and thorough account of the battle.  It is also by far the rarest of the three editions. We were only able to locate the example in the Library of Congress, with no other examples listed on OCLC.  While all states of the map are rare on the market, we were not able to locate another example of this edition (which we acquired at auction in late 2009) appearing on the market in the past 30 years.


References: Nebenzahl, Atlas of the American Revolution, map 29; Nebenzahl, A Bibliography of Printed Battle Plans of the American Revolution 1775-1795, 132, state 3; Snyder, COI 79; Stevens & Tree 17(b).


Related Categories:
Maps of the Mid Atlantic
Maps of the Northeast

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