Stedman's edition of Faden's important Revolutionary War battle plan of Bunker Hill.
Faden's plan of Bunker Hill is one of the earliest and most famous of Faden's battle plans of the American Revolution. The map captures the action in and around the American Fortifications at Breed's Hill and Bunker Hill, in what would become the most famous of all early battles of the American Revolution. Washington had boldly fortified the area under the nose of the British in the days prior to the battle and worked all night to establish strong fortifications the night before the battle.
Thomas Hyde Page, an English military engineer who served as aide de campe to General Howe during the action, prepared this detailed plan of the Battle of Bunker Hill. It is the best known and most commonly reproduced plan of the battle. Originally published by Faden shortly after the battle, this edition of the map appeared in 1793, accompanying Stedman's History of the American War. It depicts redoubts, fences, and hedgerows in great detail, as well as the lines of march of attacking forces, British ships, and the Corps Hill battery with lines of fire.
Approximately 2,100 British troops under the command of General Thomas Gage stormed Breed's Hill, where colonial soldiers were encamped. In their fourth charge up the hillside, the British took the hill from the rebels, who had run out of ammunition. After suffering more than 1,000 casualties during their attacks on Breed's Hill, the British halted their assaults on rebel strongholds in Boston. The last rebels left on the hill evaded capture by the British thanks to the heroic efforts of Peter Salem, an African-American soldier who mortally wounded the British commanding officer who led the last charge.
The map includes a unique extra flap which overlays a portion of the map and captures the details of the battle in two phases. The extra flap is frequently missing, making this example particularly desireable.
William Faden (1749-1836) was the most prominent London mapmaker and publisher of the late-eighteenth and early-nineteenth centuries. His father, William Mackfaden, was a printer who dropped the first part of his last name due to the Jacobite rising of 1745.
Apprenticed to an engraver in the Clothworkers' Company, he was made free of the Company in August of 1771. He entered into a partnership with the family of Thomas Jeffreys, a prolific and well-respected mapmaker who had recently died in 1771. This partnership lasted until 1776.
Also in 1776, Faden joined the Society of Civil Engineers, which later changed its name to the Smeatonian Society of Civil Engineers. The Smeatonians operated as an elite, yet practical, dining club and his membership led Faden to several engineering publications, including canal plans and plans of other new engineering projects.
Faden's star rose during the American Revolution, when he produced popular maps and atlases focused on the American colonies and the battles that raged within them. In 1783, just as the war ended, Faden inherited his father's estate, allowing him to fully control his business and expand it; in the same year he gained the title "Geographer in Ordinary to his Majesty."
Faden also commanded a large stock of British county maps, which made him attractive as a partner to the Ordnance Survey; he published the first Ordnance map in 1801, a map of Kent. The Admiralty also admired his work and acquired some of his plates which were re-issued as official naval charts.
Faden was renowned for his ingenuity as well as his business acumen. In 1796 he was awarded a gold medal by the Society of Arts. With his brother-in-law, the astronomer and painter John Russell, he created the first extant lunar globe.
After retiring in 1823 the lucrative business passed to James Wyld, a former apprentice. He died in Shepperton in 1826, leaving a large estate.