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Rare plan of the entrance to the Mississippi River, near Fort Balise, originally taken from surveys conducted by the English in 1764, during the period of English control of East and West Florida, following the French & Indian War.

The map shows extensive soundings, to location of a buoy on the northeast part of the map, the location of Fort Balise and the offloading point for larger ships.

The map is based upon surveys conducted by Nautilus for the British in 1764. The Nautilius played an important role in the English presence on the Gulf Coast in this period following the French & Indian War. The following letter from Sir John Lindsay to Governor Johnstone dated January 2, 1765, is an example of the role played by the Nautilus, including a discussion of whether the Nautilus would be able to clear the sand bar near Fort Balise which is illustrated on this chart.

I had the Honour of receiving Your Excellency's Letter, the 20th of last Month, but deferred Answering it till my Arrival here, as it was Necessary I should first enquire into the State of the Squadron.
I Congratulate your Excellency on the Passage of the Iberville being cleared; The Indian Traders will soon reap the Advantage of that Short Communication with the Mississippi.
I entirely Agree with you, that the taking post at Point Iberville will be Attended with all the Advantages you Mention; and I shall very readily Cooperate with You, in carrying that Service into Execution. I think a Sloop of War will not only Protect the Troops, while they are Establishing a post at Point Iberville, but may likewise Strike an Awe in the Indian Nations Upon the Banks of the Mississippi, which May have the Good Effect of facilitating the Passage of our Troops Up the River to the Illinoia.
The Nautilus, being the smallest frigate in the Squadron, I have therefore given Captain Locker orders to Get her ready for that Service; but as She Draws Thirteen feet Water, I am in some Doubt, if She will be able to go Over the Bar at the Balize. I have been inform'd, that, tho' there is only Twelve feet upon the Bar, that it is Soft, and Oozy; that Ships of a much greater Draught of Water have forced their way Over; but as I can't Depend upon my Intelligence, I beg the favour you will enquire at Mobile, if a Ship, of the Nautilus Draught of Water, can pass it.

The map was apparently later copied by Osgood Carleton as an inset on his extremely rare map, A Plan of the River Mississippi.

Sayer & Bennett Biography

Sayer & Bennett refers to the partnership of Robert Sayer (ca. 1724-1794) and John Bennett (fl. 1760-d.1787), which lasted between 1774 and 1783. Bennett had been Sayer’s apprentice. The pair specialized in American atlases, based on the work of Thomas Jefferys, who plates had been acquired by Sayer when Jefferys went bankrupt in 1766. They also began publishing navigational charts in the 1780s and quickly became the largest supplier of British charts in the trade. However, in 1783 Bennett lost control of his mental faculties and the partnership dissolved as a result. Sayer’s business was later passed to his employees, Robert Laurie and James Whittle.