Fine early color example of Faden's plan of the American Revolutionary War Battles of December 1776 and January 1777, including Washington's crossing of the Delaware River, on Christmas Day, 1776, one of the most important early battles of the American Revolution.
Published just weeks after the last of the battles, Faden's plan depicts a roughly 400 square-mile area of New Jersey and northern Pennsylvania. It documents key events of the Trenton-Princeton operation, including the crossing of the Delaware on December 25, 1776, the attack on Colonel Rall's force at Trenton on the December 26, 1776, Cornwallis' rush south from Fort Lee, and Washington's end-around to hit Cornwallis' flank at Princeton on January 2-3, 1777.
Faden's plan appeared only three months after the battles and probably just a few weeks after the news reached London. It is hard to overstate the impact it must have had on the British elite, who after the capture of New York had anticipated a swift and successful conclusion to the war.
The map illustrates the Theater of War northeast of the Delaware River, depicting two important early American victories, which helped gain critical support and momentum for the American Revoution.
By late 1776, Washington's forces had been defeated in Boston and overwhelmed in New York by the British Navy, whose massive invasion of the city forced the Americans on the defensive. In December, 1776, the British had seized Newport, Rhode Island. By this time, the British Commander-in-Chief, Sir William Howe, had launched a successful invasion of New Jersey, which forced Washington to retreat to his winter quarters at Newtown, Pennsylvania, shown on the left side of Faden's map.
Washington realized that many troops would not renew their service contracts which were set to expire at year's end and that dramatic action was required to turn the tide. On Christmas Day, while the British troops and Hessian mercenaries were celebrating the holiday, Washington, as noted by Faden's annotation, "parade of the troops on the evening of the 25th of Decr. 1776," marched his troops to the banks of the Delaware River and in a scene immortalized in Emanuel Leutze's iconic painting Washington Crossing the Delaware (1851), led his force of 2,400 across the river at "McKenky's Ferry," near Trenton, which was held by a force of 1,400 Hessians under Col. Johann Rall.
As illustrated by Faden, Washington divided his force into two prongs, one commanded by John Sullivan, and the other by Nathaniel Greene. The two forces attacked and defeated the Hessians, with Faden noting the casualties by regiment, rank, and role in the table "Loss of Trenton."
On December 30th, a British force under Lord Cornwallis attacked the Americans at Trenton, but failed to retake the town. Washington left a token force in the town to light numerous campfires, fooling Cornwallis into thinking that Washington had decided to make a stand in Trenton. In reality, over the next couple of days the Americans stealthily moved most of their forces around the British positions. Washington dispatched a force under Greene to proceed up the main highway leading into Princeton, with the objective of diverting the British from being able to check a larger force under Sullivan, which was to attack the town from the west.
In all, 4,600 American troops were to advance upon a British force. Greene's advance brigade under Col. Hugh Mercer encountered formidable resistance from a British line under Col. Charles Mawhood. While Mercer was killed and Mawhood broke the American lines, the British were unable to hold the town from Sullivan's force. On January 3, 1777, the American's seized the British headquarters at Nassau Hall at the College of New Jersey (now Princeton). The Princeton to Maidenhead battle casualties are noted by Faden.
Cornwallis realized that he had been tricked and tried to move his force towards Princeton, but was delayed as the key bridge over Stoney Creek had been sabotaged by the Americans. The Americans withdrew from Princeton to Somerset Courthouse (now Millstone), while the British retreated through a deserted Princeton to the relative security of New Brunswick. In summation, Washington's bold strategy had succeeded in restoring the morale of his force, who had survived the massive British invasion to carry the Revolution into the next campaign season and preserved the cause long enough to allow the Americans to continue appealing to the French for support during 1777, which would lead to France's recognition of the United States in February 1778, and Britain's declaration of war on France in March 1778.
The present example is the second state of the map, with the names Middle Town, Allens Town, and Kings Town shown as two words (each was treated as 1 word in the first edition), and the road north from Bristol identified as "High Road from Philadelphia."
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.