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Rare Final State of Faden's Plan of the Battle of New York

Fine example of Faden's separately issued broadside map showing the British Invasion of New York City in August and September of 1776. The present example is the final state of the map, with significant improvements, providing the correct location for Fort Washington and giving the best depiction of the fortifications and encampments of the Americans as they withdrew north from New York City. It is also the only state to show the "cheval de frise", constructed by the Americans across the Hudson Riverbetrween Fort Lee and Fort Washington, which would be the site of the Battle of Fort Washington in November 1776.

Faden's battle plan of New York is one of the most important broadside plans of the American Revolution and one of the most important graphic depictions of the history of the City of New York. The map shows the British & American Theater of War in Manhattan, the Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn and the north part of Staten Island, along with parts of Westchester County and New Jersey. The present example includes the land positions of the Americans in blue and the positions and movements of the British in red. At sea, the positions of the British naval vessels are shown, with the ships identified, in some cases more than once as positions changed during the course of the siege.

Following the British evacuation of Boston and retreat to Halifax in March 1776, the Americans held a tenuous control of the East Coast from Maine to Georgia. In truth, British mastery of the sea gave them the option to invade more or less when and where they wished. The British opted to send a large naval force to take New York City and gain control of the lower Hudson. This was one element of a grand pincer strategy, the other end of which was an attack by General Carleton from Montreal along Lake Champlain-Lake George axis. The British plan was to cut off New England and leave it essentially undefended. The British would then have been able to bring overwhelming force to bear on the northern colonies, after which it was anticipated the rest of the colonies would acknowledge defeat.

Beginning in late June, 1776 the British began assembling in New York Bay a vast armada of hundreds of transports, more than 70 warships, and tens of thousands of troops. Uncertain of British plans and faced with the possibility of landings at any number of locations-on Long Island, on Manhattan itself, or possibly even upriver-Washington and the Continental Army could only dig in and wait.

The British strike began on August 22, when the British landed a force of 15,000 on the shore of Gravesend Bay in eastern Long Island (now Brooklyn). On August 26, 1776, General Howe sent two columns ahead to attack and occupy American forces encamped in lines stretching from the shore eastward along Gowanus Heights. These disguised the main thrust, an "end run" through Jamaica Pass far to the east that brought a large British force to bear on the left flank and rear of the Americans. Their left and center collapsed, with those who could retreating to fortifications at the village of Brooklyn on the East River.

For reasons still unclear the British failed to press their advantage. On the night of the August 29, Washington was able to extricate his trapped forces and ferry them across the East River to Manhattan. The British finally attacked Manhattan itself on September 15, 1776, gaining control of the island by mid-November, 1776.

The present map is State 4, as identified below. Henry Stevens Identified 5 states of the map, plus an early state without text. The plan was apparently issued without text, but there are no other differences between the first appearance and State 1.

  • State 1: Not Text below plan.
  • State 2: Title reads "A Plan of New York Island . . . under Major General Putnam, with the subsequent Disposition of Both Armies." The text title reads "An Account of the Proceedings of His Majesty's Forces at the Attack of the Rebel Works on Long Island on 27th of August, 1776." Tetard's Hill is the northernmost place name on the Hudson River. The Heights of Long Island and the Heights appears on the hills north of Flatbush. Imprint is ". . . Mess. Wallis & Stonehouse, Booksellers. . . "
  • State 3: Younker is now the most northly place on the Hudson River.
  • State 4: After "Major General Putnam" in the title, an additional phrase has been added ". . . Shewing also the Landing of the British Army on New York Island . . . " The Heights of Long Island are now "The Heights of Guana" and "The Woody Heights of Guana". On the New Jersey Shore just southeast of Schralenburg, the phrase "Flying Camp of the Americans" and "Redoubt with Cannons" has been added. The text title is changed to "An Account of the taking of New York, by His Majesty's Forces on the 15th of September, 1776".
  • State 5: Between "Flying Camp..." and "Redoubt with Cannons," Fort Independence is now named. Fort Washington now appears at the head of New York Island.
  • State 6: Younker is deleted at the north part of the Hudson and only the word "Fort" appears. "Fort Lee or Ft. Constitution" appears on the New Jersey shore of the Hudson. The text title reverts to "An Account of the Proceedings of His Majesty's Forces at the Attack of the Rebel Works on Long Island on 27th of August, 1776." The imprint is now ". . . Mr. Wallis, Bookseller." The topographical and other details on the east side of the Hudson, north of Bloomingdales, is now completely revised.

Each of the states shows further progress and updates. Included in this example are red lines showing the batteries and movements of the British and Americans around Gravesend, New Utrecht, Flatbush, Flatland, Woody Heights, Yellow Hook and Gowan's Cove, with a key in the lower left identifying 16 locations and movements of various British and American troop positions. In addition, there are positions noted in New Town, Bloomingdale, the Lower East River, and Paulus Hook, the latter identifying a position taken by the British on September 25, 1776.

Initially published just weeks after the battle, Faden's plan documents the British landing and the Battle of Long Island up to and including the American retreat to Brooklyn. The plan depicts towns and settlements, major topographical features, roads and fortifications. Major military positions and events of the campaign are shown, including the assembled British fleet and the Americans entrenched on Long Island and Manhattan, the initial British landing at Gravesend in Brooklyn, the diversionary thrusts and flanking maneuver that routed the Continental Army from Brooklyn Heights, and the routing of the American forces on Manhattan Island.

Nebenzahl, Atlas of the American Revolution, #12; Nebenzahl, Printed Battle Plans, #107; Stevens & Tree, “Comparative Cartography,” #41c
William Faden Biography

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.