Antique Map of the Battle of Yorktown
Scarce and important Yorktown Battle Plan, issued in David Ramsay's History of the Revolution of South Carolina... .
Thomas Abernethie was an early engraver in Charleston, South Carolina. Very little is known about his life and work, which includes the maps for Ramsay's book, some treasury notes for the City of Charleston early Masonic bookplates and other local ephemera. With the exception of Moreau Sarrazin's plan of St. Augustine, published in Charleston in 1742, Abernethie's maps are apparently the earliest maps published south of the Mason-Dixon Line.
The source material for Abernethie's maps is also interesting. Abernethie's map of Yorktown is quite possibly derived from American sources. Nebenzahl notes that Abernethie's map was subsequently copied by Thomas Conder for William Gordon's History of the United States (London 1787), but does not note the source as a printed battle plan, leading to the conclusion that the source might well be American.
The map is also one of the earliest battle plans of the Revolution engraved in America. Ramsay's book has the distinction of being the first work granted a copyright in the United States. While the engraving style is naïve, the map is full of interesting details, including the 21 references to the British Lines, shown in a key in the upper left, the location of Gen. Washington's Quarters, Rochambeau's Quarters and the quarters of Knox, Clinton, La Fayette, Gov. Neilson, Gen. Lincoln, Viscount Vominil, Baron Vominil Marquis St. Simon, Baron Stuben, and others, numerous troop positions, including the Light Infantry, Virginia Militia, N. Jersey Line, Rhode Island Regulars, N. York Line, De Gatinois, Tourraine, Agenois, Saintonge, Soiffonnois, Royl. Deux Ponts, Bourbonnis, and others. Many other details noted.
While Ramsay's book occasionally appears on the market, there has been only one appearance of this map in a dealer catalogue reported in the past 25 years.