Revolutionary War Battle Plan -- Fine Original Outline Color
First state (of three) of Faden's battle map of the Delaware River, between Philadelphia and Chester.
Faden's map depicts the Theater of War on the Delaware River, just below Philadelphia, during November, 1777, when a combined British naval and army forces battled the Americans for control of the River. The map shows the British troop lines and ships, and those of the American forces.
In September, 1777 the British retook Philadelphia, then serving as the Capital of the breakaway American colonies. However, the city cut off by sea by an American naval blockade. The Americans could cover the entire width of the Delaware River with artillery, as they controlled Fort Mercer at Red Bank on the New Jersey shore, and the adjacent Fort Mifflin, on Mud Island in the middle of the river.
The Americans also constructed stockades across strategic points in the river, to slow British ships, making them more vulnerable to attack. Their construction is depicted in diagrams on the lower-right of the map. The British mounted their assault from the south. Lord Cornwallis captured Billingsport, before moving on foot to besiege Fort Mercer. The map depicts the American's unsuccessful defense of their positions. After taking Fort Mercer, Lord Cornwallis' force continued on to Gloucester, New Jersey, where the Americans had burned the remainder of their fleet to prevent it from falling into British hands.
While the British were able to hold and secure Philadelphia, the American forces under George Washington spent the following winter at Valley Forge. The subsequent battles forced the British to abandon their defense of Philadelphia, in order to deploy troops to the north.
This first edition of the map depicts an inset map entitled A Sketch of Fort Island. In the 1779 edition of the map, the inset is replaced by a plan of the bombardment of Fort Mifflin on Mud Island.
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.