French Survey of Vera Cruz During The Pastry War
Finely detailed sea chart of the area around Fort San Juan de Ulua and the City of Vera Cruz, prepared under the direction of Rear Admiral Charles Baudin in April and May of 1839, shortly after the conclusion of the First Franco-Mexican War, also known as the Pastry War.
The map is executed in typically fine French style, with a meticulous set of soundings, coastal topography and the location of coastal place names, forts, anchorages, etc.
At the bottom three large profile views, the largest of which shows the approach to Veracruz, and views of (1) Clocher de la Merced and Fort Santiago and () Clocher de Sn Francisco, Tour Caree and the Paroissiale Church are given.
First Franco-Mexican War (1838–1839)
The Pastry War, also known as the First French intervention in Mexico or the First Franco-Mexican War (1838–1839), began in November 1838 with the naval blockade of some Mexican ports and the capture of the fortress of San Juan de Ulúa in Veracruz by French forces sent by King Louis-Philippe. It ended several months later in March 1839 with a British-brokered peace. The intervention followed many claims by French nationals of losses due to unrest in Mexico.
In a complaint to King Louis-Philippe, a French pastry chef known only as Monsieur Remontel claimed that in 1832 Mexican officers looted his shop in Tacubaya. Remontel demanded 60,000 pesos as reparations for the damage.
In view of Remontel's complaint and similar complaints from French nationals, in 1838 prime minister Louis-Mathieu Molé demanded from Mexico the payment of 600,000 pesos in damages. When president Anastasio Bustamante made no payment, the King of France ordered a fleet under Rear Admiral Charles Baudin to declare and carry out a blockade of all Mexican ports on the Gulf of Mexico from Yucatán to the Rio Grande, to bombard the Mexican fortress of San Juan de Ulúa, and to seize the city of Veracruz, which was the most important port on the Gulf coast. French forces captured Veracruz by December 1838 and Mexico declared war on France.
The Mexicans began smuggling imports in Mexico via Corpus Christi (then part of the Republic of Texas). Fearing that France would blockade the Republic's ports as well, a battalion of Texan forces began patrolling Corpus Christi Bay to stop Mexican smugglers. One smuggling party abandoned their cargo of about a hundred barrels of flour on the beach at the mouth of the bay, thus giving Flour Bluff its name. The United States, ever watchful of its relations with Mexico, sent the schooner Woodbury to help the French in their blockade
Antonio López de Santa Anna came out of retirement and surveyed the defenses of Veracruz. He offered his services to the government, which ordered him to fight the French by any means necessary. In a skirmish with the French, Santa Anna was wounded and his leg amputated and buried with full military honors, which started his new rise to power.
The chart is quite rare. This is the first example we have ever seen.
The Dépôt de la Marine, known more formally as the Dépôt des cartes et plans de la Marine, was the central charting institution of France. The centralization of hydrography in France began in earnest when Jean-Baptiste Colbert became First Minister of France in 1661. Under his watch, the first Royal School of Hydrography began operating, as did the first survey of France’s coasts (1670-1689). In 1680, Colbert consolidated various collections of charts and memoirs into a single assemblage, forming the core of sources for what would become the Dépôt.
The Dépôt itself began as the central deposit of charts for the French Navy. In 1720, the Navy consolidated its collection with those government materials covering the colonies, creating a single large repository of navigation. By 1737, the Dépôt was creating its own original charts and, from 1750, they participated in scientific expeditions to determine the accurate calculation of longitude.
In 1773, the Dépôt received a monopoly over the composition, production, and distribution of navigational materials, solidifying their place as the main producer of geographic knowledge in France. Dépôt-approved charts were distributed to official warehouses in port cities and sold by authorized merchants. The charts were of the highest quality, as many of France’s premier mapmakers worked at the Dépôt in the eighteenth century, including Philippe Bauche, Jacques-Nicolas Bellin, Rigobert Bonne, Jean Nicolas Buache, and Charles-François Beautemps-Beaupré.
The Dépôt continued to operate until 1886, when it became the Naval Hydrographic Service. In 1971, it changed names again, this time to the Naval and Oceanographic Service (SHOM). Although its name has changed, its purpose is largely the same, to provide high quality cartographic and scientific information to the France’s Navy and merchant marine.