Illustrating the Battles of Lexington & Concord
One of the earliest obtainable battle related maps of the American Revolution, which was prepared to illustrate the Gentleman's Magazine accounts of the Battle of Lexington and Concord which appeared in the June 1775 edition.
The map illustrates the region bounded by Massachusetts Bay to the east, and the Connecticut River to the west, and extending to part of southern New Hampshire and very northern Connecticut and Rhode Island.
Of particular note is the location of the primary roads from Lexington and Concord to Cambridge and Boston. There had been the scene of the initial engagements between British and American Troops in April 1775, at battles of Lexington and Concord, the initial skirmishes of the American Revolution. The map locates Concord Bridge, which was perhaps the most important site of the initial engagement.
The first shots were fired just as the sun was rising at Lexington on April 19, 1775. The American militia were outnumbered and fell back. The British proceeded on to Concord. At the North Bridge in Concord, approximately 500 American militiamen fought and held off three companies of British troops. The outnumbered British troops fell back from the "Minutemen" after a pitched battle in open territory.
More American militiamen arrived soon thereafter and inflicted heavy damage on the British regulars as they marched back towards Boston. Upon returning to Lexington, the British force was rescued by reinforcements under Brigadier General Hugh Percy. The combined force, now of about 1,700 men, marched back to Boston under heavy fire in a tactical withdrawal and eventually reached the safety of Charlestown. The accumulated militias blockaded the narrow land accesses to Charlestown and Boston, starting the Siege of Boston.
One of the few contemporary maps intended to illustrate the initial battles of the American Revolution.
The Gentleman’s Magazine was a British publication that helped to normalize the use of maps in support of articles and features. It was founded in 1731 by the prominent London publisher Edward Cave, a pioneer in periodical journalism. The magazine continued in print for nearly two centuries, shuttering production in 1922.
This was the publication which first used the word “magazine”, from the French for storehouse. Cave wanted to create a storehouse of knowledge and he employed some of London’s best writers to fill his pages: Samuel Johnson gained his first regular employment by writing for the Gentleman’s Magazine. Other famous contributors included Jonathan Swift.
The publication covered a broad range of topics, from literature to politics, and, from 1739, frequently used maps as illustrations. The first map they printed was a woodcut of Crimea; the second was a fold-out map of Ukraine by Emanuel Bowen. Maps were used to show battle lines, to chronicle voyages, and to educate about areas with which Britain traded. Certain geographers, like Thomas Jefferys, contributed several maps to the publication.