The Best Map of the War of 1812
A handsome example of the best map of the United States to focus on the events of the War of 1812, engraved by Thomas Kensett and Amos Doolittle in the middle of 1813.
In the map's left and right borders are tables of distances for the Passamaquoddy, Maine to St. Mary's, Georgia post road and the post road from Albany, New York to Montreal, respectively. In the bottom border is a listing of states and territories along with their populations and chief commodities.
The map includes several features that rarely appear on printed maps, notably the naming of Orleans Territory as a territory separate from Louisiana.
The Shelton & Kensett map is immediately recognizable for its inclusion of illustrations of several famous naval combats that characterized the early part of the war - all but one of these victories for the United States.
This is the so-called seven-battle edition of the map. The following battles are labeled:
- U.S. Frigate United States Com. Decator taking the British Frigate, Macedonian, Capt. Carden Oct. 25th. 1812.
- U.S. Sloop of War Hornet Capt. Lawrence taking the British Sloop of War Peacock C. Peak Feb. 27th 1813
- U.S. Frigate Constitution Com. Bainbridge taking the British Frigate Java C. Lambert Decr. 29th 1812
- U.S. Sloop of War Wasp Capt Jones taking the B.S. of War Frolick Cap W. Myates Oct. 18th 1812
- U.S. Frigate Essex 32 C. Porter taking the British Sloop of War Allert August 13th 1812
- U.S. Frigate Constitution 44 C. Hull taking the British Frigate Guerriere Capt. Dacres August 10th 1812
- U.S. Frigate Chesapeake 36 C. Lawrence taken by the B Frigate Shannon 44 Capt Broke June 1st 1813 _ In this action the Brave & Gallant Lawrence lost his life!
Editions and States
In addition to the seven-battle edition shown here, there are also versions with nine battles and ten battles.
There is some uncertainty concerning the editions of the map. While at first appearance, it would make sense that the vignettes were added with each new edition, we note that the editions with seven and ten vignettes appear very similar in all other respects, whereas the edition with nine vignettes has different spellings of Cape Fear in the vignette above the title eagle. Furthermore, there are many other subtle differences throughout the map, leading us to believe that the nine vignette edition of the map is, in fact, an entirely different plate, likely issued at a later date. The nine-vignette edition (copyrighted on November 8th, 1813), whereas the seven- and ten-vignette editions are dated July 6th, 1813.
The nine-vignette map can be seen here. It adds two battles ("U.S. Sloop of War Argus Capt. Allen taken by the B. Man of War Brig Pilican Capt. Maples August 12th 1813." and "Memorable Action fought by Com. Perry on the 10th of Sept. 1813 in which the whole of the British force, on Lake Erie, was captured."), which occurred after the publication of the seven-vignette version.
A later reissue of this map was put out in 1825 by Lewis Robinson (see Ristow 271).