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An Important Revolutionary War Chart of the Chesapeake Bay, Based on Anthony Smith's Seminal 4 Sheet Map.

Fine example of the Depot de La Marine's revised and improved edition of Anthony's Smith's chart of the Chesapeake, which appeared in Neptune Americo-Septentrional, the sea atlas prepared for use by the French Royal Navy during the American Revolution.

The chart was, for example, utilized by Commander Francois-Joseph de Grasse and his French Naval forces when they blockaded the entrance to the Chesapeake during the Siege of Yorktown, in aid of the joint French and American land forces led by General George Washington and Lieutenant General Rochambeau in 1781.

Smith's map of the Chesapeake is of tremendous importance, being the most accurate and up to date map of the region during the mid-18th Century. Nothing is known of the actual authorship of the chart, although it is assigned to Anthony Smith of St. Marys. Nothing has been found on this man, who, to judge from the charts, must have been exceptionally well informed regarding below sea-level and littoral characteristics of the Chesapeake Bay and its estuarine rivers. The original 4 sheet Smith chart is now virtually unobtainable, making this French edition, prepared by the French Naval and War Department an historically important Revolutionary War chart and the only reasonably obtainable version of Smith's chart.

Prepared under the orders of the French Secretary of the Navy, Antoine de Sartine, this chart has been significantly revised and improved with information contemporary to the American Revolution, including an annotation referencing the burning of Norfolk in January 1776. The map provides the best available details of the available soundings, anchorages, channels, shoals, and navigational sightings, Fort Johnson and the town of Brunswick.

The textual notes include detailed instructions and explanations concerning the entry and navigation of the James River, Potomac River (as far as the Alexandria area), Choptank River, Patapsco River, and others, along with detailed notes regarding the ocean currents along the coast of Virginia.

Among the map's more interesting features is the identification of a number of important settlements, often depicted with small profile views of buildings, far up the major rivers, including Suffolk, James Town, Williamsburg, York, Gloucester, Leeds, Urbanna, St. Mary's, New Marleboro, Cochester, Bellhaven or Alexandria, Oxford, Annapolis, Baltimore, Ogle Town, Bolingbroke, Chester and George Town.

There are two states of the map. The first state has a plain box around the title. The second state has a more elaborate decoration around the title and a similar style of enclosure for each of the text sections, plus an added shading style to the land portions of the map.

A chart of exceptional historical importance.


Both states of the chart are very rare on the market.

Morrison, On the Map, #40. Cohen & Taliferro Catalogue 68, Item #20 (right corner torn off and reattached).