Manuscript Map of Revolutionary War New Jersey
John Erskine, 1779
AMERICAN REVOLUTION – ERSKINE, John, after Robert ERSKINE (1735-1780). Manuscript map, “A MAP of part of the STATES of NEW YORK, NEW JERSEY, & PENNSYLVANIA. For the use Hon.ble Major Gen.l Greene from the Origional of Rt. ERSKINE F.R.S. BY Jn.o ERSKINE May 28th 1779.” Additionally titled, “MAP of NEW JERSEY” on verso.
Folding map, 739 x 530mm, in iron gall ink and graphite, divided into 16 sections (approx. 180 x 133mm each) on laid paper backed with linen bearing a watermark of a crown over a heart and inverted fleur-de-lis motif above "GR" (lightly browned in some areas, marginal wear to individual sections including minor curling, tears, and separation from linen backing; mild damp stains and soiling to linen backing).
A period map of “the cockpit of the American Revolution” intended for use in the field by Nathanael Greene. A terrific survival, depicting nearly the entirety of northern New Jersey (as far north as Andover Forge and Hibernia), central New Jersey (including Trenton and as far as out has Haddonfield), and the New Jersey Shore—as well as most of present-day Greater New York City. The map delineates rivers, creeks, roads (represented with dotted lines), and most of the principal towns, villages, and hamlets. In 1777, George Washington appointed Robert Erskine, a Scottish-born inventor and engineer, as Geographer and Surveyor General of the Continental Army. During his tenure, Erskine drew more than 275 maps of the northern theater of operations. Most of Erskine's original maps still extant are rough sketches of specific localities, but several larger surveys survive, and this copy appears to closely resemble a significant portion of a large map begun in 1778 that is part of the collections of the New York Historical Society (“New York, Philada, + Neighboring Country: 8 miles to an Inch. No. 66,” Robert Erskine-Simeon DeWitt maps, 1778-1783). Little is known of John Erskine, the draftsmen of the present copy. He does not appear to be related to Robert, but was associated with the Quartermaster and Commissary departments of the Continental Army. The Papers of Nathanael Greene at the American Philosophical Society hold several letters from this period from Erskine to Greene concerning supply matters during this period (11 February & 5 October 1779).
Rare. Original maps produced for use in the field during the Revolutionary War are exceedingly unusual in private hands. Provenance: given to the consignor, then a student archaeologist, in the late 1950s by the caretaker of Johnson Hall in Johnson, New York.