[REVOLUTIONARY WAR]. BLASKOWITZ, Charles (c.1743-1823). "A Plan of New York Island, and Part of Long Island, with the circumjacent Country - as far as Dobbs's Ferry to the North, and White Plains to the East including the Rivers, Islands, Roads &ca - Also shewing the Landing Routes, battles, Lines and Encampments of the British Forces under the Command of His Excellency Sir William Howe Knight of the most Honorable Order of the Bath, Commander in Chief &ca &ca &ca.," with inset maps: "Battle of White Plains fought between British Army and the Rebels in which the latter were defeated October 28th 1776" and "A Plan of Brunswick New Jersey with the British Works & Encampments. 1777". Signed: "Survey'd & Drawn by Charles Blaskowitz Capt of the Guides & Pioneers." [New York, 1777].
6-sheet manuscript map on paper, size from outer borders 59 15/16 x 44 3/16 inches (1523 x 1127 mm). With inset maps of White Plains: 13 3/8 x19 3/4 inches (339 x 502 mm); and Brunswick, N.J. inset: 6 3/8 x 7 3/4 inches (162 x 197 mm). On laid paper, mounted on linen. Scale: Greater map: 4,000 feet to 1 inch; White Plains inset: 500 feet to 1 inch; Brunswick, N.J. inset: N/A. (Some tears repaired with mounting, some surface soiling.)
ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT MANUSCRIPT MAPS OF THE AMERICAN REVOLUTIONARY WAR, DOCUMENTING KEY BATTLES AND SKIRMISHES OF ITS EARLY PHASES.
ONE OF ONLY FIVE KNOWN FINISHED MONUMENTAL CAMPAIGN HEADQUARTERS MAPS OF THE NEW YORK REGION, AND THE ONLY ONE BASED ON THE ORIGINAL SURVEYS OF BLASKOWITZ
This map is by far the most detailed and comprehensive cartographic record of the New York Campaign of 1776. It was made for General Sir William Erskine, one of the participants in the events portrayed. One of the finest examples of Blaskowitz's cartographic achievements.
A Campaign Headquarters Map is a very large manuscript map depicting a military theater, drawn to a relatively large scale. The present map is an impressive and historically significant example of this type, and depicts what was up to that point the largest battle ever fought on the North American continent: the Battle of Long Island and those immediately following it.
The late cartographic historian, J. Brian Harley, in his study of the maps made during the American Revolution, identified the "cartography of military movement" as a signature genre of the conflict. Maps of this type were used to plan or record the order of march, encampment, or progress of their army or that of their opponents. Blaskowitz created an authoritative, progressive visual record of key events, superimposed upon an accurate rendering of topography based upon scientific surveys. This was a departure from the generally static cartography of earlier conflicts, and constituted nothing short of a revolution in military cartography.
The map is extremely detailed, recording virtually every military event that transpired during the British Army's New York campaign from August to December 1776. A variety of symbols, identified by a reference key, depict the placement of the American, British and Hessian forces at various stages of the series of battles, and the tracks of naval movements are expressed with pictographic symbols.
While Manhattan and most of the important towns and transport roads of the region are expressed in detail, other areas are only faintly outlined or left blank. In Manhattan and Long Island, Blaskowitz would have been able to conduct surveys safely behind British lines. Further afield, he would have confined his surveys to the areas held by the British forces. Blaskowitz only detailed the terrain that he had surveyed. Areas that were the subject of his reconnaissance, but not properly surveyed, were outlined with faint pink and brown lines.
During this time, the American Army did not produce any maps comparable with Blaskowitz's work. By comparison, the British were then considered to be world leaders in cartography. From 1776 to1778, the British army consistently employed, on average, 25 cartographer-surveyors at any one time. Many, like Blaskowitz, were trained in the most advancedmap-making techniques.
The present is the only map of the five known campaign headquarters maps of the greater New York region based on the original surveys of Blaskowitz. Its style and geographical details are distinct from the others. It actually comprises three maps: in addition to the general regional map, Blaskowitz includes, as a large inset, a detailed and finely drafted map of the Battle of White Plains, plus an inset map of the British encampment at New Brunswick, New Jersey. The general map features more detail regarding military action than any of the other campaign headquarters maps.
Blaskowitz likely drafted this map in New York during the first half of 1777. The terminus post quem is the winter of 1777, as the New Brunswick inset map depicts troop positions during that period. The likely terminus ante quem is late July 1777, when Blaskowitz departed New York on the expedition to Philadelphia.
Four of Blaskowitz's surveys of key locations in the greater New York area are today preserved at the Library of Congress: the maps of Brooklyn, Hell's Gate, Frog's [Throgs] Neck and White Plains. Blaskowitz likely used them as maquettes, to be incorporated into his large regional map. While he certainly conducted additional local surveys, his rendering of New York City shows the influence of the celebrated printed map by Bernard Ratzer. Blaskowitz may also have drawn on surveys conducted by John Montresor, Joseph Claude Sauthier and Samuel Holland. All four of the other known campaign headquarters maps of the New York region belong to public institutions. Three are located in British collections and are remarkably similar to one another, being based on the same antecedent. Two by the duo of British military surveyors, George Taylor and Andrew Skinner, are well-drafted maps, and would have been useful for general military planning. However, they are dated 1781, and record very few details of past military events, so do not feature the 1776 campaign. They are of a smaller scale than the present Blaskowitz map and are not as detailed, nor do they extend northwards to embrace the critical White Plains-Dobbs Ferry corridor.
NARRATIVE OF THE ACTION DEPICTED ON THE MAP
On the present map, Blaskowitz recorded every significant event of the British New York campaign in precise detail, over a time frame ranging from June to November 1776. The British campaign was led by the Howe Brothers, Lt. General Sir William Howe, the commander-in-chief of the army in North America, while his elder sibling, Admiral Richard, Viscount Howe, served as commander-in-chief of the Royal Navy's North American Squadron. After the British were forced to evacuate Boston, New York City was chosen as the next focus of the campaign. In April, George Washington, the American commander, moved his main force down from Boston to defend New York. The map depicts a highly detailed narrative of the ensuing battles over the next several months, culminating in the British seizure of the city of New York.
Clinton, who had been raised in New York, with the help of Sir William Erskine, drew up a plan by which diversionary forces would distract the Americans in the westerly passes, while he would lead the main body of the army through Jamaica Pass (just north of the town of Jamaica on the map). The Continental Army was routed and took refuge at fortifications in present day Brooklyn Heights. On the exceptionally foggy night of 29 August, Washington successfully evacuated his entire army to Manhattan. Thus, while the British had won what would be known as the Battle of Long Island, the largest military altercation then ever fought in North America, the victory proved to be strategically hollow. The British had hoped to use New York City as a calm oasis in the midst of conflict, however, a tragic event occurred which dramatically altered the face of the city. On the morning of 21 September, 1776, a fire broke out at the southern tip of Manhattan and about a third of the city burned to the ground, as depicted by Blaskowitz on the map.
CURRENT LOCATIONS & RARITY OF AMERICAN REVOLUTIONARY WAR MANUSCRIPT MAPS
The vast majority of American Revolutionary War manuscript maps have been held since the nineteenth-century by public institutions in Great Britain and the United States. The appearance at auction of a highly significant example is extremely rare. According to American Book Prices Current, no examples of Blaskowitz's manuscript maps have appeared at auction in at least fifty years.
For a detailed census of other manuscript Revolutionary War maps, please contact the department or view on christies.com
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