(Yorktown Campaign—Jean-Nicolas Desandrouins) | A Yorktown Campaign map from the personal archive of the Comte de Rochambeau
(Yorktown Campaign—Jean-Nicolas Desandrouins)
"Plan des environs de Williamsbourgh, York, Hampton et Portsmouth." [near Yorktown, Virginia, July–October 1781]
Manuscript map attributed to Desandrouins, pen and ink on laid paper (285 x 245 mm), dissected into six sections and mounted on linen, nineteenth-century manuscript label mounted on verso, "Plan des environs de Villiamsburg, York, Hampton et Portsmouth | double," also labelled in red ink "6" and p. 631/632"; lightly browned, tiny surface loss in lower margin. Red morocco folding-case gilt.
A vital cartographical relic prepared by French topographical engineers for the Comte de Rochambeau, commander-in-chief of the French Expeditionary Force, during the Yorktown campaign.
In July 1781, generals Washington and Rochambeau, who had waited nearly a year to coordinate their armies, turned their attention from New York City to begin the momentous march to Virginia that would culminate in the siege of Yorktown and surrender of Lord Cornwallis. The campaign was captured in a series of brilliant manuscript maps and plans made by Rochambeau's cartographical officers (one of the many deficiencies of Washington's Continental Army was the lack of skilled topographers). Rochambeau retained these maps after the war and they all remained in his family until 1883, when his descendants sold a large number to the Library of Congress. Paul Mellon acquired another tranche of Rochambeau's maps in 1956, which he subsequently gave to Yale University. The present map, with a handful of others (mostly of New York) remained in the family until their sale five years ago.
While unsigned, the present map has been attributed to Jean-Nicolas Desandrouins, a French military engineer who served in North America in both the French and Indian War and the American Revolution and commanded the French Royal Engineers under Rochambeau. The map depicts part of the entrance to Chesapeake Bay (the area encompassing Hampton Roads) from Cape Henry to Williamsburg, with the various inlets off the James and York rivers, as well as roads, bridges, mills, churches, a salt deposit, and other landmarks, almost all of which are identified in English.
Another version of this map with all of the toponyms given in French is in the Rochambeau collection at the Library of Congress (Rochambeau Mss. 56; Verner M78). Two related maps are in the Karpinski Collection at the Huntington Library: "Carte des Environs de Williamsburg en Virginie ou les Armées Françoise et Américaine ont Campés en Septembre 1781" (Karpinski 120, formerly in the Ministère de la Guerre, Paris) and "Carte d'une partie de la Virginie," with inserts "Camps et marches des armees Americaine et Britannique" and town of Williamsburg (Karpinski, 151, formerly in the Service Hydrographique de la Marine, Paris).
Jean-Baptiste Donatien de Vimeur, comte de Rochambeau — by descent in this family as part of the Maréchal de Rochambeau Collection (Rouillac, 13 June 2016, lot 334)
Celebration of My Country 90; Verner, Maps of the Yorktown Campaign M78; Stephenson & McKee, Virginia in Maps, pp. 60–61
Condition as described in catalogue entry.
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