Additional Information: This information provided to us by the Maryland State Archives: Click Here to View (6MB pdf file)
EXTRAORDINARILY RARE AND HISTORICALLY IMPORTANT BATTLE OF YORKTOWN MAP EXECUTED BY JEAN BAPTISTE GOUVION ON OR ABOUT OCTOBER 29, 1781. There can be no military battle more important in the history of our nation than that of the Battle of Yorktown. As a result of the combined American and French forces under siege attach that the British were defeated and the ultimate surrender on October 19, 1781 to General George Washington. Ten days after the battle Lieutenant Colonels Jean Baptiste Gouvion prepared this detailed battle map of the siege of Yorktown. Gouvion, the son of a Royal Administrator, on January 25, 1777 was given leave of absence from his military position in France to go to America. He was one of the four French military engineers sent to American in response to a special request of the US Congress. On February 13, 1777 he was appointed Major of Engineers and on the 17 of November, 1777 was promoted to Lt. Colonel. Gouvion worked with du Portal on planning and developing the fortifications at West Point in 1780. He also built the redoubt at Verplancks Point and also took part in the historic and epic Yorktown campaign of August thru September 1781. On the 16th of November he was brevetted Colonel and later returned to France. He officially retired from the U.S. Continental Army October 10, 1783 and returned to the French military service where on June 11, 1792 during the battle of the French Revolution he was killed at Maubeuge. According to information provided to us from the National Archives in Annapolis, Maryland a copy of a facsimile of a similar map exists and resides in their collection and further information about Gouvion is documented in their text ““Washington’s Official Map of Yorktown”. They state “Gouvion’s achievements won the following long testimonial from Washington at the end of the Virginia Campaign”. “I feel the highest pleasure in rendering justice to the distinguished military talents of Lt. Colonel Gouvion and his indefatigable perseverance and the most valuable service-his decisive judgment and spirit of enterprise have been conspicuous on all occasions-particularly in the late siege of New York-where the opening of the trenches-the commencement of the second parallel-a very important lodgment in two the enemy works that were carried sword in hand, and their connection with our attacks-were committed to him-and executed under the orders with that energy and precision which constitutes the great engineer.” “As the map of Yorktown shows by the signature affixed, Gouvion was the person responsible for the content of the map, although the actual drafting was presumably the work of a draftsman in the engineer unit. The map was drawn in black ink on a sheet about 38” x 29” in a size made up of several irregular pieces of paper. According to the explanation in the lower left corner, the British works were colored in red and those are the French and American in yellow but if the red color was used no traces of it remains. On the whole the original is in fair condition, although there are several holes in the paper that effect some words in the explanation and the interrupt slightly the representation of some of the siege works on the American right. The scale of the original measures about 1-5/8” to 200 yards or about 370 feet to 1 inch or about 1..4440. (The paper is slightly displaced at the 400 yard mark from a tear). On a large scale the map embraced the entire area of the siege works around Yorktown and shows the British defenses across the river at Gloucester as well. Around Yorktown the British works are presumably based on the more complete survey that it was possible to make after the surrender. The details of the American and French works are described in explanation which give a precise description of the siege and relates the point involved to their representation on the map”.” Our, unlike the facsimile at the National Archives is in appreciably better condition. The scale of the map is somewhat smaller and our map shows only the siege side of the river. As with the facsimile it consists of three sheets of paper laid together. The depiction is meticulously done and as the original instructions state and unlike the National Archive copy, our retains the original red coloring marking the British works and the yellow coloring marking the French and American positions. To the right is a legend with details of the phases of the siege and is called “Planned Figure of the Attacks of York and Virginia but the Allied Army of the American and France Commands by his Excellency General Washington, his Excellency Le Count Rachambeau, commanding the French Army. The 28th of September the allied army arrived before York and found the enemy in the possession of the works marked “AAA”. The night of the 29 to the 30 the enemy evacuated these posts, the opening of the trenches was made from the 6th to the 7th. “BBB” the first parallel with its communications begun as above and completed the night following. The Battery’s of the parallel were commenced from the 7th to the 8th. The 9th in the afternoon, some Battery’s were able to fire and in the morning of the 10th they were all opened. The night of the 11th-12th, the second parallel with its communications “KKKK” in the direction of CD was undertaken and finished in the course of the succeeding day and night. The 13th, the battery’s of the second parallel were commended, the _? ef of the first parallel continued to fire upon the two works, “G” and “H”. The night of the 14th and 15th the two works “G” and “H” were carried, fixed in sword in hand by Baron Deviomenil Marched of Camp and Major General Marquis de Lafayette the lodgment effect and the second parallel continued as far as those works and the communications “IIII” were made. The 17th, some of the battery’s of the second parallel commenced their fire the same day Lord Cornwallis sent to offer terms. Took the enemies works are colored with red, there of the allied army with yellow. While the facsimile at the National Archives is not nearly in as good condition as this example it is larger and depicts a wider area of the terrain. Ours is approximately 24” h w 13-1/2” h. It is not known how many of these maps were made, obviously precious few. As a result of extensive research, we were unable to find any information regarding any other example in existence other than the one referenced in the National Archives. It is likely this version was either made for Washington himself because it is a well known fact that Tobias Lear was in possession and handled Washington’s private papers upon his death. It could also be that this was acquired by Tobias Lear at the time that Gouvion executed it. In any case, it is an absolutely extraordinary historic document which has unquestionably descended either from Washington’s’ or at the very least Washington’s aid de camp to present day. It is difficult to envision a more important military map in the history of warfare in this country (our catalogers are grateful to the staff of the OSHER Map Library at the University of Southern Maine, particularly Dr. Matthew Edney for directing us to source material on these maps. Even the OSHER Map Library despite the extraordinary expansive collection does not have an example of this exceedingly rare Govion map). There are indeed other maps that have been made of Yorktown long after the siege but to our knowledge and all of our research, this is the earliest and first map ever executed and also done by Lt. Colonel Gouvion who was actually there and took part in the siege itself and as such is far more important than any other maps done long after the siege. SIZE: 13-1/2″ x 24″. CONDITION: Generally very good. There are breaks on the creases of the fold and as a result the first line in the text is extremely difficult to read. Otherwise the breaks do not create a serious problem. 9-97901 (5,000-50,000)
Auction: Fine Art, Antiques & Asian - Winter 2010
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